He started both in the two years that passed since he graduated college. The ideas for each were inspired by his passions, golf and tarpon fishing. He said he hopes some of his Fishy Itchy clothes will find their way in to Boca Grande’s stores since the test designs he brought to the World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament were a big hit.
Whatever the outcome, he said he’ll always have a place in his heart for Boca Grande and the tarpon fishing that made it famous.
Sod Masters Inc. grew out of his familiarity with golf courses, having grown up working and playing on them with his father. He saw a way to do things in a better way and decided to put those ideas into action.
“Pretty much my whole life I’ve grown up working with my dad on golf courses and playing golf,” he said. “The sod business came from that. It’s something everybody needs and it’s everywhere.”
He set up a business that allows for rapid sod delivery, much more quickly than the sometimes several weeks some courses and businesses were accustomed to waiting, and also to consolidate some of the other sod-related services.
Fishy Itchy, his other business, launched more recently. The website went live in March, he said. The idea came to him during a conversation he was having with his family about tarpon fishing.
“We were just sitting around talking about tarpon fishing and it just popped into my head,” he said. “I’ve always had the itch to fish. And ’Fishy Itchy’ came up.”
He said he hopes to generate a vernacular centered around “itchiness.”
“I’m trying to get, I guess, a different language like, ‘It’s 24-7 itchiness,’ and ‘Spread the itchiness,’ ” he said. “The word ‘itchy’ can apply to different situations. If you caught a big fish you could say, ‘That’s really itchy.’ It’s been pretty catchy.”
He works with Srdjan Mardanovic, an artist he met through a website which allows designers to compete for jobs commissioned by entrepreneurs like himself. He and Srdjan have put together designs for shirts, hats and other fishing apparel and accessories.
Myles brought his girlfriend of three years, Ashlen, and some samples to Boca Grande recently and set up a tent at the World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament, where they encouraged people to check out some of the designs. He said he thinks the reaction was very positive.
“The ladies’ megalops shirt in the pink, they loved that one,” he said. “They were real interested in it.”
Myles said there was no shortage of people who wanted to buy them, but at the time he only had some samples.
In addition to the tent they set up for the WRTT, Fishy Itchy sponsored a boat in the Ladies Day Tournament. If success is to be measured in fun, they trumped the day.
“They had a lot of fun out there,” he said, which seems to be the best measure of success in things like fishing and golf, two of his passions.
Though Myles has been playing golf and hanging around the links since, well, before he can remember, and though he played on a team during his time at LBHS, he never did it with the intention of being a professional or competitive golfer. He played primarily with friends, to have a good time.
“I started when I was probably 4 or 5,” he said. “My family has pictures of me swinging a golf club at that age, but I don’t remember a thing.”
Myles started fishing for tarpon when he was quite a bit older. His parents, Jim and Nanette, moved to Englewood in 2003 when he was a sophomore in high school, so his father could take a job as superintendent for several area courses.
A fellow golfer from Lemon Bay, J.B. Baldwin, took him out tarpon fishing near Boca Grande. He said the experience was striking.
“I just couldn’t believe it, having lived in Orlando, that anything like that existed,” he said. “The water, just how beautiful everything was.”
He doesn’t have much of a competitive streak for tarpon fishing, either, but is definitely passionate about it.
“When I go out it’s always with friends and we just go to have a good time,” he said.
The memories of past trips and anticipation of more to come stayed with him all year, he said.
“We couldn’t wait for the summers to come around so we could go, and when tarpon season ends we talk about how we can’t wait to get back out there.”
Myles said he’s hoping to get back down in the next couple of weeks for more.
He seems to reserve his competitive drive for business, and in fact when asked about his hobbies he didn’t hesitate to list “work” among them. He said he routinely puts in 10-hour days at Sod Masters, whether he’s digging sod or maintaining his list of contacts, handing out coozies and business cards around Orlando. Then he comes home and logs on to work on “Itchy” matters. Given that his designer lives in Spain, he said he also has to be willing to put those hours in at odd times.
“I think when it’s nighttime here, it’s morning over there,” he said.
Myles said his father inspired him to work as hard as he does.
“That part of me came from my dad, because he would always work non-stop,” Myles said. “He was from the old school, especially coming from up north in Michigan, he just always worked his whole life, since he was 13. He’d be at the golf course at 5 a.m. and he wouldn’t come back until 6 or 7 p.m., and that was every day, too.”
He said his father taught him not to shy away from hard work. Myles started young, helping his father mow greens when he was “a little kid” and mowing tees and fairways on the weekends when he was in the eighth grade.
Myles said he was also grateful for the lessons his stepfather, attorney Phil Snyderburn, taught him. After graduating from Lemon Bay High School in 2005, he went to Orlando to study political science and pre-law at UCF. He graduated there in 2011 and says he has Phil to thank for it.
“I wasn’t even sure I wanted to go to college first,” he said. “I didn’t really have an idea. I was kind of confused about what I wanted to do and wanted to take a break. But he told me how important it was and he and my mom said if I took a break I’d be less likely to go back to school.”
After a few trips to the courtroom to see his stepfather in action, he was inspired to follow in Phil’s academic footsteps. Myles said his stepfather also offered him support and guidance during his studies.
“He was always there for me when I was in school. If I had any trouble or questions he would help me. Pretty much if I ever had any obstacle in life he’s always been there to help me get over it.”
Myles said that his college experience, whatever he does with his degree, has helped him develop the self discipline, mindfulness about deadlines, organization and responsibility that have helped him run his businesses.
Would he consider joining his stepfather’s firm?
“Maybe in the future.”
It depends on how well his two businesses fare, but if he does pursue law he hopes to join his stepfather at Snyderburn, Rishoy and Swann.
In the meantime he said he has enlisted his stepdad, mom, Ashlen and grandparents to help in various capacities in both businesses. For one, they serve as an impromptu test market for his Fishy Itchy products.
“Once we get the design in I’ll show them and get some approval or maybe they’ll throw some ideas in,” he said. “We’ll order a couple shirts, for example, and everyone around here will wear it and get the feel of the texture and give their approval or disapproval.”
He agreed that it was extremely helpful to have a built-in test audience in his family and friends.
Myles said he tries to apply that principle of teamwork to his business life.
“Everyone works together, and no one is more important than anyone else in our businesses,” he said.
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