Categories
Work

eCommerce Development Manager at Gardeners.com

In June of 2004, I was promoted to eCommerce Development Manager at Gardener’s Supply.  As part of this promotion, I took on management responsibilities for the eCommerce development team.  In addition, I also stepped into a more strategic role of defining the road map for the future of eCommerce technology at Gardner’s Supply.

Gardeners.com had been running on the same homegrown platform for a long time.  It was really starting to show its age, and we knew that we needed to consider alternatives and migrate to a new platform.  In 2004, we started considering the different options and started holding meetings with potential vendors.  During this review process, I also received a cold call from Mary Ann Charlton “Mac” at Demandware. At the time, Demandware was a very small company with only a handful of clients.  I was impressed with the initial conversation we had and so we added them to the RFP. 

After a long and exhaustive evaluation process, we ended up selecting Demandware to be the new eCommerce platform for the Garders.com site.  It was a leap of faith for us at the time but we believed in the technology and team behind it.  Gardner’s Supply was the first big client win for Demandware and over the next 10 years they went on to become one of the most dominant eCommerce platforms in the industry. In February of 2004 Salesforce acquired Demandware for $2.8B and it is now part of the “Commerce Cloud” offering.  Gardeners.com is still running Demandware/Salesforce 15 years later!

We spent most of 2005 working on the build out and implementation of the new site with Demandware.  It was a great project but unfortunately I would not get to see the new site launch as an event that summer would have a significant impact on my career path.

While I was working full time at Gardeners.com, I was also a competitive cyclist who had aspirations of becoming a professional cyclist.  In July of 2005, I had a cycling accident where I broke my arm, that ended my racing season.  It was after that accident that I started to reevaluate my career path, and made two difficult decisions.  The first, was that I abandoned the idea of becoming a professional cyclist! Second, I decided that for my career to continue to progress at the trajectory that I wanted I would have to leave Vermont.

In September of 2005 I made the extremely difficult decision to leave Gardner’s Supply and Vermont to join The Home Depot as the User Experience Manager for homedepot.com in Atlanta. Georgia.    As I write this 15 years later, this decision still ranks as the most difficult decision I have had to make in my career!

Next: User Experience Manager, The Home Depot

Previous: eCommerce Web Developer, Gardener’s Supply

Categories
Cycling

The Times Argus – Sports Section: New Star on The Stage

August 28, 2003
By SKY BARSCH, Times Argus Staff Writer

WAITSFIELD – If you think the Appalachian Gap is difficult to drive over, you should meet Andrew Knight, and you’ll stop complaining.

He and about 800 other cyclists will be competing in this weekend’s Mad River Valley Chamber of Commerce Green Mountain Stage Race, a bicycle race that requires competitors to peddle over Rt. 17, also known as “App Gap, ” a series of switchbacks up and down a steep hill. Knight is pleased the race brings riders over the gap, because last year’s Sugarbush Access road wasn’t challenging enough, he said.

The first race, the prologue, takes place on Friday at 3:30p.m., and will rank the competitors as they climb from Waitsfield to Huntington over the gap. It takes Knight just 15 minutes to complete the gap. On the second day, the race brings riders over the Middlebury Gap, the third is the App Gap but from the Huntington side to the Waitsfield side, and the fourth and final day brings riders to Burlington

Knight, 25, has only been seriously cycling for a tad more than two years, and has already earned enough points to be classified as a second tier contender by the United States Cycling Federation.

The South Burlington man placed fourth out of 600 competitors at the Mount Washington (N.H.) Hill climb Aug. 16, even though he got a flat tire four minutes before the start. Not bad, considering he only picked up cycling for fun after he injured himself running in college. Even the race coordinator, Gary Kessler, said he is impressed by Knight’s quick rise in the ranks of the cycling world.

Knight is looking forward to this weekend’s race that begins in Waitsfield on Friday. “It’s definitely my favorite. It’s probably my favorite because of all the climbing,” he said. Climbing is Knight’s specialty, he said.

To prepare for the event, Knight has been competing in the Green Mountain Bicycle Club’s weekly time trials in Essex Junction, climbing over Bolton Mountain, and what he calls the “ping-pong” workout: up and over the App Gap four times (that’s four times up and four times down.) Knight, with eight friends started a racing team this year, said he is excited to be sponsored by Louis Garneau, a Canadian cycling clothing company with a Newport facility.

