Meet Wally Kunstman. Husband to Chrissy, father of five and lifelong cyclist. In that very order. This proverbial family man proudly credits his every success in life to his wonderful wife and their children. He was born and raised in Sheboygan, attended Lakeland University and can work circles around most folks half his age. His work-ethic is matched by his dedication to the finished product, both of which are inspiring. With a knowledge of bikes and a passion for cycling spanning more than two decades, nobody knows bikes better.
After years of hard work and determination, Wally made his debut on the pro-elite racing scene in 2019 and looks forward to representing Aventuron at the starting line in the very near future. He joins the Aventuron team as Warehouse Manager/Bike Mechanic and, in a period of less than a week, he can have a custom bike delivered to your doorstep…tricked out and ready to ride.
The only thing that eclipses Wally’s passion for cycling is his heart of gold and the love he has for his family.
A little-known fact about Wally is that he recently donated a kidney to his 70-year-old father-in-law, whose own kidneys were starting to fail.
Here’s a little more about the man whose hands are crafting your bikes.
1. Have you always had a penchant for cycling or is it something that you just stumbled into?
My neighbor turned me on to it when I was just 16. I remember seeing them come home after a weekend of adventuring, the car loaded down with bikes on the back, all labeled with race numbers. Those initial conversations are what got me started. So, when most kids are begging for a car, I wanted a bike. That started my passion for racing. Fast forward 27 years and I still love it. Probably even more than I did back then. I’ve trained incredibly hard to get to the level where I want to be and last year (2019) I started my first year of pro-elite racing! I love to race, have fun, travel and do it all with my family.
2. Have you always ‘worked’ in the industry?
My whole life, I’ve been a hard worker. I’ve typically always had a full-time job as well as a part-time job. In one of my part-time jobs, I used to build bikes for Target, but they were mainly low-end. Working for Aventuron is a 180-degree change from that!! This is how I tie my work and my passions together.
3. How did you find Aventuron? Or did they find you?
It’s funny how it all worked out, actually!! I was never really into building or fixing my own bikes because, over the years, I had developed a relationship with a mechanic in Green Bay who always did that stuff for me. One day my bike needed serviced and I didn’t want to have to make the drive up to Green Bay, so I stopped by Aventuron. The notice on the door said that they were operating on an “appointment only” basis because of Covid, so I called to make an appointment. When the Shop Manager, Anton, realized I was already there at the store, he let me right in. We immediately started talking about bikes, racing and all that goes with it.
Long story short, Aventuron was looking for someone to help build bikes and my background sounded like a pretty good fit. SO…here I am. Doing what I love. It just landed in my lap. It was the perfect storm. I never dreamed someone could do what they love, what they’re passionate about, and never even have to go to school for it. Aventuron offered me something that I couldn’t turn down and now I get to work for the greatest company in the world!!
4. You said this was an offer you couldn’t turn down. What made it so rewarding?
I trust Kate & Carl, the owners, more than I’ve ever trusted anyone. I know that they’ve got my back until I retire. Leaving my old job was a risk because I had tenure, benefits and insurance but these guys are going to be doing this for a very long time and I know I have a ‘home’ here. Shortly after I came to work for Aventuron, I had major surgery and the Marten’s took care of my family while I was down for the count. We wanted for nothing and that’s the biggest thing that anyone has ever done for me. I keep asking them, “Where were you guys 20 years ago?!?”
5. Tell me a little about what your typical day looks like now with this new gig.
I’ll be working out of the warehouse some, filtering through orders for all sorts of products; crossbows, fly-fishing equipment, bike racks, parts and components. I’ll be making sure that orders get filled and into the customer’s hands as soon as possible.
However, bike building is going to be most of what I do because we’re shipping worldwide. It’s crazy how many bikes are going out our doors each day! One of the reasons I got hired was because we wanted to increase our turn-around-time on bike orders. Now I can get a bike built, completely tuned up, everything all into spec and delivered to a customer’s doorstep in less than a week! The dedication to customer service here is amazing.
My long-term goal is to learn as much as possible about the (non-bike related) products that we sell. We have so many offerings that it’s hard to know everything about each product. We have hundred and hundreds of products. Sometimes it’s fun just to scroll through our website and see all the cool and exciting things that are available.
6. You seem like an incredibly motivated person. What is it that drives you?
What drives me? My family. My wife and my kids. My wife is a big part of everything. She made me the person that I am today. I know that no one in this world is perfect, but my wife really does seem to be perfect…at least for me. I guess maybe everyone thinks that about their partner, but she drives me to success. She makes me want to be the best man that I can be. Not only in life in general, but as a father as well.
When we were younger and I wasn’t exactly ‘responsible,’ she told me that I had to get it together if I wanted a life with her and she only had to say it once! I knew I didn’t want to lose her. She made me the man I am today. She drives me. She’s my mojo. She’s a great person and I tell her all the time.
7. Do your wife and your kiddos race, too?
My oldest son is 23 now and he used to race when he was little. But he outgrew the idea right around the time he turned 18 and I totally understand that. The other kids, 20, 19, 18 and 13 sometimes ride with my wife and I along Lake Michigan. It’s usually just very casual. I don’t want them to get burnt out on riding a bike, so I take it easy on ‘em. My wife doesn’t race but she will occasionally ride with me on recovery day. I love it when she does that.
8. Will you continue racing? Maybe for Aventuron?
Aventuron already has a racing team of all levels and I would absolutely love to race with them. I’d love to support the name of this shop and the owners. It’s always neat to see how folks look up to those that race on higher levels and, to represent the name Aventuron every time I’m called up to the line, it’s a pretty big deal. I don’t take that lightly. It’s cool that I’ll have the opportunity to do that.
Stay tuned. Big things are coming for Wally, Sheboygan and the Aventuron Racing Team!!