What We're All About

Old 18 Outfitters is more than just a company to us.  

It's the representation of the collective soul of three people.  Three people of dissimilar backgrounds, but who share a similar vision. 

Our vision was and is to create something from nothing that honored God, country, state, brave citizens, and the people that bought and stood behind our products.

It was simple really.  Nothing earth shattering.  We struck out with a single product and a desire to cut our teeth on the vast world of business ownership.

If we only knew then what we know now. 

Ha!  You thought I was going to say we wouldn't do it.  Nope, we'd still have braved the cold, dark path ahead of us.  Maybe differently, but we'd be on the path nonetheless.

We aren't quitters, and we aren't afraid.


Rough Start

None of us knew a thing about business.  We had never been owners before, always employees.  Two of us were vets and one a master at building fishing rods for other companies. It's a stretch to call military veterans employees, but we received W-2s, so that made us employees in my eyes.

Freedom does come with ownership, but also with all of the stress and horror of making decisions that determine the fate of you and your company's future, and you have to do that every day.

It's daunting!  Starting out with no inventory, debt just to get things going, and little to no knowledge of which way to turn, and the recipe makes for some pretty rotten bread.  Add the fact that we chose to import our first product, and delve into a mature industry with a plethora of competition, and you make for some interesting twists and turns.  Differentiation is tough when you don't know what will work.

Four-years later, and we are wiser.  Wiser but not Experts.  We've been through delays, under-funding, profitless months, thieves, poor quality, 40% breakage, overseas shipping drama, suppliers who over-promise and under deliver, supporting businesses that just don't do what they say they will, warranty issues, crushed, unrealistic expectations, and.......Covid 19. 

Through it all, we realized we were no different than any other business.  "It's what ya do with what ya got" that matters, and success is relative.  So, we are doing the best we can with what we have and creating long-lasting business and personal relationships which is what life is all about.

We do wish that someday, people will put together a better business startup blueprint that could save many new owners the heartache learning from scratch.  Current information out there is severely lacking in practical application.  Maybe that's a good theme for another Blog thread.


What's in a Name

I think it's common sense that most business names, in some way, should reflect the owners name, ethos, or purpose.  Ours is no different.

Lucky and I were in the military.  The Navy to be exact.  He was and is a respected Fighter Pilot and TOPGUN Adversary (Instructor) and epitomizes what a Fighter Pilot should be.  He's a 20-year, combat tested, tried and true American hero who could break the speed of sound, fight and kill the bad guys,  and then land on the shortest, steel, moving runway in the world.

I was a Navy SEAL.

Jake is a leading name in the world of custom fishing rod manufacturing.  It's cliché to say that he has forgotten more than the other guys know in his field, but, in this case it's true.  He is the Michael Angelo of fishing rods.  Watching him build a rod is like watching a true artist - at mach speed.  He can outbuild any other human three-to-one while creating a useable work of art.

So, the three of us set out together with an idea and a name.

The idea was simple, build an outdoor brand using fishing rods to start and then expanding into the areas of the outdoor industry that we felt we had the most experience with.  Why fishing rods?  Because Jake was an expert.  The expert.  He's the sticky glue that makes up our initial core competency.  So, off we went.  He designed our first rod and Lucky and I handled the rest.

Next, we needed a name.  

We wanted a name that not only represented our company, but one that reflected who we are and how we think. One that demonstrated the fighting spirit that created this great Country of ours, and also represented the State of Texas.

What could be better than to honor the fighting spirit of the first Texans in their war to earn their independence from Mexico?  Building on that theme, why not celebrate those that likely fired the first shot that put Santa Anna on notice and, in reality, was the beginning of the end of his oppression of those who helped him shape his own country - the men and women of Texas.

Sam Houston had taken most of the able-bodied, younger men from towns all over Texas to organize against Santa Anna's army.  Less than a score of, let's call them seasoned, older men remained in the town of Gonzales.  A quiet place nestled along the Guadalupe River.  A town that utilized a small cannon to protect itself from Indian attack.  A pint-sized cannon given to them by the Mexican Government.

As tensions increased between sides, Santa Anna re-thought his gift to the town of Gonzales, and decided that it would be wiser to go take the cannon back.

When Santa Anna sent 150-plus men to retrieve his gift, fearing they would use it against his own Army, only eighteen, older men stood firm on the other side of the Guadalupe.  The date was September 29, 1835.  Their defiance and the likely-hood that they fired that cannon at Santa Anna's men to show their resolve, was the act that set in motion the defeat of the Mexican Army.  It really was the first shot fired in the war for Texas' independence.

They are legends, and they are called the "Old 18."

Few times in history have so few stood against a force 10 times their size and prevailed.

Their tenacity and grit symbolize the American and Texas spirit.  That spirit is echoed in the men and women who go into battle against enormous odds and win.  Those who stand against tyranny and against oppression.  Those that fight first.  

SEALs and Fighter pilots are those kindred spirits.

The Old 18 of Gonzales symbolize everything we believe in at our company.

Be brave, know what you believe and stand behind it, fight to keep those that you love safe, and do so honorably.


We Stand Behind Everything We Do

We are God-loving, tried and true Americans who fight for what we believe in.  Family, honor, and commitment mean something to us.  When we make a product, we stand behind it.

If something is our fault, we'll make it right.  

Profit is great, but not at the expense of the customers we interact with.  What is a company if it's not one you can trust?

We are in for the long haul.

But, we don't just want to be known for fishing.


A Larger Outdoor Brand

Lucky and I have extensive backgrounds in rescue and survival of people who go into combat.  We believe in the saying, "leave no one behind."  

So, I'm going to talk a lot about rescue and how it relates to survival.  In reality, how it relates to everything outdoors.  Along with that, there are a lot of tips, techniques, and products that will minimize the time anyone has to spend out in the wild when things go badly.

Will I talk about fishing?  Some.

Will I talk about the great outdoors?  A lot.

Will I talk about safety and protecting those that you love.  Yes.

We want to grow Old 18 into an outdoor brand anyone can trust.  We want people to have fun.  We want people to be able to do so safely.  We want the great outdoors to be available for everyone to enjoy - forever.

So, sit back, read, shake your head at my craziness, and have a laugh.

Life is too short to be grumpy all the time.