Hi, I’m Joseph…

I recently joined the ACK team this January and wanted to introduce myself along with some of the projects I have already started working on. First off, I’m a native Austinite and take pride in that fact. Although I don’t always have the time for it lately, I used to take advantage of the Texas weather year round — whether it be riding the trails at Walnut Creek, camping at Enchanted Rock, or night kayaking with friends on Lady Bird Lake. Heck, I didn’t even get my driver’s license until I was 19 just because I rode my bike everywhere! Anyway, that all changed when I moved to Iowa to go to school at Cornell College, but after a long and cold four years I’m back and trying to get into the swing of things again. I’m excited to be part of a company that helps people experience the Texas outdoors!

I’ve already gotten to work on some cool projects including the 2012 Kayak Anglers Tournament Series (which you should check out if you are interested in kayak fishing), our blog, the boat shows and most recently a project to add downloadable installation guides for some of our more technical products. The idea behind everything so far has been to find ways to provide a better customer experience. So I thought I’d end this post by asking to see if you have any suggestions on more ways we could improve your experience as a customer, different content you might like to see featured on our blog, events we might be able to get involved with and anything else you might want to share. Just comment below!

Employee Spotlight: Sean “The Hat” Phung – Graphic Designer

Sean Phung, ACK Resident Hipster & Graphic Designer Guy

This month, we are featuring one of our newest additions, Mr. Sean Phung. You are probably wondering why “The Hat” was abruptly inserted between his first and last name. That’s because Sean is always sporting these uber-cool hipster hats, like his famous Upturned Brim Fedora, which to be honest with you, most of us here couldn’t pull off  (although Chris thinks he can but we won’t tell him otherwise). In all seriousness though, Sean is a great young artist fresh out of school. You may have already seen some of his published work online. He basically spent the first 4 weeks illustrating all of the icons on our website. I swear his eyes were bleeding when he was done. After the bleeding stopped, we asked Sean to tell us a little bit about himself:

Howdy, my name is Sean Phung and I am the Graphic Designer for Austin Canoe and Kayak. In January of 2011 I started working here fresh out of a graphic design internship. I am extremely excited to be at ACK and I am enjoying every minute of it! I had never been on a kayak until I began working here. I paddled. I flipped. I loved it!

In July of 2010 I moved from central Arkansas to Austin, Texas. What a change! I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Arkansas Tech University. In college I focused on graphic design, printmaking, and illustration and participated in various contests and art shows. After College I landed an internship at Ranch Road Design and Printing and when that ended, I was offered a position here at Austin Canoe and Kayak as the in house graphic designer — I eagerly accepted.

Working for Austin Canoe and Kayak has been a blast. I get to create marketing materials for incredible products. I also get to help design the website which is always interesting and fun. Just knowing that thousands online will view the material I create gives me a great deal of satisfaction. The staff here is extremely cool and laid back, they also have an infectious passion for kayaking and the outdoors!

When I have downtime I enjoy riding my bike, eating Texas BBQ, getting tattoos and drinking the best brews Austin has to offer. I love the weather down here and couldn’t have asked for a better place to call home.



Employee Spotlight: Jeff Comstock – Director of Operations

New year, new employee — ACK would like to offer a warm welcome to Jeff Comstock as our Director of Operations. We asked Jeff to help us introduce himself and here is what he had to say:

Jeff Comstock

Hello! I joined Austin Canoe & Kayak in December 2010 and I am fired up about working with a dynamic group of people motivated to get you the gear you want and need. My new role is Director of Operations for www.AustinKayak.com, which really means that I work along side our fantastic customer service and warehouse teams to exceed our promises to you.

I originally hail from the great Inland Northwest where I attended Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Washington. After college I was hired by the Better Business Bureau and up until recently served the business community in various capacities but primarily as the Vice President of Operations. Working for the BBB gave me a front row seat to good and best business practices, which I often write about at www.postpractices.com. Additionally, I was fortunate to cut my teeth on process building, inventory management and service excellence while advancing the remarkable BBB mission of advancing marketplace trust. I bring these experiences to work and look forward to being a part of the explosive growth that ACK continues to achieve.

When I have downtime I enjoy spending it with my darling fiance, Michelle and our four dogs. Additionally, I am an avid skier so I tend to have a hard time with Austin winters while the snow falls elsewhere. I have to admit though, the sunny southern winters do have a luster of their own which makes for great paddling weather. I can’t wait to get an opportunity to paddle each boat ACK carries!


