Al Campbell, Field Editor

September 16th, 2002

Al's Pick of The Show for 2002
By Al Campbell

Sometimes the big guys get big enough to think they don't need any new business. That was the case with several of the larger tackle companies at the fly show in Denver this year. I stopped at two of the manufacturer's booths to look at their product for possible inclusion in the fly shop I manage, and they were too busy to greet me at all. One of those manufacturers is a sponsor on this site. In both cases, I stood around looking for info or at least a catalog for a long time without even a greeting.

I'm sure the folks who actually manage these companies would prefer that their representatives at least greet people who visit the booth they pay thousands of dollars to rent; but in several cases, their representatives weren't interested in anything that looked like new business. In my case, they looked at the badge that listed the company I work for, and when it was a company they don't do business with already, they ignored me completely. In one case, I even asked for a catalog, which was refused because I don't already do business with them. What a shame; they lost the chance to do business with a company that has over 20 stores and sells sporting goods exclusively.

Which fly rod or reel company is so big it isn't interested in new business? I won't tell. In the case of the reel company, I mentioned to them after I finally asked for help a second time in 10 minutes that even though my particular shop doesn't sell their reels, I would make sure that the three shops in our corporation that do sell them know that their company isn't interested in the business. The rep tossed me the catalog I requested and told me to suit myself, then went back to a three-way conversation with other reps.

The fly rod company I visited wasn't busy (one customer besides me), had three reps there to show their rods, and didn't greet me once in the 15 minutes I looked at rods and looked for a catalog. I don't need to beg for help. In fact, I won't beg for help if it's business they are losing. If that is their form of customer service, I don't want to be between them and customers who need service. It just wouldn't be a pleasant day if my customers got that kind of "help" from someone who makes something I sell.

My point here concerns the type of company I would select to service my stores, and my pick of the show. The companies that ignored me are high-end product manufacturers who seem to fancy themselves as above the norm. The company who produced my pick of the show also makes high-end products as well as very affordable products. That is the only similarity between "the big guys" and the big guy who created the product I think supplies the best bang for the buyer's buck this year.

When I walked into Redington's booth, the company president, Jim Murphy shook my hand and greeted me by name. His marketing director took the time to sit down with me and show me all the new products and expressed interest in our business. Then they both introduced me to the guys who designed the new clothing line they will be selling next year. Is there any wonder why Redington is moving ahead in this game while others are, at best, struggling along?

My pick this year is the new clothing line from Redington. In all the looking I did at the show, I didn't find anything that offers more for the consumer's hard earned dollar than what they showed me. Let me explain why.

There are a lot of companies out there competing for your clothing dollars. I visited the booths of at least a dozen of those companies at the show. Three of them didn't even say "hi" while I looked over their merchandise. One of those three had invited me to stop by their booth before the show. Several of the companies are very high-dollar and offer very nice clothing, but at a price.

The average price for a vented-back shirt was over $50 retail. Pacific Fly Group offers a line of shirts that retail for $35 that are very nice. That company is very nice and easy to work with too. I got the grand tour when I visited their booth. Good stuff at a good price. For sure, candidates for my bargain pick.

However, Redington is introducing a new line of clothing that will blow your socks off. They have a bug-proof, fast wicking, high-tech shirt and pants that sell for about half the price of the other guys at the show. Nice stuff, but that was only part of the killer stuff I chose.

Redington Shirt

They are making a new line of shirts that are vented, have roomy pockets, have the techy things you look for in a shirt; all with a price tag of $29.99 retail. The matching pants with zip-off legs are also $29.99 retail. The shorts will sell for $24.99 retail and are a perfect match to the shorts I saw at one of the non-greeting booths for $79.99 retail. The fleece jacket with full zippered front will retail for $49.99. Again, these are the same quality you'll find for twice the price; but you don't have to take it in the shorts (pun fully intended) to own a set of this stuff.

Funny, the price tags are enough to warrant my pick as the best bang for the buck, but the company is the key to this article. Is it any wonder that the booths of the unfriendly guys were nearly empty while the Redington booth was packed the entire show? A smile and a friendly "hi" are all it takes to get people to stop and look over what you have to sell, but some people can't even spare that much. Jim Murphy and his staff went far beyond that to make me feel welcome and appreciated. I don't wonder why his booth was constantly packed.

Jim, to you and everyone who worked your booth at the show, thanks. Your products will sell themselves, but they won't get that chance; will they? Your attitude toward the customer is in keeping with what we do here at FAOL. In fact, maybe a few of us could learn from you. The product is part of the game, but the service is the finishing touch that keeps the customer coming back; but you already know that, don't you? ~ AC

Previous Al Campell Columns

If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!

[ HOME ]

[ Search ] [ Contact FAOL ] [ Media Kit ] © Notice