I believe perspective is shaped by experience. Growing up in a small and isolated town in the Rocky Mountains gives you a unique perspective on life. Growing up in a county with a single stop light and without a railroad, McDonald’s, or elevator, one may have viewed this place as having little or no opportunities. However, growing up in a town nestled adjacent to the largest wilderness in the lower 48 and surrounded by millions of acres of public lands, my life was rich with experiences and allowed me to realize that from my perspective, opportunities were endless.
Life growing up pretty much involved either sports or the outdoors. These were my passions. Not much time was left for anything else. When we weren’t participating in sports, it seemed we were hunting, fishing, rafting, or backpacking… basically anything to do with the outdoors. I didn’t understand how special this lifestyle was. Didn’t every kid learn to row a raft down the river when he was eight years old? Didn’t every kid learn how to drive a stick before they could really reach the pedals? Having these experiences was part of “normal” life in Salmon, Idaho, and it created the foundation on which I find my perspective.
Growing up in a blue collar community definitely shaped my life’s philosophy. This philosophy includes the importance of hard work, independence, honesty, family, community, and placing value on experiences rather than objects. This philosophy also helped me make many of my next decisions in life.
Having opportunities to attend colleges from Seattle to Rhode Island, I chose a school that allowed me to continue to enjoy what I loved the most – sports and the outdoors – and I settled on the University of Wyoming. Although my wrestling “career” came to an abrupt and anticlimactic end, I was able to continue to enjoy my time outdoors. Unable to afford a non-resident hunting license, while at school I spent the majority of my free time fishing. Other than tagging along with a few of my friends, my hunting was compressed into a few weekends around Thanksgiving and Christmas, when I was able to sneak back to Idaho and chase deer and elk… and the elusive jackrabbit.
Before finishing up college, most of my summer and part-time jobs involved the outdoors. Whether I was setting chokers under a line machine in Montana for a logging company, netting sockeye on a boat in Alaska, fighting forest fires on an initial attack crew in Idaho, or building bridges in Oregon, I appreciated the opportunity to experience so many different jobs and earn a living in the outdoors.
After graduating with a degree in civil engineering, my collar switched from blue to white, and I traded my outdoor “office” with ever changing scenery and adventures for a small cubicle for an entry-level civil engineer in Denver, Colorado. I soon transitioned to their structural engineering department, and over the next 10 years, I had the opportunity to work for several great engineering firms as I gained much experience and made my way to Missoula, Montana.
Missoula is where I have spent the majority of my time since leaving my small Idaho town. Missoula is where I met my wife, Laurie. Yes, apparently blind dates ARE successful from time to time! Fast forwarding to the present... None of the last few years spent preparing XENEK for launch would have been possible for me without Laurie. With our lives having no resemblance of the past, and with me having to work 70-80 hours per week, Laurie takes up the slack in all the other areas and probably puts in more hours than I do.
Missoula is also where we have raised our daughter, Sydney. Other than Jerrod and me, Sydney has dedicated more time to XENEK than anyone else. At age 8, she is XENEK’s Director of Creative Operations.
Back to pre-XENEK... In the spring of 2005, two partners and I formed Apex Engineering Services, a structural engineering firm located in Missoula. In the midst of the construction boom, our company quickly grew to two offices and 15 employees. Immediately after working through the challenges of growing a company, we then turned around and worked through the challenges of carrying a company through the recession. On the backside of the recession, I moved forward as the sole owner of Apex Engineering with a smaller and very talented staff, allowing Apex to navigate through uncharted territory as the dust from the recession settled.
In 2011, Jerrod and I began discussions of bringing new products to the hunting market. In January of 2014 the framework for XENEK was discussed, and over the next 2 years and countless hours of preparation, we prepared XENEK for launch.
I can't think of a better industry in which I'd like to be immersed... where passion and creativity leads to new innovations. As an entrepreneur and structural engineer over the last 19 years, I'm excited to take my perspective into a new industry to improve existing products and develop new products for today’s hunters. However, it is the foundation that was built long ago, growing up in a small town seemingly so different from the rest of the world, that I believe gives both Jerrod and me a unique perspective on what makes a remarkable company and how that company can create products that offer better opportunities and experiences for hunters. I want to welcome all of you to our XENEK community. Reach out to us and say hello!