What sparked your passion for starting Sledge Outfitters?
I was 16-years-old when someone told me that they would pay me to take them duck hunting. About this time, I knew I wanted to buy a new shotgun and also knew I needed to start looking at how I was going to pay for college, so I thought to myself, “what better way to make some money than doing something I already do every morning.” Once I began guiding more, I realized that it wasn’t the passion for hunting and fishing that made me love Sledge Outfitters. What kept me passionate about guiding is the fact that in 8 hours together you become best friends with the group, and stay in touch for the rest of the year. But for us, as the guides, we have a whole new group the next day and get to experience it all over again. That, in my opinion, is the coolest part of being a part of Sledge Outfitters.
What does a typical day at Sledge Outfitters look like for you?
I’ll tell you about a day at Sledge Outfitters when it’s July in Alaska. This is the busiest time of year for us. We wake up about 3:30 am, make a pot of coffee, put our waders on, grab the bait, and head for the river by 3:50 am. We arrive at the boat launch around 4:00, and after that, we pick up the first group to go fishing. We have a great day out on the water until about noon, and then we pick up the second group at 1:00 pm and have a great time fishing with them until about 8:30 that evening. Then we go home, clean the boat, cook dinner, and get gear ready for the next day. We try to get to bed at a decent time because the next day we get up and do it all over again. In the month of July, the guides will typically do this 6 days a week for the whole month. July is an absolute blast, and we do it because we love it.
If you could describe your company in three words or phrases, what would they be?
Professional, Caring, Authentic
What was your latest win?
My latest win would be the fact that I listened to Craig, a client of ours, and added panning for gold as an option on a salmon fishing trip. That was something Craig wanted to do with his family while they were fishing. So, we just got the permission and permits to pan for gold on the Kasilof River. This will be a cool opportunity because we are the only outfitter that offers an option to pan for gold while fishing. This was such a win for me because I learned how to listen to the client and put into action what he was asking for.
What would you say to encourage others to apply for acceptance into the program?
Understand it’s not going to be easy. You already have a business up and running and you don’t think you have enough time to add anything else on top of it. However, if you want to go to that next level and you're humble/coachable, the RTI Fort Cohort will give you the ecosystem to get there. I like to say life is about winning the 50/50’s. These are the times you are presented with an opportunity, but you really don’t want to do it or you come up with an excuse not to do it. In these situations, half the time we’ll say yes, and half the time we’ll say no. I think if you try to say yes to the majority of these opportunities that’s how you get to accomplishing great things. RTI Fort Cohort is an opportunity to level up you and your business. Are you going to say yes or no? Let’s win the 50/50’s we are presented with.
What do you like best about being part of the RTI FORT cohort?
Being a member of the RTI FORT, you are surrounded by some of the top entrepreneurs in DFW. Having discussions with one another, you start to learn things from each individual that benefits your own business. Personally, the FORT has taught me organization skills. Anything worth something isn’t going to be easy. It’s been unconventional for me to do weekly reports and updates and have certain deadlines. Organization and weekly reports are something I need to focus on as Sledge Outfitters continues to grow, and the FORT has enabled me to do so.
Find out more about Sledge Outfitters here: https://www.sledgeoutfitters.com/
Applications for the FORT 002 will be open soon on the Rising Tide website. The FORT is a group of real, genuine people helping make dreams come true through entrepreneurship, and we would love for you to be a part of it.