“This is the big race for Labor Day weekend,” said Knight, who is a web developer with Gardener’s Supply in Burlington. He, along with other members of the racing community, said he is pleased the Mad River Valley is hosting the race after the Killington Stage Race fizzled a few years ago.

Visitors are encouraged to attend the event, that runs from Friday to Monday. For more information visit www.gmsr.info. Drivers should expect delays throughout the valley over the weekend.

Categories
Cycling

2003 Mt. Washington Hill Climb Race Report

The Mt. Washington Hill Climb is considered the toughest hill climb in the world. Here are the stats:

Summit Elevation: 6288 ft.
Base Elevation: 1565 ft
Elevation Gain: 4727 ft.
Length: 7.6 miles
Grade: avg.12%; extended 18%; final 100 yds. 22%
Road surface: 65% paved, 35% packed gravel

After realizing last year that I was a strong hill climber, I set this race as a big goal for the season.  I trained hard all winter, did lots of hill repeats at Bolton Valley and App Gap, and built up a super lightweight 13 lb. “climbing” bike.  A special thanks to Ian and Paul from Fitwerx for setting me up on the ultimate Mt. Washington bike.

In preparation for the big race I did the practice ride four weeks ago.  It was a perfect day: sunny and winds out of the west at about 5mph. Weather conditions on Mt. Washington don’t get any better than that! In my first run up the mountain, I clocked a time of 59 minutes, and this included a 1 minute stop at mile 6.5 to fix a slipped rear skewer!  I was pleased with the effort and knew I was ready.  I used my 30×25 for almost the entire ride.  This gearing worked pretty well, but since I am a spinner, I could have used a little more on the steeper sections.  For the race I decided to throw a 27 on.

Race Day!

We got to the base of the mountain around 5:45am.  We were going to give my friend Kevin a ride down so we used his car as base camp.  I unloaded my stuff into Kevin’s car and we sent Crystal up the mountain early to get a parking spot at the top.  I had gone through meticulous preparation in making sure I had everything I needed, but I made a critical mistake and sent my spare bike and wheels up with Crystal not thinking I would need them.  I went through my standard 45 minute warm-up and then pulled up to the start.

This is where things start to get interesting. As I put my foot down, I get this weird sensation that my rear tire feels a little soft.  My heart sinks.  I reach down and squeeze the rear tire….definitely too soft!  I quickly run over to one of the cars and grab a pump from someone.  I pump the tubular back up to 130 and run the tire over my fingers…there is a piece of metal lodged in the tire that is causing the tire to leak.  There was no way this wheel would make it an hour to the top. As a year’s worth of preparation flashes before my eyes, I go to plan B:  I need a new wheel and fast… the race starts in 3 minutes!  I see Phil Wong’s teammate Greg and he says Phil has a spare wheel in the car.  I throw the wheel on quickly glancing at the cassette hoping that it might be a 25…no such luck- it is a 23 and there is no time to switch to my 27!  This race just got a whole lot harder!

I get back over to the start line and take a few deep breaths to try and calm myself down. “BANG” The gun goes off.  Tom Danielson, Phil Wong, Drew Miller, and Genevieve Jeanson take off.  I let them go as my plan was to go a little more conservative in the first half as I overcooked the first 3 miles of the practice ride. After the first mile Scott Fiore comes by me and I get on his wheel. We pull back Miller by mile 1.5 but the other 3 are quickly pulling away from us.  I was glad to have a wheel to stick on as the first 2 miles were pretty rough; at times I was struggling to stay on Scott’s wheel. By mile 3 I start to feel a little better and I pull by Scott to take over the pace work.  He sticks on my wheel for the next mile but by mile 4 I have started to put a gap on him.  Mile 4 is also our first western exposure as we come through the tree line the wind starts to pick up!  As if this climb is not hard enough, now we have to deal with the wind!  The next 400yards are tough with a full western exposure on our faces.  I estimate the winds are blowing 15 to 20 at this point. I continue on and for the next mile the winds are not an issue as we are protected by the face of the mountain.

