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How I Got Here: Tim Bantle

by Amy Garland


SLU alumnus Tim Bantle (A&S ’00) details how he went from philosophy major to CEO of Eddie Bauer.

Profile shot of Tim Bantle, CEO of Eddie Bauer. Bantle has close-cropped hair and wears a dark zip-up quilted jacket.


Bantle is born in St. Louis, the second of six children. His dad, an optician, gives him his first job: clerical work at his optical business.


He enters St. Louis University High School, where a teacher introduces him to rock climbing, sparking a passion for the outdoors. The Jesuits have “an outsize influence” on him.

“I considered, at a pretty deep level, the idea of joining the Jesuits. I appreciated that they live somehow at the intersection of contemplation and action, scholarly work and civil 
society, art and activism. Those intersections for me were profound. I’ve tried to follow them to the greatest degree possible.”

A group of eight teen boys stand and sit in the bed of a Toyota pickup truck.
Bantle (top left) with high school classmates on a mission trip in Honduras


Bantle chooses Saint Louis University. “Half of my friends went east to Ivy League schools; the others went west to climb and ski. I was between those two worlds, 
and it made sense to stay.”

At SLU, he leads the Outdoor Club on backpacking and mountaineering trips. He works part-time at The Alpine Shop to get discounted gear. He majors in English and philosophy.

“Training in philosophy is the reason I’ve been able to navigate complicated situations and not feel overwhelmed: You take problems apart and think about them. Business 
is just solving a ton of problems on a continuous basis.”


He graduates from SLU and considers graduate studies while working for Trails Wilderness School.

“Living in a tent in Grand Teton National Park, taking kids on wilderness trips, made me think that maybe there’s something for me beyond the life of the mind.”

A man in his 20s paddles an oar rig on a brown river with the Rocky Mountains in the background.

Paddling an oar rig on the Green River in the Rockies in 2000


The accidental death of a climbing partner coupled with Bantle’s own rollover car accident make him recalibrate. 

“Maybe I shouldn’t work for a couple bucks an hour without life insurance or health insurance. Maybe I need a plan beyond using my body for work.”

He becomes a sales rep for Patagonia, “the prototypical best example of applying a clear ethic to business.” He gets to weigh in on product design, which intrigues him. 


At Patagonia, he meets his future wife, Sara. They later have two sons, Hunter and Ian. 

Tim Bantle's family portrait. Two young boys in sweaters flank Sara, who wears a navy quilted jacket and jeans, and Tim, who wears a green shirt, black jacket, and dark jeans. They stand in a forest setting.
Bantle with his sons Ian (left) and Hunter and wife Sara


Bantle takes a position with Black Diamond Equipment, an elite gear manufacturer. In 2016, he moves to Austria to restructure and relocate the European business. 

“A chance to work in a publicly traded company, for a founder, in a startup — I got like 20 years of business experience in six years.” 


Recruited by The North Face, he happily returns to the U.S. to work for a “global enterprise organization.” 


He moves to Montreal to become the GM Canada for VF Corp., whose portfolio includes The North Face, Vans, Timberland and more. 


Bantle settles in Seattle to become CEO of Eddie Bauer, which he hopes to help build as “a broad, highly inclusive and democratic outdoor brand.”

About Universitas

Universitas, the award-winning alumni magazine of Saint Louis University, is distributed to SLU alumni, parents and benefactors around the world. The magazine includes campus news, feature stories, alumni profiles and class notes, and has a circulation of 132,438.