2015 INC. 5000 RANK: 436
HEADQUARTERS: Lehi, UT
YEAR FOUNDED: 2002
2014 REVENUE: $46.9 million
3-YEAR GROWTH: 1,076%
Some evenings, Kirk Feller, whose Lehi, Utah-based company, BodyGuardz, makes protective sleeves for smartphones, tablets, and computers, closes up shop and drives 15 minutes to the Provo River, which winds down from the Uinta Mountains. In his hands are a fishing rod and a box of brightly rainbow-colored flies.
Though he can rattle off the river's inhabitants like a good waiter can recite the evening's specials--"rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, brown trout"--he's not there to find dinner. He's there to clear his head.
"You're just casting the fly down river and watching it float away," he says, as he describes how every fly that's cast must mimic an insect landing and perching on water. "It's very different from bait fishing. It's interactive and involved."
Feller started fly fishing at age 12, inspired by his outdoorsman father. He used to fashion his own flies. These days, in part because of BodyGuardz's rapid growth (it's No. 436 on this year's Inc. 500, with a 2014 revenue of $46.9 million), Feller buys them instead, but he still travels to Idaho and Montana for fly-fishing vacations. His favorite destination is the Snake River in Idaho, specifically, he says, the South Fork and Henrys Fork, near where his father-in-law, LaMoyne Hyde, a leading manufacturer of fly-fishing boats, lives. Both his wife (and BodyGuardz's co-founder), April, and his six children are into the sport too; with them he hopes to fish the picturesque waters of Alaska and British Columbia.
Dusk and early morning are his magic hours, when the fish and sun-flecked waters offer a respite from any founder's hectic pace.
"The casting requires tremendous skill--these fish are very smart, and you have to emulate the fly," he says. "You get away from a lot of the irrelevant stuff in life."