Roy and Ryan Seider’s father was a small family business owner who engrained in the brothers “if you can’t find what you want, make it.” So that’s exactly what they did. In this episode, Jess and Mason sit down with Roy and Ryan, co-founders of YETI, to chat about their founder story, love for fishing and conservation efforts. Listen to learn about how a pivotal new product development that catapulted the brand was also a major win for sustainability.
For more information on YETI and to buy their coolers/tumblers – https://www.yeti.com/en_US
Check out the Coastal Conservation Association – https://ccatexas.org/
Pretty ok transcript:
Mason: All right. Welcome to mostly green life today. We’re talking to in not one, but two of the Cedars brothers, these two brothers started the iconic brand, Yeti, the roots in fishing. I think fishing kind of runs in y’all’s veins. And with entrepreneur dad, who I would say was rather obsessed with fishing, which all is Roger, still obsessed
Yeah, he’s pretty into it. You know, he stays after it, he fishes down in Puerto Connor with us and, uh, he goes to Florida once or twice a year. And then he does some bass fishing at our ranch down the south Texas. So he stays after takes the grandkids out fishing. Yeah,
Roy: that, that is definitely where his passion is.
I mean, he has a lot of pursuits in, in, you know, for my parents. It’s probably more about grand kids these days than anything, but he definitely, yeah. Loves fishing. And that’s what we were doing, growing up with him. Yeah. And he and his dad was way more into the hunting scene, like well hunting, but I think somewhere along the way, he picked up fishing and just ran with it.
Mason: How about you? Two are y’all would you call yourselves obsessed with.
Ryan: Yeah, I would say so fishing, fishing, and hunting and hunting. Roy and I also fish a lot in port O’Connor, that’s kind of our main place for red fish on the fly rod. And then we spend a little time in the keys in the spring and early summer.
And that mainly just saltwater site Gaston with the fly rod is what
Roy: we’re into. And it really, for, I think for us, it’s all about the time of year, like. Th this time of year in the fall, you know, our, I think our mind is more focused on hunting pursuits and the outdoors, but early spring, it kind of switches geared towards chasing Redfish on the Texas coast and then down on the Florida keys for Tarpon.
And then, um, you know, through the summer, back on the Texas, Yeah,
Jess: definitely seasonal hunting versus fishing. Yeah. Um, I grew up in San Antonio and my family has been going to Puerto ANSYS for the past 25 plus years to go fishing or spend some time on the beach. Um, so I was curious, you know, where are you guys?
What type of fishing you guys like best and where you guys enjoy the most on the goal. And so it seems like you answered it for the
Roy: part. I mean, I think that’s a good question. I think out of all, everything that we do, I don’t think I’d trade a day of red fishing on the Texas coast. I’m not putting a lot of thought into that.
I mean, we do a lot of stuff, but a good day of red fishing on the Texas coast, it’s hard to beat. It is hard to beat. And when the conditions are right when I’m just, it’s, it’s so much fun, so much fun. Yeah.
Jess: So are there any go-to spots or do you guys keep that a bit of a secret.
Roy: Well, so we, we share a house down in port O’Connor and we have, um, some boats down there.
So they’re the, kind of the beautiful thing about the Texas coast. You have the barrier islands and then behind the barrier islands, you have just thousands and thousands of acres of shallow water back lakes. How would you describe bay? Yeah, the little
Ryan: creeks, a little ponds, uh, you know, just small areas where you can get away from people and, and pull into these areas and look for red fish that are up in the shallow water feed.
And, you know,
Roy: so you could be anywhere from, you know, 18 inches to six inches of water, and then. It’s it’s wild. Right. You know, you’re, you’re, uh, you’re seeing all kinds of cool stuff back there, birds to fish, to, um, stingrays, stingrays, crabs, you know, everything. It’s really everything’s
Ryan: back there. Feeding.
Yeah. Wow. The
Mason: stingrays come all the way in there. Oh yeah. And so is this all on waiters
Ryan: or on boats? No, we’re all pretty much. All our fishing these days is on boats, where you have one guy polling, the boat, and one guy up on front fish. And then a lot of times we’re fishing with buddies or whatever. Once you catch a fish, you’ll switch and the other guy go back and poll.
And then the other guys up on front, you’re both kind of hunting, looking for fish. You don’t cast until you see one.
Roy: Yeah. That’s sight fishing where you’re just standing up there and tell them. Are you see the red fish and you’re putting that fly within a foot of its nose. Take some
Mason: skill. I don’t think I’ve ever been sight fishing.
Oh, it’s all my, uh, you know, I grew up fishing with both my grandfathers, one on Toledo bend lake. He had a spot and he had his own little private pond that would go into, and then the other one we’d always go down to outside of Galveston, Freeport, Surfside, and such, but. You know, I learned how to fish in the nineties, which were the lowest fish stocks of the Gulf, I think ever.