As I come through mile 5.5 I am greeted by a blast of wind, fog, and rain.  Conditions just went from bad to UGLY! The winds are now blowing 30-40 mph but they are now more of a side/head wind! Visibility is about 30 feet, and taking your hands off the handlebars to grab some water was not an option!  With the wind and my 23 I am really starting to bog down.  I am having trouble getting my heart rate up and I begin to think this climb is never going to end. I hit mile 7 and the weather has continued to get worse.  Winds are blowing 50mph and I can barely see anything in front of me now.  Keeping the bike tracking straight is really an issue.  I hit the 22% grade at the finish and my legs are about to explode.  I can feel my rear tire slipping on the super slick pavement, but I make it to the top and finish.  What an incredible ride!

Conditions at the top are CRAZY.  Within a minute of stopping I am freezing cold.  It had to be 45 degrees up there!  Crystal runs over and gives me some warm dry clothes to put on.  I finished in a time of 1:01:40 and was 4th place overall.  I was the 3rd Male so I made the podium presentation at the bottom!

My podium shot with Tom Danielson!
My podium shot with Tom Danielson (center)!
22% On a Really Bad Day!
22% On a Really Bad Day!
22% On a Nice Day
22% On a Nice Day

Full SmugMug Album

You can also read the coverage from fromVeloNews.com & CyclingNews.com

Categories
Cycling

2003 Mt. Ascutney Hill Climb

This past weekend the team headed to Massachusetts for the Tour of the Hilltowns Road Race. It is a straight shot down I91, so I decided to head down a day early and do the Mt Ascutney hill climb on Saturday. It would serve as a good warm-up for both Sunday’s race and Mt Washington in a few weeks. I had never done Ascutney, but I figured it could not be any worse than my Mt. Washington ride the week before!

Ascutney is a beast of a climb rising 2200 feet in only 3.7 miles. I went off in the lead group and after the first half mile I had opened up a gap. By the time I got to the first mile marker I was out of sight. I felt good and continued to power up the climb in my 30×25 gearing. I won with a time of 25:43! I found out later on in the day that the record was set last year at 25:29….now I know what to shoot for next year.

