FORT SMITH, Ark. – Today, PRADCO Outdoor Brands joined Gov. Asa Hutchinson, PRADCO employees, Walmart representatives and local officials to celebrate the creation of 60 new local jobs at PRADCO Fishing and the expansion of its manufacturing facility in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Additionally, the company celebrated Walmart’s commitment to buy an additional $250 billion in products supporting American jobs by 2023.
Driven by rising demand, PRADCO will add four soft plastics machines to produce YUM baits at the Fort Smith facility. YUM’s manufacturing line is a three-shift operation that runs 24 hours a day, five days a week and Saturdays if necessary. Additionally, PRADCO will also move the Thill Floats production line from Minnesota to Fort Smith soon.
“Business is booming right now – particularly at Walmart — and we are very blessed to be able to scale up our U.S. manufacturing operation,” said Bruce Stanton, Vice President and General Manager for PRADCO-Fishing. “This job expansion is a direct result of Walmart’s $250 billion commitment to American jobs and local manufacturing. Additionally, EBSCO, our parent company, has supported us with a strong, seven-figure investment in our YUM manufacturing capabilities, and they continue to show long-term support to jobs in Arkansas.”
Earlier in 2016, PRADCO added 25 full-time jobs, and since January of 2017, the company has added 64 jobs in the YUM production line. “Those jobs,” Stanton said, “are thanks to Walmart and our other customers and our management team for their execution of the scale-up efforts.”
“Our customers have told us that second to price, where products are made influences their purchase decisions,” said Cindi Marsiglio, vice president, U.S. manufacturing, Walmart. “We are focused on buying great quality products that create jobs in communities across the U.S. It makes sense for our customers, our communities and our company. Walmart’s commitment to buy $250 billion in products supporting American jobs by 2023 is having a tangible impact on communities across America.”
“It’s gratifying to see Arkansas companies come together in partnership,” said Gov. Hutchinson. “Walmart’s initiative to support quality products made in America has had a tremendous impact on the bottom line for many Arkansas businesses and their communities, including PRADCO and Fort Smith. It’s a boon to the entire state when we provide the atmosphere businesses need to grow and prosper, and we are proud to celebrate PRADCO’s successes.”
Thill has the No. 1 market share position in the U.S. in fishing floats (according to Southwick & Associates’ 2016 Annual Angler Survey). Thill has a complete line of balsa floats, which will be manufactured completely in Fort Smith starting in December.
PRADCO began in Fort Smith in 1960 and was one of the largest injection-molding companies in the United States. Now part of EBSCO Industries Inc. of Birmingham, Ala., PRADCO owns such legendary fishing brands as Arbogast, Bandit, Bomber, BOOYAH, Cotton Cordell, Creek Chub, Heddon, Lindy, Little Joe, Norman, Rebel and War Eagle Custom Lures in addition to YUM and Thill.
FTR’s Four Quick Thoughts
1. PRADCO officials told the gathered crowd of employees, pro anglers, politicians, and media that they’ve increased YUM production from a two-shift operation last Spring to a 24-hour operation today. That operation, according to PRADCO Vice President & General Manager Bruce Stanton, is an eight shift job.
2. PRADCO overall numbers are up nearly 30-percent over last November. That likely speaks to both the overall popularity of bass fishing, and the strength of PRADCO’s strategic partnership with fellow Arkansas corporate citizen, Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart officials were also in attendance on Friday.
3. PRADCO has over two million followers on social media. The company says that leads all fishing tackle brands.
4. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchison wasn’t the only ASA in attendance, as incoming American Sportfishing Association President Glenn Hughes flew in from Washington, D.C. to attend. Hughes’ presence is a reminder that, along with the growth of production facilities, sportfishing will need to continue growing its angler base to ensure long term success. Perhaps, some of that task, will fall to PRADCO’s two million-plus social media followers.