Winston bamboo rods

Discussion in 'Bamboo, Fiberglass & Classic Reels' started by kyzr44, Dec 8, 2005.

  1. kyzr44

    kyzr44 New Member

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  2. Kent Lufkin

    Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

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    "To replace the outgoing builders Winston has selected a pair of workers from its graphite plant on the western edge of town to learn the craft. Brackett is currently training them, but there is a fear that the 90-day training period is not a sufficient amount of time to teach the necessary skills."

    Hmm, thanks for the link.

    Winston's Canadian absentee owner David Ondaatje has managed to run off four guys with a century and a half of bamboo rod-making experience between them while destroying an unbroken legacy of quality stretching back to the 1930s.

    Now he intends to replace them with two guys from the 'green line' with a month and a half of training each.

    Since Winston is privately owned, Ondaatje doesn't have to explain his management brilliance to any pesky shareholders. Plus, he can use the payroll savings from cutting four staff positions to buy himself another Ferrari or perhaps a third vacation house.

    In the weeks since Glenn Brackett's departure was announced, the value of all existing Winston cane rods has shot up. The smart money says it's a sure bet that any post-Brackett Winston bamboo rods won't be worth a (but will all continue to have pre-departure price tags.)

    In the meantime, look for a new cane rod shop to be opening before long, founded by four guys with a century and a half of rod-making experience between them . . .

    Sigh.

    K
     
  3. Tim Cottage

    Tim Cottage Formerly tbc1415

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    "We didn't need cheap rods and hats from China". This pretty well sums it up.

    I have followed this debacle since it's inception.
    In short, it seems that we have an owner that is turning a blind eye towards the value of the history and reputation that Winston has built. That history is the cornerstone of Winston Rods. The bamboo shop is the embodiment of that history and reputation. Without it, Winston will become just another 'me too' rod company and subject itself even further to the pressures of their market. Faster, better ,cheaper. To think that they can replace the existing "boo boys" with a few 90 day trainees is absurd, regardless of the integrity of those trainees.

    The CEO is doing his job of protecting the company by saying that there is nothing to worry about. "We don't plan to change the rod-building process." "We will continue on in the same fashion. This is not a change in company philosophy." This is a ridiculous statement but that is his job.

    As Kent said, "In the meantime, look for a new cane rod shop to be opening before long, founded by four guys with a century and a half of rod-making experience between them".

    TC
     
  4. Porter

    Porter Active Member

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    Interesting article...thanks for the update. I noticed winston came out with two new cheaper rods....don't recall names? Are they outsourced?
    Some people are not happy about being able to pay the bills, salaries, insurances...and probably have a nice salary/stipend and still be able to tuck some $ under the bed for a rainy day. Like Kent eluded...they, some CEO's, are always looking for more (Greed) ...in some cases it's not always the best solution. Maybe should stick with Orvis for your Bamboo?
     
  5. Scott Behn

    Scott Behn Active Member

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    I don't know, I look at it this way, Winston will no longer have the Boo shop that they have been blessed with over the years. The Boo Boys WERE Winston bamboo, so now I just wait and see next year for some NEW Boo shops. At least this way the knowledge, expertise, and the LOVE will still be out there, just not with Winston.

    Another thing too is that now the Boo Boys can start they're own shops have COMPLETE control and freedom to build as they please!!!!!

    :cool:
     
  6. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

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    Kent,

    So true, and so sad. Ondaatje is managing for the bottom line. His manager's stated goal is 2,500 bambood rods per year, which in itself will serve to lessen the value of post-Brackett cane rods, if they sell well at all. Ondaatje isn't concerned about the after-market value of Winston bamboo rods, but value in that market place depends almost exclusively on who the person who built the rod is/was, and the number of rods available.

    I don't know what will happen, but unless bamboo buyers are indiscriminate (and they are typically overly discriminating) I kinda' expect Winston to close down cane production in a while and just be another plastic rod company.

    Sincerely,

    Salmo g.
     
  7. Tom Bowden

    Tom Bowden Active Member

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    The Winston situation is indeed sad. As I recall, Thomas & Thomas and the Powells had issues when they sold their businesses to investors. I heard the guy who purchased Powell terminated all of the family members and moved the operation to make it more efficient.

    The problem is that bamboo rod making and profitability just don't go together. Amateurs like me take 40-50 hours per rod, and typically spend about $150 on components. If my time was $15/hour, that adds up to a cost of $900 per rod without considering things like equipment, facilities, taxes, etc.... Think about the Winston operation - 100 rods per year at $3,000 per rod is $300,000, which translates to revenue of $75,000 per worker. Deduct their pay and benefits, rent, equipment, supplies, taxes, utilities, and all of the other costs - there's very little left for an absentee owner looking for return on investment.

    The good news is that there is an increasing number of self-employed guys making rods and blanks. They don't make a lot of money, but they experience the joy of craftmanship every day and will continue the tradition.

