Business Flies to New Heights

Cal Clark, Reporter

Biology major Mike Pheasant said Ring Neck Lanyards, a company the family runs out of their East Stroudsburg home, is a golden business opportunity – and a sought after product for fly fishermen.

“In December my dad ended up making each kid [in my family] a lanyard, a leather lanyard. It was easily just as good if not better than the lanyards we saw out west. My two younger brothers, who are just as important as I am in this whole thing, and I looked at each other and you could tell we basically had the same thought. We can make these. We can make these and they can be something that people will want,” he said.

To a fly fisherman a lanyard is like a utility belt that one would wear around the neck. Various essential fly fishing tools, such as snips that resemble toenail clippers and a tippet for end of a fly fisherman’s fly line, can be attached.

Pheasant said that although there isn’t much of a market for his lanyards on the East Coast, they seem to be ideal for sports- men in western states.

“It’s almost a culture out there, these lanyards. Guides wear them, they’re beaded, they’re ornamental, leather, bone, beads – people put a lot of money into these things. It’s kind of like a fashion statement for a fly fisherman out west,” he said.

Pheasant said that he’s not new to the world of fly fishing. He and his family took regular trips to various locations in the western United States, places ideal for fly fishing. He would spend days fly fishing on these excursions.

It wasn’t until the Pheasant family’s most recent fly fishing vacation that Pheasant decided he was going to join his fellow fly fishermen in owning a lanyard. There was just one thing that ultimately kept Pheasant from making the move.

“When I went out there, I considered getting a [lanyard], but it was just too expensive at that time. I knew I wanted a leather one. I just passed it up. I just so happened to be going through a fly shop and I didn’t pull the trigger on it,” said Pheasant.

That led to Pheasant’s father creating the first family made lanyards as Christmas gifts, which ultimately led to the creation of Ring Neck Lanyards. Pheasant and his family couldn’t recognize anyone catering to the East Coast fly fishermen’s needs. Recognizing the niche, their own company took flight.

Pheasant recognizes that his family’s company could not have become a reality had it not been for the support of his parents.

“My dad really thought this could be a really good learning experience for the kids, which is basically all it started out as, and it continues to be just a learning experience. Let’s see if there’s a demand for this, see if we can supply,” said Pheasant.

Pheasant said that the beginning stages were trial and error. His family would start with a raw product to be tested, and from there they would recognize the faults and work them out for the next prototype. He said the first month of Ring Neck Lanyards was like a constant brain storming session, throwing ideas back and forth and seeing which ones worked.

The family members looked for suppliers as they field tested their product for quality. Pheasant said that by the end of January, his family had a product they felt confident in sharing with the world. The next step, he said, was the paperwork.

“We made sure that the patent was made public for the lanyard design, which it then was. Then we formed a four-way partnership LLC within our family. We had a logo company make a logo for us, which we really liked so we got it copywritten,” said Pheasant.

He said these things took time and plenty of money, which stimulated the push to start selling the first run of lanyards.

The Pheasants started showing their product to the public and to local fly shops, starting with the one in their hometown of East Stroudsburg.

Pheasant said that the initial reaction to the lanyards was very positive. He says the public was impressed with the craftsmanship, and people were moved to make the purchase because of the fair price.

That was where the company stood at the beginning of the 2013 summer season, which Pheasant said is when the sale of fly fishing gear starts to die down. His family is now preparing for the next fishing season, but he says the original vision hasn’t changed.

“Where we’re at now is basically this idea, basically family lessons and family ideas. It’s what we can do and what we can learn – if we can learn supply and demand and how to budget money, create a product and feed off of consumer feedback,” said Pheasant.

Pheasant said the company brought his family closer. He recognizes the challenges that Ring Neck faces, with him living away from home during the college semesters, but he doesn’t let that dampen his optimism.

“The way we look at it right now is that we really have nothing to lose,” Pheasant said. “I mean, it started out as an experiment. It started out as a lesson in business. We’re doing something we love, and at the very least we’ve had a whole lot of fun at the end of the day.”

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