Ryan Wood

CEO
Sweetwood Smoke & Co.

Location: Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Founded: 2010
Industry: Food and Beverage

Ryan Wood sees parallels between success on the football field and success in business.

“Any great leader knows that you can’t do anything great by yourself,” said Wood, the CEO of Sweetwood Smoke & Co. “I learned that early in life in sports, specifically football, where it takes the efforts and coordination of many people to be successful. Business is no different. The success I had at Under Armour and now at Sweetwood is entirely due to the passionate, talented and fiercely competitive people I’ve been fortunate to surround myself with.”

Sweetwood Smoke & Co. creates FATTY smoked meat sticks, described by the company as “the biggest and best protein-packed meat snacks to satisfy even the biggest appetites. Great for kids, athletes, travelers and anyone on the go looking for a healthy/hearty snack. We make every FATTY with five things in mind: grass-fed beef and antibiotic-free pork, gluten-free, MSG-free, no nitrates and low sugar.” Sweetwood is in about 40,000 locations nationwide from Walmart, to 7-11, Kroger, REI and many other regional partners.

Wood was one of the co-founders of Under Armour and ran the sales and marketing team for about 10 years, while also helping to bring the company public in 2005. After co-founding the performance apparel giant, Wood returned to his roots in Steamboat Springs and acquired a cattle ranch on the banks of the Elk River, where he developed the idea for high-quality meat snacks. As the company grew, Wood envisioned a meat stick closer to that of a summer sausage than the skinny sticks that pioneered the category. Today, Sweetwood’s FATTYs represent the largest-in-class sticks available in the U.S.

Over the next five years, Sweetwood aims to grow into a $100 million brand. The company anticipates continued expansion into more retail and nontraditional distribution, and it plans to introduce new flavor combinations and packaging in varied sizes. Sweetwood’s sales have doubled year over year for the last three years since the launch of the FATTY smoked meat stick. “FATTYs are different, unique, and bold,” Wood’s team said. “And as Ryan says, ‘If you’re not different or unique you’ve got no chance to succeed in this business.’”

Wood has received numerous recognitions during his time with both Under Armour and Sweetwood. Sweetwood was named product of the year by Backpacker Magazine, and Wood was named one of the 40 Under 40 by the Baltimore Business Journal. He has been a keynote speaker for Denver Startup Week and many other business conferences over the last 15 years.

“To be influential and lead you must have the resolve and confidence to take shots and be unique,” Wood said. “Sometimes your ideas will be successful, sometimes they’ll fail, but you’ll be remembered and respected if you’re authentic and unafraid. Don’t be scared; fortune favors the brave.”

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"Sometimes your ideas will be successful, sometimes they'll fail, but you'll be remembered and respected if you're authentic and unafraid."

Ryan says: