Trailhead Supply Blog / Family Owned

I Found the Straw…………

I’m often asked how did you go from the corporate guy to the packing guy?  Why did you leave a successful company, big paychecks, corporate planes, and high blood pressure pills to the lonely solitary life of a packer?  I tell everyone it’s the lifestyle not the paycheck that’s for sure.  But I truthfully could never put my finger on the straw that broke the camel’s back; that caused me to walk out the door and never look back. 

There comes a time, a point, sometime in all of our lives, where money means nothing, and passion for what you do is everything….It’s hard to explain till you’re there or after you’re there to realize the change.  I found the camel breaking straw last night.  Took me six years but when I saw it, I knew it.  There it was lying in the bottom of a box in my shop at home. 

Trailhead Supply took a huge step forward this month and we bought the pack saddle tree making equipment from a long time and well known, very respected pack saddle builder.  I now have a 20’ stock trail stuffed with machinery and need to find a place to set up our new operation.  My shop at home was volunteered, but like most of our shops and garages, they are full of stuff none of us use or need, mines no difference.  So, the task to clean out the shop has started.  As I sort, toss, and move everything in the designated area, I found a sealed box.

I cut open the box to find stuff  from my desk that got dumped into this carton just before I slammed my office door shut for the last time.  There in the bottom of this box, was an email to me, from my partner, framed behind glass.  The email stated that I had bid a job for X-thousands of dollars, we had done the job and had billed correctly for the job but we were $4.37 short from hitting the company’s profit  % goal.  It went on to say how disappointed he was that I couldn’t find $4.37 somewhere.  He even gave me suggestions to use in the future like short a contractor etc. to get the additional monies to hit those % goals.  Nowhere in that email did he say that I ran the most profitable district, the largest grossing district in the company.  There was never a mention of how many millions of dollars I put into the company’s bank account, just I was $4.37 short of my % goal. 

So, for $4.37 I left a company that I started. A company, that put my kids through college.  A company that I thought I could easily retire from, to pack and follow my dreams……Dreams do cost money just not percentages.

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Chuck & Bud- The Dynamic Duo



Every great organization has key behind the scenes support staff. At Trailhead Supply we have those key players as well, meet Chuck and Bud. Chuck and Bud are not only, close friends, to all of us but we consider these two family, in every way. This pair of guys seem to always be a step ahead of you. By the time you go to ask them for help its normally already been taken care of.

 

The knowledge these two have is invaluable, both have packed for years. Bud is a retired math teacher who spent his summers packing and guiding fishing trips into the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Chuck a third generation Montanan that has grown up with a love for the back country.  These two are a vital part of our research and development team as well.  It normally starts around the campfire when someone says you know…I never understood why no one has ever made??  Or it would make more since if we did?? 

So, back to the Trailhead Supply shop to build or make changes.  Then these two field test their ideas until it becomes part of the Trailhead Supply outdoor product line.  They are crucial to our tradeshow team. Loading trailers, staffing booths, and are always available to answer whatever question that is thrown their way.

 I was proud to share the Big Screen with these guys in National Geographic’s series Dead End Express. I don’t think I have ever worked so hard, and laughed so much as the producers tried to make three old packers into TV stars.

I hope you have been reading these weekly blogs and getting to know all of us here at Trailhead Supply a little better.  So, now if you drive by and don’t see my big blue truck parked out front you can rest assured that whoever is manning the store will be a knowledgeable person with the same love and passion of the back country and packing as I have so stop and come on in.  Remember the coffee is always on.

Andy

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Judy

Fun Facts:
  • My Loves: God, Family, and Friends
  • Interests: Reading, Crafts, Hiking, and Traveling 
  • Known for: My love of ironing and finding a good bargain. 

Hi!  Judy Breland here.  I am the wife of Andy Breland.  We have been married 33 years.  People often ask me how I have put up with him for so long.  The answer is easy:  faith!  Our faith in God has taken us on many exciting adventures in life. 

I grew up in Woodinville, Washington with my Dad, Mom and brother JK.  We lived in a neighborhood with green belts and lots of woods all around.  I loved being outside exploring the woods, swinging on rope swings, riding bikes and playing all kinds of games.  We also went on an annual Mother’s Day hike.  I still really like to hike, but having horses haul all your stuff is becoming my favorite way to get into some amazingly beautiful spots in the back country.   

Andy and I were blessed with two wonderful daughters.  Both of our girls enjoy the outdoors but Melina prefers day hikes and sleeping in her own bed.  We have lived in Montana for 20 years and have enjoyed living in a smaller town atmosphere and country lifestyle.  Trailhead Supply has been a chance for us to share with many old friends and new friends our love for the great big beautiful wilderness we live by. 

Unlike Andy who packs 500 plus miles in a year, I haven’t even rode a horse that many miles in all the years we have owned them.  Not that I don’t like riding,  it is more of the fact that someone has to stay home and take care of the “B” team and run the store.  Last June I went on my first official pack trip. I rode our horse, Sis, and pulled my horse, Gus. We packed gravel for trail repair. It was a fun and successful trip. I look forward to many more trips and maybe even hitting the 500 mile mark someday. 

As far as Trailhead Supply goes I am mainly a behind the scenes supporter.  You occasionally see me working at the store or a trade show, but usually I am working at one of my other two jobs. Thank you so much for supporting our family and our business!

