We had the good fortune of connecting with Bobby Jaeger and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Bobby, Let’s talk about principles and values – what matters to you most?
I wrote down guidelines for myself when I first started out with Freestone. These sum up the beliefs that I try to stick to with each day and decision.
Honor God in my work
Work Ethic and Balance:
Work hard during working hours, but do not make work more important than my relationship with God, my friends, or my family.
Do Not Compromise:
Regardless of whether I can make an extra dollar or appeal to a wider audience, never make a decision that is contrary to God’s moral standards.
Create Fruitful Relationships:
Go above and beyond to make meaningful and authentic relationships with Freestone partners as this could be a means of spreading the gospel.
Be a Good Steward:
Everything I have and everything the company has is from God. Be generous in giving back to the Church, charities, and future employees, understanding the wealth is not mine.
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
The why for me is pretty simple. Jesus is Lord and I want to honor him in all I do.
What should our readers know about your business?
Where to start, where to start!
I’ve been telling myself since day 1 that I don’t want to just be seen as a coffee company with fun fly fishing names. And it’s incredibly difficult to break that perception with customers while the company is still small. It’s even difficult to break that perception with myself sometimes while I focus on a new product, or sales, or taxes, and I don’t have time to dedicate to my bigger vision. I suppose that brings me to the next topic. What is the bigger vision for Freestone and what separates Freestone from the rest? Here’s my answer in sort of concise way.
Creation is incredible and I find fly fishing to be one of the most exciting ways to enjoy it. A good deal of my favorite memories as an adult are camping and fishing. In particular, sitting around the campfire at the end of the day and telling fish stories and having meaningful conversations with my dad. I will not pretend that Freestone (or any company for that matter) really needs to be around to get out and enjoy nature with friends and family. So instead of creating a brand that tells people things like “Freestone lets you enjoy creation more” or “You’re a better person by supporting Freestone”, I would rather keep my messages meeker and grounded in truth (though I don’t claim to do this properly at all times). If Freestone can prompt and encourage folks to go out and enjoy creation with friends and family, I think that is an accomplishment. And if Freestone can help us steward creation by cleaning up streams, even better.
I won’t share too much more because I’m beginning to ramble. But what I just shared is more of a vision, and this begs a new question. What mechanisms will I put in place to bring some substance to the vision? I would love to host small meetups and events. Sponsoring large events could be great as well, but my vision is to reach out to individual anglers and hook them up with gear, drinks, or food so they can go out and spend some quality (and fishy) time with their buddies or family. I could go on for a while with my ideas, but I’ll leave it at that for now!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Washington’s got a lot to offer outside the city and the best way to show them a good time is hitting the road! Top spots in my mind are the coast of the Olympic Peninsula, cruising over the North Cascades Highway, and the Yakima River for some trout fishing.
Food is a tough one to incorporate into the road trip since it takes us pretty remote. I usually live off of snacks and some fairly suspect meals when I’m out in nature. I’m likely loading up on sandwiches, jerky, dried mangos, a gross amount of protein bars and cliff bars, and some meat and eggs to cook on the camp stove. If we have some extra time to hit the city or visit my hometown of Snohomish, top spots would be… Bongo’s for some killer Caribbean food, 8 oz burger, Chinese food from Kau Kau, Honey Hole sandwiches, and unbeatable biscuits and gravy at the Maltby Cafe.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
As an entrepreneur and a guy, carving my own path is something that I really wanted. But there’s no way I would be doing this without the crucial support and wisdom from a lot of folks along the way… so let’s get to thanking!
My parents are the first and most obvious people to thank for their support. My dad was a business owner and knows the struggles and woes of trying to get a company off the ground and my mom was alongside him that whole way. Both of them have been crucial in helping me pick my head back up when sales are down and I’m at a loss for what step to take next.
Another thank you goes to my grandparents who helped with my tuition, allowing me to start saving money early in my career which gave me a cushion to spend the funds necessary to start this business.
And of course I’ve got a lot of other family members and close friends who have been buying coffee since day 1, spreading the word to their friends, and encouraging me to keep at it. Big thank you to my siblings Brooke and Michael and their other halves Bryce and Kaydee for the support!
Special thanks to my friends Tate and Hannah for the tremendous design and creative help. And shoutout to the folks I’ve met along the way who are amazing and encouraging. Bradey Hall is a photography and fish mastermind, Mark Taylor and Judy Harris at Trout Unlimited who want to see me succeed, and Greg McCrimmon who’s been an awesome person to know and gain some wisdom from.
I could go on listing out these folks for longer than people care to read, so I’ll wrap it up with a sincere thank you to everyone else who has supported me along the way!