CUSTOM COMMERCIAL: Designing A New Home For A Beloved Montana Brand

The bold lobby of Simms befits the trailblazing brand.


Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.

Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It

Eventually, all things merged into one custom commercial project and a river trip ran through it. Years ago, Paul Bertelli met K.C. Walsh, President of Simms Fishing Products, on a fly-fishing excursion in Chile. As the only American maker of waders, Simms is an industry leader—a visionary role that needed to be reflected in its company headquarters. Buying a former retail hardware center in the Four Corners area west of Bozeman—a large, drab building—offered an opportunity to dream big. But big was what the first architect Simms consulted got wrong by proposing a tacked-on 10,000 sq.ft. extension rather than an integrated expansion. Uninspired, K.C. called his fishing buddy. Paul immediately saw the potential. “This is an opportunity to really reinvent how you present Simms to the public,” he recalls advising K.C.

John Lauman, lead architect on the project, designed an assertive alternative: Tear off the front of the building and push out the façade. The resulting space—a lobby sheathed in glass with a window overlooking the new manufacturing floor—would make a powerful opening statement about Simms as a paragon of transparency and quality.

Of the radical redesign, K.C. recalls the community response: “People thought we were nuts.”

Though ambitious, the 60,000 sq.ft. project—encompassing an office, warehouse, and production facility—wrapped on-budget and on-time, testifying to the efficacy of the JLF Design Build process.

Now fully ensconced in the new headquarters, K.C. commends JLF Architects’ vision. “We stand for excellence and pride ourselves on making the best waders in the world,” he says. “JLF has done a really nice job of reflecting that in the building. People get a sense of quality when they drive up.”

So as the snow melts and the rivers rise, the anglers among us prep our Simms gear with pride, knowing we helped enrich the company’s habitat.

ABOUT JLF ARCHITECTS: Building timeless structures rooted in eloquence and elegance, Jackson- and Bozeman-based JLF Architects sources authentic materials and regional solutions to create place-based houses reflective of their contexts, whether that be the Rocky Mountains or the Eastern Seaboard. Our award-winning portfolio features inspired custom designs achieved through a genuine alliance with Big-D Signature, built over 17 years of collaboration. Our streamlined process unites passionate architects with dedicated builders to enable the collective imagination of visionary artisans working with visionary clients. For more information, visit www.JLFArchitects.com.
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