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Posted by Lyssa Scott on Thursday, April 6, 2017

At the beginning of the season, Helly Hansen announced that they would be choosing a “2016 Top Viking” -- the viking would be someone who embodied Helly Hansen’s “Alive” lifestyle: one who “has snow in their veins and shares the love of the mountains of the world.” Now that the season has concluded, Helly Hansen announced the viking: our very own Willard “Balder” Christman from our Montgomeryville shop!

HH says, “In In recognition of your accomplishments, Will, we're sending you a custom Viking Battle Axe. No...we're not kidding. Congrats Will!” We look forward to seeing what the axe looks like and we are very proud of Will. Another employee, Ryan Kelly, was also one of five runner ups for the title.

Q & A with Will “Balder” Christman: 

Q: How did you find out about the contest?

A: My managers alerted me to the fact that Helly Hansen (HH) was looking for someone. Someone who could report to them customer feedback about HH products in stores. I wanted to find out for them what was selling and what wasn't, but more importantly why. What were the customers saying? My whole role was to show the product. I was hired at Buckman’s to do boot fitting and hard goods, but with the weather the way it’s been, I also started selling soft goods-- such as men’s jackets.

Q: What are some of the things you did as a Viking to “go the extra mile” for HH and for Buckman’s?
A: Aside from showing the product, I helped with name recognition. I noticed that a lot of people haven't heard of HH so I would show them the quality of the jackets even if they were looking at some other brands too. I also provided feedback to HH about customer’s impressions of the products within stores. I was constantly emailing asking for details on different products so I could share knowledge on the sales floor.

I would also let HH know when I was going on a trip and when I got back I would let them know which gear I wore in what conditions, what I liked, and what I thought needed improvement. I traveled a lot this winter and contributed by sharing my photos doing fun stuff on Instagram using #FeelAlive and tagging @hellyhansen in my posts.

Q: Is there anything you did to stand out to HH?

A: When I got the form to fill out to become a viking, it asked for my viking name and my real name… I started thinking,Viking Viking Viking! What’s my viking name? So I go out and look up nordic names on the internet to find an appropriate name for me as a viking. Then I found out that “Balder” is the nordic name for “bearer of the light”. I would always replace light bulbs in the store when it was slow, you know, enlightening the customers. Another joke that started in the store after I chose the name Balder, was that Dave [another employee], is bald... and I’m balder! Our store is a lot of fun. We have fun. I also included on my application that “I don’t want to wear a horned helmet or root for the Minnesota Vikings,” [laughs]. That may have made me stand out.

Q: So your co-workers really got into this with you?

A: Yes! They loved it. If I’d miraculously pull something off, they’d say, “You did that and didn't get hurt?” and I would say, “Yes! I’m a viking!”

Q: What did you learn about the Helly brand from this experience?

A: I learned that they really value the feedback from what goes on in stores. They had mountain ambassadors but they didn’t have people in the stores to share that perspective. I also learned that they don’t take themselves too seriously as you saw by the way they described the winner. I believe in the product and love the brand. I just want to know if they picked me because their slogan is “Alive since 1877”... I wonder if they thought I was too.

Q: Any other comments?
A: I can’t believe they’re sending a real axe… We were joking about keeping the axe in the store and if someone says a pair of boots don’t fit, say “I could help with that”.


Congratulations, Will! We are proud to have you as one of our awesome employees! 


Categories: Winter 2016-2017

Tagged:ski, snowboard, Helly Hansen

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