Gretchen Bauknecht-Pech, president of Bauknecht Theaters, began working in a theater in 2003 by selling concessions. She still enjoys interacting with customers and watching movies.
Full name: Gretchen Bauknecht-Pech
Family: Married to Jonathan Pech of Manitowoc. Her parents are Joe and Sally Bauknecht of Two Rivers. Her brother, Jason Bauknecht, lives in Madison.
Hometown: Two Rivers
Residence: Manitowoc. She has lived in the Lakeshore area most of her life, except for a period in which her family lived in Hawaii while her father was in the U.S. Army.
Education: She graduated from Roncalli High School, attended Lakeshore Technical College in the automotive technology program (where she met her future husband) and graduated from Silver Lake College with a bachelor of science-management degree.
Career: Bauknecht-Pech has worked for Bauknecht Theaters since September 2003. She started selling concessions part time, and her current title is president. The Strand Theater is located at 315 N. Eighth St., Manitowoc. "My position has constantly evolved along with the structure of the company and the skills I have acquired through education and job experience," she said.
What are your job duties? "My main responsibilities are the day-to-day management of all theater operations, basic HR duties and customer service," she said. "In any given day, I could be interviewing prospective employees, making popcorn and sweeping up theaters. 'Digital content management' is a new aspect of my job, since all of our movies now come on hard drives and have to be 'ingested' ... and distributed throughout our digital projector network. Soon, I will be devoting some of my time to selling on-screen advertising."
What is the best thing about your job? "The excitement surrounding movies," Bauknecht-Pech said. "If you ever watch someone as they talk about a movie they are looking forward to or just saw, it's incredible. There aren't many things that people get this excited about that can be had for $9 or is readily available on a daily basis. The best days are when we have our movie premiere events. I'm already devoting quite a few hours every week to the planning of our 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' event in November. It's gonna be great."
What are your non-work interests? "I've always been really into cars," she said. "My husband and I met while working on cars at LTC. It's something we both share a huge interest in, and it sort of provided a basis for our relationship. I also love building stuff and working with my hands. Jon and I helped a lot with some of the hands-on labor with the theater remodel this past spring. We've remodeled our house quite a bit, and we are working on our first house to flip in the coming weeks. I am on the board of directors at Shoreline Credit Union (since April 2010) and was recently elected to the position of vice chairman. I also enjoy knitting and reading."
Why do you enjoy living in the Lakeshore area? "I love how the Lakeshore area has a strong sense of community," Bauknecht-Pech said. "I think it's great that you can go to many local shops and restaurants and see the owners talking to customers. They are accessible to their customers, which is something I like to see in other places since it is the way we do things at the Strand. The people in our community are also fantastic. I love meeting and talking with them at the theater; so many of them have been incredibly supportive of us."
What's your earliest memory of seeing a movie in a theater? "My oldest memory of seeing a movie in a theater was at the Strand," she said. "My grandma brought me to see 'All Dogs Go To Heaven.' It was a really special treat since there were so many of us grandkids, but I was moving away for awhile and it was a nice time to spend alone with my grandma."
What are your favorite movies? "The whole (Harry Potter) series was just an amazing adventure," she said. "It was really cool to be able to see them year after year. It was really an epic series, that for the most part, the cast stayed the same and the story was about as true to the books as one could hope. I love the books, and to have been a part of the movies, even just as an exhibitor, was a truly memorable experience that I doubt will happen again. 'The Lord of the Rings' and 'The Hobbit' are great adventures. The 'Pirates of the Caribbean' movies, even though the plots are sometimes a little thin, I love watching the kind of adventures that you could never have in real life. 'The Avengers' and 'Thor' - I can't wait for the sequels. And 'Sherlock Holmes' (the Robert Downey Jr. ones), 'Memoirs of a Geisha,' 'Hot Fuzz,' '300' and 'Gladiator.'"
Who is your favorite actor? "Right now, it's a tie between Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Hemsworth. (Downey) is just so witty and fun to watch, whether he's playing Tony Stark or Sherlock Holmes. Chris Hemsworth has such a presence that really fits his character as Thor as well as the Huntsman. I think it's almost weird seeing him play contemporary roles.
Who is your favorite actress? "I'm a big fan of Angelina Jolie, mainly because she plays such exciting characters and does many of her own stunts. Personal controversy aside, she's great to watch."
What's a movie sequel that hasn't been made yet that you wish someone would make? "A sequel that I am hoping that will be made ... that's a pretty tough question since it seems that every remotely successful movie has or is getting a sequel! I would love to see another Sherlock Holmes, though."
What's the most buzz you've ever seen for a movie in Manitowoc? "I would have to say the movie that had the most 'buzz' was the last Harry Potter," Bauknecht-Pech said. "The last 'Twilight' was pretty close, but Harry Potter was it. We had more people attend the midnight show, the premiere event sold out faster and the lines outside waiting for us to open that night were longer. There's some industry buzz suggesting that 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' is going to be bigger. I'm definitely looking forward to finding out!"
What are your favorite movie snacks? "Nachos and cheese and Cherry Pepsi," she said. "If I'm craving sweets, I would have to go with either peanut M&Ms or Buncha Crunch. I am trying to eat a little more healthfully, though, and we're looking at bringing 'go-picnic' meals to the theater to provide healthier options to our patrons."
Any interesting tidbits about you that many people don't know? "I am half Filipino, even though I resemble my German father more than my Filipino mother," she said. "I love to travel, and I have especially enjoyed the time I've been able to spend with my family in the Philippines."