Richard Wittenberg is that guy.
“I can assure you that when I go to a cocktail party everyone is staring at me wondering ‘how do I get that guy’s job?,'” Wittenberg says.
He’s not arrogant. He just knows how good he has it.
“It’s funny, when you first meet Witt he seems like a very intimidating guy, but he’s really got a big heart and a true passion and love for cycling,” says Steve Driscoll of LiFT Creative Studios.
“I spent 190 nights away from home last year,” said Wittenberg, the VP of International Operations for Ridley Bicycles. “You have to work crazy hours, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
For Wittenberg it all began as a teenager when he told his dad that he wanted a 10-speed bike. His father, who was born in Yonkers and raised in a Boston suburb, told Wittenberg that if he wanted one of these new-fangled fancy geared bicycles he was going to have to learn how to fix it first. So Wittenberg went out and bought Glenn’s Bicycle Manual, read all about working on geared bicycles, and then bought himself a Vitus Sprint.
A year or so later, he wandered into his local bike shop and told them he wanted a job. They basically handed him a broom and off he went, climbing his way through the ranks. Later on he worked at Belmont Wheel Works and his love of all things bike was permanently set.
As a college student at UC Berkeley, where he studied Social Science, he wrote his thesis on the “Socioeconomic Impact of Technology on Society.”
“That’s why I’m absolutely convinced disc brake road bikes are going to happen and rim brakes will go bye-bye,” Wittenberg says.
After college he moved to SoCal to work for Seattle Bike Supply doing marketing and running the warehouse. Then, like so many in the bike industry, the list gets interesting: a stint at Giant running parts and accessories. Then he was recruited by Mongoose to be responsible for multi-speed adult bicycles. While he was there, Mongoose got bought and sold a couple times and Wittenberg got promoted, eventually landing in a Chicago-based position where he was in charge of selling bikes to Walmart.
“My first sales job was selling Walmart in Bentonville, Arkansas,” he says.
In 2003 the company sold again and Wittenberg decided it was time to take his “gardening leave.” He moved the family back to Southern California and started teaching spin classes to keep himself busy.
“It became pretty clear my wife and I were going to kill each other if I didn’t find something interesting to sink my teeth into,” he says.
So he took a short lived job with Pro Performance, makers of the Hitaway. Then on to Cannondale where he became responsible for new business development and building complete bicycles for overseas. After three years they get bought by Dorel, the same people who owned Mongoose.
Then there was a short stint at Asahi, and now he’s celebrated his two year anniversary at Ridley.
“With his industry experience, Witt is the perfect guy for the Ridley Belgian brand and its cycling heritage,” says Steve Driscoll. “Ridley really did well bringing him on and it is great to be counted as one of his friends.”
“I know for me it’s still the joy of cycling,” Wittenberg says. “And the culture is a huge important part of my life.”
Witt Fast Facts:
If you were a stalker, would you be any good: Yes, I think I’d be excellent at it. When you are in sales, you have to be a stalker.
Three friends. Three words: Intense.Demanding. Loyal.
Chosen Superpower: Invisibility, used only for good.
Spirit Animal: What the hell is a spirit animal?
One thing you best friend doesn’t know about you: I live my life by a simple rule: If I can’t share it, I don’t do it.
Toilet paper over or under: Over. Always over. Who does it under?
Pink or Yellow: Yellow.
Eddy or anybody else: Ummmmmm. I’m gonna say Eddy.