Pure Fishing, the company that owns brands such as Berkley, Fenwick, Abu Garcia and Stren, among others, has undergone some changes over the past year.
The company was acquired by Jarden Corp. in May 2007. Two weeks later, Jarden also purchased K2 and its Shakespeare Fishing Tackle
company (including brands such as Pflueger, All-Star, Penn and Stearns).
Both Pure Fishing and Shakespeare, along with Jarden-owned Coleman Co., formed the new Jarden Outdoors Solutions division with Gary Kiedaisch as division president.
At the time, former Pure Fishing CEO Tom Bedell rejoined the company as interim president to oversee the transition and the search for a new admiral.
A little more than a month ago, the search concluded and Terry Carlson was named as Pure Fishing president and CEO. He came from Raymarine, where he served as CEO of the company's Americas business and was responsible for worldwide global product management and strategy. Prior to Raymarine, Carlson held senior management positions at Black & Decker, Polaroid, and Emerson Electric.
But as the face of one of the most critical companies in fishing, a lot of folks are wondering: What's Carlson all about? In the Q&A that follows, he talks about his background, his passions, and his goals for the company.
BassFan: First a little about the change. Why did you leave Raymarine to captain the Pure Fishing ship?
Carlson: For me, I was looking for the next opportunity to do something different. When I went to Raymarine, it was the first private company I ever worked with. Our goal was to get to IPO (initial public offering). After the IPO, I was kind of looking for that next big challenge.
How did you get connected with Pure Fishing?
A recruiter had contacted me after Jarden first bought the Pure Fishing business, and I told them I wasn't interested. After acquiring Shakespeare, and putting the two companies together, (the recruiter) came back and it seemed like a great opportunity to come aboard. I said I'll talk to them.
With so many brands now in the fold – Pure Fishing together with Shakespeare – what's the overall strategy? Will the brands be somewhat integrated in terms of marketing and development?
At the end of the day, each brand has to stand on its own. In an ideal world, we'd love to have hero products and great innovation in every one of the brands. I think you'll see, as we continue to run each brand independently, that each one is just trying to help fishermen catch more fish.
About the transition of both Pure Fishing and Shakespeare into Jarden, has that gone smoothly?
We're coming off a record year, so I'd have to say that in the first year of transition, it's been incredible. Although there was some housecleaning – order entries, business systems.
Our goal is to get some of that housekeeping completed, and that's already underway, so we can focus even more on the two most important things to me – the people and the products we have. If we have really great people and products, we'll serve the fishermen well.
What excites you most about this new position?
I have a passion for business, and for fishing. I think what I'm most excited about is bringing the two together.
Is there anything you take from the electronics business with Raymarine that you think will help at Pure Fishing?
As with Raymarine, or Black & Decker – another company I was with for a long time – it's (about) understanding what the end-user really wants and needs. In this case, whether it's bass, walleye or mahi mahi, it's (about) finding out what actually makes for the best product for those specific applications.
If we continue to innovate and bring exciting products to market, we'll do well.
Berkley recently launched a major program with pros called Paid for Performance. And the pro staffs for all the Pure Fishing brands have swelled significantly. Will involvement with tour pros be a company priority moving forward?
I've only been on the job (for 5 weeks), but I'd have to say that the program is incredibly important. I think what it does best for us is it allows us to get feedback and test new products. If we were testing with an average weekend angler, it would take us a long, long time to see what works.
I really want the pros to use our products. I believe that's the ultimate testing platform. It's amazing how well it's actually helped us develop new products. It's really a partnership, the way I look at it. They give us credibility, and with what we give them, they catch more fish. And the side benefit is when they catch more fish, and have more success with our products, other people who follow (the sport) – they get the opportunity to see what the pros use, and that helps them catch more fish.
Talk for a moment, if you would, about your fishing background.
I grew up fishing in the Midwest – bass, walleye, northern pike – then transitioned into Lake Michigan for salmon. I spent thousands of hours on the water. And my dad brought me to Florida and showed me saltwater, which was a whole new world of fishing. The last 6 or 7 years, most of my fishing has been saltwater.
