Back in October, I had the good luck to share a fishing charter with Michael Flanagan, the new president of Felmlee Lures, makers of the iconic Felmlee Eel (a classic striper-catcher) and a range of classic fresh and saltwater lures. We talked a lot about why he purchased Felmlee (not surprisingly, his love of fishing played a big role) and what his goals are for the company. One thing that was very important to him was keeping production of the lures in the US.
Recently, Flanagan sent across this essay – give it a read and learn more about his vision for the future of one of the country’s most trusted lure brands.
Home Field Advantage: American Made Lures
As the new President and CEO of Felmlee Lures, I am overseeing the renewal and growth of one of this country’s most trusted and established lure manufacturers. The company was started in 1954, and when we bought the company this year we had to evaluate the best way to continue production.
Looking around the industry and evaluating other companies in the market, some things became clear to us. Number one, the market has been flooded by big companies who dominate the retail shelf space at big retailers with lures manufactured overseas, most notably in China. A recent in-store survey of mass retailers showed that roughly 85% of the lure products were foreign-made.
As a new owner and CEO of a company interested in competing, we certainly evaluated those overseas options. The cost to manufacture our established line of lures would be significantly less had we moved production to China.
But our initial inclination has always been to keep production right here in the United States and at our home base where the company was born. Nothing has changed our mind, nor will it.
There is something to be said for being able to see these lures being handcrafted just a few steps from my office and from the lake, spillway, stream and the Juniata River that border our headquarters.
Our locale reminds us every day why we wanted to keep our production right here. And selfishly, it gives us a chance to hang up a “Gone Fishing” sign and play hooky from work to catch bass, trout, and walleye right in our backyard.
But beyond the locale of fresh air, clear water and fish on the line there was something bigger here….
Within our company, our people are neighbors who take tremendous pride in crafting and assembling world-class lures. Walking the floor, I get a feeling of pride seeing the care and the craftsmanship that comes when artisans and their art are so closely intertwined. There is just something in knowing that we’ve taken the extra step to ensure excellence.
After taking over Felmlee Lures, we traveled the country to trade shows. There we met other American companies in the market and saw the value they too placed on keeping production here in the United States. They also understand that American workers produce lures that are the best in the world.
All of us believe that direct oversight of production, and not contracting it to a company thousands of miles away, ties us to our product giving us the ability to maintain the highest standards. We trust in quality over mass production, and we trust in our workers.
In some cases there is a price difference for American-made lures. Yes some of the Chinese-made products are less expensive…..but.
But as we have tested our products and compared them, there is a more rugged construction giving more durability to ours and other American-made products. Just last week, one customer e-mailed us to tell us that he’d caught 13 fish on one of our eels and was still going.
That is what it is all about. Our company and many other American companies are out there on the market employing your neighbors to build the highest quality and most durable products on the market. Companies like Zoom Baits in Georgia, Jak’s Baits in North Carolina or Sneaky Hollow in Pennsylvania are making great products at home. That durability pays off over time as you keep catching fish after fish, and the good times roll on and on.
A day on the lake, on the ocean or a stream is something that adds to our lifetime of memories. The American owned companies making lures right here in small towns like our home in Lewistown, Pennsylvania or in towns like Bogart, Georgia or Monroe, North Carolina are making the best products in the world and are doing it with people that share your passion for fishing.
That, combined with the quality that lasts, is what sets apart companies that have kept production in the United States. When you buy American lures, you’re investing in higher quality, proven durability and in communities across our nation. That is an unbeatable home field advantage.
-Michael Flanagan, President and CEO of Felmlee Lures