And so we just never caught anything. And so I don’t think I ever really. Uh, gained the love for fishing because so often we just didn’t catch anything and it was hot. It was always summertime as well. We’d go to the grandparents in summer and, and fish. So I never caught the bug like y’all did. Yeah.
Well, With our dad and his love and passion for it, it was pretty easy to kind of fall into it. And, um, he would drag us all over the place, again, down to granddad, Louisiana to go fishing down there. And at that time we didn’t have a boat, we would just do everything from, in the surf or passes or from the bridges and payors.
And it was a ton of fun. Yeah. And so
Mason: fishing is integral to the. Yeti story. I’ve gotten a lot of the story from Roy, but I didn’t know a big part of it was Ryan. You saw it. It was a something from Thailand.
Jess: Yeah. I read that you spotted a cooler at a retailer while you were at a trade show and it ended up being a tie.
Somewhat got the story started. I’ll take credit for that. I read that you started it and then you started the,
Roy: that is a piece of the story, but I think, you know, to, to really get the foundation of the story, it’s it starts with growing up in our dad’s busy. Yeah. And, and our dad was a school teacher, which up teacher in Houston, and one of his semester projects was building fishing rods with his students.
Back in the late seventies, they were using a wood varnish to coat the thread on a fishing rod. And he, he saw the opportunity for his classroom that there could be some other, um, he developed a two-part epoxy and that turned into a business. And that’s for the thread. Yeah. For the thread that holds. Okay.
So you have the thread that holds the guide on a fishing rod, put a two part epoxy, it’s it? You know, what he developed with proxies were around at the time. So he just partnered up with, with someone that would, could help them develop a clear, flexible coding. And at the time he was looking for a solution for his classroom, but it was something that had a market opportunity beyond his classroom.
So he started selling to custom rod builders like himself. Fishing around manufacturers as well. Yeah. I
Mason: remember him telling the story that he went to a trade show and he brought, I don’t know, several gallons of it in little things. And he sold out the entire lot. Does first time I’m selling it
Roy: at a trade show.
Yeah. So, you know, the, the story goes. No, he’s a school teacher goes to a trade show right before the, um, the fall school year starts. And he just was at the right place at the right time with the product that people were looking for. And he started taking orders and went back home thinking that maybe he could continue to teach, but then, you know, the weeks that followed that show just overwhelmed them.
And he, he had a kind of a tiger by the tail. And, um, and that was in the late seventies. Right. You know, already a few years old. And then, you know, I, uh, We have a brother between us then myself and my younger sister. So we were all kind of raised in that environment and it started with that two-part epoxy, but then he, he got into all kinds of rod building equipment and other glues for putting other fishing trips.
It’s pretty niche. It’s always been just him. One or two employees, but we got to, I think that the cool thing about it is we got to see all of that firsthand of wearing all the hats of a small business, because it was always right there next to our health in Houston, in our garage. And then eventually in driftwood where, um, he had a metal.
Right next to where we grew up. I mean, they’re still out there. My parents were still out there today. Flux code is still around still. And in
Ryan: the summertime, there was always the, a trade shows, efficient tackle, trade shows that we would go to as a family. And, uh, you know, we’d usually work some sort of family vacation or efficient trip around the trade show, but that was always fun to go see, you know, kind of people you looked up to in the business and, and, and see how the trade show deal.
You know, hanging around my dad’s booth and go look at the other companies. And, you know, I think going into college, Roy and I both knew that when we got out, we wanted to do something kind of similar, you know, where we could start our own business. We were just exposed to so many people that had businesses in the, in the fishing tackle industry that, that seemed natural to do something
Roy: like that.
So Ryan coming up, we, we grew up building fishing rod. Ryan came out of Texas a and M and started a branded fishing rod company. Yeah. So
Ryan: I was like a customer, my dad’s. I started a small rod company called Waterloo rods, and I started that in 1997 and then I sold it in 2005 and never made much money with it.
I did have a lot of fun learning. And had a lot of freedom and flexibility, but had an opportunity to sell it. You know, I didn’t know what I was going to do after that, but I knew that it gave me a little bit of money to figure that out. You know, when Roy got out of school, what, 2002?
Roy: No, 2000. So I started a thousand.
Okay. I’m trying to figure out my path and you know, I started. I worked on a few different projects that didn’t go anywhere. Then one thing that our dad was doing was he was, uh, assembling boats for, um, the way we were fishing on the Texas coast. I thought, well, maybe I could turn that into a business. And I was getting this aluminum haul built down in Florida, bringing it up to driftwood and just rigging in and out for the way.
Fishing down on the Texas coast. And, uh, that’s, you know, we’ve been using coolers our whole life. You know, we, we used em fishing and grand dial down on the Texas coast here around and then hunting as well. But, you know, that was kind of, uh, on these boats, I was putting a, a cooler in front of the center console and one behind the center console to use as a seat.
