The Tombigbee River flows into the rugged Mobile-Tensas Delta of southern Alabama, the backdrop for today’s guest. Radcliff Menge describes how he became involved in the outdoors industry, and how family hunting traditions shaped Tom Beckbe’s company vision and the classic Tensas Jacket. Roots run deep.
Radcliffe Menge, Tom Beckbe Traditions
Ramsey Russell: This is Ramsey Russell, GetDucks. I’m in Dallas Safari Club. It’s Morning Four, I’m in the booth. What a busy weekend guys, y’all are killing ducks when Dallas Safari Club is going on. It’s worth the drive over here just to see this beautiful show. I was on my feet all day yesterday and I was whipped. I had eaten and was in bed falling asleep at eight o’clock I was so tired and that’s a good thing. I’m not complaining at all when it’s busy, but this morning, I’m in the booth with Radcliffe Menge. He’s got a cool lifestyle brand, Tom Beckbe, and y’all listen up and hear what this guy’s got to say. How are you this morning Radcliffe?
Radcliffe Menge: Pretty good. I’m almost as whipped as you are, I think.
Ramsey Russell: I keep wanting to call you Tom, and I always tell people, I don’t remember names, you know how these guys that sell insurance and real estate just remember everybody’s name, I don’t know. I have heard 500 – 600 names in the last three days, but now I got two names to remember with you Radcliffe Menge, Tom Beckbe. I keep wanting to call you Tom.
Who is Tom Beckbe?
Tom Beckbe is the original French derivative for the Choctaw name of the Tombigbee River. So the French mispronounced the Choctaw name and then if you look at early maps from that part of the world, early US maps, it was the Tom Beckbe River for a long time.
Radcliffe Menge: Yeah, so the backstory is that Tom Beckbe is the old French name for the Tombigbee River, Western Alabama, east of Mississippi. And I grew up hunting with my grandfather along the Tombigbee River and so when it came time to come up with the name for our business, we just borrowed the old name for the Tombigbee River that nobody was using and turn them into a person and here we are.
Ramsey Russell: I did not know that. I lived over in Starkville for 10 years and duck hunted and fished on the Tombigbee River and had no idea that that was the original name Tom Beckbe.
Radcliffe Menge: That’s the original French derivative for the Choctaw name. So the French mispronounced the Choctaw name and then if you look at early maps from that part of the world, early US maps, it was the Tom Beckbe River for a long time. If you can imagine people in Alabama and Mississippi running up against as hard consonant sounds, K’s became G’s after a while.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah, we’re funny like that. And you’re from Alabama?
Radcliffe Menge: I grew up in Virginia and my family is from south Alabama and New Orleans. And so I used to make a week long pilgrimages to go hunt with my grandfather.
Ramsey Russell: Good deal. And how did you get in your current line of work? Tom Beckbe is not a very old brand. I’ve only started hearing about it recently, in the last few years. What’s the history and trajectory?
Radcliffe Menge: Sure. So I’m a sportsman and I like classic apparel. You know, we make wax cotton jackets, canvas bags, traditional hunting apparel and accessories.
Ramsey Russell: Really nice stuff, I should say.
Radcliffe Menge: Thank you. And about six years ago, I’ve been practicing law in New York, and my wife and I moved to Birmingham. I had a little more free time with the change of pace and I had this idea in my head for a vintage classic hunting jacket. It was just designed a little bit differently than ones that were currently on the market. And really, I started off, I got a custom jacket made for me, found the lady on the internet with the way the world works these days, she would do custom one offs and do pattern work along the same lines. So what we were doing and I didn’t realize it at the time, was developing the Tensaw Jacket, which is our flagship product.
Ramsey Russell: Tensaw Jacket. Nice name, by the way. I like that name.
Radcliffe Menge: Yeah, so there’s five rivers in the Mobile-Tensaw delta. And so we borrowed one of them. We had already borrowed the Tombigbee. So then we moved onto the Tensaw. So, Tensaw Jacket started off as an eight-ounce shelter cloth coat, with nice high collars, that zips all the way up. Classic styling through the shoulders, a little more structure than some of the jackets you get out of Europe, but built for mobility and really built for the outdoors by squeezing the back.
