We asked the CEO of Simms Fishing a few questions and learned a lot about how this outdoor brand is promoting positive change, inside and out.
Lots of outdoor industry brands can claim success over the last few years, punctuated by the fact that the global COVID-19 pandemic led to an increasingly large group of folks who wanted to get outside and enjoy the natural resources around them.
That, among other things, has led to a resurgence of devotion to the outdoor consumer. A shining example of this development can be found within the Simms Fishing brand, a leading group in not only high-quality angling gear, but in advocacy, innovation, and made-in-America ingenuity.
We got a chance to catch up with Casey Sheahan, CEO of Simms Fishing, to inquire about what Simms is accomplishing, how they're pulling it off, and why it matters to the everyday consumer.
What follows is a slightly edited question and answer session which shines light on the meaningful ways Simms is working towards the betterment of not just their own company, but the fishing industry as a whole.
Wide Open Spaces: From a big zoomed-out perspective, Simms appears to be doing really well. Are there any supporting numbers, data points, or even short anecdotes that you're willing to share to back that up?
Sheahan: Yes, there's no question, 2021 was a big year for Simms and I'd be willing to bet that was the case for many outdoor brands as well. In all the years I've been involved in the fishing and outdoor industries, there's never been a time like the present. We are experiencing a phenomenon that nobody could have ever predicted.
Prior to 2020, the question was always, what can we do to inspire the next generation of anglers, or what can we do to reach more anglers? These are tough questions to answer. Any growth-oriented business must be looking over the horizon and thinking about the next customer while staying true to their core consumers.
Simply put, there's never been as much interest in fishing and the outdoors as there is right now. That said, I think the big question these days is, what are we going to do with the opportunities this unforeseen phenomenon has presented us with?
Wide Open Spaces: Knowing that, and with what's going on in the fishing industry presently, what does Simms see as the biggest opportunity that lies ahead?
Sheahan: The biggest and most important opportunity that I see has less to do with business and everything to do with conservation. Businesses in the fishing and outdoor spaces are growing like never before, but in my mind, as far as fisheries and outdoor resources go, the phenomenon couldn't have happened at a better time.
We rely on rivers, lakes, and oceans and their surrounding ecosystems not only for our business, but also for our own recreation, emotional health, and individual well-being. These special places need our help now more than ever and not just from Simms, but from the entire fishing and outdoor communities.
As a brand, our objective is to roll out the red carpet and authentically welcome all new anglers. By doing so, it's our hope they will join our community with an understanding: Fishing is a privilege, not a promise--and all privileges come with responsibilities.
The opportunity to responsibly usher in countless new anglers to our community is also an opportunity to truly amplify our collective voice to protect and preserve our invaluable outdoor resources. Not only is that the biggest opportunity that lies ahead; it's the most critical.
Wide Open Spaces: In a recent Simms news announcement, the company shared the info on a newly appointed executive leadership team. Can you explain what they'll be doing for Simms, and what it means to the company to have these folks at the forefront?
Sheahan: Sure. Because of the rapid influx of anglers we experienced in 2020, we expected strong and steady growth for 2021. The newly appointed executive leadership team consists of 10 men and women that cumulatively represent over 300 years of experience in the outdoor and fishing industries. This team has been put into place to capitalize on the opportunities we anticipate for 2022 and beyond.
Together, this team reflects a commitment to the continued growth and development of the Simms brand and its employees, but also to the holistic fishing industry and community. By challenging the status quo and engaging the entire organization in the push for positive impact across the entire fishing industry, this team will not only set Simms up for long term success, they will also lead the charge to ensure a brighter future for fishing.
Wide Open Spaces: Also, the acquisition of The River's Edge Fly Shop in Bozeman is a step into new territory for Simms. What can you say about how the project came about, and what Simms intends on doing with the store? What can customers expect when they come to visit? Anything different?
Sheahan: Since their inception in 1983, The River's Edge has been a close partner with Simms. Through the years, we've worked together, learned together, and have also adapted to the ever-changing landscape of specialty retail together. The ownership conversation between our two brands has been an ongoing dialogue. While it's been a transaction we've both been eager to solidify, it's also a been a transaction neither party wanted to rush in to. Back in 2019, Simms gradually eased into the shallow end of the retail pool with an initial investment in The River's Edge. Back then, the timing wasn't quite right to take the plunge into the deep end. However, over the past two years, we've become quite a bit more accustomed to the water, and for both Simms and The River's Edge, the timing was finally right.
As far as any plans for the shop, I'd say customers can expect the same full-service experience The River's Edge has come to be known for, delivered by the same knowledgeable, longstanding staff. Right now, as new owners, our goal is to continue providing customers with the best retail experience possible and in the process, explore new and innovative merchandising strategies, receive direct product feedback from consumers in order to better serve our vast wholesale and retail network, and simply continue the legacy The River's Edge has built right here in Bozeman.
To find out more about Simms Fishing and check out their top tier gear, go to SimmsFishing.com.
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