Q&A at 30k: Bruce Stanton, PRADCO

Last month, we launched the first in a series of industry interviews to help you get more acquainted with the faces of fishing—and we’re not just talking pro anglers. We mean the guys and gals behind the scenes, the movers and shakers who help get products to market and onto your shelves. This week, we chat with one of the biggest lure manufacturers on the planet—one that makes its home way down south in Birmingham, Alabama. By now, you’ve probably guessed it: we’re heading to PRADCO. Also, we sort of gave it away in the headline.

Bruce Stanton is the Vice President and General Manager of PRADCO Outdoor Brands’ Fishing Division—the makers of YUM, Bomber, Booyah, Lindy and Rebel. PRADCO has been around since 1894 (they also carry a full lineup of hunting products including Moultrie, Wingscapes, Code Blue and Summit), but if you’ve been in the industry for any length of time, you already know those things. What you might not know, and what Stanton is here to explain, is how PRADCO is working with retailers to keep product moving from your shelves to the checkout counter.

Let’s get down to it:

FTR: Where do you find the biggest disconnect between your office and retailers?

Stanton: Many times it is communication and execution by marketing and sales with buying teams. Some work very well and understand how to create and execute exciting programs that sell branded products. Some don’t. Academy really is a shining example of a team that is committed to innovation and promotions that target consumers with top brands. It’s an overall commitment to dedicate space and resources to driving sales. Look at what they’ve done with rods, reels and lures over the past two years. Many other retailers excel at this, too. Everyone has restrictions. Space. Money. Staff. Time. Rules. You have to understand how to work with each of them.

FTR: What are your top retailers doing differently to help move your products?

Stanton: Academy has supported the Micro Critters introduction with end caps in more than 80 stores. Their buying staff believes in the vision of barbless lures for both safety and sustainability. They have strong stores in many Southern trout markets. And they obviously want to reach youth with many product sets to build consumer loyalty.

FTR: What retailer incentives (if any) do you offer?

Stanton: None specifically. We do work with retailers to create signage and point of purchase materials to create sales.

FTR: Are there any display tools that you offer retailers to better promote your products?

Stanton: We will work with any retail customer to create display tools that speak to the right consumer segments with the right brands.

FTR: Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. In March, Robert Schoenvogel replaced Ron Ten Berge as President of PRADCO. What has changed under his leadership? What has stayed the same?

Stanton: Robert has a strong background in upper management and previously served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of (parent company) EBSCO’s largest revenue division (EBSCO Subscription Services). He is extremely strong with systems and work-flow processes, and he has been working closely with our team to address and solve our recent challenges in this area. Robert is also an extremely humble leader. He has been making the rounds with us to visit key customers over the past few months and wants to re-position our businesses to serve the customer first with everything we do. Robert is leading us back to being a servant-minded company. If we do something . . . anything . . . it’s with our customers in mind. He embodies EBSCO’s vision of managing and growing profitable brands for the long haul and is very investment-minded. It doesn’t hurt that he’d rather be fishing than golfing, either. Working for PRADCO and EBSCO has never been ‘not fun.’ It’s just better now.

FTR: What innovative methods are you using to work with retailers?

Stanton: The product innovation is what stands out. Rebel is the only major brand of lures that is offering a full line of barbless lures — both single-hook barbless and barbless trebles. Our retail partners want innovation in major brands. Going to market specifically to address special regulations and National Parks fisheries and overall angler safety helps create more consumers and more fishing opportunities for consumers. Innovation is also how we go to market, support the retailers and drive consumers to their pegs or websites. With our brands, you have Bill Dance (Rebel), Jimmy Houston (Booyah) and Jon Thelen (Lindy) promoting them on TV and through social media. You also have Yum being supported by some of the top Elite tournament pros: Jason Christie, ranked No. 1 in the world for most of the past two years; Alton Jones, the 2008 BASSMASTER Classic champion; Terry “Big Show” Scroggins, always a threat to win; and top performers such as  Zell Rowland and Cliff Prince. And you have our internal staffing commitment to media relations and social media management with all of our brands.

FTR: What would you like retailers to know about your company or your products?

Stanton: No. 1, work with your PRADCO salesman to communicate and brainstorm about how to take innovations to market. The salesman is the link to the brands and is accountable for serving the customer. Anything is possible when supporting new products or brands. We just need to have the conversation and all be committed to execution.

Have a question for PRADCO? Fire back in our comments section below.Want to see more Q&As? Check out last month's chat with Eagle Claw and be sure you're on our Industry Insider list.