And I think, for our company, one of the really big opportunities is saltwater. We're really, really strong in freshwater, but there's a growing participation rate in saltwater, and with our brands, bringing the companies together gives us even more resources to capture saltwater opportunities.
I think you'll find that in the company, over time, we'll continue to be strong in freshwater and inshore, but there's a great opportunity to be in more of the offshore saltwater fishing areas.
Of all the brands, which do you think has the most potential for growth?
Penn is by far our biggest opportunity worldwide. Penn, worldwide, is one of the most recognized brands, and we really need to take advantage. I'd say our Penn business could easily double or triple if we bring the right products under our brand.
What about brands like Abu or Fenwick or Penn? Do you plan to cross those brands over from fresh to salt and vice versa? Or keep the distinctions that exist now?
I think you'll see brands cross over. A lot of times, what works in freshwater also works in saltwater. So I think you'll see great crossover.
I think there's the opportunity there, with several brands, to grow significantly. A lot of our products are great today in saltwater, but we probably don't tell that message well enough.
The finest example is Gulp!, which works great in saltwater and in freshwater. There's been some explosive growth for Gulp! in saltwater – it's really taken off over the last year.
Also, with new boat and motor technology, people are going farther distances, and are able to get to places they never could fish before. Those are completely new markets, and we really have to take advantage of that, and come up with products to cater to those needs.
The secret is understanding what's different about those fisheries, what's different about those fish, and making sure we have the products to fill those needs.
What do you see as your most important task in these first few months?
The first is to really finish integration for the two companies. That frees up our team to focus on the things we really want to focus on, which is the fish and the fishermen.
In the past year especially, Pure Fishing has made a big push into being a dominant web advertising presence. Do you see that trend continuing?
We have no specific plans other than to continue on our path. Obviously, we want to follow our end-user, and certainly the trend is toward more information on the web.
So I think that we'll have to follow our end-user, and I think we have probably more opportunity to do more in saltwater media. So what I'm saying is, in general, we have a plan that works today, and unless there's a shift in the way our end-user wants to get information from us, we'll continue the path we're on.
You know, there's no one media that gets to everyone. That's why we're at events like the Bassmaster Classic, and we'll be at other fishing tournaments. I think we have some room to improve our websites. And I think our media, from magazines to video – we want to continue to have that presence and do more. So to the extent that we're successful with our products, I think we'll continue to put out those expenditures in the media.
Pure Fishing, notably Berkley, is very involved with conservation. In fact, you have a conservation institute and a paid position for conservation director. Will that remain a priority moving forward?
I'd say conservation is certainly important for the whole industry.
I'm still on the board of directors for the NMMA, and I'm also on the board of the Grow Boating initiative, which is putting over $16 million into helping grow the industry.
I think those types of things are critical for our industry. We need to make sure people continue to fish. We don't want people to leave fishing. There's so much regulation on limits and catch, and where you can fish, it's a real threat to our industry.
Our company must participate in preserving fishing for our kids and their future.
When Jarden purchased Pure Fishing and Shakespeare, it marked probably the biggest consolidation yet in the industry. Do you think such consolidation is healthy, and do you think more's on the way?
I think at the end of the day, what helps the industry is competition. I like competition. It keeps us focused on bringing the best products and services to the industry.
Whether there'll be more consolidation or not is hard to predict. There are so many great brands, we just need to focus on what we're doing and not worry about whether the industry consolidates (more). With roughly 12 brands, we can have all the success in the world with what we have today.
> Carlson said he reports to Greg Shearson, who was named president and CEO of Jarden Outdoors Solutions in November of last year. Gary Kiedaisch, former Jarden Outdoors Solutions president, resigned from the company 2 months prior to Shearson's appointment.
> Carlson's relocating from New Hampshire to the Pure Fishing headquarters in Spirit Lake, Iowa.
> He noted the plan is for the Shakespeare companies to remain headquartered in Columbia, S.C.