Ramsey Russell: Built for the South. That’s how the brand Tom Beckbe flew up on my radar. Was a lot of guys I know that use your product were saying it’s a weight. It’s built more for us here in the south. Especially, when we started getting down your neck of the woods, Tom, The Mobile-Tensaw River Delta.
Radcliffe Menge: Yeah. So the weather is highly variable, a lot of humidity. It does get cold but it doesn’t get extremely cold. And so what we’ve done is we’ve designed apparel that works for us. It works in a lot of other places, but it’s designed to work for sportsmen in the southeast. If you think about supporting traditions in the U.S. and where apparel and gear coming from, nobody’s really doing traditional premium supporting apparel with a focus on sportsmen in the southeast. So that’s the niche we’re trying to fill.
Ramsey Russell: Radcliffe, you know, when I got started hunting it was a whole different era. And it doesn’t seem too terribly long ago, I mean 30 – 40 years I guess now, but when I got started hunting, I wore canvas coat that had hand me down from my grandmother, my father or a relative or something like that. Man, if you wanted some fancy camo, it was a green or brown, splotchy camo pattern from walls or an old military camo. But I grew up wearing waxed canvas coats and things of that nature, what little I hunted. My dad was not a huge hunter, but that was how we hunted. And since those days progressively it’s gotten more and more and more technological and such that that I often say that and I truly believe that in the era of hype-marketing to sell so much high-end and high-quality, expensive product, ammunitions and guns and patterns and camos and all just different space-age technology that we’re trying to use to kill a duck or kill a deer. It’s almost like they’re telling us to substitute technology for skill-set. And I believe, it’s a personal opinion, I just really believe that the future of hunting lies more in its past, more than the traditional fundamentals. But I’m just curious, for a company like yourself to come out – boom – on the market, and want to develop a quality product, why did you choose old-school waxed cotton products? What is your vibe with the past, with the basic, fundamental, that old school feel? That’s what I’m just trying to get my mind wrapped around. So the new company comes out – boom – and it’s something like I would have worn growing up.
Radcliffe Menge: Yeah, it’s a great question. So, I mean, really, I’m the customer. So, I started off getting one jacket made for me and I had friends and family who saw them, and people wanted them, and the business has grown organically from the demand side. And it just turns out that there are a lot of other people like me and you out there who have been wearing camo a lot or had been wearing different sort of technical stuff. But remembered the great quality, timeless materials that they grew up that last. And there’s everybody, if you come from a sporting family, you know that the coats tend to accumulate over the years. You know, your grandfather’s coats, your dad’s coats, some coats that you’ve had and quit wearing for one reason or another, and there are just certain ones and all those collections that stand out that people keep coming back to. And so what we’ve tried to do with Tensaw Jacket and some of our other products is create those products that, yeah, you may try a more performance-based products in any given year, but you keep coming back to our classic look. The other nice thing about our gear is, look, not everybody has the opportunity to hunt as much as you do, and I certainly would like to hunt as much as you do. So if you go to work during the week and you want to have a connection to sporting, project your interest in the lifestyle, vintage apparel allows you to do that during the work week because if you’ve got a job, it can be tough to wear your camo jacket to work. But you can wear Tom Beckbe jacket over a suit with the top.
It just turns out that there are a lot of other people like me and you out there who have been wearing… different sort of technical stuff. But they remembered the great quality, timeless materials that they grew up with that last. You want to have a connection to sporting, project your interest in the lifestyle, and vintage apparel allows you to do just that. – Radcliffe Menge, Tom Beckbe
Ramsey Russell: Kind of hard to wear optifade with a suit and tie to the office.
Radcliffe Menge: You could do it.
Ramsey Russell: You could do it, but you get by with it. I get what you’re saying. That’s a nice idea. It’s really and truly, you know, it’s just going back to that old generation, I never heard my dad and my granddad talk about numbers, really talked about hunting, It wasn’t a passion or a lifestyle or an obsession for my granddaddy, it was just what he did. You know, when he wasn’t a lawyer, when he wasn’t doing something else, when he wasn’t a civic leader or whatever he did, a little league coach. And now it really is a way in the contemporary age to go from the blind to the workforce to church to dinner and carry that lifestyle with you without it being camo.
