Sometimes the right path manifests itself. Just ask Paul Nanawa, the current Sales Service Manager for all things SCARPA. The California-born Nanawa attended college for electrical engineering, but sparks didn’t fly until a classmate took him climbing for the first time. Since then he’s followed the trails of the outdoor industry, and crafted a life in Colorado balancing what he loves with his livelihood, a harmony that’s often hard to attain.
Tell us about your role as Sales Service Manager? What’s a day in the life like?
Since we’re a fairly small company I’m involved in a lot of things. I manage the sales service team which works closely with all our dealers on day-to-day business. I manage all the communication that goes out to our dealers and personally handle our largest accounts. I also spend a lot of time on planning and coordination for the national trade shows and sales meetings, and I get to geek out and dig deep into all the sales reporting for the company.
How did you find your way to SCARPA? And how long have you been in the outdoor business?
I started out in outdoor retail working for Marmot Mountain Works during college and then Bent Gate Mountaineering after I moved to Colorado. It was really when I moved to Colorado that I made the decision that the outdoor industry is where I belonged, and after a few more years in retail I found my way onto the in-house sales team at Sierra Designs. At Sierra Designs I met and worked for Mark Mathews and was lucky enough to follow him over to the SCARPA team. All totaled, I’ve been in the industry a little over 11 years.
You spend a lot of time climbing and skiing when you’re not at work. How does that influence your perspective on a professional level?
Working for SCARPA is not a normal job. I’m not just selling shoes but I’m also promoting a sport and a culture that I’m passionate about. Plus, I can personally vouch for the shoes. This is the rock shoe that helped me send my last project, this is the mountain boot that kept my feet warm on my last summit, this is the ski boot that drove my fatty’s on the last waist-deep powder day.
How did you first get introduced to climbing and mountaineering? Was it something in your childhood, or did you discover it later in life?
I grew up in the outdoors going on backpacking and camping trips with my family starting at a very young age, but I didn’t get into climbing until college when I met a classmate who was willing to show me the ropes (pun intended). I fell in love with climbing from the beginning, and my classmate and I ended up becoming really good friends and climbing partners. We spent a lot of time at the local climbing gym and most of our weekends climbing in and around the SF bay area. After I graduated I got much more serious about the outdoors and moved to Colorado to pursue my career and my climbing.
You’ve been moving up the ranks for a while, and now you’re at the top of the customer service food chain. What’s a key insight you’ve learned along the way?
I’ve had some really great mentors that have really helped me along the way, but really I think it comes down to is: If you love what you do and you believe in the brand you’re doing it for, the rest is easy.
What’s a random fact that the world doesn’t know about Paul Nanawa? Or something your co-workers might be surprised to find out? My degree is a Bachelors of Science in Electrical Engineering with a focus on wireless design. I’d say I’m making great use of my education.
What are your go-to tools from SCARPA? Is there one shoe or boot that stands out for you? Why?
I am literally in love with the new Boostics. I was lucky enough to get a test pair about 6 months ago and I have to say Heinz (Mariacher) really hit it out of the park with this one. He truly found the perfect blend of power and sensitivity in a rock shoe. In the mountains I’m wearing the Mont Blancs, which are so unbelievably comfortable. They are a jack-of-all-trades and I use them for everything from ice climbing to slogging up a mountain to working a ski demo.
Any future goals in the mountains?
I’m really focused on getting stronger on the rock right now and I’d like to be sending mid-12s by the end of summer. I’d also love to get up some classic big routes like the Diamond on Longs and the Exum on the Grand.