Who's behind Chill-N-Reel? Well, if you're thinking that we're some small family business based in a little Oklahoma town, then you'd be right!
It's not only our brilliantly simple fishing gadget invented by a firefighter that makes us who we are (check out Our Story).
But, the heart and soul behind the Chill-N-Reel brand are the passionate people - which is what our customers seem to really love! (Oh hey, did you hear about our "Shark Tank" appearance?)
So here's a bit about the team:
Inventor, Owner, Head of Operations
For over 20 years Jake has been a Tulsa firefighter, which seems to be the real family business since his dad and brother were/are also firemen. As is the case with many first responders, Jake has always had side hustles to pay the bills and raise his family. From lawn mowing to restoring and renting out fixer-uppers, Jake is one of the hardest working guys you'll ever meet. He's a husband, dad to 3 athletic boys, and has coached a lot of baseball over the years.
But for fun, Jake has been an avid fisherman and hunter since childhood. It was when he was on vacation on the beach in Destin, Florida in 2017, standing in waist-high water with his beer in hand, bored because he was just standing there, that he felt the need to try to catch the fish swimming around him without spilling his beer (or making everyone in the water mad if he brought out a fishing pole). That's when the idea struck to try to convert his koozie into a fishing device.
As they say, the rest is history, and today Jake does anything and everything to keep the Chill-N-Reel plates spinning, even down to pouring the lead sinkers that come in every package!
Customer Service, Sales, & Trade Show Carnie Pitchman
Chase and Jake met when Chase was a 6 year old tyke. Jake had been quietly dating Chase’s mom, and when the big moment came for her to introduce the two, Chase proceeded to whack Jake in the shins with a wooden sword! It was true love and they soon became a family.
He's an alumnus of Oklahoma State University whose early career had him working as an inside sales representative for the Los Angeles Dodgers AAA organization in Oklahoma City, as well as a stint leading a business development team for a startup software company that helps landlords manage their tenants’ water consumption.
Being a fun-loving life-of-the-party is Chase's calling in life, making him a perfect customer service and in-person sales rock star! You should see this guy work a trade show booth. Every person who walks by is either entertained or annoyed, but you can count on the fact that they won't forget about the Chill-N-Reel when they leave! Chase is also credited with submitting Chill-N-Reel's initial application to Shark Tank, apparently after having a few cold ones!
Marketing, Commercialization and Ecommerce Dude
Chris and Jake go way back, given that their wives are sisters. He's always been the techy go-to-guy for the family, and has helped dozens of companies with digital enablement and marketing during his career, since the early days of the Internet.
Chris has rolled up his sleeves with ginormous brands likes Dole and Nestle as well as smaller brands and tech startups. And he's an entrepreneur himself, having owned a few companies including a digital agency as well as a coffee shop in Montana!
He became the go-to-guy for Chill-N-Reel when the pandemic hit in 2020. Trade shows were all getting shut down, so Chris joined the crew to pivot the revenue to be ecommerce focused. He dove in and drove online sales through the roof and has led a variety of partnership and business development efforts, including getting through the onerous Shark Tank process!
Tyler and Chase were buddies and bouncers together in college. Tyler grew up in a small Oklahoma town spending most of his time doing redneck activities, so when it came time to bring someone in from outside the family, he was the natural choice! Tyler was previously a heavy machine operator in the oil field, but now he’s enjoying being the camera man, salesman, and handyman for the company! He is so dedicated to the job that even when he’s not working out or working on his pitch, you can find him ripping some 12 oz curls preparing for his next event!
As the wife of the inventor, Trinity holds many roles ranging from the boss to a hook-and-sinker bag stuffer. She's a teacher by trade, but you will often find her picking, packing, and shipping the many Chill-N-Reel orders that come in hour by hour!
And the rest of the family
Filling in the gaps
The entire Rutledge clan steps up to the plate with enthusiasm whenever they are called upon! Whether it's Jake's two high school boys, dad, mom, brother, sister-in-law or nephews, there is often plenty of grunt work to do, especially during peak sales seasons (or a TV segment airing)! They are a safety net that is deeply needed and appreciated!