Our Staff

Tom Schmuecker - Owner
Tom Schmuecker is a true pioneer of the fly tying industry. His contributions to fly tying have influenced every material we use and every fly tied in production today. In short, Tom Schmeucker is Wapsi. Tom's passion for fly tying started as a small boy in Iowa. At an early age he was fashioning makeshift poppers and flies in pursuit of bass and bluegill. His interest and passion for fly tying continued through college, although girls sometime interfered. While attending the University of Iowa, Tom married his wife, Ann, and soon after they graduated, they entered the family business of raising purebred Angus cattle and chickens. During those years, Tom's father was the President of the Iowa Poultry Association, and the farm had the perfect facilities for raising chickens. Tom's desire for procuring better fly tying hackle soon led him to produce genetic hackle. After 10 years of careful breeding, he produced a strain of fine cross-bred birds, ideal for fly tying. During that time, Tom became friends with Lacy Gee, the owner and founder of Wapsi Fly. Lacy later purchased hackles from Tom, and soon Tom was making more money selling genetically bred hackle than he was farming. One day in 1973 Tom came into the shop and Lacy asked him if he would be interested in buying the company. Tom saw this as an opportunity to pursue his passion full time and decided to buy the company. Soon after buying the company, Tom recognized that almost all commercial fly production would soon be done overseas, so he set the company's focus on producing fly tying materials for fly factories and for fly shops. At this point in time, there were no primary suppliers of fly tying materials for these markets. The large amount of work and difficulty processing natural materials coupled with the difficulty of sourcing textiles and synthetics in small amounts made this a daunting task. Tom's inventiveness, mechanical skills, and salesmanship allowed him to devise new and ingenious ways to purchase and process fly tying materials. Since there was no machinery made for processing and dyeing, he had to make his own. It took years to create the necessary tools and machinery as well as to learn the ropes of purchasing, dyeing and processing materials. Tom likes to joke that one of our two warehouse buildings contains all of the mistakes Wapsi has made over the years. In 1987, years of Tom's hard work almost came to an end as a result of a drastic fire that nearly destroyed the company. (See fire photos) As a testament to Tom's character, his friends in the community and within the fly fishing industry came to his aid in hopes of rebuilding Wapsi. Their encouragement and support persuaded Tom to rebuild and continue with his passion to produce the finest fly tying materials. In 1995, the Federation of Fly Fishers awarded Tom the Lee Wulff Award for his innovative work in fly fishing and his support of conservation efforts. Accolades continued in 1996 from the Federation of Fly Fishers Southern Council who awarded him their Fly Tyer of the Year award. Today, Tom is still the first person in the building every day and the last to leave every evening. During the weekends, Tom is busy tinkering in his workshop devising new machinery or processes of producing the finest fly tying materials. All of us who work at Wapsi recognize him as a kind patriarch whose work ethic motivates us to follow in his vision.
Karl Schmuecker - General Manager
Karl wears a lot of different Wapsi hats under the title of General Manager. He started helping fill orders and packaging products at the age of 13. "At one time I've done just about every job at Wapsi. My father started me out fly fishing at the age of 10 with a white 7' Shakespeare fiberglass rod. I loved it." With a BSEE degree and after a short stint in the "real world", he returned to Wapsi in 1987 after it suffered a devastating fire. "I thought I would stay maybe a year, help rebuild, and move on." Wapsi started growing extremely fast. Fly fishing and tying were gaining popularity. "There have been so many great challenges and problems to solve. I stayed so busy I've never thought of leaving!" "The best thing about working in the fly fishing industry is the people! I have customers that are friends, vendors that are friends and even competitors that are friends." Karl lives in a beautiful Ozark valley with the White River as his backyard. He does not often find the time to get away, but, when he can, he loves fly fishing and taking his daughters, Emily and Claire, camping.
Joe Schmuecker - Production Manager
Joe is our Production Manager and oversees all of the dyeing and processing of natural and synthetic fly tying materials that pass through our facilities. He is often a featured speaker and fly tyer at many fly fishing related functions. Joe and his wife, Kim, have two boys, Zach and EJ.