    Tom
     
  8. David Loy

    David Loy Senior Moment

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    I've been watching this recently too, since someone here posted the news flash. The whole affair saddens me deeply. I expect Glen and the others will do fine. They should probably take a nice long vacation while they can. Certainly they could start another shop. I've even thought they could sell limited shares if they needed financing. I'd consider throwing in a bit if I could. But I'm saddened for Winston too. Without the boo boys they stand a good chance of turning into just another rod company.

    I'm hopeful that DO and company will wake up, smell the coffee and they'll all get back to business again. But I thought the same of the Beatles and my guts tell me this rift is too deep too.
     
  9. Kent Lufkin

    Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

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    Very good analysis Tom. I guess in the end, it all depends on what your goals and expectations are: whether what scratches your itch are big homes and expensive cars; or the joy of personal accomplishment and a living wage at the end of the day.

    Your point is also well taken: with the Boo Boys gone and disconnected from their legacy, Winston may well become a second-tier rod company with a line of me-too products that offer too little to distinguish themselves from their competitors.

    I'm not sure the market can support one more company like G. Loomis, Powell, Diamondback, St. Croix, Redington, etc. All these companies make fine products and I have no wish to offend those of us who own and enjoy them. It's simply that when one thinks of top-tier, innovative rodmakers, those aren't usually the first names to pass someone's lips.

    Winston's was, but I think largely due to on their history and legacy. The flip side was that they also had a reputation of being pretty spendy rods that not many folks could afford. Their Ibis line was a move into medium-tier price point, but that's become an awfully crowded segment these days with even Sage staking out territory there.

    K
     
  10. Monk

    Monk Redneck

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    What a shame. THat is like having some NASCAR fans working on your bugatti.:confused:
     
  11. Canedawg

    Canedawg Member

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    What is really sad

    is someone linked an article from a newspaper on Clark's web site. Glen B is training someone to build bamboo rods and they are giving him 90 days to accomplish this feat. It ain't gonna happen.
     
  12. Porter

    Porter Active Member

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    It will happen...it just won't be of same quality/craftsmenship
     
  13. Tom Bowden

    Tom Bowden Active Member

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    I'm sure the new guys can learn all of the steps in 90 days, but they won't be "Rodmakers" like Glenn and his crew. It takes years of experience to get a feel for the material and be able to recognize and address all of the problems which come up.

    The reason Winston rods are worth $2000+ is that you know the rod was made by master craftsmen who understand all aspects of the product they make. Would you pay that much for a rod made by a guy who took a 90 day crash course? Don't think so!

    Tom
     
  14. Cactus

    Cactus Dana Miller

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    This is not an uncommon event when a company is trying to grow from a "boutique" company into a large company.

    As it currently stands, Winston is a company that makes the highest quality products and can afford to charge accordingly as long as they are content to be a small company. Apparently the current owner does not wish to own a small company any longer but desires to maximize the return on his investment.

    It is a very difficult endevor to go from a small company to a large company in an area that has a limited customer base. Sage has done so while keeping their "Made in America" product base by realizing that they can't compete in the entry level market with that product line. They have purchased Redington that allows them to compete at the entry level with imported products.

    Let's face it, there is an "exclusivity" factor to fly fishing; no other style of fishers are willing to pay $600 or more for a rod. When a fly fisher pays that kind of money for a Sage, Winston or T&T rod, they expect the rod to be of the highest quality built with the highest quality components and finish. The last thing they want to see is a "Made in China" label on it!

    The bamboo rod market is even more exclusive, a tiny fraternity in an already small segment of the market. Nobody is paying $3000 for a Winston bamboo rod because it fish's that much better than a $500 graphite rod. It's for that same "purist" appeal that causes bird hunters to pay thousands of dollars for a side by side shotgun rather than a $300 Remington 870.

    If Winston is trying to sell more bamboo rods, they will need to reduce the price point. With Diamondback just coming out with a nice bamboo rod for $600, Winston will not be able to capture the economy bamboo market with a rod made in Montana that is up to their current level of quality.

    People buying Winston bamboo rods are either wealthy enough that they can afford any price or people who save up money for that one "special" rod of a lifetime. Neither of these groups will be interested in a Winston bamboo rod, even if it's $500 cheaper than now, if the quality is not the absolute best available.

    The current owner of Winston has alot more business success than I do so I'm probably just talking out of my rear, but it seems to me that he has misunderstood his customer base. Their ill fated Ibis line of rods seems to bear this idea out.

    Glen Brackett is finding out the sad truth that when you sell your company, you no longer get to determine how it is run; it's to bad he didn't keep it and sell partial ownership to the employees.

    There have been critics of the current owner wanting to make more money, but isn't that what Glen Brackett was doing when he sold it to an absentee owner? It's capitolism. It's the system that allowed Winston to capture the market it currently has and in order to allow such success, the system has to allow companies to fail as well. When companies are guarenteed success no matter what they do, the end result is medeocrity.
     
  15. NorthernExposure

    NorthernExposure not bad for a yankee

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    i would never spend 3000 on a fly rod. take that $ and spend a month in AK...