JUNE 25, 2020 JEREMY BALBONI

Announcement

The Time Has Come, 06.24.20

Dear Brooklyn Boulders,

Today I am writing to let you know I am leaving my day to day responsibilities as CEO of Brooklyn Boulders. This is a decision that has been in the making for the last few weeks. For the last 10 years, Brooklyn Boulders has been my home, my shelter, my family, and a huge part of my life.

When this all began, I was only 19. A friend invited me to go climb. I learned how to tie a figure 8 knot in the parking lot and walked into the Boston Rock Gym a bit timid. I obviously failed the belay test although thankfully back then gyms were less strict. So up the wall I went.

It changed everything for me. Life had not always been easy. I lost my father when I was 4 and it was just me and mom. It had always felt like it was me against the world and I had not yet found my home. But from that point on, everything would be about climbing. What people thought of me became less important. “Success,” however people define it, became something else. Today I know what it all means but back then I knew it felt real, but I didn’t know why. Climbing gives us our superpower. It gives us purpose and belonging, the very foundation of happiness. It gives us a community. A shield against the world. A place to call home when everything else falls apart.

I wrote the business plan for Brooklyn Boulders shortly thereafter. I knew I wanted to bring this sport to a bigger audience. I knew how many people felt just like me and needed only a hand to look up and believe. Life took its twists and turns, and we didn’t revisit the business plan until a few years later. It was 2008 and the world was beginning to shake as the Great Recession was upon us. BKB opened its doors in the midst of that chaos, which was challenging from a business standpoint, but much needed when it came to giving the community a refuge.

We had no idea what we were doing but we knew why we were making BKB happen. So we fought. We survived. We didn’t listen to the naysayers and the ones that didn’t believe. We were going to bring climbing to Brooklyn.

We never imagined what would happen. Everyone came. Different backgrounds, different income levels, different looks, different feels, different flavors. Rebels, misfits, the pretty ones, the weird ones, the young and the old. It didn’t matter. It was an open house party. At that point, we knew what it was like to give others the superpower we had discovered. I quit my cushy job, my nice salary, my title, my identity, I risked all that I had built until then. I dedicated my life to Brooklyn Boulders. It was 2011 and for the last 10 years it’s all I have known. Day and night, weekends, holidays, vacations, I lived, breathed, and only thought about BKB. The ups and the downs, the successes and the failures, the lessons learned and the lessons given. But one facility after the other, it was all worth it. The business was successful but that was secondary. It was the change we made, the people we united, and the trail we blazed that mattered.

While I have been winding down my role as CEO in the recent weeks, Lance and I will continue to advise the Company from our seats on the Board of Directors and the team will be led by an executive committee of Shane O’Brien, David Hurd, Mark Seiger, Martin Adler, and Ty Foose. I will continue to offer support until we have finalized the new executive structure. Beyond this point, and as I begin my next adventure, I will ensure to always have BKB front and center and help the company in any way I can.

I leave BKB in a tempestuous time. Not unlike when it all began. Today the world is shaking because it’s time to make real change happen. BKB has the people, the beliefs, and the core values to do its part to once again make a difference in people’s lives. Its senior leadership is ready to respond to the call. Give purpose and belonging to people and they will find happiness. The world needs BKB and BKB needs the world.

It is now up to the next generation to keep moving it forward. The time has come to pass the baton. Every company deserves new ideas, new passions to ignite, and a new rebel to take up the good work we do and see it thrive. I cannot wait to see what you will do. Take this moment and make the world shake. Give it hope. Give it leadership. Give it a place to call home when people need refuge. Unite people. Give them a common enemy to fight.

I love you BKB. You will always be in my heart.