[Duck hunting] wasn’t a passion or a lifestyle or an obsession for my granddaddy, it was just what he did. When he wasn’t a lawyer, when he wasn’t doing something else, when he wasn’t a civic leader or whatever he did, a little league coach. And now [Tom Beckbe lifestye apparel] really is a way in the contemporary age to go from the blind to the workforce to church to dinner and carry that lifestyle with you without it being camo. – Ramsey Russell
Radcliffe Menge: Exactly.
Turkey Hunting With Grandfather
Ramsey Russell: That’s nice. How did you get into hunting? What is your background? You came down to hunt with your granddad, but there’s not a ton of ducks down there.
Radcliffe Menge: Yes. So actually, so turkey hunting is how I got into hunting. So turkey hunting is my first passion in the outdoor world. I grew up going on deer drives and sitting in a deer stand from when I was young. But you had to be old enough to sit still for my grandfather to take your turkey hunting. So, turkey hunting in our family was the big deal and so you kind of had to earn your way out to go turkey hunting with my grandfather. And so when I turned 12, I started going turkey hunting with my grandfather for at least a week, every year for the next 14 years in a row until he passed away. Last thing he and I talked about was turkey hunting. I talked to him on Christmas day and he wanted to know the dates I was coming down because he had a pretty full roster of guys who wanted to get Turkey hunting. Tremendous turkey hunter, tremendous outdoorsman. And hunted up in the northern reaches of the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, hunted bottomlands, pine hills, wherever the river was doing, we kind of reacted to. And it was the last thing we talked about, but when I really, really got hooked on the outdoors was the first morning I ever went to turkey hunting. So we hunted, it was cold opening day in Alabama and we had four turkeys gobbling at us and we sat down probably 100 yards from an old tom. The turkey flies down and my grandfather sets us up in a blind on the side of the road, tells me, “That turkey is going to walk straight up this road right to us. Don’t shoot until I tell you.” And anybody who knew my grandfather knows that like when he tells you to do something, that’s what you do. So I sat there frozen, waiting for this turkey to walk up the road. Well, this smart old turkey had a different plan and he came up about parallel the road about 30 yards in the woods and my grandfather is watching the road. Now, I see this turkey coming up and that turkey went all the way around us 270° and then was gone. And I had him in gun range, we paste it out about 15 yards, we could have shot him, but I let the turkey walk all the way around us because my grandfather hadn’t told me that it was time to shoot and he never saw the turkey. So we talked about it afterwards and he said, “Man, I don’t know where that turkey went.” And I said, “Well, he was right there.” And sure enough there were tracks, fresh tracks and we paced it out, it was about 15 yards. And when my grandfather knew that I would let that Turkey walk all the way around us, waiting for him to tell me to shoot them.
Ramsey Russell: That’s a great story, man. I appreciate you sharing that. My experience down the Mobile-Tensaw Delta as back in grad school doing tupelo gum regeneration surveys in the swamp and, my gosh, Kimberly-Clark I guess was with the logging company and let me tell y’all, if y’all have never been to this part of the world, especially in a 5 – 10 year old clear-cut in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, it is a godforsaken, snake-infested, mud-infested, of epic proportions. And so I really think that now that I know the origins of the name of your coat, I really do respect it because on one hand it was fun because I was young. But on the other hand, we used go out and eat dinner, there was a seafood restaurant, we had a little per diem to spend and I would I would offer to buy my technician dinner if they could make the day without one cuss word. Not that I didn’t cuss, I did, trust you me I knew what was coming, and because you did not know from step to step if you were going to sink to your ankles or to your waist. There were briars, there were snakes, and you if you were scared of snakes, this wasn’t a place for you because you were just literally up to your eyeballs seeing them all day every day. But it was a hardwood regeneration study, and we spent a lot of time running down all that myriad of creeks and channels and overflows trying to find these little sites and count seedlings for weeks at a time. And so, I’ve got a lot of respect for that. Are you a duck hunter at all?
Radcliffe Menge: I am a duck hunter. So, I got in duck hunting later. What I love about duck hunting is the same thing that I love about turkey hunting. I think you and I were talking about this the other day. Turkey hunting is wild and crazy because the birds are wild and erratic but, there’s something really special about being out in the woods, watching the world wake up and hunting and knowing that the outcome is not guaranteed. Turkey hunting is not guaranteed and duck hunt is definitely not guaranteed.
