Supporting the Pros
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Savvy fishing industry companies like Berkley, Abu Garcia, and Spiderwire maintain stout pro rosters populated with names like Yelas, Iaconelli, Reese, Clausen, Nixon, Klein, Swindle, and more. With several top brand logos on their jerseys, they're walking billboards – not to mention the wrapped boats and trucks they drive.
Scott Dubiel went from helping pro golfers to helping pro anglers for Berkley and other companies.
Investment in a pro staff is one of the best ways to promote a product in the fishing industry, but while having a successful angler associated with your brand is good, it's not enough by itself.
"You can buy your admission ticket, but if you don't go to the show you're not going to get all of the benefits that come with tournament sponsorship," said Eric Naig, a senior marketing manager representing several brands. So he has hired two field service representatives to work every event on the Bassmaster Elite Series and FLW Tour schedule. Scott Dubiel works the BASS side, and Tammy Cox supports the FLW tournaments.
"It's kind of a neat story," he added. "Their whole job is to manage the tournament sponsorship. They're in the field with the pros, go to every tournament, and have a good grip on what's going on.
"We use them a lot with product development," he noted. "(For example), when we're going to come out with a new fishing line, we can send it to Scott or Tammy, and they can get it in the hands of the pros (quickly). Then within a day or two they can get the feedback, get it back to us (in Spirit Lake, Iowa), and we can make a change (in the product). It makes our development process that much better.
"But probably the most important thing they do is to take care of our pros at the tournaments. They help our pros win, because when they win, we win, obviously."
So what do Dubiel and Cox do to help the pros win?
"We actually provide a leadership role in servicing the pros and meeting their needs, regarding things like equipment," Dubiel said. "We're really the only rod and reel and bait guys who are onsite for every event. The boat and motor and trolling motor crews are there, but not many other (sponsors).
"These guys have been on the road sometimes for around 11 weeks straight," he noted, and they start to run out of things or need to replace a reel or rod. "We're there to keep them going. If they need something I don't have, I can get it overnighted to support them.
"I show up usually Sunday night when most of the pros do, and I'm at the ramp in the mornings asking if they need anything, and again in the evening when they come off the water. (Once in a while) I get to go out and fish with them.
"I stay at the same motels as they do, and a lot of times they'll stop by after dinner or come to the room asking for something, like more of a certain bait, or some line. It's like, 'Hey, Scotty, I need some braid,' or some fluoro or something else."
He also has the opportunity to help the pros expand their horizons. "We came out with the Berkley 5- and 6-inch Power Mullets mainly for the saltwater market last year," he said. "I thought that might work as a swimbait for bass and took around 30 packages of each in a couple of colors to (the Bassmaster Elite Series event at) Amistad.
"The guys said, 'Wow, I didn't know you had those' and they just flew out of the trunk. So in that way I help introduce the pro staff to other items in the product lines that can help them. It's a fun deal."
> Dubiel gave a shout out to the guys at Triton/Mercury for helping him move several heavy trunks of product and equipment he needs to lug from one tournament to the next.
> He is based out of Florida, and used to work field service for saltwater competitive fishing and before that, the PGA tour. "The bass pros are a lot like the PGA guys," he noted. "They're very approachable and friendly during practice rounds, but come Wednesday night they put on their game hats and get real serious."