Mt. Ascutney State Park Bike Climb
                        Bicycle Hillclimb - 3.7 MI.
  July 26, 2003     Mt. Ascutney State Park Auto Road     Brownsville, VT
          Timing By: Granite State Race Services    www.gsrs.com
===============================================================================
PLACE DIV/TOT  DIV   TIME    RATE NAME                   AG S RACE# CITY/STATE              SPE
===== ======== ===== ======= ==== ====================== == = ===== ======================= ===
    1   1/16   M2034   25:43   8.6 Andrew Knight          25 M   375 South Burlington VT
    2   2/16   M2034   28:01   7.9 Kurt Hackler           26 M   348 Bolton MA
    3   1/45   M3544   29:14   7.6 Matt Seaton            38 M   477 Belmont MA
    4   2/45   M3544   29:21   7.6 Rojean Boivin          36 M   309 L'ancienne-Lorette PQ
    5   3/45   M3544   29:54   7.4 Doug Jansen            40 M   365 Pelham NH
    6   1/30   M4554   30:00   7.4 Virgil Luca            45 M   383 St Leonard PQ
    7   4/45   M3544   30:24   7.3 Kevin Bessett          37 M   306 Williston VT
    8   3/16   M2034   30:57   7.2 Gregg Ferraris         25 M   338 Southington CT
    9   5/45   M3544   31:00   7.2 Keith Guinta           40 M   347 Fairfield CT
   10   4/16   M2034   31:06   7.1 Edgardo Torres         29 M   447 Norwalk CT
   11   6/45   M3544   32:01   6.9 Brett Rutledge         41 M   428 Westboro MA
   12   5/16   M2034   32:09   6.9 Hunter Pronovost       25 M   419 Cheshire CT
   13   6/16   M2034   32:23   6.9 Samuel Wheeler-Marteni 32 M   461 Belmont MA
   14   7/45   M3544   32:27   6.8 Bob Miller             44 M   395 Norwich VT
   15   2/30   M4554   32:30   6.8 Jack Hutchinson        54 M   364 Deerfield NH
   16   8/45   M3544   32:34   6.8 Richard Powell         43 M   416 Hanover NH
   17   9/45   M3544   32:57   6.7 Rich Marquardt         37 M   388 Henniker NH
   18   1/8    M0119   33:10   6.7 Josh Typrowicz-Cohen   17 M   452 Norwich VT
   19  10/45   M3544   33:15   6.7 Dennis Oconnor         42 M   402 Orford NH
   20  11/45   M3544   33:18   6.7 Charles Foley          40 M   340 Glastonbury CT
   21   1/15   M5564   33:34   6.6 Bob Bortree            56 M   311 Stowe VT
   22  12/45   M3544   33:48   6.6 Paul Charron           36 M   320 Essex Junction VT
   23   3/30   M4554   33:50   6.6 Roger Costales         48 M   325 S. Burlington VT
   24   7/16   M2034   33:53   6.6 David Day              33 M   329 Antrim NH
   25  13/45   M3544   33:58   6.5 Daniel Doherty         41 M   332 Ctr. Conway NH
   26   4/30   M4554   34:00   6.5 Robert Tobia           45 M   479 Peru VT
   27   5/30   M4554   34:04   6.5 Kevin Haley            45 M   349 Vernon NJ
   28  14/45   M3544   34:14   6.5 Eric Brandhorst        41 M   313 Carlisle MA
   29   6/30   M4554   34:14   6.5 Fish Frusciante        52 M   342 Epping NH
   30   7/30   M4554   34:33   6.4 Jim Odorisio           46 M   404 Chittenden VT
   31   8/30   M4554   34:43   6.4 Steve Lavoie           46 M   470 Loudon NH
   32  15/45   M3544   34:53   6.4 Andrew Watson          35 M   459 South Deerfield MA
   33   9/30   M4554   34:54   6.4 Lloyd Crawford         50 M   326 Hawley MA
   34  10/30   M4554   35:23   6.3 Ry Perry               53 M   411 Contoocook NH
   35  16/45   M3544   35:25   6.3 Robert Swinburne       35 M   442 Brattleboro VT
   36                  35:49   6.2 Dale Apgar                M   482 Hanover NH              CLY
   37  17/45   M3544   35:52   6.2 Bob Zock               35 M   466 Sutton NH
   38                  36:14   6.1 Jay Prewitt                   417 Portsmouth              TAN
   39                  36:19   6.1 Anne Marie Prewitt            418 Portsmouth              TAN
   40  11/30   M4554   36:26   6.1 Jim Arnold                M   302 Cornwall VT             CLY
   41  18/45   M3544   36:44   6.0 Steve Vosburgh         39 M   458 Jackson NH
   42   8/16   M2034   36:47   6.0 Neil Favreau           34 M   337 East Burke VT
   43   1/7    F3544   36:58   6.0 Dominique Codere       44 F   324 Mt. Royal PQ
   44   2/7    F3544   37:05   6.0 Heather Mckendry       38 F   391 Eaton NH
   45  19/45   M3544   37:08   6.0 John Murphy            40 M   398 West Hartford CT
   46   2/15   M5564   37:09   6.0 Rol Hesselbart         57 M   358 Heath MA
   47  20/45   M3544   37:30   5.9 Clayton Dennis         41 M   330 Westport MA
   48   2/8    M0119   37:30   5.9 Nicholas Crawford      16 M   327 Hawley MA
   49  12/30   M4554   37:36   5.9 Joseph Bracchitta      45 M   312 Greenwich CT
   50   3/15   M5564   37:39   5.9 Ken Peterson           59 M   412 North Brookfield MA
Record 25:29 by Alan Obye in 2002.
   7/26/2003 12:20AM

Full Results

Categories
Cycling

2003 Shelburne Sprint Triathlon

After racing a hard Fitchburg stage race the team decided to take July 4th off from racing.  There was a local sprint triathlon in Shelburne that I decided to jump in.  Here is my race report:

Preparation before the race:

On Friday I went out and practiced some hills on my Mt. Washington bike. I went pretty hard for 2 hours but it helped to loosen up my legs which were still sore from my run on Wednesday!

On Saturday I rode the course and scouted out the hills and what kind of gearing I wanted to use. Overall the course is pretty rolling. By Vermont standards I would call it flat but then again I think anything is flat when I am not using my 12-25 for this race I went with my 12-23 (53/39 up front)

Saturday night I worked on some of my transitions. T1 was going to be difficult; I decided I wanted to ride in my bike stuff as this is what I have been used to (bad idea). T2 I got down pretty well as I was just going to change my shoes.