Ramsey Russell: You know what they have in similar, that I am not a turkey hunter. I have killed 10 turkeys in my entire life, and I really need to shoot a Merriam’s so I can say I’ve got the world slam, not that that matters because I really, truly am not a turkey hunter. It’s not that I don’t like it, is that I don’t have time. I just don’t. It’s duck season somewhere. And man, let me tell you what, in spring, if I’m home, I’m on the phone or sitting in my recliner or both. But the similarities I see that I love about duck hunting, and you all don’t get me wrong, I love to pull the trigger, I’m not there to watch the sunrise. Lee Kjos and I were in a blind and after the hunt he goes, “Holy cow, Ramsey’s fangs came out when those ducks started flying. You just change like Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” I love that part, but it’s hard to articulate the relationship that I feel with that animal and it’s like the duck calls the decoys. I begin building a relationship and having a conversation and turkey hunting, what appeals to me about turkey hunting is it takes that conversation to the extreme. A lot of my friends that are avid turkey hunters and I know a lot of these guys listening are, they say, “You’re not a turkey hunter because you haven’t met the right turkey yet.” And I’m like, “Man, if I make the right turkey, my wife is going to divorce me, I don’t see her enough as it is.” And but I get that intimacy and that calling and that figure is getting in that bird’s head. It’s a lot like duck hunting in that way and that’s the parallels I see with ducks and turkeys.
Radcliffe Menge: I think they’re very intense. And if there’s something about calling to an animal and having responding that creates a heightened level of intensity. I mean the morning that I just described turkey hunt with my grandfather was 26 years ago and I remember it. I mean, I can tell you everything about that morning and I can tell you everything about every hunt that we had for the next five days together trying to chase that ghost. So, we had a turkey basically in the bag that morning and on the last day of that trip, I killed a turkey at 2:00 in the afternoon with a 20-gauge browning pump, that at 11 steps that my grandfather called up to fighting purrs. And we were in young probably six to seven year pine trees, and we were in red hill country at that point and got a turkey to gobble in the afternoon and used a fighting purrs, which I’m not, you know, I’ve hunted with a lot of turkey hunters and my grandfather is the only guy that religiously used fighting purrs. So I don’t know if I’m giving away some magic here or not, but they worked and they worked and they worked great, he was particularly good at them. And so, we had a bunch of near misses that whole week. I guess my point is that whatever it is about, the innate qualities, something about the experience of turkey hunting, the closest thing for me is duck hunting. Duck hunting has the added bonus of having a social component. I love turkey hunting with another person which is hard to do but you have these intense moments, and you get to share them with somebody. And my father-in-law has gotten the turkey bug but has not killed a turkey and we’ve had some near misses over the last years. We have had two fly over him to his guide, me. And so, he’s met the right turkey and still hasn’t gotten one. So, to me, you know water fowling has a lot of similar qualities that turkey has. And the nice part about waterfowling, you can travel more and do it. Turkey populations are great in the US, but it’s not like you’re going to travel to Europe to go turkey hunting or Argentina or wherever.
Ramsey Russell: That’s the North American experience, you’re right.
Radcliffe Menge: It’s unique. I was telling someone this the other night trying to explain to him why turkey hunting was so intense that I was also trying to explain to him that is uniquely American, something you can only do in North America.
Ramsey Russell: That’s right. It’s as American as Thanksgiving.
Radcliffe Menge: Exactly.
