Wantedly talked to Andy Hyslop, CEO of Rock + Run, about his passion for the outdoors, the mountaineering community and how his team stands at every beginning of a new adventure.
Being able to turn your passion into a profession is for many of us a dream come true. Yet, pursuing your vocation is no mean feat, and it is often the case that we need to take the odd awkward turning before we find ourselves on just the right path.
For Andy Hyslop, founder and CEO of Rock + Run, this story could not be more true. As a well known British climber, Andy stayed true to his life-long passion for climbing, nature and the mountains and has since gone on to play fundamental roles in the development of both British and International climbing and mountaineering communities.
Andy originally trained as a teacher but spent every minute he could climbing and mountaineering in the UK, the Himalayas, USA, Europe and Africa. He quickly realised that his true passion lay in the mountains rather than teaching and opened an outdoor store in the British Lakes at the age of 23 together with his sister and brother-in-law. Knowing the needs of fellow mountaineers in the UK and abroad, his vision for Rock + Run was to “provide specialist equipment for mountain enthusiasts” - the core idea which still rings true for Andy’s team today.
Having catered to the UK’s specialist outdoor market for over 35 years, Rock + Run are now expanding their business to mainland Europe. Wantedly spoke to Andy to learn more about his team of mountaineering enthusiasts and his plans for Germany.
Wantedly: Andy, can you give us a short overview of what Rock + Run does?
Andy: Well, a lot has happened since we founded Rock + Run in 1983 as an outdoor store in the Lake District. We’ve now grown to become one of the UK’s most important online rock climbing, mountaineering and outdoor equipment suppliers and have recently expanded to mainland Europe. About a year ago, we launched our German website www.rockrun.de and are excited to offer our equipment and expertise to a new audience. More recently we launched www.rockrun.fr for the French market and we have plans for Sweden and Spain in the future.
Wantedly: What distinguishes Rock + Run from other suppliers?
Andy: Since the beginning, we wanted to really offer specialised equipment for mountain enthusiasts, i.e. rock climbing and mountaineering related gear. We also sell camping equipment, sleeping bags and the like but really focus on the best brands and most technical products.
Wantedly: Who’s the team behind this mission, and what is it like in the Rock + Run headquarters in Sandside?
Andy: We’re currently a team of 14 full-timers, 12 of whom are based in the Lake District, and two working remotely from France and Scotland to coordinate our international stores. I think what makes working for Rock + Run so special is that everyone is very keen about being in the outdoors - that doesn’t mean that everyone has to be a hard climber, but we’re all united by our love for the mountains and the great outdoors. Other than that, we’re a very diverse group with members ranging from their 20 years to 63s - and many of our staff have actually stayed with us for over 20 years so far!
Our headquarter is in Sandside in the Lake District, which makes it a great location for us as we’ve got the hills at our doorstep. We do occasionally go on team outings or product training but we’re more likely to arrange weekend or evening climbing trips with each other on an informal basis. I don’t like to being too ‘corporate’ about these things, everyone finds their own level and if everyone is genuinely interested in being in the mountains it happens naturally. The good thing is there’s always something to talk about after the weekend.
Wantedly: You have recently launched the German website RockRun.de. What are your plans for the next years?
Andy: Germany with it’s big mountaineering tradition and many keen outdoor enthusiasts is a very important market for us and we’re hoping to help local customers fulfill their dreams and adventures thanks to our advice and equipment. So far, we’ve seen very promising feedback and are looking forward to contributing something to the German outdoor industry!
Feel like going on an adventure in the outdoors? Rock + Run’s members definitely know how to combine their work and passion judging by their instagram account! If you’re a keen mountaineer yourself and really into your gear, you might just be the right person to join Rock + Run’s team on their mission in Germany! Check out their current job posts and apply for a visit.
(Photo Credit: Ben Broad)