Happy Trails,

Judy

 

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Sydney

Fun Facts:

  • Personal: I live with my husband Jesse in Evergreen (just outside of Kalispell, MT), we have been happily married for almost 4 years.
  • Favorite Color: Hot Pink! Yes, you will see me going down the trail with my hot pink panniers.
  • Favorite Ride: The trail to Upper Holland Lake- It’s where I went on one of my first trips, so it holds a special place in my heart.
  • Place I’ve always wanted to ride: We haven’t made it to the Chinese Wall yet, but hopefully soon!
  • Other Interests: I love to hunt and fish! I have harvested both a mountain goat and moose, just waiting to draw a bighorn sheep tag now so that I can complete the Big 3 in Montana!

Hi, my name is Sydney Paine and I am one of the owners of Trailhead Supply. Many people know my dad, Andy, as the face of our store, and think I am an incredibly supportive daughter, but I am in fact his business partner. J As our previous blog about the store stated, Trailhead Supply became a reality after a conversation around a campfire. Our family loves the backcountry and one of the main goals of the store is to give others the confidence to take a trip and enjoy the wilderness.

My love of horses started at a young age. I competed in multiple Little Miss Rodeo competitions when I was growing up. My first horse’s name was Sahara, a white Arabian. There is a picture of Sahara and I hanging in the store. I got my first trail horse when I was in junior high. Chester was the best horse any girl could ask for. He was all heart, and loved to sight see as we went down the trail as much as me. He truly loved being in the backcountry and I was blessed to cover a lot of miles with him. I now ride O-Jackie-O a mare who loves to be around people more than the rest of the herd. She prefers to stand next to me at the campfire rather than standing on the highline (can you blame her?)

While Trailhead Supply is still growing I work full time at our local hospital in the IT department. I do a lot of behind the scenes work at Trailhead Supply on nights and weekends. I setup and maintain our website and social media. I also do a lot of our bookwork (my husband Jesse does bookwork for us as well, he will be featured in an upcoming blog), and I create most of the displays in the store. I always make sure to get time off of work so that I can be at a couple trade shows each year. Trailhead Supply really is a family run operation! 

Hitting the trail and heading out of cell service into the trees is my happy place. The world we live in goes so fast and technology is constantly in our faces. It’s really nice to get away from it all and relax with my family and our pack string. One of my favorite parts of owning Trailhead Supply is watching people get ready for their first pack trip, and hearing their stories when they come home. We are so incredibly fortunate that we live so close to the wilderness and can sneak away for an overnighter or a week-long trip, with little chance of seeing other people. 

I am truly thankful for each and every one of you! Without our customers we wouldn’t have this amazing opportunity in our lives. Thank you for supporting our family and our store. We hope that you share our passion of packing with us. Everyone is always welcome to stop by and have a cup of coffee, and while you probably won’t see me, I am so glad you stopped by. 

Happy Trails,

Sydney

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The Store

I’m no different than the rest of you; this whole internet shopping experience is kinda weird.  In fact I would much rather be flipping through the pages of some catalog than staring into some monitor. Unfortunately it’s just not that way anymore.  Although there are some benefits, like you don’t have to shower and heck if your one of those types, you don’t even have to have your pants on, and you do save a whole lot of diesel not driving around town looking for what you are after. You just look at a picture press on a button that’s not really a button, but more like a little blue or yellow buy now square on the screen, and it is in your cart. And there isn’t even really a cart. You have never touched it, smelt it, felt it, there’s no tires to kick, so to speak. Click, enter a credit card number, and it ends up in your mail box or on your door step in a few days. This is why I decided to write this, just seems odd to me to put faith and trust into a little skinny TV thing that the grandkids know more about than you do. Not knowing diddly squat about who’s really on the other side of that screen.  Well it’s time to put names and faces together, get to know all of us, and become part of our family.

Let me introduce you to Trailhead Supply.  My daughter, Sydney, and I like most of you, spent hours and hours going through tack stores, catalogs, and searching the internet (more her than me) looking for just what we wanted as far as pack gear goes. We would go into those chain type ranch and home type stores and we couldn’t find what we truly wanted or needed.  A sales person would ask “finding everything OK ………”NO” do you have???? and you then  always get that same blank look no matter what store you are in.  Why?? Because they don’t pack, they just don’t understand, they simply don’t get it.  Packing is in a world by itself. Don’t get me started when you tell someone you pack and they go “oh so you trail ride”…….We got tired of the retailers telling us this is what you need when we knew what we wanted and that wasn’t it.  We got tired of buying kinda what we wanted just to take it home tear it apart and rebuild it just to have something that truly worked. We didn’t want something made in china and it was really too small for what I needed because someone made more money by getting more units out of a roll of fabric. We wanted what we wanted, we wanted what worked. So, sitting around a campfire one evening the idea was thrown out there, what if WE opened a pack supply store and sold what people really want?

We are proud to say Trailhead Supply was born. We have been open since the end of 2009. Our brick and mortar store is located in Kalispell, MT about an hour from endless acres of wilderness. Our goal is to sell quality pack equipment, that is built and functions the way packers want it to be. We select products made in America whenever possible, and if it’s made in Montana, even better. We are proud to be a small business, and support other locally owned businesses whenever we can. We are a family owned and operated business. Each member of our family plays a vital role in keeping the lights on at Trailhead Supply. So, now that you know a little about our store, stay tuned, this is the kick off to our blog series about the behind the scenes of Trailhead Supply. In the coming weeks you will get to know each face that makes Trailhead Supply what it is.

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