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