The American Fly Fishing Trade Association has named Cheeky and Wingo Belts CEO Ted Upton "AFFTA Member of the Month" for April, 2016. With the honor, Upton receives just the second ever installment of the award, which was created to highlight engaged and involved members of the fly fishing industry. Upton sat down with AFFTA to discuss the honor, explain how he spends his free time, and recount memories of Cheeky's first experiences at industry trade shows.
Read the interview below, or click here to learn more about AFFTA.
Explain your business — the who, what, why.
Cheeky Fishing was founded in Boston in 2009 by four passionate anglers who were eager to manufacture fishing reels differently. With backgrounds in manufacturing, engineering and business, we set out to create edgy designs with eye-popping colors and competitive price points. Today, we continue to innovate and design reels aligned with our passion for fishing. We’ve always set out to develop products that fill a void in the marketplace – products we wanted to use ourselves, but that didn’t exist.
In 2009, Cheeky’s cofounders worked and lived in Boston, but we were all pretty unsatisfied with the day-to-day office grind. It was a risky time, but we decided to leave our jobs and pursue an idea we had been exploring together for about a year…designing and developing kick ass fly reels. We had a few designs and ideas, but it wasn’t until we went full-time in 2009 that things really took off. Fast forward 7 years and the company’s products are available for purchase on six continents in both small, specialty shops and larger retail operations alike.
Becoming AFFTA members was one of the first things we did at Cheeky. Some of you may remember Cheeky at its first trade shows. We didn’t even have product available, just a few less than perfect prototypes! We showed up at these shows, albeit a little before we were ready, because it was important for us to be present and be a contributing member of our industry from day one. AFFTA was there as a partner to us from day one.
The token answer is fishing! But the real answer is spending time with our families.