ABOUT OUTDOOR BRAND TEAM

#2

The #2 outdoor activity in the US behind running

54 Million

More than 54 million people are now fishing each year

49.8 Billion

Annual market value of over $49.8 billion

The fishing industry had seen year over year steady and consistent growth, until 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, and an estimated 8-10 million new anglers started fishing.  The American Sportfishing Association now reports more than 54 million people fish each year,  making it the second most popular outdoor activity in the United States. While the pandemic, brought a number of new anglers in the market, existing anglers were fishing more also.  That saw the fishing tackle market grow at unprecedented levels in 2020 and 2021. In 2022, the fishing business contracted in many cases returning to normal levels as people returned to back to other activities and travel. A return to slow and steady growth is likely to continue in the coming years.

The Outdoor Brand Team staff has been in the fishing industry since 1996.  Our focus has always been fishing and the brands we work with are all fishing related brands.  We started as a traditional rep group calling on dealer, distributor and chain customers while generating consistent growth year after year.  We saw a developing need with our brand partners for expanded services to continue driving that growth. At the same time the fishing market was changing with customer consolidation, changing distribution and shifting media. Our services successfully grew beyond the traditional factory rep role, into management and marketing services.  It is now a hybrid model combining both sales and marketing to provide us unique synergies, and economies of scale at an affordable solution that is results driven.

A high-powered marketing campaign is useless if it doesn’t impact sales and the bottom line. Our services are focused on results and the best possible return on investment.  Our brand partners range from new brands, established brands and international brands looking to penetrate the growing US fishing market. Our brands have consistently averaged double digit year over year growth for the past 10 years.

WHAT WE DO

Sales Services

Our team reaches from Wisconsin to Florida and we provide traditional sales rep services in 18 states. We have strong relationships with a variety of customers from independent dealers to chain store buyers. We also manage sales in North America for multiple reps including managing other outside rep groups beyond our team. We also visit key customers across the country all year insuring our brands are best positioned. Unlike many traditional rep groups our focus is solely the fishing market and our portfolio of brands has always been small to insure strong relationships with high frequency communication and immediate impact.

Strategic Marketing Plans

Our marketing services team develops strategic marketing plans and provides a wide range of services including market data, social media management, email newsletters, media relationships and content creation to name a few. Content creation continues to be a growing point of our brands to make them stand out in a competitive industry. We have strong relationships with all media platforms in the fishing industry to insure a brand is well positioned for high exposure. Our media buying experience is in all platforms and leads to value-based plans that get results. Marketing is changing at a faster pace than ever before and our team knows the fishing market and the platforms that impact it.

Product Development

We are also responsible for many aspects of the product development process from concept to prototype to final product launch. Our product development is based on strong market research and market knowledge to insure high success and has lead to ICAST Best in Show awards. Our team has extensive experience in providing forecasting and inventory management services as well to support a successful launch.

Pro Staff Management

Pro staff management and influencer relationships are always important but can lead to disappointing results if not managed properly. We have experience managing dozens of pro anglers and hundreds of influencers across the country.

If your brand is looking for results in the fishing market, contact our team for more information.

MEET THE TEAM

Mike Valster

Principal

Mike is a 20+ year veteran of the outdoor industry. He has been instrumental in the development of numerous brands in the fishing segment. Helping companies start from scratch in the US fishing market or existing companies grow into the fishing segment.

He and the Outdoor Brand Team have helped companies in multiple roles of sales, management, marketing and brand building at all levels. His passion from an early age has always been fishing and that continues today with a focus on a small group of preferred partners in the fishing market.

Mike currently lives in Iowa with his wife and two children.

Vance Gordon

Sales Professional

Vance brings 40+ years of sales experience to the table, with 30+ of those specifically being in the marine and sporting goods industry. With over 50 years spent fishing both recreationally and in competitive tournaments, Vance has a great passion for fishing.

Sharing new products and techniques with customers and fellow anglers is one of Vance’s passions along with understanding the manufacturing processes of the great products he represents. Vance is semi-retired and helps with select accounts and strategies when he is not fishing on the Mississippi River.

Vance currently resides in Iowa, and enjoys spending as much time on the water as possible.