And people would use them to, you know, keep their drinks cold or their fish fresh. And the coolers that were available to me at the time. Really didn’t match up to the rest of the quality of the button and the hinges would break and the lid would cave in if you use it as a seat and you’d start paddling across the bay and that lid would start breaking down and the latch would eventually fall off.
And so, you know, it was. Point of frustration for us. Um, and, and again, I was, I was dabbling in the boat business trying to make it in the boat business, but you know, when I got this, um, you know, Ryan brought this cooler to my attention that he found out in Florida that was kind of a light bulb moment.
Well, you know, here’s, here’s something that I’m looking for that I’m frustrated with. And, um, and this could be a product that could, could help me in the boat business. And also, I, I quickly recognized. Maybe this is an opportunity I should pursue. And I became a distributor for that original Thailand cooler.
Mason: originally a high dollar
Roy: cooler. Yeah, it was, it was, it was a, um, when a commodity type cooler like an igloo or Coleman might, uh, retail for $50, this, this cooler might be four X that like $200. And it was the kind of the first. Rhoda molded, which wrote a molding is a process and manufacturing process, very similar to a whitewater kayak to make a very durable, outer shell.
And, um, and it was kind of the first heavy duty cooler that we’d been exposed to. And again, that’s a light bulb. Like I need that for the boat, but I think there’s also a bigger opportunity here. And if I could get involved. Which I did. I called that company up, asked if I could start reselling their products in, in local retailers.
So I started knocking on doors with that original cooler. Quickly realized that there was a market opportunity. Oh, really? It’s
Mason: a, one of my favorite stories of Yeti and, uh, you know, Roy and I used to get lunch every now and then, and it was right at the point we were getting lunch when he was like, this company is not doing well, but I really liked these coolers for the boat.
And I think I might import it. I’m like, all right, tell me about this cooler. And he’s like, well, it’s, you know, it costs like $200 to make coolers. Currently only costs about $50. He goes there they’re big, but they’re empty and you can’t nest them. So they don’t ship very well. They take up massive amounts of warehouse space and shipping space and overseas shipping overseas.
And it’s a $300 cooler. And I, and I think there might be a market for that. And I’m just like, that sounds crazy to me,
Roy: Roy. Yeah. But what, what came down to is we knew there other than. Consumers like ourselves. Yeah, that were frustrated with the shortcomings of ordinary coolers, frustrated with the same.
And it wasn’t, it wasn’t necessarily about ice retention at all. It was way more about durability and hinges and latches and lids that didn’t fall apart. That lasted, you know, something that lasted. So that’s what got us into the cooler businesses. I started distributing that product and setting up retailers.
And I think another funny thing that was going on at the time is because of the. What I call a commodity type cooler at igloo or Coleman that those guys were chasing the mass market of Walmart and Target’s of the world. Right. And that’s where the volume was. That’s where, um, you could get the most consumers in eyeballs.
So what was happening is you had. Fishing tackle unlimited in Houston. They weren’t carrying coolers. Although every single person that walked through that door was a cooler user. Right. And, and so all of a sudden we show up with a product that it gives that independent retailer, something to sell. And, uh, and we’re seeing that void all over the place.
Uh, you know, McBride’s here in Austin, the tackle box in San Antonio, and then it started spilling over into hunting and, uh, hardware and all these little retailers, these little independent retailers, they weren’t carrying coolers. Although every customer that walked through their door was a cooler. And, um, and the beauty about the cooler businesses that it’s a big market.
We knew if we could get it into the stores that we didn’t have to convert everybody we could, if we could just convert a small percentage of their, of their customer, we’re going to do just fine. And so I distributed that original cooler for a few years. It’s what got us into the business. I think I also recognize that there was plenty of opportunity to make this product better.
And, um, about that same time Ryan was selling his company Waterloo and looking for something to do, and he could see that I was getting busy. What happened next ride?
Ryan: You know, basically I, I had been watching Roy. We worked out at the same building right next door to each other and, and I could, I could see these getting a little stressed out, had a lot of work going on.
And I had sold my rod company in September of 2005. And then January, I, you know, I went hunting for the fall and then, you know, January rolls around and I’m looking for something to do. And, uh, I said, Hey, Roy, we let me come down and help you in the warehouse he had, by this time, he had rented a bigger warehouse where he had his schoolers and, and, and so, uh, and I had some money from that sale and we made a, uh, a trip over to, to work on that original
Wait, you missed, you missed the best part of the story. Yeah. What you came to work for? Yeah,
Ryan: well, I, I said, Hey, Roy, will you pay me $10 an hour and help you in the warehouse? And so, uh, he said, yeah, come on down.
