Connie Gibson can remember the old behemoth. Six feet tall and weighing hundreds of pounds, it carried a description fitting a pro football player, but the work they did together didn’t translate to the gridiron—it found its way to the lake.
At the start of her career, the old behemoth was her constant companion, a mega-sized industrial computer that recorded orders and archives at a room in Fort Smith, Arkansas, behind the doors of PRADCO. It was here that the two got close, an aspiring computer programer and the electronic memory filled with tackle destined for store shelves across the country.
“The computer that we had back then had the spaceship disk drives,” she tells. “They weighed about five pounds a piece and the disk drives that they put them in looked like washing machines.”
For 36 years, Gibson has ebbed and flowed with the evolution of technology in one of fishing’s most storied companies. She’s worked with behemoths, personal computers, PDAs, smartphones and tablets. Over the years, the vocabulary of each machine has changed with her: at first, starting with words like Rebel and Arbogast, then onto others like Heddon and Lindy, and eventually BOOYAH and YUM. And as PRADCO adapted, Gibson adapted with it.
She’s worked in accounting, manufacturing production, customer service, and sales all at the same time—making her a true Jill of all trades, often juggling them all at once. “It was kind of all at the same time. It wasn’t like I was in any one spot at the same time, except for the accounting department.”
Though the tools have changed, after three decades, Gibson is still tasked with getting lures from the production floor onto store shelves. Technology has infiltrated even the most mechanical of lure-making processes, like the soft plastic molding machines for YUM.
“They ask me what did you do,” Gibson says. “I just tell everybody my degree is from PRADCO University, because I’ve learned everything I do here on the job.”
Hear Connie’s story, in her own words: