MISSOULA COUNTY -

What does a talented young man do when he can't find work? He could create his own company.

If the recession locked doors to new hires, it also spearheaded creative thinkers who've gone out on their own.

This is a story of "new ventures and old leather."

On a sturdy old wooden bench in the basement of his little house, Joe Goertzen practices his craft. He actually stumbled into his profession because of hard times. "I love Montana so I didn't want to leave, and when I" got here, and I couldn't find work, "I decided to do it myself."

He punches and stitches old leather and new canvas into products for the outdoors. "I make leather bags, fly fishing equipment and vintage looking apparel," said Goertzen.

Maybe Goertzen's strongest selling point is the material's natural character.

"I like leather that's distressed," said Goertzen. "that's got barbed wire marks. That's got branding."

Not only does he sell his products in Montana, he's busy taking online orders across the country. But these orders haven't come without great effort.

He started his business in the recession, so he never really did know good times. He invested four to $5,000 into the business and discovered his biggest investment would be time.

"You have to work hard," said the leather worker. "You have to work a lot of hours, be willing to work late to meet a deadline."

These days he's doing as much extra work as possible. He'll probably hang onto a tackle bag for himself. He's not all work.

Ask him if he ever takes a day off, he said, "I do, especially during fishing season."