Roy: I hired
Ryan: an hour. And, uh, and it was great. I wanted to get down there and do something and it was January.
Nothing else was going on and a hunting season was wrapping up. So Roy had. You know, Roy had learned what was wrong with that original cooler. There was a blot of
Roy: manufacturer is a good product. There was, there was a lot to improve them. And you’d been
Ryan: dreaming about that for three or four years, how to improve this cooler.
So it, did it come with a Yeti name? No, that did not have the Yeti name. So this is still when he was just focused on distributing that cooler. Will we get over there to Thailand where this cooler was manufactured? And really didn’t get anywhere with, with our, our middleman and factory. You know, they wouldn’t really listen to Roy’s ideas on needing more product and then improvement.
Roy: You know, their, their attitude was well y’all are selling everything. You can get your hands on because you know, our demand was bigger than their supply. Why are y’all, you know, what are we doing, messing with the, uh, it’s selling? Well, I messed with it. But, but by that time I had, um, kind of discovered some other cooler manufacturers that were, you know, selling to the Australian market.
And so we, we took a trip from Thailand to the Philippines on that same visit. And we found a manufacturer that was willing to work with this, with our ideas and build something from the ground up. And, you know, I think that’s when we recognized that, that, that was another moment that I looked back on that.
Okay. Here’s someone that can help. Create this new product with, with our vision. And, um, on the flight back, we started jotting down names for this new company
Ryan: and that’s where Yeti came from. So that was January of 2006.
Roy: And so I phased out that original Thailand cooler and we started Yeti and Ryan and I started Yeti together on a, on a plane,
Mason: on a planet that kind of, we all have drinks or
Roy: no is, you know, w first of all, a long flight.
Yeah. I look back at some of the things we’re doing and for us growing up here in the dripping Springs, Texas hill country, I know we were, we were sticking our neck out, going over there and, you know, I definitely felt like, you know, I felt personally outside of my comfort zone and yeah, but I think that’s what eventually, um, any, any good story you have to get outside of your comfort zone for sure.
Jess: is such a gorgeous place. And so is the Philippines, did you guys get to spend or have some fun while you were there? It was
Ryan: all business and we were all at. In major cities, you know,
Roy: it was strictly business and we had the attitude. Let’s get it done and get out of here. Yeah,
Ryan: we weren’t playing around.
Roy: No. So, you know, for the longest time, in those early days of Yeti, we knew we were onto something, but we felt like that it’s going to be a family business. Kind of like we, our dad had, right. It’s going to be a, um, something that could support us and our family. And, and we’d have a handful of employees and it’s in a, it’s in a space that we had passion for outdoors, hunting and fishing.
And it was, you know, we, I remember we hired our first warehouse guy. Then we hired someone to help with customer service emails, then the Springs Shane was it. So, um, and
Mason: it turned into a really iconic brand. And I think going from. And it, it turned into what seemed like watching it, uh, very, it was like a badge of honor for a lot of hunters and fishers.
And I wonder how I’ve always wondered how intentional that was and what other, cause the only other brand that I’d ever seen that seemed like a badge of honor. It was like ducks unlimited,
Ryan: I think is that that’s a conservation organization that people. You know that they’ll go to the banquets, get some of the gear or stuff like that.
And to put a sticker on the back of the
Roy: truck. That’s right. You mean they put a sticker on the back of their truck?
Ryan: They’re part of the club. I think what it was is that this, these coolers. Where the right price point where anybody could figure out how to buy one, even if they shouldn’t spend for three or $400 on the cooler, you know, so it was just the right price point and kind of high in, and it kinda spoke to that outdoor lifestyle.
So I think that’s why it became the badge honor. And then back then, Trucker hat was kind of coming back and, you know, anytime we’d have a retail sale, we’d throw a trucker hat in there. So people start wearing the hat around, put stickers on the truck, that sort of thing. So it, it did become that. And I think it has to do around with the kind of a little bit higher in and the price point of it.
Roy: It, it, it definitely started with the product. It, you know, we were uncompromised on our approach to product development and the quality, right. I mean, it, it was, it was the cooler that we were building for ourselves. And then selling the rest. So the, the, the foundation is around this Rhoda multicolor, and it is in an expensive price point that the consumer had to justify it and they justified it through the durability message, the ice retention message.
And then, but it’s an emotional purchase at the same time. It’s, it’s, it’s the, around their pursuits of. Hunting and fishing. But I think for the longest time, you know, the, the brand, it was the product first and the brand kind of lived below the product and we had a great product and, and we were, um, selling to consumers like ourselves, but then you started seeing the brand kind of take off and become bigger than the product itself.
And that’s when. You solve this opportunity to leverage the brand for other products as well? I think we looked up a few years into the business and we had 50 employees and, and we recognize that this is a something that’s has an opportunity to go beyond. Just this original cooler. Yeah. And, um, and, and, and I, I feel like, you know, we’d recognize that it’s bigger than Ryan and I as well.
