David Heller Joins AFFTA Board



The board of the American Fly Fishing Trade Association met in Somerset, New Jersey in mid-January to discuss the organization’s focus for 2013 and the upcoming years.  AFFTA has undergone significant change this year, transferring offices from Denver to Bozeman, and most recently, experiencing a shift within the board.

Long-time board member Gary Jennings announced his retirement from the seat, after five years of service. After a career in resort and hotel development in Florida, Jennings shifted his attention to conservation and communication.  He acted as the regional director for the Coastal Conservation Association and eventually became the publisher of Fly Fishing in Salt Waters, a role he currently holds.  With AFFTA, he served in the positions of vice chairman, as well as communications and membership chairs.

Jennings noted the evolution he witnessed within the Industry during his noteworthy stint on the Board: “The most marked change since I became involved with AFFTA is the way consumers and stores do business . . . The internet and the way consumers and dealers do business has completely changed business models.  Both have more options to buy elsewhere than ever before.”

“Gary’s contributions over the past five years to AFFTA and the fly fishing industry have been invaluable. I wish him all the best in his future endeavors,” remarked AFFTA President Ben Bulis.

When asked for his parting words, Jennings emphasized the role of the Board to act as a sounding board within the industry, stating, “The AFFTA Board is made up of all aspects of fly fishing . . . We all do our best to hang our respective hats at the door.  The common bond is that we all want the same thing – to have a viable fly fishing industry for the future . . . Each and every member of the board joined because they want to be part of the solution.  I feel fortunate to have been involved with such a quality group of people and would encourage anyone that wants more than status quo to participate and strive to be part of the solution.”

Chairman of the board Jim Klug highlighted Jennings’ impact during his tenure: “Gary has been an integral part of this organization for the past five years. His contributions as a board member and as a member of AFFTA’s Executive Committee have been substantial, and this organization is stronger as a result of Gary’s involvement. He will be missed.”

David Heller will fill Jennings’ seat.  He has served on the Board in the past, bringing a seasoned perspective to the position.  Heller holds more than 25 years of experience in the fly fishing industry.  He acted as President and Co-Owner of Ross Reels USA/Ross Worldwide Outdoors and after selling the company to 3M, he joined Newdea, Inc. as Director of Global Development.

Recently named Vice President of Sales & Marketing at R.L. Winston Rod Company, he is thrilled to return to AFFTA after a hiatus: “After the sale of Ross Reels USA / Ross Worldwide Outdoors and the requirement by our purchaser that I not work in the fly industry for a period of two years, I was forced to resign my AFFTA board seat. While I have still been involved in an advisory capacity for the past two years, I am pleased to officially be rejoining the AFFTA board. Many of the programs I had been involved with before my departure are just getting traction, so it will be exciting to be a part of the process as the association continues to forge ahead to be an activist and voice for the fly fishing industry.”

Bulis expressed the board’s enthusiasm for Heller’s acceptance of the position: “David’s return to the fly fishing industry with R.L. Winston and the AFFTA board show his dedication and willingness to strengthen the industry.  He will be a valuable asset.”

Heller expressed his enthusiasm for the current direction of the Association:  “With the recent reorganization of AFFTA and partnership with ASA, I have never felt more positive about the role the Association can play in supporting the growth of the fly fishing industry.”

For more information, contact Ben Bulis at (406) 522 – 1556 or [email protected]


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