Farewell Daniel!

Editor’s Note: Daniel, an ACK Austin Store associate, has his hands full these days. He recently graduated from the University of Texas and is getting married soon while also preparing a move to Dallas, Texas! We would like to wish Daniel and his soon-to-be bride the best of luck in Dallas. He’s been a great asset to ACK and will surely be missed.

Daniel - 2010 Fall Demo Days

I’ve been working at the ACK Store located in Austin, Texas since August of 2009 but now I am paddling off into the sunset, or to be more specific, getting married and moving to Dallas.

When I started writing this blog post I asked myself, what was the best part about working here? It’s an easy answer — the customers. Part of this is due to the satisfaction I get when a customer happily walks away with their new gear but it’s also having the opportunity to chat about outdoor related topics with fellow outdoor enthusiasts all day long. I believe that “outdoorsy types” are some of the nicest people and being able to talk to them about many of the same things I enjoy makes for interesting conversations.

I also enjoyed working with the ACK Team. When I first started, although I was not new to the outdoor scene, I felt like a total newbie. Luckily for me everyone who works at ACK was as helpful to new employees as they are to customers and it didn’t take long for me to be doing the same.

Overall, It has been great to be a part of ACK and watching our business grow. Not just the business itself, but the diversity of products offered and our involvement in the community.

It will be bittersweet leaving the ACK Team but I know that I will always have friends back in Austin who are always willing to chat about the great outdoors or even better, join me in my next outdoor adventure.

ACK – Austin

ACK Employee of the Month – November

Mike DeLaRosa

As ACK grows, so does our staff. We value our employees and have recently instituted an Employee of the Month Award program as a way of showing our gratitude for their commitment to ACK.

For the month of November, the Employee of the Month winner was Mike DeLaRosa. He has displayed a natural leadership quality and demonstrated this by taking over the responsibilities for our warehouse supervisor while he was out recovering from back surgery. Mike has also shown his ability to work well with others by cross training boat installations and holding other team mates accountable in a way that doesn’t cause animosity. Mike is always looking at the big picture by looking for any mistake that could possibly prevent a customer from getting their correct order. He understands personal accountability and is always willing to admit fault as opposed to laying blame on anyone for his mistakes. And just as important, Mike’s personality shines through on a daily basis with his persistent smile and happy go lucky attitude. He’s a true asset at ACK — congratulations Mike!

Employee Spotlight

Employee: Kyle Bartholomew
Position: Customer Service Representative

This holiday season, when you call ACK customer service, chances are you’ll be speaking to either Kyle or Kate so we thought it would be a great idea to feature one of them so that the next time you call, you’ll be able to put a face to the name. Rather than interview Kyle, we thought it would be great to hear it straight from the source and asked that he tell us a little bit about himself:

Kyle Bartholomew

I recently relocated to Austin via Chicago to pursue happiness, more outdoor activities and new experiences not readily available in the “Windy City”. Austin has absolutely proven to be a swell place to live and I’m sure it will only get better since I won’t have to deal with another soul-chilling Chicago winter.

Speaking of swell places to be, I knew from the moment I walked in for my interview with ACK that it would be an awesome place to work – seeing how casual the office was and how friendly everyone seemed. Next thing I know, I get a call and am offered the open CSR (Customer Service Representative) position. Wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am, I found a job! Prior to working here, I had minimal paddling experience so I knew I had a long road ahead of me. However, it’s been a lot of fun learning the ins and outs of the business along with the products we sell. For example, our Demo Days were a whole lot of fun giving me a chance to paddle every single kayak that we had in just one weekend!

I also like the fact that there is always something new around every corner. Some might think that the “CSR” title means that my buddy Kate and I just kick back with our legs up on a desk tending to customers but it’s so much more than that. One day I might be helping model products for the website (shameless plug for the Toasters and our ACK Racing Jersey) and the next day I could be helping the warehouse unload a 53-ft trailer full of kayaks. You may also find me attending a product demo at one of our store locations or giving the warehouse a hand by packing and shipping orders. Needless to say we have to be able to adjust to anything that is asked of us at the drop of a hat with cat-like speed and reflexes, which is something that I truly enjoy.

When I’m not at work supplying ACK with top-notch customer service, I enjoy following Chicago professional athletic teams, BBQ’ing, skiing, various aquatic activities, hammocking, reading, traveling and attending live music performances.

I look forward to getting you outfitted for your next outdoor adventure!