March 13, 2019



Of the 32 sets of artisans’ hands that come into contact with St. Croix rods in the Park Falls, Wisconsin facility, each belongs to a person with a unique story to tell. This month we talk with Ryan Teach, St. Croix Factory Store Manager. Besides managing the Factory Story itself, Teach is the curator of Customer Appreciation Days, which has turned into Wisconsin’s premier fishing event. He also manages factory tour promotions and the retail business that channels through as a result.

Teach is 34-years-old, married, and has two young children, the entire family “hooked on fishing.”

“My wife fishes, too. We actually bass fished on our honeymoon at Ray Scott’s resort in Alabama. And I have a three- and four-year-old who are both extremely hooked on fishing. I didn’t really even try to get them into it. I guess it was probably a consequence of living around me,” says Teach.

For a self-proclaimed fishing nut like Teach, he says working at St. Croix is a dream come true. Never does he feel like his M.B.A. and experience in both a family agricultural business and Fortune 500 company make him a bit overqualified.

“I started with St. Croix in October of 2017. Prior to that I worked completely out of the industry. I was one of the owners of an agricultural business, one of Wisconsin’s largest apple orchards, and my main goal when I got out of college was I wanted to work for a Fortune 500 company and I did that, too. My whole life’s passion has been to live the saying, ‘If you enjoy what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.’ My wife tells me not to tell this to people, but I really haven’t worked a day since St. Croix hired me; it’s been an absolute blast!”

Teach says what drew him to St. Croix was his passion for fishing, which he’s nurtured in one way or another since childhood, beginning with afternoons spent sitting next to his grandfather on the banks of the Mississippi River.

 “I’ve been into fishing since childhood. I fished alongside my grandfather, who never got more technologically advanced than the whole Huck Finn image of watching a cane pole from the riverbank. Beyond that, I was self-taught. What I tell everybody is I spent a lot of money on fishing, I’ve had a lot fun, and I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Around the age of 18, Teach started fishing bass tournaments across the state of Wisconsin, which he maintains today alongside his many family and work responsibilities.

“The neat thing about being part of the St. Croix machinery is how it’s a collaborative effort to achieve a common goal—and that’s to give every angler the upper hand on the water. The Schluter family, over the years, has assembled a phenomenal group of people to build their product line that’s predominantly manufactured and all designed in the U.S. And they’ve done it with the ultimate vertical control as a family. I have a tremendous amount of respect for that because I at one point in time being highly involved in a family business as an owner,” says Teach.

He’s also quick to mention the countless benefits to his job as St. Croix Factory Store Manager. “One of the greatest things about my job is you get to talk to people who just want to catch more fish—just  like you’re trying to do. It’s a collaborative effort between St. Croix and the angler. The whole sales side of it kind of goes away because you’re really in it together with the angler who comes in the store and says, ‘Hey, I’ve caught a bunch of small muskies. What can I do to catch a 50-incher?” or ‘What can I do to better my chances to put a 6-pound bass in the boat?’ or on the extreme other hand ‘Hey, I’m a new angler and I want to take my kids fishing – how do I get them involved in fishing in the simplest way possible?’ And we have all the capabilities of doing that and more in the St. Croix Factory Store.”

Another one of the benefits of his job—which is fueled by his continued involvement in bass tournaments—is working on the product development side of St. Croix’s new bass fishing products. “Part of my job is actually getting out and testing products and staying abreast of the latest and future techniques in bass fishing. I also get to assemble a group of employees that work for me in the St. Croix Factory Store, and we not only get to go on outings to learn more about St. Croix products but also collaborate to bring multiple products to retail to sell to customers who just want to learn how to catch more fish—and doing that is beyond rewarding. Hearing back from customers who’ve had better fishing as a result is pretty awesome.”