The Appeal of Vintage Apparel
Ramsey Russell: That’s exactly right. You know you mentioned earlier about your Tom Beckbe product being timeless, lasting forever and you know I’m that guy, maybe it’s because of that, I just wear and drive and use things forever. I guess there are carpenters out there that get attached to their favorite hammer like I get attached to my watch, my gun, my decoys. And I don’t know why but I do, I like that, and I just don’t like that so much of this technological stuff that we’re using, including firearms at times, some of the brand manufacturers are not forever products, they’re almost disposable and I don’t like that. I just don’t like it. It’s something about that. And I’ll tell you what I’m fishing around for trying to get out is way back when, it was the year I got married, 25 years ago, I go up near the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland and I start hunting with this guy and in his little holding mud room, little mobile home really is what it was on the hunting property, he had stacks of old wooden decoys. And we were hunting over plastics out on their own swan creek in Chestertown Maryland. But I had never seen those kinds of wooden decoys. And I said, “How come we don’t hunt with those?” and he said, “Oh man, because you know, my dad and I hunted with those growing up because back in those days we paid $5 for those decoys.” You know, everybody around here that needed spare time money made decoys. And he said when plastics came along in the in the 70s, late 60s and 70s when they became proliferate, he said, he could literally remember going to duck camp parties where all the old men were just celebrating to get rid of those damn wooden decoys. They threw them into piles and burned them and then tied string on the plastic decoys by the firelight. He could remember that. And but now decades later, those wooden decoys have become collectible have become cherished items have become folk art, so it’s not just me, it’s almost like a vibe in humanity that like to connect with the past something like a gun or a decoy or a jacket. I was just thinking, as you were talking earlier, I, I know that my grandmother, she was much smaller than my granddaddy but I have no idea what name brand it was. I was 12 years old. I didn’t look at the tag and see what it was. I didn’t care. It was my coat and I guess because my mother was OCD she threw it out over the years. I no longer have it but I wish I did. I wish I had it hanging in the closet still.
Radcliffe Menge: I think part of the appeal wooden decoys, vintage apparel and hunting itself is the desire for people to slow down a little bit. And I think what’s so appealing about a wooden decoy as I’m looking on your booth right now. I got one recently Joe Gaynor from Russell Woods gave me one that a friend of his made and gave it to him. And there’s just something about it. One, they last and then two, there’s just something really personal about a piece of wood that someone brought to life. And they you know, I don’t know, there’s something really appealing about just slow down for a minute, focusing on one thing that you’re passionate about.
Ramsey Russell: I used to carve decoy after that trip to Chesapeake, I went to a store that sold contemporary carbons and I was broke and in grad school so I couldn’t do it but I went and got a butcher knife and bought some cork and a dremel. As a matter of fact, Walmart, after burning up three of the dremels, they wouldn’t let me return them anymore. And so, I had to step up to afford them. But I carved a few and that were crude compared the one you’re looking at that, was made by a professional, but they worked, and again, it was that connection to that resource. I would spend my summer sweating in the shop, carving and thinking about duck hunting and then to put that block on the water and a duck come to it just accelerated that connection with that bird I took pride in. The decoy you’re looking at, it’s a red-crested pochard carving by a guy named Mark Schupp. Mark carves the decoy blank, and a lot of you guys now see floating out there in your spreads is plastic. Those plastic decoys have to be made from a mold. He carves under contract with all the companies, the original blank. He took Jason Chuley’s Ramzilla decoy, the shoveler, and he re-carved it for a plastic mold that became Spoonzilla with MOJO and when I met him and saw him, I said, would you make me this red crested traveling decoys? And he said what’s the red crested poacher? So, I showed him a picture and he carved it. You know, a lady tried to buy that from me yesterday And I said, “No ma’am, it’s one of a kind and I travel with it. I can’t do that; I can’t sell it to you.”
Radcliffe Menge: I had a guy try to buy my broken-in Tensaw Jacket and I told him, you’ve got to earn it.
Ramsey Russell: You’ve got to earn it; it takes character. That’s the thing about that wax cotton, I’ve been wearing wax cotton forever. A lot of different brands, but they all take on their own character based on where you’ve worn them, where you’ve hunted with them and how you’ve worn them, how often you’ve worn them and like we’re saying is that I don’t know, I get attached to my stuff like that, man, I get attached to it.
Radcliffe Menge: So, we did a photo shoot in Patagonia, Argentina, this past spring.
Ramsey Russell: Yea, I know Will.
Radcliffe Menge: So, Will is an old Memphis boy, big duck hunter. We went on this amazing trip. Will’s had one of our jackets for three years. Will probably hunts, you know, 250 days out of the year. And he has got probably the most patina Tensaw Jacket on earth. And of course, we photographed heavily. And people ask me, how do I get my jacket to look like that? And I say, it’s up to you what the jacket ends up looking like.
