Interview: Tom Beckbe
In a little over a month, we’re hosting the sixth Ledbury Quail Hunt, which is an annual gathering of chefs, makers, friends, and family in Goochland, VA. This year we’re honored to partner with Tom Beckbe, an Alabama-based rugged outdoor brand that has made maybe the most perfect hunting jacket. To introduce you to the brand, we interviewed their founder, Radcliff Menge, about the origin of the brand and what's next. Tell us a little bit about yourself. What did you do before Tom Beckbe & Co.? Prior to running Tom Beckbe full-time, I practiced law in New York City and then became a partner in a law firm in Birmingham, Alabama. My practice focused primarily on mergers and acquisitions, business formation, and capital markets transactions. There is a fair amount of overlap between practicing corporate law and running Tom Beckbe, but Tom Beckbe allows me to indulge my creative side. What inspired you to create a line of rugged hunting gear? I actually started Tom Beckbe by happenstance. As a lifelong outdoorsman, I had either owned or tried just about every jacket out there. I wanted to separate myself from the crowd and develop a distinctive jacket. I borrowed elements from a few favorite pieces and designed new features to create what is now the Tensaw Jacket. I had one Tensaw Jacket made, wore it around, and people were interested in getting one for themselves. I produced a few small runs successfully, received some great publicity from Garden & Gun, and here we are. Who is Tom Beckbe? Is he a real person? My wife, Mary, and I created the name “Tom Beckbe” from the colonial name for Alabama’s Tombigbee River. I grew up hunting along the Tombigbee River with my grandfather, so I have a personal connection to the name and place it represents. Do you hunt? How long have you been into the outdoors life? I have been an outdoorsman for as long as I can remember. Being in the outdoors, no matter what you are doing, is the perfect opportunity to slow down and reflect. Let's say we're packing for a hunting weekend away. What are your essentials? First I’ll load my Weekender Duffel with good bourbon. Ideally, W.L. Weller 12-year old. I’ll bring along my original Tensaw Jacket, which is still going strong, and any new items we are field testing or tinkering with. I carry a Muji notebook pretty much wherever I go to jot down notes if creativity strikes. I also like to bring along a stack of reading material, usually a healthy mix of longer and shorter forms. Right now the longer form is leaning towards classic American authors like James Salter. A pair of Tecovas Earl boots usually rounds out my wardrobe.
Tom Beckbe Founder, Radcliff MengeWhat's next for Tom Beckbe? Any exciting projects in the works? We are very excited to launch a limited edition series of jackets next week. They were developed in collaboration with an American distiller of some note. Beyond that, we are diligently working on new field-ready apparel and accessories. We plan to add more warm weather apparel in the spring. Stay tuned… Anything else you would like to add? We’re very excited to be a part of this year’s Quail Hunt. Gathering with friends in the outdoors is what we are all about.