Race Day

Swim (500yds): The swim was a wet start so it was not crazy. I had a pretty good swim, came out of the water in 9:30. The first guy was out in 8 minutes so I figure the course was a little longer than the advertised 500yds. I made one mistake in the swim: I stood up way too early. It was not until after the race that I was told to swim all the way until your hand hits the bottom.

T1: This was terrible! The leaders official swim split was 9minutes. Mine was 11:30, so not only did I loose 1:30 in the swim but I lost 1 minute in the transition. This was a little frustrating as I had hoped to be closer than that.

Bike (15.6mile): This went well. I passed most people in the first few miles. This opened up the road and I was able to get in a rhythm. I passed everybody on the bike except for the leader. I came within 30 seconds but needed a few more miles to catch him. My official bike split was 35.13 (26.57mph).

A few notes from the bike:
I had a little problem with my butt cramping up in the first few miles of the bike was not expecting that! I had difficulty getting my heartrate up most of the time it was low 170’s (I usually TT at low 180’s).
I felt “ok” on the bike not great…a bike leg is a little different that a flat out TT!

T2: This went fine. Took the helmet off, got the running shoes on and I was off!

Run (5k): I left the run 30 seconds down on the leader but never got any closer. The run actually felt ok from I was really surprised that the first half mile was not bad at all. My stomach was not great but I think that would improve with some “brick” workouts. My official run split was 21:20 (6:53 pace). I ended up holding my position; finishing 2nd overall and winning my age group (25-30). The winner was Tim Watson who I found out later was a former pro. He ended up running 6 minute pace and smoked me on the run.

 

Overall, it was a fun day and hopefully I will get to do another tri in September. I will definitely get some Louis Garneau tri-gear and swim/bike/run in all the same clothing. God that T1 was bad. Nothing like trying to get your bike jersey on over a wet body that is just asking for problems!

Categories
Work

eCommerce Web Developer at Gardeners.com

Previous: Web Developer, Burton Snowboards

In June of 2003 I joined Gardener’s Supply as an eCommerce Web Developer.  Gardener’s Supply was established in 1983 by Will Rapp in Burlington Vermont.  It was a classic catalog company, that was transforming its business model to adapt to the growth of eCommerce.  While the majority of revenue came from the catalog, the eCommerce portion was the fastest growing part of the company and everybody could see it was the future of the business.

The eCommerce development team was part of the IT organization at Gardener’s Supply, which was pretty typical back in 2003. It was a small team of about eight of us and I reported to Chris Thompson the CTO.  There was only one other eCommerce developer so it was a really small development team!  I worked closely with my IT colleagues on all the back end plumbing but I also spent a lot of time with the eCommerce marketing team that was led by Max Harris.  Max was a great mentor to me and had a pivotal influence on my career.  I credit most of my early eCommerce marketing knowledge to Max!

Gardener’s Supply was a Microsoft shop like Burton so all my development work was in Classic ASP and Visual Basic.  Since we were a small team, I got involved in all aspects of the eCommerce business.  This was an incredible opportunity at such an early point in my career.  I was only 25 years old and I was owning large portions of development for a $50m+ business!  Coming from Burton, which was very “front end” heavy, I leaned more in that direction while the other developer focused more on the “back end” order processing side of the business.  I worked closely with Roland Ludlam the lead designer and together we worked on almost every major site initiative in 2003 and 2004 for gardeners.com.  We were a great team and built things like “Plant Finder” and “Cushion Finder” that allowed customers to easily shop the site.

Gardeners.com Homepage 6/24/2003

Next: eCommerce Development Manager, Gardener’s Supply

Categories
Personal

Our First Home: 67 Floral Street South Burlington Vermont

67 Floral Street South Burlington, Vermont

Beautiful townhouse in the sought after Dorset Farms subdivision in South Burlington. Get the feel of country living in a quiet community that is only 5 minutes from Burlington!

On April 26th, 2002 Crystal and I purchased our first home!  A three  bedroom townhouse at 67 Floral St in South Burlington, Vermont. I had moved to Burlington to work for Burton Snowboards and had previously been living in an apartment at the Woolen Mill. Crystal decided to leave Massachusetts and move to Vermont so we could be together.

