Well, not all of them. We are working on getting everyone to submit a bio, but, it's proving to be a bit like herding cats. Check back often for new additions :)
I'm the owner and Chief Paddling Evangelist here at the shop. I'm married with two adult kids, so it's just me and Stephanie at home with our dog Lucy. I started working at Rutabaga in 1990 as a weekend warrior. I had become a paddler while in school and got the bug. My "real" job was a Research Analyst for the State of Wisconsin. I did statistics for the Department of Labor (wanna know the unemployment rate? That was me.) and the Bureau of Public Health (wanna know where certain cancers are clustered? Also me.). That lasted about four years, then I decided I wasn't really growing in my real job and decided to come over full time as a manager. Fast forward a few years and I bought out the former owner in 2002 with a partner, and then bought out my partner in 2007.
I've done every job to be done here: manager, shipping and receiving, buyer, bookkeeper (I would never call myself an accountant), and all the other things it takes to run a business, but my favorite part of the job is to talk to people about paddling: their desires, destinations, and in what sort of craft they want to us to fulfill these dreams. I own a dozen personal boats, more or less, both kayaks and canoes, but I spend most of my time in solo canoes. They are my favorite way of getting around on the water. Maybe they're not as efficient sometimes, but that's okay. I'm usually not in a hurry. When I'm not paddling, I like traditional skills and music. I'm a banjo player and amateur builder, blacksmith, woodworker, snowshoe builder, and tinkerer.
Shift Lead. Jon of all trades. "Man who walks with no shoes" John started working at Rutabaga in March of 2018. His favorite thing about working here is the flexible, collegial work environment and of course, quality gear. His favorite places to paddle are the Georgia Coast, Maine Coast, Lake Superior, and Lake Michigan. His favorite boat to paddle is the Melker Ulvon HV because it is "FAST! With lots of room for gear" John's favorite piece of paddling gear is his Aqua Bound Carbon Manta Ray paddle "It's light, durable, and won't break the bank." When he's not out paddling you can find him cooking, being a Shade Tree mechanic, hiking, biking, and keeping his (often bare) feet firmly planted on the ground.
Hello! I'm Brendan, I'm originally from Iron Mountain MI, moved to Cross Plains WI for a short while, and finished high school in Arcadia WI. I started at Rutabaga last April when I got the shipping lead position. I love the different types of paddlers, and diverse outdoorsy activities we're all into as a staff. I also like when the staff brings in their dogs for the day. If I had to choose one type of paddling to do it would probably be zig zagging islands on the Wisconsin River casting surface flies for eager smallmouth bass. The boat to do it in is the Penobscot 16 RX hands down, no questions about it. You can find me on an off day on one of our state's public spring creeks stalking brook trout, or just watching the cows. Fun fact about myself is I'm a twin, and I'm related to Chuck Norris.
I've been working at Rutabaga since I moved here from Chicago in 2014. Since then I have earned a reputation of being a bottomless pit for coffee and a resource for boat repair questions. My favorite type of paddling is down river canoeing, but I will mix it up and do a bit of paddle boarding or sea kayaking as well. If I'm not on the water you can usually find playing in the dirt on my mountain bike.
I joined the Rutabaga team in February of 2023 as a seasonal staff member, but was quickly offered a year round position. You can typically find me on the sales floor working with customers or helping to create social media content. My favorite thing about working at Rutabaga is the ability to work with so many different types of customers, and helping them find what they need for their choice of adventure. Working here has allowed me to expand both my knowledge and skills within the paddling world. I enjoy doing overnight river trips throughout the driftless area, especially on the Wisconsin and Kickapoo Rivers. My favorite place to paddle is the Bryson City, NC area. I enjoy mostly Class I-III rivers. You will most likely see me in my Pink, Teal, and Grey Dagger Kayaks Katana, or the staff demo Phoenix from Northstar Canoes. My most important and favorite piece of paddling gear is my Astral Blue Jacket PFD. Not only does it keep me safe when I take an unexpected swim, but it is super comfortable and lightweight! Outside of paddling, I enjoy 3D Printing, hiking, hammock camping, fossil hunting, hanging with my four dogs and playing board games. I am also currently pursuing an Associates Degree in Mechanical Design
This is my second stint with the Rutabaga team and I love working here. Everybody at Rutabaga is passionate about their watersports. It’s great hearing customer paddling experiences every day too. Most of the time I paddle a Wenonah Spirit II or my Wilderness Systems fishing kayak on the Wisconsin River and the small streams of Southern Wisconsin. I’m lucky to have had great family trips in the Boundary Waters too. When I’m not chasing fish from a watercraft, I’m wading with a fly rod in my hand. Cross country skiing, tying flies, and bowling keep me busy during the winter. My dream trip is to spend a week in Woodland Caribou Provincial Park in northwestern Ontario.
I very recently relocated to Madison from Bloomington, Illinois and am loving this city! Prior to joining Rutabaga, I worked for Girl Scouts of Central Illinois overseeing camps and outdoor programs for about six years. My favorite thing about working at Rutabaga so far is getting to meet and be around people who love paddling as much as I do, and getting to help others discover how amazing paddling is. I first fell in love with paddling while working as a camp counselor and it has grown from there and led me here. My favorite kind of paddling is canoeing, and my favorite paddling destination is the Boundary Waters where I was a guide for several years. I enjoy learning about the natural and human history of the areas we recreate in and sharing that with others. I also enjoy whitewater canoeing and have recently been getting into sea kayaking more. Some of my other hobbies are backpacking, reading, knitting, and running. This summer, I’m looking forward to getting out on the water more and exploring the city of Madison!
Blueberry was hired in March of 2022 at 4 months old. She's an avid paddler, and her favorite canoe is her Blue Mad River Explorer 16. Her favorite thing to do is go swimming on her lunch break and get belly rubs. She works for treats and peanut butter.
My name is Lucy. I am three years old. My dad was a Landseer Newfie and my mom was a Great Pyrenees. I was born in Wyoming on a working sheep ranch. My humans drove three days straight to pick me up and bring me home. I come to Rutabaga once a week or so just to see my friends, get loved up a little, and sleep on the concrete floor in the basement. Even though I weigh almost a hundred pounds, I still love paddling with my dad Darren and the rest of my family. I love treats, snuggles, neighborhood kids, biting the water as it comes out of the hose, and blowing bubbles in my wading pool. I hate turkeys and coyotes that invade my domain.
Tucker has been a shop dog at Rutabaga since he was lucky enough to start coming to work with his Dad in October of 2021. He loves soaking up all the pets and attention he can get, and there is a never-ending supply of both around here.