East Dorset fishing company recognized by Amazon
The family-run business began in 2016 when Captain Steve Niemoeller, a Florida fishing guide, talked Stephen Price, CEO of SteelShad and East Dorset resident, into mixing business with pleasure.
Price, who grew up fishing with his dad and grandpa in the South, agreed to partner up with Niemoeller and two friends, Brad Wightman and Campbell Mathewson, to start a business that sells fishing lures.
SteelShad lures are popular with anglers because of their versatility. They can be used in salt water, fresh water, and in water six inches to sixty feet deep. This means the lures are able to catch a variety of fish like bass, trout, strippers, and flounder.
The SteelShad Bladebait— made of malleable stainless steel — was October's featured lure of the month in "On The Water Magazine," an anglers guide to New England.
But that wasn't SteelShad's first advertising boost.
This past spring, the company was selected to be a partner in Amazon's "Exclusives" program. The lures launched on Amazon in June, and after a successful "Prime Day" — a day Price says is like Christmas in July — SteelShad was one of seven businesses nationwide chosen for Amazon's "Small Business Spotlight" campaign.
The campaign was developed to showcase how small businesses can rapidly increase their sales on Amazon by reaching a large number of customers. Being selected into the campaign means that SteelShad receives help from Amazon with fulfillment, customer service and placement on Amazon deal pages.
"SteelShad was exciting to us for many reasons, including the fact that they have a high-quality product and a passion to serve customers in their neighborhood and around the world," Amazon said in a news release. "We are proud that customers will get to know the faces and stories of small business on Amazon."
Price says they were fortunate to be included in the program.
"We have a unique product," Price said. "Our sales ramped up pretty quickly and Amazon wanted to get into the sports arena.".
Currently, SteelShad sells hoodies and hats made by "The Graphic Design" in Rutland, and they have been expanding into high-end polarized sunglasses. But Price says, "Lures are the hero of our product line."
Recently, while in Oregon, Price was able to use some of his lures while he fished for two days on the Willamette River near Salem for Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass with Jay Yelas, the 2002 Bassmaster Classic Champion and 2007 FLW Angler of the Year.
Yelas is a respected angler in the fishing community and, according to Price, a wonderful fisherman and person. In September SteelShad announced they would join a group of industry leaders to sponsor Yelas in the upcoming year on the FLW Tournament trail.
While SteelShad is just entering its second full year in business, Price knows it's never too soon to think about the future. "We'd like SteelShad to become an established brand in the fishing community," he says. With that in mind, they plan to introducing rods and reels into their product line as soon as next year.
"Like with any sport, anglers become attached to their gear," Price said. "We have first-time fishers who catch their first fish with a SteelShad. It makes for a good memory."
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