Tom working with John Chapman, Director of
Spinning Reel Development
Thank you for taking the time to talk directly to the TT readers. Please tell us
about yourself, walk us through a day for you at work?
Ricks: Fishing for two and
a half years as the Marketing Director of our Global rods and reels businesses.
Prior to Pure Fishing, I worked for a large consumer products company. I grew
up in Georgia, so my passions were the Georgia Bulldogs and bass fishing. I cut
my “angling teeth” on an Ambassadeur® 5000 and a Mitchell®
300®, so just imagine my excitement to come work for the company that
marketed those brands. When the opportunity at Pure Fishing came along, the
decision was easy. I loaded up the wife, kids and dogs and moved to start a new
career in the fishing business.
Like all of my colleagues
at Pure Fishing, I’m an angler first. So I’m fortunate to live my passion every
day. A typical work day for me is literally spent learning. Whether I’m testing
new products with our engineers or in the field talking to anglers, the
information they provide is extremely beneficial to me and critical to the
success of this company. But my favorite days are those out on the water with
the guys on our pro staff, like Hank Parker or Kelly Jordan – those are the
“hall of fame” days for me. And that’s where true insight comes – gleaning
years of invaluable fishing knowledge – and getting a chance to wet a few lines
with hall-of-famers, to boot.
Tell us about Pure
Fishing, and all the different brands that come under the Pure Fishing umbrella.
Ricks: Pure Fishing is,
and always will be, a family company. Fishing is our only business, and the
desires of anglers – whether it’s a stronger fishing line or a healthy fish
population – are our desires, too. We work hard to anticipate and understand
anglers’ needs so we can provide them with a more enjoyable fishing experience.
Jim Martin, BCI Director,
fishing the waters he works hard to protect
Our portfolio of fishing
brands is made up of a host of brands that were founded by passionate anglers
who invented much of the tackle that we use today. Our brands include: The
Berkley® brands of fishing lines, soft and hard baits and rods; Stren®
and SpiderWire® fishing lines; Abu Garcia® and Mitchell®
fishing reels; Fenwick® rods and SevenStrand® saltwater
tackle. These brands have each earned a distinct and unique reputation with
anglers worldwide for quality and innovation, and each continues to build on
But the Pure Fishing
commitment to the sport fishing industry doesn’t end with products. One of our
most impassioned goals is to forge worldwide conservation and fishable waters –
for anglers today and generations to come. The Pure Fishing conservation
director, Jim Martin, leads the Berkley Conservation Institute (BCI), which
partners with national fisheries organizations, government fisheries and media
partners around the country to ensure tomorrow’s anglers will be able to
experience the passion of fishing as much as we do today.
What would you say makes
Pure Fishing as a company different or unique from the competition? Do you feel
having so many diverse brands is an advantage?
Ricks: What makes Pure
Fishing unique in the industry is our commitment to research and development.
We continually invest a significant amount of time and resources into the
development and testing of new products. In fact, most people have no idea how
demanding our process is to perfect new products. Every year, anglers visit our
research facilities and the reaction is always the same. They’re amazed at the
efforts we put into understanding the science and technology of fishing – from
the perspective of both the fish and the angler. In fact, we are the only
fishing tackle company in the world that maintains a staff of fish biologists
that know and study fish behavior both in our labs and in the field. These guys
live and breath fish every day – it’s actually a little scary.
We also feel we have a
distinct advantage with our broad portfolio of brands. Regardless of species,
application, or skill level, we have a product that fits every angler’s needs.
We have three of the world’s leading fishing line brands in Berkley, Stren and
SpiderWire. And for each of these brands, we are continuously raising the bar
with new products. Consider Berkley Vanish® Transition®,
a fluorocarbon line that is invisible to fish but easy to see above the water
for anglers. It’s a remarkable advantage and a great example of new technology
based on angler insight.
Fish Behavior Pool, Pure
Fishing Headquarters, Spirit Lake, Iowa
Our Berkley PowerBait®
and Berkley Gulp!® soft bait brands were engineered using our
technologically advanced fish research facilities. Thanks to its unique scent
dispersal characteristics, Berkley Gulp! is taking the in-shore saltwater market
by storm by continually outfishing live bait, and Berkley PowerBait has become
a must have in any tackle box, regardless of species or application.
Abu Garcia, Fenwick,
Mitchell and Berkley, our rod and reel brands, have a long and rich history with
a strong market position and consumer following, and each continues to grow.
Products such as the Ambassadeur®, Techna AV®, Mitchell
300 and Berkley Lightning Rod® not only changed the sport of fishing,
but continue to lead the industry.
Bring all of these pieces
together and you have a company that is positioned to meet the needs of any
angler around the world.
Lets focus in on Abu
Garcia for a moment, how has the brand evolved over time? There is a lot of
enthusiast interest in premium Abu Morrum offerings, many of which were only
available overseas. Are there any plans to update and introduce premium and
supertuned Morrums back stateside?
Ricks: The Abu Garcia
brand is one of the most respected brands in the world. The rich heritage of
this Brand begins with the people who live the brand each day. There are
workers at the Abu factory in Svangsta, Sweden, who have devoted their entire
lives to building reels. Take Patrik Svensson, our Product Innovation Director
in Sweden. He’s been designing and building baitcast reels his entire career.
And he took the job from his father, who spent his career building fishing
reels. These guys give Abu Garcia reels their true craftsmanship. Fishing plays
such an important role in Swedish culture, and it shows in the engineering and
craftsmanship of an Abu Garcia reel.
The Mörrum continues to
have broad appeal both here in the States and overseas. Stay tuned for more on
the Mörrum, as we’ve got plans to extend the Mörrum program in the future.
Our biggest plans for Abu
Garcia will be the introduction of a new low-profile reel this year. This reel
will be unlike any Abu before. The REVO STX will literally revolutionize
low-profile baitcast reels. The reel is packed with new technology, including
an advanced gear system and an innovative drag system.
Tom with a nice musky during a field
testing trip for the Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Record reel
Abu Garcia reels have
almost a cult following, with some of the most devoted tackle aficionados always
looking for the next offering? Why do you think this is?
Ricks: I think it comes
from the fact that Abu Garcia has always delivered reels that have stood the
test of time. Tackle aficionados know Abu Garcia reels are engineered to be
more than a one-season reel. Abu Garcia also is a brand that has been a part of
anglers’ lives for more than half a century, and the reels continue to deliver a
positive experience every time. We constantly have people calling in with
stories about losing their Abu Garcia reel at the bottom of a lake, only to
retrieve it years later. In most cases, all that is required is a good cleaning
and some oil and the reel is ready to go. That’s a testament to the quality and
craftsmanship of the reel.
If repairs are ever needed
on an Abu Garcia reel, Pure Fishing has one of the most experienced reel service
departments in the industry. Not only will you have your reel back in less than
48 hours, but chances are your reel will perform even better than before. One
of the main reasons is Bob Hulme – “Supertuner Extraordinaire” – who leads the
reel service program. Bob is committed to making sure every returned reel that
comes to us leaves perfectly tuned. In fact, Bob is known among many Abu Garcia
aficionados as the supertuner of Abu Garcia reels.
And Abu Garcia’s appeal
extends beyond the borders of North America. Our reels have a very strong
following in nearly every country in the world, including Japan. In fact, one
of the country’s most influential fishing pros,
is a member of the Abu Garcia pro staff. Not only does he use Abu Garcia reels
exclusively, he also provides valuable insight for product development.