Joe Crumrine picks up the phone at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. “Another early morning flight from Nebraska,” he says. Crumrine, the President of terminal tackle giant Bullet Weights is en route to North Carolina. “They send you backwards to go forwards from Nebraska.” But that’s alright with him.
Joe Crumrine is the third-generation President of Bullet Weights. His father, Doug, sat at his desk before him; Doug’s father, Larry, built the metaphorical desk when he founded the company in 1970. In the past 45 years, there has been a lot of connecting taking the family from their home office in Alda, Nebraska (population 642), to tackle stores and waterways around the globe.
In the midst of the busy season, the youngest Crumrine has carved out a few minutes at the airport for FTR.
“We started the company with one product, the Bullet Weight,” he tells me. Tackle store owners will need no introduction to the iconic sinker that, though it’s been updated over the years with new paint schemes and magnetic technology, remains a staple for bass anglers. But the Bullet Weight was just the start. In 2015, the Bullet Weights catalog now spans 3,400 items that cover freshwater and saltwater, and tackle for any species under the sun.
“Right now, up in the Northwest, we are seeing big sales to the salmon market. Cannonballs, spin sinkers and lead wires are all doing very well. Freshwater-wise, crappie rigs have done well this year,” he says. “We’re getting into the bass season, so we will see a lot of sales for bullet weights. It really depends on where you are. Every part of the country is a little different, but everywhere is looking good.”
Crumrine is right when he says every part of the country is different. And as tackle store owners and anglers well know, every part of the country is different every single year. With the near-universal exception of any lure colored green pumpkin, what’s hot one season may leave a fisherman with an empty cooler the next; however, that’s something Bullet Weights plans for.
“We take a lot of pride in being able to react quickly,” notes Crumrine. “We are always watching, always able to make quick moves. This year, the two-ounce pyramid is going to be the best seller, maybe next year it will be the four-ounce.”
To that end, it’s not just Crumrine that spends much of his time airport hopping out of Nebraska. The company currently employs 53 dealer reps who traverse the country reaching out to retailers. They’ve got boots on the ground at all times, and the company takes pride in that.
“I go out and visit as many (retailers) as I can. It’s always interesting to talk to entrepreneurs. You can always learn something new no matter where you’re at. I look at the way we’ve used the Bullet Weight for 45 years, and you might walk into a store and they have a totally different way of doing it. Different fishermen have their own ways of doing something, their own secrets. Sometimes you’re surprised. Sometimes they have ways of using it that you’ve never thought of.”
Crumrine recalls one dealer in the southeast that had bottom bouncers—a weight usually used for walleye fishing. “He had bottom bouncers in his store and they were casting with them. They tied it on and casted, using it for bass.”
That’s part of the learning curve. Even with 3,400 products and 45 years in the business, there’s always something new to discover. And from dealer shows to house calls, Bullet Weights is making a real effort to explore every need retailers might have. “We’re always willing to talk to any of our customers at any time,” adds Crumrine. “Send us an email, call me on the phone. We always like to hear from our customers.”