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Patience, passion and perseverance are traits that make Rusty Sellars a successful hunter.
But those traits also have helped Sellars, a native of Boiling Springs, grow the camouflage company he started in his carport 11 years ago into a multimillion-dollar enterprise aligned with one of the biggest fish in the outdoor industry -- Bass Pro Shops.
"I started hunting when I was 7," said Sellars, the founder and CEO of TrueTimber Outdoors, at 150 Accurate Way near Inman. "Nobody in this world loves hunting more than I do."
Each morning before work, while the sky is still dark, Sellars climbs into a tree stand on the 150-acre property off Interstate 26 that houses his company's 150,000-square-foot headquarters and production facility. And every evening after work, he can be found right back in the tree stand.
These moments of quiet reflection allow Sellars to think about the past, present and future of the venture he built with the help of his wife, Paige, and their two sons, Cody and Hunter.
"I like to say that I'm the official tester," Sellars said. "We try not to get too hung up on titles around here. If there's something that needs to be done, we all pitch in."
Sellars graduated from Boiling Springs High School in 1983. He went to work as a tool and dye maker and spent one year learning machine tool technology at Spartanburg Community College.
In 1994, Sellars' father, Chris, enlisted him to help launch a textile finishing operation that he had started with a business partner in Spartanburg. A few years later, the elder Sellars sold his stake in the company, leaving his son out of a job and looking for work.
"Everything was on the line," Rusty Sellars said.
He began buying and selling blankets and fabrics. During one transaction, he met a deliveryman who was taking an old fabric printing machine to the scrapyard. Sellars said he bought the machine for $1,500, roughly the payout of the scrap.
Thanks to his tool and dye background, Sellars was able to rebuild the machine. He began printing fabrics. It wasn't long before some of the photos he had taken in the field became part of the designs.
In 2004, Sellars bought the former Toledo Scales facility. Rusty worked the first shift, and Paige came in to work the second shift after the first shift of her other job.
"I started getting calls," Rusty Sellars said. "One thing just kept leading to another. ... I always had a vision for what this was going to be someday."
For years, he pursued mega-retailers the likes of Cabela's and Bass Pro Shops. He finally caught a break when he was offered an opportunity to buy two pages in Cabela's catalog. He handpicked the items that would be sold.
Early this year, Sellars finalized a partnership with Bass Pro establishing TrueTimber as the Missouri-based retailer's proprietary brand of camo sold within its stores nationwide and online.
"We just wanted to be in their stores," Sellars said. "To be showcased as the No. 1 brand is unbelievable. ... I have to walk around pinching myself."
A showroom adjacent to TrueTimber's home office features a range of animal mounts surrounded by hundreds of licensed products emblazoned with the company's camouflage designs. Products include shoes, clothing, hammocks, furniture, beds, home decor items, guitar cases, firearms and bows, all-terrain vehicles, knives and more.
Sellars said since the partnership with Bass Pro was announced, he has picked up at least three new licensees per week -- including Browning, Savage, Beretta, Winchester and Bowtech.
Customers can shop at the company's 5,000-square-foot store next to the showroom and executive offices.
Sellars said he has 50 employees and is looking to hire another 20 sewing operators.
All of the printing is done at the facility, and TrueTimber keeps fabric and other items in stock at all times. Sellars said the process allows him to sell and ship products within a couple of days, which can save time compared with printing and shipping from overseas.
"It's all about serving our customers and bringing manufacturing back to the U.S.," he said.
Sellars said he knows his camo designs work because he has tested them in the field. His favorite quarry is turkey because they "have great eyesight."
"From the first time I met Rusty at a national hunting show, I was impressed with what he and his family have created at TrueTimber," Johnny Morris, founder of Bass Pro, said in an email. "Rusty is a visionary leader with lots of fire in his belly. I don't know if he ever sleeps. His mind is always racing. We are very proud to be aligned with this wonderful innovating family that shares our passion for the outdoors."
Last month, Sellars announced his company had been endorsed by the racing organization of NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. The deal includes an investment by JR Motorsports for an equity partnership in TrueTimber along with Sellars and Morris.
"TrueTimber has created top-of-the-line products and established itself as an innovator of the most realistic camo designs," Earnhardt said in a statement. "I feel like there is unlimited potential for us to grow the company to become the leader in the outdoor marketplace, and that's our goal."
Rusty and Paige have been married for 29 years. Hunter, 25, serves as the company's operations manager, while Cody, 22, is leading the company's hydrographic sales.
Sellars said TrueTimber is in the process of exploring new segments in the outdoor marketplace. Those segments could include graphics for watercraft.
"Our goal is to be a one-stop shop for customers seeking camo," he said. "The sky is the limit."