Carl Carson

Sales Professional

Carl is a US ARMY veteran, with loyalty marketing and management positions held within a large retail chain. A 20-year accomplished tournament angler and avid outdoorsman, that enjoys introducing the outdoors to others via camping, hunting and fishing (freshwater or saltwater).

Coordinator in tradeshows, speaker at seminars, schools, consumer shows, hunting or fishing clubs.  Sales Consultant with 13+ years’ experience with buyers at multiple levels:  independent dealer, large retailer and or large distributors.

Carl brings with him true in the field experience with in store sets, product training, marketing and sales trends or techniques. So lets go outdoors and talk business.

Justin DeBree

Sales Professional

Justin has five plus of years of sales experience in the fishing segment and has strong relationships with retailers all over Florida.

Justin graduated from Florida Atlantic University with a degree in marketing.  He has been very effective in sales and marketing events thru out the state of Florida while winning multiple rep of the year awards.

Justin is a passionate fisherman with strong knowledge of freshwater, saltwater and fly markets.

Matt Ledbetter

Sales Manager

Matt has more than 20 years experience in the fishing industry. With 10 years of retail sales and management experience, and over 14 years experience as a factory rep, Matt is a seasoned veteran of the industry. With great account relationships and strong team relationships, Matt has risen to the position of sales manager for the Outdoor Brand Team.  Matt leads all of our sales team members to help ensure they are all reaching their full potential in their respective territories.

Matt’s career has led him to Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Alabama and Mississippi working with both dealers and distributors along the way.

Matt  enjoys both fresh and saltwater fishing, with his favorites being bass and inshore saltwater.  Along with fishing Matt enjoys attending sporting events such as football, basketball and baseball.   Matt currently resides in Georgia close to the shores of Lake Lanier.

Justin McClelland

Sales Professional

Justin joined the Outdoor Brand Team in January of 2018 as sales professional responsible for accounts in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, and Illinois.

Justin’s background includes 13 plus years of fishing sales experience, along with also growing up in the fishing industry. A big key to his success is building lasting relationships with customers.

He also enjoys competing in fishing tournaments, as well as spending time with family trout fishing below Bull Shoals Dam. He Currently resides in Northwest Arkansas.

Scott Nemecek

Sales Professional

Scott joined the Outdoor Brand Team in June of 2019. He is responsible for the accounts in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

Scott has over 30 years of outdoor sales experience both as a sales representative and distributor salesman. He’s a highly motivated achiever, skilled in selling products, services and developing client relationships and new business.

Scott’s passion as a Manufactures Representative is taking a new or unknown product and working with his dealers, pro-staff and advertisers to making it a winner. He is also a rep who wants to know the nuts and bolts of the lines he represents, so product knowledge is a very important part to his sales technique. Scott brings to the table, ethics, honesty, hard work and an upfront personality that gets the job done.

Scott’s free time is spent mainly on the water fishing. He and wife chase the perch around Lake Ontario, St. Lawrence River and the Finger Lakes. When he’s not fishing with his wife, he’s after walleyes, pike, large and small mouth bass. When open water fishing ends in mid-November he likes to hunt Whitetails.

Rob Ruckman

Sales Professional

Rob joined Outdoor Brand Team in 2015 as a Sales Professional responsible for accounts in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana. His ability to establish strong working relationships with his customers, our manufacturers and local consumer networks has been key to his success.

Being the recipient of multiple sales awards, the true reward lies within the growth and sharing in the success of his customers and the brands he represents.

Rob enjoys all aspects of the outdoor business. He is an avid angler and a licensed USCG fishing guide in the great lakes region. Rob values sharing his passion for the outdoors on and off the water with friends and family.

Bill Schoepke

Sales Professional

Bill joined the Outdoor Brand Team in May of 2019. He is responsible for the accounts in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Bill has over 22 years of outdoors sales knowledge. The majority of his experience comes from the fishing side of the business. He brings his skills of merchandising, assortment building, and product knowledge. Providing an individual with the proper product or knowledge to enhance their experience is rewarding for him. His relationships with customers and contacts have been created with honesty and commitment, providing the best service possible in each situation.

Bill’s free time is spent in the outdoors. He spends time fishing muskies, walleyes, panfish, largemouth and smallmouth bass, and an occasional steelhead. When fall comes around and he is not deer hunting, he is waterfowl hunting. His greatest enjoyment of the season comes from watching his yellow lab, Kota, retrieve birds.