Eric Schmuecker - Quality Control Manager
Eric was first introduced to fly tying at the age of 7 years old. Since that time, fly tying, and the business of producing fly tying materials, has become the driving passion of his life. Soon after he began tying flies, he started working in the family business. Eric learned all the tricks of dying and processing, not to mention grading, cutting, and the proper care and packaging of natural materials. Eric's early expertise at fly tying and material processing soon led to a position training production fly tyers at a fly factory in Costa Rica. Soon after his return to the U.S., Eric worked, and did fly tying demonstrations, at the newly formed White River Fly Shop located within Bass Pro Shops' headquarters in Springfield, Mo. These days Eric is often a featured fly-tier at FFF Conclaves and the very popular North Arkansas Fly Fisher's Sowbug Round-up. "I am very fortunate to have worked in fly fishing and fly tying all of my life. I know that this is something that I'll do forever and share with everyone." When not tying flies, Eric can be found exploring caves and nearby streams and rivers in search of Indian relics.
T. L. Lauerman - Sales Manager
T.L. came to Wapsi in the fall of 1994 after finishing a degree in Economics from the University of Tennessee. As Sales Manager, he contacts perspective customers and assists new shops in setting up their fly fishing material departments. T.L. is instrumental in every aspect of the business which includes purchasing, hiring new employees, customer service, creating the Anglers Image Catalog, and overseeing the employees in both the warehouse and shipping department. When not busy selling feathers or field testing products in his backyard, he is chasing his two boys, Will and Hunter, and enjoys duck hunting, gardening, running, and Tennessee football.
Pat Neuner - Product Development Manager
Pat Neuner came to Wapsi Fly, Inc. in November 2003 following a long career in the fly fishing industry. Prior to Wapsi, he worked for Orvis and held the positions of Fly Fishing Product Developer/Buyer, Customer Service Manager, Travel Department Manager, Inventory Control Manager, Retail Buyer/Merchandiser, Technical Advisor, and fishing school instructor. Pat started fly fishing at 11 years of age; by the time he turned 14, his obsession with fly tying was unstoppable. Pat's friend and past co-worker at Orvis, John Rano, gave him the nickname "The Merchant of Feathers". At that time Pat purchased all the fly tying materials and flies for the Orvis catalog as well as Orvis retail stores. These days Pat is devoted to developing new products for the Wapsi and Anglers Image catalogs. When he is not working, he spends his time chasing trout, duck hunting, golfing, and spending time with his wife, Lauren, and their son Ben.
Bill Barrow - Graphics Designer
Bill's interest in fly fishing began at an early age and has continued into his job in graphic and package design for Wapsi. He thoroughly enjoys combining his past experience in the printing industry with creativity and vision to design and create innovative and effective packaging. He also works closely in the development of new product lines, not only in design work, but in the actual production of some of those products. Away from the office he participates in scuba diving, metal and wood working, softball and coaching baseball. Bill and his wife, Tami, have two children, Eli, and Ethan, who not only love fishing but all sports as well.
Trena Uchtman - Chief Financial Officer
Trena Uchtman came to Wapsi Fly, Inc. in July of 1986. Currently she manages accounts receivables, accounts payable, payroll and importing. She also does the computer layout for both the Wapsi and Anglers Image catalogs. She and her husband, Doyle, have two sons and four grandchildren. Hobbies include horseback riding, gardening and enjoying the great outdoors. She and her husband have beef cattle, rat terriers and registered bluetick coon hounds and are active members and on the board of directors of the Bluetick Breeders and Coon Hunters Association.
Janice Thomas - Receptionist & New Accounts
Janice is the voice for Wapsi . Janice began at Wapsi Fly in August 2011. Janice is our receptionist and she takes care of the invoicing for all our "Daily" accounts for our American Dealers and is also our "New" Accounts representative. She is also the person who calls if you're behind with your account.
Shannon Shipman - Customer Service, Account Specialist
Shannon is responsible for order entry and invoicing for special accounts. Shannon's many years of experience in customer service makes her a valuable asset to the office staff! As you can see she is also an avid outdoors woman!
Courtney Ferguson - Customer Service, Account Specialist
Courtney is responsible for order entry and invoicing for several special accounts. An avid fly fisher she brings years of fly fishing knowledge and customer service experience to our office team!
Wendy - Labels, Customer Service
Wendy is pretty new to Wapsi coming here late in 2014, but is quickly becoming a very valued member of our staff! She is producing product labels and cards and also handles customer service.