The mere existence of Outrigger Outdoors is proof that necessity is the mother of invention.
Trevor Haechten had just purchased a $100 flounder gig and it broke while he tried to spear his second flounder with it.
“It broke off and I lost the gig and the fish,” he said.
Realizing that he could make one of better quality, he did just that and Outrigger Outdoors was born. He started the company in 2016 and still operates it with his wife Kendall out of their garage on Hardeman Street in Sealy. Haechten didn’t stop with flounder gigs. The next year he got the bright idea to produce quality lights for both hunting and fishing. He has since been expanding his line of products and is now into filet knives and vacuum sealers.
When Haechten first produced his flounder gig, it began to sell very well with minimal marketing. That’s because noted Texas bowfishing guide Mark Malfa started using and promoting it.
“He was pushing our product to the bowfishing sector and we knew nothing about it,” Haechten said.
The next logical step to support the gig was an adjustable flounder gigging light that allows for better viewing in clear to muddy water, much like a car’s headlights can be adjusted from bright to fog lights depending on weather conditions.
Growing up on a farm as an avid outdoorsman, Haechten never planned to own his own company. He went to Texas A&M and got an engineering degree and started out pursuing a career in the oil and gas industry. When the company he was working for filed bankruptcy, he found his own business was going well enough to become his full-time job.
Haechten is not the only entrepreneur in the family. His wife Kendall was half of the Bumbera Sisters racing team. She had her NASCAR license before she had a driver’s license. Her parents own Bumbera Performance in Sealy and she grew up around high performance cars.
Today, in addition to supporting her husband, she owns her own company, Hardeman Candle Company, also operated out of their home.
“She does all the social media stuff,” Haechten said.
Two years ago, Haechten took his popular Swamp Eye Light and divided it into two products, the Swamp Eye Bowfishing Light Bar and Swamp Eye Submersible Flounder Gigging Light. That led to the development of other LED bowfishing lights.
“We are constantly consulting with guides, commercial fishermen, and our customers to receive feedback on our bowfishing lights and understand what’s needed to constantly improve our products,” Haechten said.
This year Haechten has been developing a line of night hunting lights. Experimenting with LED lights and studying the the visual limits of common predators and pests such as coyotes and hogs, he came up with the Predator Cannon Hunting Light.
“It has a true-red color that shines out over 1,000 yards,” he said.
The light broadcasts at a wavelength of light that the “dichromate vision (colorblind) mammals have a very hard time seeing.”
As a businessman, Haechten said his focus isn’t on making a buck.
“I’ve pushed myself chasing quality instead of a dollar,” he said, noting that the quality brings the profit.
“We work with manufacturers to do a lot of the heavy tooling and machining we can’t do ourselves,” he said. “We do the final assembly … Everything is quality control tested and shipped out.”
Almost all of his sales are online, although he does have some retailers who carry his products in Texas, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida.
He said he is proud of the fact that they have built the company from scratch without the use of any funding or grants. He hopes someday to have his own storefront, but for now he is too wrapped up in product development and sales.
“We’re becoming more of a recognized brand,” he said.
To learn more, visit www.outriggeroutdoors.com.