Scott Petersen

Media Coordinator

Scott grew up hunting and fishing in the upper Midwest and calls the Twin Cities of Minnesota home. He took to the water and found a passion for tournament bass fishing.

Tournament success led him to the seminar stage at area sport shows and that lead him into writing for outdoor publications throughout the upper Midwest. It is the writing and teaching passion that lead him to becoming the Media Coordinator for the companies that Outdoor Brand Team represents. Scott also coordinates our successful media events each year.

Scott uses his on the water experience and fishing knowledge to assist the companies and their Pro Staff’s in getting their media and marketing message to the public and to the fishermen.

David Rush

Content Coordinator

Dave is an outdoor journalist, photographer and content specialist based in Summerville, SC. Growing up around the fishing and marine industry led Dave to pursue his passion of sharing the great outdoors with others through writing and photography.

Covering the professional tournament scene for over a decade has given Dave a unique insight on how to promote the brands that are the lifeblood of the fishing and outdoor industry. He has strong relationships with anglers at all levels.

Dave is our content coordinator and heads our efforts to construct unique content to be used on a wide range of platforms including social, newsletters, digital, SEO and paid advertising. Dave also manages our Best on Tour weekly email.

Preston Kendrick

Sales Professional

Preston Kendrick joined the Outdoor Brand Team in June of 2021. He graduated from Bryan College with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a specialization in Marketing, while currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Business Administration with a specialization in Marketing.

Preston has had a passion for fishing since he was 10 years old. His passion led him to compete in high school and college fishing tournaments, and he and his partner won the 2020 Collegiate National Championship.

Preston is passionate about growing the sport of fishing through teaching younger anglers how to fish.  Preston helps with a number of sales and marketing activities in the Southeast and across the Eastern US.

Jordan Badcock

Graphic Designer

Jordan is a Graphic Designer based in Tulsa, OK. He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design and has over 5 years of experience creating graphics and marketing materials for multiple brands.

His primary role is creating graphics for social media, catalogs, trade shows, clothing, web and print ads, newsletters, and packaging. He also assists in shooting and editing photos and videos for media events.

He grew up fishing Toledo Bend and mostly fishes for bass, although he has been known to fish for “whatever’s biting” including surf fishing for sharks in the Florida panhandle.

TESTIMONIALS

AFTCO has been in the fishing business for 60 + years, yet knew very little of the freshwater market until we started working with OBT. In 2017 we turned over all of our freshwater sales & marketing efforts to their team. The impact was immediate. Mike Valster and his team not only have an amazing understanding of their market – they understand the complete product life cycle. From product development, packaging, and sales to the marketing support needed to support product sell through. OBT has represented our company with class and integrity. AFTCO is proud to be aligned with every single member of the Outdoor Brands Team.

AFTCO – The American Fishing Tackle company is a 3rd generation family business, founded in 1958. Each year AFTCO contributes more than 10 % of company profits to fishing conservation.

Casey SheddVP Sales & Marketing, AFTCO.American Fishing Tackle Company

I have worked with the OBT group for quite a few years and known many of them beyond that. This is a first class organizations that still believes in making in store dealer calls rather than phone calls and are proof that “people still buy from people” and they have great repour with their accounts because of this.

Without question OBT has been a big part in helping the Denali Rods brand grow with placement and also brand awareness in the fishing world.

One of the best group of guys in the industry!!

Bryan HeadDenali Rods National Sales ManagerDenali Rods

The Outdoor Brand Team helped from the beginning with Sunline America to establish the brand in the US market.  They have completely managed the sales and marketing of the Sunline brand in North America with annual growth year over year.

They have a thorough knowledge of the US fishing market and use their experience, hard work and creative thinking to help a brand flourish in a competitive market place.

Nobuyuki KajioPresident Sunline AmericaSunline America

SPRO has worked with Mike for over 15 years. We have established a great business relationship that has really grown the SPRO and Gamakatsu Brands in their territory. Mike and his team are true team players that have great relationships with the key accounts in their territory.

We have been thoroughly pleased with their representation of the SPRO and Gamakatsu line.

Syd RivesSales Manager SPROSPRO and Gamakatsu

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