What do gators, cheese and a small Texas-German town have in common? They’re all sights and sounds along the way for avid cyclist and new head of the Department of Management, Marketing and General Business, Dr. Nick Gerlich.
Gerlich heads up several of his signature Hell Week bike tours throughout the year, visiting places like Florida, Wisconsin and Fredericksburg. He and 13 others ride a total of 800 miles in eight days on each trip, providing for grueling, but altogether enjoyable adventures. And the lessons he’s learned on the back of a two-wheeler are coming in handy as he steps into his new leadership role at WTAMU.
“I’ve learned through cycling that no matter what comes up, if you stick to it, you can get it done,” Gerlich said. “When I keep up my cycling, I find the office is far more manageable.”
Gerlich was approached by Dr. Neil Terry, dean of the College of Business, about filling the role full time after previous department head, Dr. Barry Duman announced his retirement in January.
“I thought about it for two months,” he said. “And I thought about it when I was on the bike. It’s a big decision to go from regular faculty to an administrative position. It means seeing the big picture along with tending to the day-to-day activities.”
Gerlich plans on meeting the challenges of his new role with the same head-on determination he approaches his cycling.
“This is my 20th year at WT and I’ve been griping about how things are done,” he quipped. “Now it’s my turn - put up or shut up.”
While the new position means less class time with students, Gerlich still plans on imparting his wisdom and life lessons through marketing practices and the principles of determination.
“I make my students follow my incessant, daily blogging,” he said. “And there’s always wailing and gnashing of teeth in the beginning, but in the end, they realize, ‘we all made it, and it wasn’t that bad.’
"I’m a firm believer in doing what you do everyday. Don’t ever let it set idle.”
Gerlich is never idle, riding to and from work everyday, following his credo and showing others how it’s done.
“It’s different for everyone, but it usually comes in the form of a hobby,” he said. “Everyone needs an escape valve, that place in your mind where you can go and everything becomes crystal clear.”
He finds cycling a great way to work through things.
“I hop on the bike and replay the day’s events,” he said. “I listen for the things I might not have heard the first time. It’s a time to let my mind run wild and find solutions.”
The professor picked up his favorite pastime while he was a graduate student in 1983. He weighed well over 200 pounds when he decided a change was in order. That was 335,000 miles and many pounds ago.
“I figure I’ve roughly traveled the distance of 13 times around the world, and I feel like Forrest Gump, because I’m still here,” he said.
Gerlich is still here, but he’s also still traversing the world, cycling past gators and blazing through the Florida and Texas heat with a crystal clear vision for the future.