Le Mars fisherman turns profit into charity
Category: press release
Jul 25th, 2014 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified Jul 25th, 2014 at 12:00 AM
LE MARS, Iowa | A local fisherman reels in more money for charity than muskies these days.
James Haworth, owner of Tackle Industries, has donated fishing rods and lures for fishing tournaments, raffle prizes and charity auctions to help raise more than $300,000 for children’s causes and veterans outreach programs.
“I started my company so we could have Disney money,” he said.
With the discretionary income, he wanted to buy his wife a Mercedes-Benz, trade in his truck for a new one every two years and take family trips. His newborn daughter made him see beyond material possessions.
Julia, now 8, was born with craniosynostosis, a birth defect in which a baby’s skull fuses before the brain is fully formed. She needed surgery.
Haworth and his wife had an eye-opening experience at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul, Minn.
“We spent so much time there and started looking around and realized all these kids here would not leave the hospital alive,” he said. “Our daughter could be fixed.” Driving home from the children’s hospital, where some parents appeared to have all but a dollar to their name, he turned to his wife and said, “How would you like to give that money away?”
Earlier in 2005, Haworth had founded a hobby business in their two-car garage, producing handmade fishing lures. Tackle Industries quickly turned a profit. To get started, he invested in woodworking equipment – a bandsaw, sander and router. “I paid for my entire factory in one production run,” he said. He kept four pieces of tackle and sold six on eBay, pocketing $75 each.
Friends warned him, “The more successful you are, the less time you’ll have to fish.”
He didn’t believe them at first. He took the rods out once last year with his son for a Boy Scout outing.
“My boat hasn’t seen water for four years now,” he said.
But by maintaining two jobs, he’s been able to contribute funds and in-kind gifts to Gillette and the Ronald McDonald House, as well as Take a Vet Fishing and Operation Muskie, two nonprofits that serve veterans.
He joined Wells’ Blues Bunny as a product development scientist two years ago.
“I make ice cream and eat ice cream all day and do fishing lures at night,” he said.
Over the past six years or so, he’s inched his way toward working more. Haworth, who holds a master’s degree in analytical chemistry, averaged 70-80 hours a week between a full-time job in his field and Tackle Industries.
His mail-order company grew from 50 products to 1,200 even as the family moved from the Twin Cities to Oskaloosa, Iowa.”When we moved from Minneapolis, it was one semi-truck for our home and one semi-truck for all the fishing tackle,” he said.
When they moved to Le Mars, it took six.
“The more we give away now, it seems the more we get,” he said.