As our first home this one will always be special. We got engaged while living here and always look back on 67 Floral with fond memories of our time in Vermont.

Categories
Work

Web Developer at Burton Snowboards

Previous: Associate Consultant, Computer Sciences Corporation

After working at CSC, I joined Burton Snowboards as a Web Developer on February 26, 2001.

 Working at Burton was truly a dream come true.  I started snowboarding in 5th grade and got my first Burton Snowboard in 7th grade.  If you had asked me in high school, name the one company you want to work for some day it would have been Burton Snowboards. I joined Burton in the winter of 2001, along with Brad Alan a college friend from BC who had graduated a year earlier than me.  We were both in technology consulting and avid snowboarders so it was a great opportunity for both of us.

Before 2001, Burton had outsourced development of burton.com to an outside agency.  I was part of the team that was hired to bring this work in house for the launch of the 2002 season on burton.com. We were a small group of developers and designers that rebuilt burton.com from the ground up each season to launch in August.  We were a Microsoft shop, so all web development work was done in ASP/SQL/HTML. I learned a lot in this role, and got to build some cool applications including the very first “board finder” launched on burton.com.

In the early days of Burton.com, the site served as a customer facing catalog to support the dealer network.  Burton did not want to allow online ordering for consumers but there was an interest in developing a B2B site. In 2002, Rich Sturim and I worked on building the first dealer.burton.com eCommerce site.

Working at Burton was an incredible experience.  I loved the company and culture and learned a lot from the more senior developers on the team. We worked some long hours but we also had a lot of fun. If it snowed more than a foot, Jake expected the whole company to be at the mountain riding! During the winter we would hit the slopes in the morning, get a few runs in, and then head into work.

While I loved the company, a great opportunity presented itself and on May 27th, 2003 I left Burton to join the Gardeners.com team as an eCommerce Developer.

Next: eCommerce Web Developer, Gardener’s Supply

Categories
Work

Associate Consultant at Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC)

I started as an Associate Consultant at Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) on October 2nd, 2000.  There were a number of summer jobs   before this but this was my first job after graduating and what I consider the start of my career. Before I get into what I did at CSC a little history on how I ended up here.

I went to Boston College and majored in Economics with a minor in Information Systems.  In addition to my classes, I also did a lot of computer work outside of school. I built computers in my dorm room, developed a small business website, launched superwebmen.com with my roomates, and was a computer consultant to a BC alum in the hedge fund business.

I started my job search in the fall of my senior year at BC.  The dot com frenzy was in full force and it was an amazing time to be graduating with technology skills. CSC was recruiting on campus and I met with some of the team including Pam Wall a BC alum and the lead recruiter.  I liked Pam and the team and was impressed with the training program they offered. In February of 2000 I accepted the offer from CSC.

Signing the CSC offer letter February 9th, 2000

As part of my acceptance, CSC gave me the option of starting any time between June and October.  I jumped at the opportunity to delay my start date so I could enjoy the summer after graduation!

Leaving Crystal’s house for my first day at CSC on October 2nd, 2000

When I signed the offer in February and started in October the entire world had changed as the dot com bubble burst in May of 2000 and as a result my time at CSC was going to be short lived.

One of the primary reasons I joined CSC was they offered an intensive 8 week Associate Training Program (ATP) in eBusiness Technologies. The thinking here was to take a bunch of recent college grads from a diverse set of majors and train them to be technology consultants and programmers. A week after I started at CSC I headed to Downers Grove, IL to meet up with my fellow ATP classmates

CSC Associate Training Program – Downers Grove, IL
CSC Associate Training Program – Boston Office

During the ATP we worked on projects and implemented systems using object oriented design, Java, Servlets, JSP, XML, HTML, and SQL. While the training program was very intense overall it was a great experience!  I learned some great technologies that helped lay the foundation for my career!  Unfortunately while I was on the training program CSC announced major layoffs as the entire technology industry suffered a major contraction in 2000.

Luckily I was not part of that first round but as an associate sitting on the bench with no inbound projects I could see the writing on the wall. I updated my resume and started a job search in early 2001 to find my next opportunity.