The morning is gray, cool and damp with remnants of last night’s rain lingering in small dark puddles on the wooden steps leading up to Broneah Kiteboarding, but the mood inside this Traverse City shop is considerably sunny. Barefoot, impossibly tan and dressed for business in swim shorts and sunglasses, owners Keegan and Matt Myers noodle around on a computer and answer cell phones from their seats at a long, low counter. Behind them, framed photographs of beach bonfires, frothy ocean waves and curvy bikini-clad chicks plaster the Caribbean-blue walls.
The shop’s door is propped open, allowing a square patch of light to form on the carpeted floor as the late-August sun strains to break through the clouds. A middle-aged man saunters in: flip-flops, sun-bleached hair, wind-burned cheeks, eyes hidden behind a pair of dark sunglasses. "Heeeeey! Johnny!" Matt says with a slight surfer-dude drawl, stepping around the counter to greet him. Johnny tips up his shades, extends his hand for a high-five and smiles as he asks the day’s most crucial question: "How’s the wind?"
For Matt and Keegan, this question is the driving force behind their everyday lives. Since the summer of 2002, after getting hooked on kiteboarding while backpacking through Europe, the brothers have built their business — and their world — around the wind. Returning home practically penniless after college, they took a gamble and decided to turn their passion for kiteboarding into an enterprise.
Selling kites out of their van and giving lessons to locals slowly led to more lessons, more customers and a store. Now, four years later, the brothers say they’re living the dream. They host annual camps in Traverse City, North Carolina, Puerto Rico and Argentina. They hold editor positions at Kiteboarding Magazine. They’ve landed Traverse City a spot on the map as a premier kiteboarding destination. And they’ve helped hundreds of people from all over the globe fall in love, just as they did, with one of the world’s fastest-growing sports.
That’s a lot to accomplish, and Keegan and Matt — ages 25 and 27, respectively — will tell you they’re not planning on slowing down anytime soon. But they’ll also tell you they wouldn’t be where they are today without their ties to each other and ties to Northern Michigan. In their company name, Broneah (pronounced "bro-NEE-ah"), "bro" is for the brothers and "neah" is a nod to their upbringing on Neahtawanta Point, a jetty off Old Mission Peninsula.The siblings’ success derives from their respect of these relationships — that, and maintaining a positive, easy-going attitude. Remaining open to possibility, taking new directions, being fluid and free. Just like the wind they chase every day.