Peter Drees started his entrepreneurial journey back in 2014, working with unique fishing products. By 2022, his business had grown so much that he knew he could no longer work out of his home and moved operation of Northwoods Marine to a rented facility instead.
Inventory began to take over his home and his garage, and he needed to expand to make room for kayaks. Peter is a dealer for the top two kayak brands in the US: Nucanoe and Hobie, which offer features other kayaks do not. “Quality is our goal, so we focus on high-end products,” Peter said.
The business is truly multi-faceted, functioning as a manufacturer, dealer, distributor and retailer. Peter manufactures products like fishing rod holders as well as bases and mounts for use in boats. He serves as the only dealer in the Midwest for Takacat inflatable catamaran boats.
He is also a distributor and a retailer for outdoor equipment like paddleboards and ice fishing gear. “My shop is the world’s largest custom bait shop,” Peter shared, explaining how fishing plastics can be special ordered by color, scent and other variables. Northwoods Marine offers unique inventory, 95% of which is not sold anywhere else.
Peter found lots of assistance on his entrepreneurial journey. In 2019, he came to the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for help obtaining expansion capital. Lucy Waldhuetter, a consultant at the SBDC, assisted with financial projections. “I couldn’t have done all this without Lucy’s help,” Peter said.
He also worked closely with the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC) and First Federal Bank. “The First Federal Bank agent was also on the loan committee at WWBIC, and she actually came to my house to see my operations and help me understand how to move forward,” Peter said.
His partnership with the Muskellunge Club of Wisconsin has truly helped Northwoods Marine as well. “They are very supportive of my shop,” he said.
Accomplishments with Waukesha SBDC
- Financial projections
- Business resources
“I am the happiest I have ever been!” Peter said of working as a small business owner. He looks forward to future expansion of his product line and is excited about items currently in development. He also hopes to purchase his own space in the future. “We are ready to expand again. We are already crowded in our rented facility, and I look forward to finding the right space for us in the future.”