I recently wrote a piece about Dean Phillips for our blog and it made me realize how lucky we are as a company to have the staff that we do. Today, I want to give some attention to Marty Miserandino – the glue that holds Fit Werx in MA together on a daily basis.
First some background… I met Marty in a bike fit. It was ’06 and he was getting more serious about triathlon and was looking to get into a new tri bike. I met with him in a fitting session at a college in the Boston area that I was doing fittings out of at the time. Marty ordered a bike from me that day, a Kuota K-Factor, and we delivered it the next time we were down. Marty came across as friendly and optimistic and also very inquisitive and interested in his sport and the technology and process behind the equipment. Some of it may have been his Italian heritage, whatever it was, he had a great energy about him. At that time, I had no way of knowing that a year later we would be opening a second Fit Werx location together.
Later that year Marty reached out to me to ask some questions about the cycling and triathlon business. He was interested in becoming more involved in the industry and potentially starting his own retail shop. After asking if he had his sanity checked;-), I answered a few questions and I thought that might be it. Through the years I’ve had dozens of people call and ask questions about opening their own shop and I’ve had more than a few conversations about opening additional Fit Werx locations with people. For a variety of reasons, these conversations often drift away with time as people realize the amount of work and commitment required to make it work. Well, Marty kept on calling me and we eventually got to the point where I proposed that if he wanted to talk more, we were going to need to consider doing something together. Even though he did not have any bike industry experience at the time, I could feel that Marty’s passion and enthusiasm, combined with his work ethic, made him one of a small percentage of people who could handle the steep learning curve of a new industry and that he could manage a shop successfully in relatively short-order. I do not regret taking that risk on him.
While Marty and I don’t always see eye-to-eye, the way we sometimes challenge each other is part of what makes our business relationship work. We push each other at times, but in the end there is the type of respect between us that is necessary to bring things back together and move us forward as a company. I’ve always respected that Marty doesn’t beat around the bush – whether he thinks I agree or not, he tells me how he sees it. Marty makes decisions quickly and decisively and I’ve always found him to be very fair with people. He knows what he can and cannot offer and he doesn’t try to shirk or avoid potentially uncomfortable situations. I think most people respect this approach and it is part of what makes him a very good manager. I know that everything Marty does comes straight from the heart and he always has the best of intentions. If someone perceives otherwise, they likely missed something or are not perceiving him correctly.
Marty knows what he wants and he doesn’t sit around waiting for it to happen. Marty is an action based person; he is the beating heart of Fit Werx in MA. He coordinates, keeps things rolling and makes sure things get done. He doesn’t pass the buck and he does all that he can to make sure that we do what we say when we say and that people get taken care of in the same manner he would want to be treated. The longer I see managers work, the more important I think this well directed personal ethical compass is so crucial as people and situations are not as cut and dried as set rules may try to make them. Marty can be depended on to consider the situation as an individual and make the “right” decision – which means making the decision that will be best for the athlete whenever possible.
Since we opened our MA location, I have seen Marty do so much and he continues to prove that he “gets it” on so many levels. I’ve seen Marty set-up a tent on the side of the road and cheer for people at triathlons where sponsorship conflicts have pushed us out of the expo area. I’ve seen him drive a couple hours to help people. I’ve seen him lend out his own bikes (and he has some very nice bikes…) many times when there is someone in need. I’ve seen him work multiple jobs and countless hours to help get FW in MA off the ground and running initially; I’ve seen him help take our MA location from concept to a shop that most anyone would be proud. I’ve seen him become an Ironman and dramatically increase his race speed. I’ve seen him grow his family with his wife Keri-Ann (they now have two children). I’ve seen him help raise an incredible amount of money for diabetes with the Ride for Jules. I’ve seen him come up with great ideas like our Fit Werx Gives Back charity program. And so much more… Marty is the type of person most anyone would be better because they know him. I certainly count myself in that group.