No, we had to surround ourselves with smart and capable people. And, and I think if we, if we did anything right, yeah. Finding the right people at the right time. So it sounds
Jess: like you guys, you had swag at the time, but you weren’t selling merchandise. What was the first line extension? After the original cooler,
Roy: we were selling some t-shirts and hats, but, you know, that was just the swag and we were probably given way more of that away then, um, then we were selling, I think we recognized that we could do the same thing to the soft cooler space that we did to the hard cooler space with a.
Third design and materials and, and a. Zippers and, and, um, and really, you know, that space was, we recognized that it was a big space, you know, more portable, throw it over the shoulder, go, go, you know, down to the boat or whatever, the only cooler with
Mason: lube zipper.
Roy: So we record. That, that was an opportunity to leverage the brand and take us into the soft color space, but it was just a development exercise and a good product development just takes a long time.
And we finally got there. We got there with can
Ryan: take a long time. It doesn’t always, but on that soft cooler. Yeah. Yeah. It took a while.
Mason: Yeah. It seems like a complex product. Yeah. And then you had some good partners when y’all were making coolers. Did you ever think you’d get into tumblers and then that tumblers would be the such a huge, I
Ryan: mean that that’s a product development that didn’t
Roy: take that long, but it’s still product development deal a year long process, even the best case.
Right. But we recognize that opportunity. That there could be something with the vacuum insulated stainless, uh, drinkware space. And, you know, Ryan did, you know, this is another thing I’ll take
Ryan: credit for.
Jess: I know my family throughout all of their Tervis is to upgrade to the Yeti. So I feel like that was what people people use.
Roy: So the fact vacuum installation has been around for. And it was us doing a, kind of a unique design, more in a tumbler shape when in the past everyone was doing bottles and in pharmacists and because we were way more ice retention focused, it had to be, had to have that feel to it. And I remember that development process.
I didn’t want to put a lid on, on the top of the 20 ounce and the 30 ounce, because as soon as you put a black plastic leg up there, it turns into to a coffee cup, right. But one of our early engineers, he suggested, well, maybe we should declare. And that was, that was kind of a moment. Okay. As soon as you do that, that you get more of that Tervis fill of clear and putting the ice in there.
And, you know, we knew it was an opportunity. We obviously, what drink, where did you know? We, we became a hundred million dollar company just on coolers alone. When we introduced drink, where we turned into a $400 million company over. Man. And because we were selling so much drink ware and that brand recognition and just the volume out there, we started selling more coolers because know people were getting introduced to the brand through the stainless drink, where they were, you know, their next purchase would be one of our coolers and it had a, well, it had a wow factor.
You know, the people, you know, send us stories. You know, the, the magic of vacuum installation of keeping ice and putting it in a hot vehicle and just coming back, you know, hours later. And it’s just all still there. So yeah, that wow factor was and just leveraging Brent. I, I think, you know, Yeti, the, as, as the cooler brand, a $400 cooler, that’s a, uh, you have to put a lot of thought into that purchase.
Although we were very premium for the drink where space. Uh, $30 tumbler, although it’s five, 10 X of a plastic version of it, it’s just way more of this affordable luxury and had that well factoring a brand to go
Mason: with and you can do the brand subtly on it. Well, you’re not screaming. That’s brand name on the trembler, which is very cool.
Yeah. And tying it to a mostly green, I wonder, has anyone ever tried to quantify how many plastic bottles y’all have saved with Yeti?
Roy: I don’t know if anyone had, has, I haven’t heard, I’ve put, I’ve put thought into it, but who knows? Yeah, I know. I think that early on as we launched that product and I started seeing out in the marketplace, I do remember going into a Starbucks and two people in front of me had their Yeti tumbler in their hand.
And I’m looking at that and saying, gosh, That’s a big impact. They’re replacing the paper cup that comes out of Starbucks and I’m, you know, just thinking to myself, well, this is going on every day everywhere. Right? And then when you look at our bottles and the number of whether it’s out on the water, or just traveling around in th the number of plastic that it’s replacing, you know, I don’t know what it is, but it it’s, it’s massive.
Jess: Is that part of the messaging that Yeti
Roy: has. We never taken credit for it. You know, our messaging has always been around. Uh, the durability story, the ice retention story, the quality story. And then, you know, we do a lot of storytelling around the Yeti lifestyle, around hunting and fishing outdoor pursuits.
And it’s the cool thing about the brand it’s although our origin is fishing and hunter. Definitely spilled over into ranching and oil filled and, and surfing and camping and Tel gating and all these different end markets that we knew were there, but we’d never, we never thought the brand would ever get there.
