Occupation?

Owner of Bozeman Reel Co.

Age?

37

Where did you learn to ski?
Wilmot Mountain, Wisc.

Where do you live now?

Bozeman

If you weren’t doing this, what would you do instead?

I would love to have been a biologist studying river ecology and the cycle of river health.

Before he bought a company crafting top-of-the-line fly fishing reels, Dan Rice ran a division of an aerospace company in Milwaukee, Wisc. Prior to that, he was a commercial pilot.

The products from Bozeman Reel Co. are built with the precision you would expect from that background. Machined and assembled in the Autopilot shop on North Church Ave. six blocks from downtown, BRC’s reels are sleek, burly and beautiful.

Armed with an MBA and a love of fishing, Rice bought the company in 2013, retaining founder Matt McCune and early investor Ed Tompkins as partners.

“I love figuring out how to make a product or a service that appeals to people,” Rice said. “I am passionate about growing small business – marketing, sales, promotions, operations, supply chain, innovation – it’s so fascinating, all the cogs in the wheel that need to come together to be successful.”

The marketplace is crowded, Rice says, and for BRC, “spooling up” to meet the competition has been a challenge. “We went from a company making and selling a miniscule number of reels, and after working on sales and promotion, are forecasting 10 times as many sales this year as we’ve ever done.”

And without historical data, there are a lot of question marks in planning for that growth.

Rice’s sales trips in the last year have brought him as far as New Jersey and Texas, but mostly BRC is trying to establish its brand in the Mountain West.

“Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho and Utah have been the focal point of my travels. The reality is that most places I visit, I go because there’s a fly shop, and where there’s a fly shop there’s [usually] pretty good fishing.”
– Emily Wolfe