Ramsey Russell: Use it. It’s not going to get that patina in a board room I can tell you or sitting on the back seat of your pickup truck, you got to put it out in the world. Hey, speaking of going to Patagonia to hunt, tell me again, the story about the quail hunting down in southern Argentina for those California quail. Because Will actually came by the other day. He doesn’t have a booth here, but he came by and I said, “Will, I’m coming to hunt quail with you, Radcliffe told me about that hunt. I’m coming to shoot some quail, that sounds fun.”
Radcliffe Menge: So, plug for, this is not paid advertising for the Dallas Safari Club but Will and I met here on the floor. And this is before Tom Beckbe was even really a business. I was here walking the floor and I was kind of lost and had stopped and was looking around trying to figure out what was going to go next. And Will’s dad, Tim Cowen, said, “Hey buddy, you look lost. What are you looking for?”
Ramsey Russell: He’s that kind of guy.
Radcliffe Menge: He is that kind of guy. Which is, you know, I use this conversation as kind of a teaching tool about how important it is to talk to strangers and just say hello, because, you know, you can draw a direct line from that conversation to me being in Patagonia with Will and his wife Lauren. They run a program out of San Martin de Los Andes, so, northern Patagonia a little bit south of Bariloche if you’re familiar with Argentina. Unbelievable trip, they call it their triple crown because you can fish for trophy trout, shoot management red stag, but for wing shooters like me, you can chase California and quail valley quail, which were released down there 100 years ago and the Argentineans don’t shoot them. They are everywhere. I mean it is comical how many quail there are and they covey anywhere from a ten dozen birds up to 200 and so Will and his guys have out a way to hunt them. You chase them through the scrub brush. It kind of looks like Wyoming almost like stage fresh country. You know the smell is obviously different because it’s not sage and you see crazy animals like, you know, they’ve got stag instead of elk but, so, you chase the quail and you kind of pin them in thickets and then they send in flushing dogs and the birds rise and shoot and rise and shoot and rise and shoot and they fly hard and low and fast. It’s not like anything I’ve ever done. This isn’t hopping on a mule wagon in Alabama and going and chasing bob-white quail. I mean it’s a different deal.
Ramsey Russell: No, that sounds very appealing to me. I duck hunt for a living now and as much as I love the duck hunt, when I vacation, I don’t want to wear waders and shoot ducks. I normally sneak off and go shoot a deer or something like that. But I told, Will a couple of days ago I said, “I’m coming down to shoot those quail.” He’s like “Oh, come on.” And I’m like, “No, I’m dead serious. I’m coming.” You were talking about how the jackets developed characters and we were talking about decoys and it reminds me of a story. We’ve got a lot of gadwall in the Deep South. So, we chased gadwall. One thing I’ve learned about gadwall is, we all use mallard decoys and mallard this, mallard that, but we’ve got a lot of gadwall. And gadwall-mallard decoys, but let me tell you this, if you’ve got a pair or two or whatever of gadwall decoys, birds of a feather flock together. They come into gadwall decoys. So, all of my own homemade cork decoys are either green winged teal or mallard because it’s very easy carve. And last year I bought a pair of gadwalls. I hunt with a buddy of mine, Jim Crews especially and he just eat up in that break of his with gadwalls. And the way you work those gadwalls, I don’t care how many decoys got out, set a pair or more gadwalls off to themselves. And every gadwall that comes in is going to hit those decoys. It’s a great story because last in the Deep South was just a funky year there weren’t too many ducks. I was going to hunt with Jim to do our annual cork hunt, we call it. And he warned me, he said, “Ramsey, it’s not the number of ducks you’re used to, we’re going to shoot some ducks, but it’s not going to be crazy.” I said, “Fine.” And that night as he was grilling steaks, he just told me, “So, look man, just so you know, tomorrow morning in the boat, my son Turner is going to propose to his girlfriend.” And that was kind of awkward for me because it was Jim, his wife, Allison, and Turner and his girlfriend and here I am just kind of out of place, during a pretty dang special moment, but hey, I was there to duck hunt, and duck hunt we did. It was cloudy, it was terrible weather for hunting in flooded trees and we shot two or three ducks and it got kind of slow and it just kind of had this long pause in the action and the moment came, Turner proposed to his girlfriend, beautiful diamond ring and her smile was as wide as that boat was long and I swear, I told somebody, I told him the story Thursday morning, I said, “Man, between the shine of that diamond ring and that girl’s smile, the clouds parted, the sun came out and the ducks showed up and it was her turn to shoot, and a single gadwall came in and she swung on it, boom she shot and a couple of bb’s hit both of those brand new gadwall decoys. It didn’t bust them up because I mean here’s the deal, they’re not plastic, they don’t sink they get character. And I look at that hen and drake gadwall and one of them got a scrape down his cheek and of us them has got impressed in his head and you know, I’m not complaining. I mean I look at the character now of that pair of decoys and all. I think when I see those is her smile and I’m proud to have the bb dings in it because, I mean, it’s a memory.