We knew it worked well in our space that we knew, but it started spilling over now. But we’ve never really talked or taking credit for the sustainability message. And, and I see it. I mean, it’s the Starbucks story that I saw firsthand and those original, uh, coolers that we sold back in 96, 97, 98. They’re still being used today.
And unless the bear got to him, yeah, that’s right. That’s right. And they rarely, our products rarely make it to the land. And if you look at our drink, Same story. Yeah. It’s, it’s a product that when we started selling that drink where in 2014, those that they’re still in the, on the shelves at these homes and second homes and cabins and yeah.
Mason: There were a lot of gifts for a long time. And so now we have a cabinet completely full of Yetis,
Jess: at least 15,
Mason: I would say. Yeah. But it sounds like, uh, mostly green. We should get in touch with a Yeti marketing department and work out some sustainability. I’ll catch
Roy: you a deal. You can’t refuse.
Mason: Um, and so another component that I feel like Yeti hasn’t taken a lot of credit for, but has contributed to is conservation personally having, you know, we both grew up in Texas and. Um, I have seen a stories. Both of environmental disaster actually worked at an environmental consultant firm, uh, here in Texas.
And we’re working with the TCQ and quantifying how much chemicals was being dumped into the soil and water. And we would go on canoe trips or something and just see these pipes coming out into the rivers. And what has really saved Texas waterways. The hunting and fishing community and the conservation around that is Yeti involved with many conservation organizations.
I’m uh, I’m sure the answer is yes. But what are y’all’s favorites and kind of, what are your thoughts on conservation over
Roy: the years
Ryan: we’ve been involved with quite a few, like the coastal conservation association ducks unlimited, which you mentioned earlier. Um, Rocky mountain elk foundation. Yeah. There’s, there’s been, uh, a lot of them just after different outdoor pursuits, captains for clean water.
And that’s that for me, that seems like a newer one, but that’s, you know, there’s a lot of water quality issues or getting into fresh water through the Everglades down there. And, and, you know, that’s kind of a hot topic these days
Roy: that, you know, I think for Yeti, whether it was CCA ducks unlimited, it was our consumer was there.
Right. Our consumers. Was passionate about the outdoors and they would be a part of these groups, whether it’s CCA or ducks unlimited or whatever. And it was just a great place for us to show up as well. So, yeah. W we’ve been involved since day one on multiple levels with these different
Mason: groups. Yeah.
Almost inadvertent sustainability pioneers. Now I didn’t even know y’all were being
Roy: pioneers. No, we showed up.
Mason: And so what are y’all up to.
Roy: You know, we’re, uh, basically. No for the longest time, it was everything we could do to keep up with Yeti. And, and that was not sustainable for us personally. You know, luckily we were fortunate enough to get to a spot where as that team built out at Yeti and, you know, I, um, was see you up until 2015.
Found a fantastic, um, replacement and given us the ability to kind of go at our own pace. We’re S we’re still engaged with, with Yeti when we want to, but we’re also, we reprioritized our life where it’s more about family and friends and all those things that you had to put on the back burner in those early years of Yeti, like health.
And basically it was, we had that tiger by the tail and it was everything we could do to keep up with it and everything else took a back burner to it, the backseat to it. And, and that was family, friends help, you know, just taking care of yourself and in our own outdoor pursuits, I mean, we weren’t, Ryan was hunting way more before and fishing way more before Yeti, then we should have.
Laser-focus and now we’re back to those days of pursuits and family and friends.
Mason: Yeah. He created a company to help you fish better and then he couldn’t fish that’s. Right.
Jess: Right. Well, it’s glad to hear that you guys have gotten back to that and I’m sure that’s been a great transition for
Mason: And I talk about health you’ll have any, uh, healthy habits.
How do you stay healthy?
Ryan: I prioritize, you know, you know, working out in the morning and whether it’s walking or with a trainer or do some boxing, you know, I really liked that. And then try. You know, work on eating healthy. That’s half the battle, you know, I love going out to eat, eating good food and, and, uh, watching out on that front, you know?
Roy: Yeah. I mean, I think we, um, definitely lean into like, your time is limited. Let’s take care of yourself because it’s, I mean, we are in a position where, um, you know, we’re watching our parents get older. It’s, it’s tough and you want to take care of yourself so you can live a long, healthy life. And have fun where you are having fun.
So let’s take care of herself.
Mason: And so the hunting and fishing and y’all eat what’d you catch as well. You mostly catch and release
Ryan: it. It really depends. Uh, you know, uh, do a lot of, I’d say mostly catch and release, but every once in a while we’ll keep a red fish, eat it fresh, and I never liked to freeze anything.
And so, uh, you know, if you can go out and just keep what you might eat that evening or the next day, uh, that that’s fine, but a lot of times it’s just catching up. Yeah,
Jess: I’ve read somewhere that you should ensure the fish that you eat are lined cut. Do you guys know, or can you talk to and speak to the other types of fishing and the impact that those have?
