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From left: Spencer Eagleburger, Chase Blakey and Edward House, member managers
Katelyn Egger | SBJ
From left: Spencer Eagleburger, Chase Blakey and Edward House, member managers

2024 Dynamic Dozen No. 9: Eagle Outdoors LLC

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SBJ: What has been the key to your early success?
Edward House: Our team is really the key to this. I would not be able to do this on my own, and I’m really fortunate and grateful for my team. I’ve only had one position turn over in the last two years, so I think the entire team buys into the culture, the brand and the identity we’re trying to create.

SBJ: Eagle Outdoors grew very quickly very early since its founding in 2018. To what do you attribute that boost?
House: During COVID, there was a shocking amount of price gouging, and retailers were taking advantage of the situation and blaming it on the supply channels and vendors. We made a conscious effort to play the long game and hold – or even cut – our margins with the objective of keeping our retail price as close to normal as possible. That’s what drove us to triple-digit growth in 2019, 2020 and 2021. Customers saw what we were doing, and we earned a lot of trust in that practice.

SBJ: Is your growth sustainable?
House: I believe that we are on the borderline of growing too fast and compromising some of those important elements, but we’re walking that line. Our goal is to double our store count every two years. It’s a very ambitious growth strategy, but at the same time, I see a window in this market, and it’s not always going to be there.

SBJ: Is there such a thing as growing too fast?
House: I absolutely believe you can grow too fast. The pace at which you grow can really compound some of those challenges and can cause disruptions to the flow of your business. Growth has to be managed at a reasonable pace – it’s just hard to identify that pace until you push the limits a little bit and get a little uncomfortable before you take your foot off the gas.

SBJ: What would be the tipping point of growth for Eagle Outdoors?
House: When we start seeing turnover or poor reviews, or when we start having trouble managing cash flow, that’s a sign that we’re getting to that point. We’ve been fortunate enough not to cross over that line, but those are the cues I look for.

SBJ: Outdoor retailers in the region face stiff competition with Bass Pro Shops in our backyard. How are you differentiating yourself from your big box peers?
House: Our space in the market is to focus on the relationship side of the business. Our employees are truly in the hobby. They’re in the outdoors, they hunt, they fish. We don’t put that on our job applications or require that of people, it’s just that those are the individuals who gravitate toward our business. When you go to a big box store, that’s not necessarily the case.

SBJ: What is the best business advice you’ve received?
House: Sometimes if you’re excited about something and you see an opportunity, people will tell you to just go for it, which could be good advice or bad advice. I’ve done a lot of different things in my career, and a lot of it is based on the advice to just go for it. However, I also believe it’s important to take a step back and think critically. Try to remove the emotion from things and really analyze whether you should in fact go for it. Sometimes that is overlooked in the emotional rollercoaster that is entrepreneurship.

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