Two nurses turn one hunting solution into national business

Bill+Brooks%2C+left%2C+and+Brandon+Rexroad%2C+right%2C+hold+out+a+BB+Waterfowl+sign+with+the+company%27s+logo.+Photo+provided+by+BB+Waterfowl.
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Two nurses turn one hunting solution into national business

Bill Brooks, left, and Brandon Rexroad, right, hold out a BB Waterfowl sign with the company's logo. Photo provided by BB Waterfowl.

Bill Brooks, left, and Brandon Rexroad, right, hold out a BB Waterfowl sign with the company's logo. Photo provided by BB Waterfowl.

Bill Brooks, left, and Brandon Rexroad, right, hold out a BB Waterfowl sign with the company's logo. Photo provided by BB Waterfowl.

Bill Brooks, left, and Brandon Rexroad, right, hold out a BB Waterfowl sign with the company's logo. Photo provided by BB Waterfowl.

By Jessica Johnston, Assistant News Director

Duck hunting started a few weeks ago in Ohio. One week ago, the founders of BB Waterfowl hit their target sales for the year, a goal that hypothetically should have extended through the end of the season in February.

The co-owners of BB Waterfowl met during Brandon Rexroad’s orientation of the emergency department right after his graduation, he was now a graduated RN working at Genesis Hospital. The nurse showing him around back in 2010 was Army veteran Bill Brooks.

Brooks has been fowl hunting since he was about 14 years-old, and although fowl wasn’t what Rexroad was as familiar with, the two men instantly bonded over the game of hunting.

Fast forward through five years of working and hunting together, the men ran into a common issue for duck hunters, the water froze over before the season was over, which caused fowl flying through the area to land in fields instead of in the water where the hunters were.

With only five days left in the season, purchasing $300 field decoys were out of the question. So, as an entrepreneur would do, they bent some wire around and made their own stands.

“We’re like, ‘We’re not spending that money, we only have five days left in the season,’” Brooks said. “So, we sat out in the garage and bent wires and said, ‘How can we make this work?’ And came up with something near what we have now.”

After using their stands with other hunters, people started to become interested in a product the two had never anticipated selling to others.

“Some guys were like, ‘Hey, where did you get those?’ and we’re like, ‘Oh, we made them.’ and it just kind of evolved from there.”

The initial push for the patent and the creation of the business was the need for more affordable equipment and word of mouth as hunters kept hearing about the duo’s DIY stands.

While the patent, designs and companies to work with have all been in the works since 2015, the official business website and products went online in May.

“I think we filed out LLC and got our vendors license around October of last year but we really weren’t doing a whole lot with it we were just trying to, on the back end of everything, get the perfect product for the customer before we released it,” Rexroad said.

What sets BB Waterfowl’s duck stands apart from other stands is the feet and the compactness. The wire stands are designed to be slid onto duck and goose decoys that can be used for water or field use, but the big difference is the colored feet that slide onto the stands. Both orange and black feet are available for different kinds of birds. The feet are made out of the same material as LEGOS for durability.

Additionally, the company’s stands are designed to be compact and not take up too much space during the month when they aren’t being used.

The duck and goose stands can be purchased in packs of 6, 12 or 24. With the variation of combinations, Brooks said they’ve sold over 5,000 stands this year. The initial target sales for 2018, with the launch of the official product around April or May, was $17,590. Brooks and Rexroad hit their target profit for the year last week, just two weeks into waterfowl hunting season in Ohio.

Many of BB Waterfowl customers are outside of Ohio, specifically Wisconsin, but it was important to the company’s owners to keep their production local.

“That’s one of our biggest things is keeping all of our products made in the U.S. and as many as we can in Ohio,” Brooks said.

In order to do that, the owners of BB Waterfowl pay a little extra for the products they distribute, but they keep their purchasing local and their prices as low as possible. The feet for the stands are made by Velocity Group out of Cambridge, the wire stands are manufactured by Ohio Wire Form in Columbus and all clothing is done by pro stitch in Dresden.

“We can make it cheaper going to China and things like that, but we refuse to do it,” Rexroad said.

“We will keep everything here, even at the cost of profits. We’re going to keep it made in America, and as much as possible here in Ohio. It’s nice supporting local businesses,” Brooks added.

Keeping with the locally supportive values of the company, the owners of BB Waterfowl had a lot of community help and support throughout the process of designing the product and launching the company.

The design and prototypes for the stands came out of the Idea Lab at Zane State. Rexroad and Brooks originally 3D printed the feet on the stands before choosing Velocity Group as a supplier. The duo also thanked SBDC and the Ohio Business Academy for additional help with the business end of the company.

“Coming from no business background and two nurses, we can take care of heart attacks and we can take care of strokes, but I don’t know what form I need to fill out with the Ohio Business Gateway or anything like that,” Rexroad said. “Those resources really helped us get our feet planted on the ground.”

In light of serving the community, BB Waterfowl has already started down the road of local philanthropy. With the design of a company T-shirt, themed with the pink ribbon for breast cancer, the men were able to sell branded shirts and donate 100 percent of the profits to  the Cancer Concern Coalition.

“What better way to support other people in our community?” Brooks said.

The company raised $500 for the Coalition through the sales of BB Waterfowl breast cancer awareness T-shirts.

Rexroad said they were originally going to donate to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, but then their attention was drawn to a more local organization.

“We were referred to the Cancer Concern Coalition and because they are a local company and they treat the local people, the people we see in our hospital, we wanted to give back the the community,” Rexroad said.

The company raised $500 for the Coalition through the sales of BB Waterfowl breast cancer awareness T-shirts

“Quacking for honkers” and “Hunting for a cure” T-shirts are anticipated to be apart of the company moving forward and the company’s owners are already planning for pre-sales in September next year.

In just six months the company has grown more than Brooks and Rexroad had anticipated, although they were hopeful for success from the start.

“(We were) hopeful, but cautiously optimistic in the beginning. My biggest supporter over there has been telling me from the beginning that it was going to be OK,” Brooks said while nodding toward his wife who was proudly wearing a BB Waterfowl zip-up.

The company also has “Pro-Staff Members” across the country that promote their products and help with sales. Additionally, the company has come into partnership with other small businesses in the industry to trade and sell other brands under their name.

BB Waterfowl and all of its products can be found online at BBWaterfowl.com and on social media @bbwaterfowl for both Facebook and Instagram.

BB Waterfowl is Y-City New’s business spotlight for the month of October.