Ryan: Uh, you know, I don’t know a lot about it, but you know, there’s a lot of different types of commercial fishing and farm, farm raised fish and stuff like that. Uh, you know, you just want to do something that’s sustainable. There’s plenty of species that are struggling from overfishing over commercial fishing.
And, uh, and there’s a lot of by-catch and stuff like that. So you try to pick a fish that, that you would like to eat, you know, that you think is sustainable and doing that yourself is usually the most sustainable. There’s laws put around what you can keep and stuff like that. And they’re always more than you need.
I mean, you know, with all the different state and federal laws around, you know, just recreational fishing, it’s usually meant for a sustainable model, you know, and that’s, so people were doing more of that for themselves. And instead of just buying the
Roy: fish, I think that would be, if you’re at a restaurant, what are you ordering?
Uh, while I try to stay
Ryan: away from stuff like swordfish and, uh, you know, stuff that seems to be struggling, you know, and I personally. I haven’t studied it, but I stay away from anything that’s farm raised also,
Roy: mainly because of the
Ryan: taste. Uh, I, yeah, because I’m used to really quality fish that I caught, but also, you know, um, there’s a lot of, um, I’m not the person to talk to about this, but you know, there’s a lot of fish farming.
Is there some environment
Mason: Yeah. There’s fish ended up being very diseased and they feed them all. Yeah, because chickens are so massively, um, available on so much. By-product so they’re feeding these fish chickens instead of what they should be eating. All the fish gets sick and then all the effluent water from those farms is toxic to the environment around it.
Uh, I’ve been unable to find it, any fish farming that is anything but horrible for the environment. And then it creates a poor tasting fish and the salmon that they farm, they have to feed them red dye because their flesh won’t be red when they, all they do is eat these chicken pellets that are white chickens and that crazy.
Yeah. And so it’s a pretty nasty industry. We try to stick to the whole. You know, fish we’d because we don’t fish a ton. Although we go with their parents occasionally and we’ll keep what we catch there, but we get salmon, they fly down from Alaska and their Sockeye right after they spawn and they’re all going to die anyway.
And so it’s about the only sustainable fish we’ve found, but most fish stocks around the world are, are just designated. Um, and the Gulf coast is somewhat of a bright spot because of the regulation and red fish in particular has been able to recover pretty dramatically from the low points in the nineties when I was trying to catch
Roy: red fish.
Yeah. And I think, I think that a lot of credit is CCA, coastal conservation and Texas parks and wildlife. I think some of the things that they have done over the years is like, there’s plenty of red fish down there and we hear stories from our dad. No, he’d go down the Texas coast and couldn’t find her right.
Yeah, we had pretty good luck chasing reds in the nineties. We did,
Ryan: but, you know, I know that I would think that would be in the seventies that our dad had trouble, you know, seeing a red fish, but, you know, they started coming back and they did some, some hatchery, uh, efforts to, to restock them and. And put regulations on them and took them out.
You know, in Texas, they’re not a commercial fish. If you see red fish on the menu, you know, that’s farm raised. And so a lot of times it’ll say Texas Gulf fool, that’s farm raised fish down near the goal. It’s not. So I, you know, I never would order Redfish at, at, at a restaurant because, you know, I, I don’t want something that’s farm raised like that.
You know, I love Redfish. Yeah.
Roy: There’ve been, there’s nothing better than catching and keeping the red fish and eating in that day or the next day fresh, same thing with wild quell. You know, Ryan has a place up in Southwest Kansas that, you know, will go quail hunting and it’s. It’s unbelievable. We, I think our dad and whether it was chasing white bass here on the Highland lakes and central Texas, or we do have a love for cooking the wild game.
Mason: you, either of you worry that any of your kids will be vegan,
Ryan: this never crossed my mind.
Roy: It’s their choice. Um,
Jess: have any of them attended any trade shows? Thank you guys did.
Roy: Funny thing that, that our kids, because Yeti got so big, so fast when we would walk into our dad’s metal building, you know, he was on the phone, right.
Talking to customer service, or he was shipping or receiving or kitting product or product development. So we got to see everything well quickly, yet. You’d walk into the building. And one department is made up of 30 people that are doing one activity and you don’t get the benefit of that. Small wearing all the hats.
Our kids didn’t, aren’t exposed to anything that we were exposed to growing up in small business. And I think about that a lot now they didn’t, they didn’t get the trade show experience that, that we got, they didn’t get the small business experience. It’s just yet he got too successful, too fast to see it firsthand.
Yeah. Uh, I can share this stories, but they don’t get to see it firsthand.
Jess: Right. Um, have any of them expressed any interest at ever working at Yeti or do you think that might be a path for.
Roy: don’t think that’s a path for them. I mean, I realized that Yeti, that, you know, when we would early on, we’d make a job post and get hundreds of resumes and we still do.
