Get Bent: A Brand on a Greater Mission

Updated 12:10 PM ET, Mon March 9, 2015
Get Bent: A Brand on a Greater Mission
You might argue that finding more time to get out on the water with rod in hand is a pretty good mission. And Get Bent founder/owner Bob Jenkins would tend to agree. But with his fishing-inspired apparel line, he's hoping to accomplish even more.

Jenkins has come up against a lot of obstacles in his life, but one way or another, survived them all. Those challenges have not only made him stronger and more determined, they've helped him to recognize the need to give back.

An entrepreneur at heart, Jenkins was working in the videoconference business in September 2001. He was attending a business meeting in World Trade Center tower one on Sept. 11. He tells the harrowing story of how his military training as a combat engineer in the Marines helped him to stay calm and work with others to safely exit the building as he watched NY Fire Department first responders climb deeper into the building, ultimately to their demise.

"These people are real heroes," he says.

As time marched on, Jenkins says the videoconferencing business dwindled. "I've been with Polaroid, American Express, V-Con ... I've worked for big companies," he says. "There is no such thing as job security."

He eventually turned to real estate in the Boston area, where he did well until that industry went bust, too. "I saw it coming, so I said: I'm getting out of this, too," he explains.

That's when he turned to a true, lifelong passion: Fishing. He'd owned two Boston Whaler boats and had fished since he was a boy. With a friend, he manufactured the Local Hooker fishing rod line. The company's tag line: Get Bent.

"If you've got the balls to start a company called Local Hooker Rods, you go high end and you really do the tongue and cheek thing with it and make the best rods you can," Jenkins says.

He got his rods in the hands of the Wet Dream Fishing Team, who won the IGFA world championship in Cabo San Lucas with Local Hookers a few years back. That seemed to be the start of something big, but Jenkins hit another major setback: Investors backed out, and Jenkins had to liquidate his inventory and start again. "I'll never regret what I did," he says. "I still own trademark for Local Hooker and Get Bent."

That's when the Get Bent apparel line was born, which is Jenkins big project now. With a new business partner, he's developed a line of t-shirts, fleeces, hats and more, printed in the U.S. with his cheeky tag line. He envisions building the brand, which really kicked off about six months ago, to the fisherman's version of Life Is Good or Salt Life. And his deeper mission? Giving back to disabled veterans, kids with cancer and first responders. "It's something I have to do - I really do," he says.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Get Bent apparel will go to those groups, Jenkins explains. And he hopes his endurance sends a message to anyone who learns of his story: "Just move on and keep going."

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