St. Croix Rod, handcrafters of the Best Rods on Earth® for nearly 75 years, announces the promotion of prior Product Manager, Ryan Teach, to Brand Manager. Teach began working in his new position at St. Croix in Park Falls, Wisconsin on November 1.
Having earned undergraduate degrees in business management and product marketing, as well as a Master’s degree in organizational development, Teach left a solid career with a Fortune 500 company and literally knocked on St. Croix’s front door nearly five years ago. “I had moved back to my hometown in Southwest Wisconsin because of a family illness,” he says. “I decided to follow my passion in the fishing industry and St. Croix was simply the only company I wanted to work for. Thankfully, they saw my passion for fishing, for new-product development, and for their brand, and offered me a job running their Factory Store.”
Teach served as manager for the St. Croix Factory Store for about two-and-a-half years. “As we got to know each other better, I was offered opportunities to apply my knowledge and prove my abilities in new product development,” says Teach, who was promoted to the position of Product Manager about two years ago. “The past two years have been incredibly exciting for me and I’m honored by the trust St. Croix has placed in me to deliver in this all-new Brand Manager position.”
So, what happens when one of the most passionate, talented, and likeable people in the entire fishing industry assumes responsibility for one of its most cherished and respected brands? What does it mean for anglers?
“From a company standpoint, I’m responsible for developing products and implementing brand strategies using angler, retailer, company, and market data to increase sales and market share,” Teach says. “But like everyone else here at St. Croix, I tend to think and go about things from the angler’s perspective. This new position is really just a continuation of a lot of what I’ve been working on for the benefit of anglers with the help and support of the St. Croix Leadership Team over the past two or three years. We have multiple exciting projects in various stages that either our anglers have specifically asked for or that we have identified as opportunities to help our anglers be better on the water. Now, I simply have more involvement and more responsibility in seeing that these angler-driven initiatives are implemented. I’m certainly excited to be St. Croix’s Brand Manager, but I’m even more excited as an angler to see these projects through.”
When asked what he’d want anglers to understand about him, Teach doesn’t hesitate. “I am one of you,” he says. “I read fishing message boards, I’m active on social media, I’m in every type of retailer we sell through. After work I am in my shop rigging rods or I’m out on the lake or on the dock throwing a prototype rod. If this ever changes, I’m no longer qualified for the job,” Teach summarizes.
Teach says he’s not unique in this respect; at least not a St. Croix. “When I go to work every day at St. Croix, the greatest thing is that I see a bunch of people who are just like me,” he says. “I was recently on a YouTube video with Dan Johnston, our National Sales Manager. Dan was the person who opened the door to me at St. Croix so I could start my new career. During the video, we talked about St. Croix’s new Victory Series and some of our other new rods, but we also got a chance to talk about things we agreed and disagreed on as anglers – things like braid vs. fluorocarbon on a chatter bait rod, or which rod to use in certain scenarios. Like other anglers, Dan and I don’t always agree. We’re also competitive. We’re the guys keeping new lures hidden from each other or buying out pegs of product at a show so the other one can’t. But we’re always happy to see the other doing a grip and grin with a giant fish on social media or doing well in a tournament. This great company – like the greater angling community – is full of this kind of thing, and I absolutely love that. Just because we’re hired by St. Croix, doesn’t mean we stop fishing. We’re still anglers just like you. And it’s not just Dan and I, or Engineering, or Marketing, or Sales. St. Croix is stacked with anglers who fish for multiple species after work, on our days off, and on our vacations because we love it and it’s who we are, just like you.”
“Ryan’s case is a clear example of the angler-centric growth of the St Croix brand, as well as our culture here of creating opportunities and developing talent,” says St. Croix Vice President of Marketing, Jesse Simpkins. “Ryan’s passion for not only fishing but for the St. Croix brand and our products is evident every day in his work and will allow us to accelerate and add even more value to the product-development process within our business. He’s the prototypical – pun intended – guy who wakes up every morning with the singular goal of helping our anglers win.”
Teach agrees, saying anglers can expect an even greater commitment from St. Croix in the coming months and years. “Among other things, they’re going to notice a clear and aggressive emphasis on new technologies,” he says. “The recent Victory launch was just a slight glimpse of everything that’s to come. Our CEO, Scott Forristall said it best when he said, ‘new product is the lifeblood of St. Croix.’ If anyone thinks that’s simply an empty PR statement, just watch us in the coming months.”
Teach says anglers can also expect to see a commitment to North American manufacturing with St. Croix North and South like they’ve never seen before. “We’re making more and better rods in Park Falls and Fresnillo than ever before. It’s humbling and gratifying when I look across the talented men and women who craft these rods at both of our factories and I see how good and how passionate they are at their jobs,” he says. “Nothing gets lost in translation. When we create something as a Product Team, test and refine it with our Analytical Pro Team, and then finally hand it over to our Manufacturing Team, there are never any concerns or worries about whether or not they may be any less excited as we are to build it. No matter the challenges, they own it for our anglers. My five years at St. Croix have taught me that combining a family atmosphere, vertical manufacturing, angling passion, commitments to quality and service, and a can-do attitude will move mountains… and get you through a pandemic stronger than ever in the process.”
In summary, Teach points out that St. Croix’s products and brand are no single person’s job. “I am just one piece of the puzzle that gets put together in the spaces between every Bassmaster Classic, every ICAST, and every fishing season that results in new product releases bringing more innovation, more choices, more performance, more value, and more satisfaction to our anglers,” he says. “I’m extremely happy, proud, and grateful to play my role. It’s a great time to be an angler, but an even better time to be an angler fishing St. Croix rods… and the best days are just around the corner.”