We get, when we make a job post we’ll get, I don’t know, hundreds, maybe a thousand resumes. And what I realized. I wouldn’t be able to get hired by my own company. Right. And, um, these are all highly qualified folks that get whittled down to two or three people. And then you pick the best of the, of, of that batch.
Right. And I just want my kids to pursue something that they’re passionate about. Like we did. And, and Ryan and I talked about that a lot and if they want to pursue working at Yeti, I wish them luck, but I also don’t want to take the opportunity away from someone else as well. It’s more qualified for that position.
Ryan: Say that if we were going to push them towards anything, it’d be, you know, starting your own business entrepreneurship, you know, that’s what we grew up with. And, you know, Yeti ship has sailed. Let’s do something else. You know, that’s,
Roy: if you show up at Yeti today, you’re just, you’re a small piece of a bigger department where I think the fun and the creativity around starting separate from scratching and doing everything.
Jess: I worked at, um, an organic baby food company and I was the marketing department and I looked online to interview for Yeti position in the marketing team. And the one I applied for. A B testing for email marketing is like so specific. I was like, wait, I was the marketing team. There’s like a hundred things to apply for which one do I do?
Like, what am I best at?
Roy: Oh, isn’t that sad? So desirable
Mason: in town. I, I probably, at least two dozen people were like, I see you’re connected to Roy on LinkedIn. Can you get me in it? Like, I don’t know. And you, I think you just gave me the HR person. That’s all I ever, I never even sent them to you after that.
I’m just like, here’s the HR person that, yeah.
Roy: Thank you for not wasting my time and your logo.
Mason: So I’m an entrepreneur. And I realized that I will always, where I get fulfillment is actually in creating new things and starting new things. It didn’t exist before. Is there, is that next for y’all or was this y’all would be happy, hunting and fishing and hanging out with family and friends.
Roy: For me, I think it’s a combination of both. I’m completely content with what we’ve done and it’s given us the freedom to focus on those other priorities we talked about. Right. But I do love the creativity around small business and the hustle, the ideas, the vision. And I look back at those early years of.
And I would not trade them for the world, but I would never want to put myself through that again. Never. I also recognize what we did. We had a lot of things go for us and we did a lot of the right things and found a lot of the right people and bringing into the company at the right time. But man, I looked back and we were very fortunate to show up the right place at the right time with the right market and brand and, and people.
Never never in our wildest dreams. Did we ever think it would do what it did? Right. And even looking at it today. W you know, you still, you look at Yeti today, you can’t believe it, but you still also feel like you might be on the front end of something bigger and better and scratching the surface of the, um, of the potential of the brand and, um, the opportunity.
Um, I would say there’s
Mason: a lot of luck and success.
Roy: Absolutely. Absolutely love yourself in
Ryan: a, in a position where you can have success. You know, you’re not, you’re not going to be successful at everything, but I think that’s one of the things is just put yourself out there. We weren’t trying to create something like Yeti, but we were trying to create something that was good for Roy and I to support a family and stuff like that.
So by putting yourself out there doing your own deal, there’s a
Roy: chance, you know, I mean, I think there’s a lot to that. Uh, sticking your neck out. And we were in our twenties. So our risk was like other lost opportunity. It wasn’t like we had a, you know, we weren’t trying to support a, a family and put kids through school and whatever.
So, so there was not a whole lot of risk, but I do, you know, you see this a lot where people always have great ideas, but they’re not willing to take the exposure or the risk. Right. And I do think we were very scrappy. And living off the land and low rollers. And I think we, you know, every, every dime that we made off the company would go back into fund the growth and bringing the right piece.
Yeah. It’s almost hard
Mason: to look back at the early days. And when I, like, I had a spreadsheet of where, you know, me and my girlfriend could share a meal for $5 and that would be our dinner. Like the places we could go out, like. I can’t even believe that how low her quality of life was and standard of living.
It was fun. Yeah. There’s a fun aspect to it, but like you said, never want to go back. Um, so kind of last question. What do y’all I excited about right now? What’s got you fired up.
Ryan: Well, it’s deer season right now.
We’ve been doing, I’ve been having a lot of fun, you know, getting the, I have a nine and a seven year old, a nine year old boy, seven year old daughter. And they, you know, they love going to Kansas or down to south Texas going to the ranch and, uh, been getting them into hunting. Uh, my son just gone crazy with it and, and just like I was when I was this.
And, uh, so, you know, just staying busy with family and trying to stay healthy and that’s what’s yeah, it got us going,
Roy: right? Yeah. I mean, I could say the exact same things, just, um, family, family first and staying healthy and enjoying the outdoors. And, you know, our, our parents, uh, did a pretty good job with us and setting the bar for us as far as being good parents and trying to create the same thing for, for our kids is kind of my goal at.