Idylwilde Flies

What is Idylwilde Flies? If you do any fly fishing, you know! Idylwilde is a very successful, locally owned international company that makes Flies for fishing. They manufacture and sell a complete line of industry-wide patterns, as well as the exclusive lines of a growing list of signature tiers including Bob Quigley, Ken Morrish, Dave Bloom, Bob Bordon, Larry Kingrey, Elden Berrett, Joe Aanes, Gary Bulla and Hogan Brown.

Started in 1997 by Zach Mertens, an avid fly fisherman himself, Idylwilde has grown from a start-up with 5 employees, to a thriving business that has its corporate offices and a distribution center in Portland,Oregon, a team of 7 sales reps in 4 states and 150 production workers in 2 facilities in the Philippines. What inspired Mr. Mertens to build such a business? Well, it was a combination of his love for the outdoors and his desire to not have to work for anyone. What keeps him going during the hard times? In addition to his competitive nature and not wanting to have to find a job, many times it has been that he employees so many people from the slums in the Philippines, and he cannot imagine leaving them with no job.

The obstacles Mr. Mertens has faced are typical to any small business owner. He identified marketing and sales as key obstacles but says that he was glad to have found the MHCC Small Business Development Center through a friend at work. Through enrolling in the Small Business Management program at the SBDC, he found an outstanding mentor, “something I wish he had had earlier on in my entrepreneurial career”. Through this 2 part, 10 month program, Mr. Mertens was able to “go new places with (his) business”. He learned and implemented new employee management techniques; he increased his prices and margins. He wrote a marketing plan, which helped him stay focused on his outcomes. Included in the marketing plan was the essential tracking of his business, the setting of benchmarks, which he was thrilled to consistently meet. According to Mr. Mertens, “The Small Business Management Program far exceeded my expectations. Mr. Robert Sherk’s experience was the key. He not only taught and counseled well but he had lived it (the successful small business owner life).”

Mr. Mertens continues to dream about Idylwilde and what it will become. His goal five years out is to be not the largest but instead the most profitable Fly company. He also wants Idylwilde to be the #1 provider of flies to pro shops.

To find out more about Idylwilde Flies, look online at To contact the Small Business Development Center, e-mail the center at

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 Last Modified: 5/15/2009 01:00:08 PM