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Local fishing entrepreneur launches new business

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Photo by Russ Schnitzer With 25 years of experience in the outdoor recreation industry, Chris Mortimer (left) prepares to launch his new business venture focusing the manufacturing of gear specifically designed for the "wilderness athlete."

The word "launch" is universally understood by anglers as the act of casting off a raft into the river for a fun-filled day of fishing. However, local Delta fishing equipment provider and entrepreneur, Chris Mortimer, is ready for another kind of launch -- one where he introduces his new business and a line of unique gear specifically designed for the "wilderness athlete."

On Saturday, Feb. 27, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., a soft opening for Mortimer's new business, MortBuilt, will take place at the Delta County Economic Development (DCED) office located at 145 S. 4th Street. Attendees can pop in to view the equipment and meet the creator.

Mortimer will unveil his distinctive line of products, including a one-of-a-kind, lightweight, aluminum-framed folding rafting chair that is durable and built to last in the most rugged environments. In addition to the fly fishing world, Mortimer's multipurpose products are branded for other outdoor enthusiasts.

With over 25 years of expertise, Mortimer has been providing equipment for fishing enthusiasts through his primary business, Gunnison River Pro. After decades of fishing all over the world -- from Colorado to New Zealand -- he noticed a specific need that the current marketplace was not meeting: rafting equipment that is both collapsible and comfortable.

Mortimer's concept snowballed quickly from a weekend project in his Peach Valley shop to a full-blown business venture. His first chair prototype became wildly popular with local fly fishing outfits. Over time, Mortimer adjusted and refined the concept through the trial and error of the river.

As demand for this product grew, Mortimer needed to reach out to other businesses and organizations to develop his own capacity. This led him to partnering with Recla Metals in Montrose, which was able to mass produce the parts needed for his equipment on a larger scale. Mortimer also sought capital and guidance from Region 10 and Delta County Economic Development (DCED), which were able to provide a loan and technical assistance in developing his business idea.

After several years of hard work and equity invested in his product, Mortimer is now officially ready to introduce MortBuilt to the public at large. The end result is a "community built product," as Mortimer likes to call it, made entirely from materials and craftsmanship of Western Colorado.

Mortimer designed and fabricated a chair that is not only comfortable, but also highly functional. Its fabric backing provides the needed support that anglers demand, but also provides the flexibility needed to fit into a tighter space in comparison to traditional products. In addition, Mortimer's product can be modified to fit any raft, so that it can easily swap out older equipment. In fact, the MortBuilt chair is designed for rugged environments, including white water rafting.

Mortimer envisions this chair finding use outside of the raft as well. The chair can be used as a comfortable alternative to the bench seating traditionally available for high school sporting events. Its lightweight, folding design and built-in shoulder strap make it easy to transport to all types of events, from outdoor musical festivals to camping sites.

The soft opening on Feb. 27 is open to the public and RSVPs are not required. For more information about the event, visitors are encouraged to contact DCED at 970-874-4992. Questions about MortBuilt can be directed to Chris Mortimer at 970-318-2509 or gunnyriverpro@gmail.com.

Photo by Russ Schnitzer A couple of rafts sporting some of Mortimer’s custom-fabricated equipment rest on the river bank, while Mortimer and crew enjoy fishing the Gunnison River.
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