Radcliffe Menge: Yeah, that’s the morning.
Tom Beckbe Company Visions
Ramsey Russell: It’s a morning, and I guess that’s why I like products like yours, products like wooden decoys, like papa’s old gun. I mean you look at your granddad’s old gun has got all the scratches in the stocks and every one of them was earned from out there hunting. That’s a good thing. Tell me this, Radcliffe, where do y’all go from here? Y’all have got a relatively small product line, like myself, like other people, and Brandon Cerecke of BOSS Shotshells, I read him say something in a post the other day that just again hit me like a lightning bolt because he said a lot of us family-owned companies, he was describing himself, BOSS Shotshells, but he said, “We’re like little speedboats in a harbor full of titanics.” And I’m like that is the best definition of companies like mine and yours and his as compared to some monstrous, apparel company. But where do you see, where do you want, where do you aspire for your own product line and your own brand to go in the future?
Radcliffe Menge: Yeah, I mean, first and foremost, I mean we’re not apologetic. Sportsmen first for us. So, we make hunting gear, if other people who aren’t necessarily hunters or who just aspire to the lifestyle like it too, that’s great. But our stuff is meant to be made for the outdoors. And so, what we try to do is try to talk to people like you, talk to people like Will, talk to people that we know spend a lot of time in the outdoors and ask them what’s missing or what is not right about the clothing and the apparel accessories that you carry out in the field. Because the titanic example is a great one, you know, because big companies have big company problems which are all driven by scale. And so, when they make a decision, the question isn’t can we sell 50 pieces or can we sell 100 pieces? It’s can we sell 10,000? We’re not selling 10,000. So, if we can do something that will sell 100 or something, then we’ll do it.
We’re not apologetic. Sportsmen first for us. We make hunting gear, if other people who aren’t necessarily hunters or who just aspire to the lifestyle like it too, that’s great, but our stuff is meant to be made for the outdoors. So, what we try to do is try to talk to people like you, ask them what’s missing or what is not right about the clothing and the apparel accessories that you carry out in the field. The titanic example is a great one because big companies have big company problems which are all driven by scale…We try to always remember that the roots of the business are catering to sportsmen…We try to be reactive to our customers. – Radcliffe Menge, Tom Beckbe
Ramsey Russell: And if you need to change, you’ve got the mobility to change on a dime, like a speedboat, not swing around for a quarter mile, like a ship.
Radcliffe Menge: Exactly. And so, what we try to do is we try to be reactive to our customers. We try to always remember that the roots of the business are catering to, first the Southern sportsmen, just because that’s what we happen to be. Now say we sell a lot of stuff upper Midwest, Northeast, and Upper Northwest because the sporting culture, while it’s got its unique idiosyncrasies in the South, the sporting culture at large is very similar all over the U.S. and all over the world. And so, if we’re if we’re doing right by sportsmen in our backyard then we’re doing right by most of the sportsman out there.
Ramsey Russell: Very good. Hey guys, we’re fixing to get started and talk to people, maybe sell a few hunts, sell a few coats. But thank y’all for listening to Duck Season Somewhere podcast. @ramseyrussellgetducks on Instagram, follow us and our odyssey, worldwide, chasing ducks and other things with feathers. @Tombeckbe also on Instagram, y’all check out this cool product. Y’all have got to meet the man himself and thank y’all for listening.
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It really is Duck Season Somewhere for 365 days. Ducks Season Somewhere takes me year-round to worldwide destinations where I meet the most interesting people. I’m your host Ramsey Russell. Join me here to listen to those conversations. Welcome to Duck Season Somewhere.