John Butts Keeps Winning – and Wears Many Hats
Oct 13th, 2011 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified Oct 13th, 2011 at 12:00 AM
Canadian John Butts answers to many titles on both sides of the border. He is president of the National Professional Anglers Association, pro angler, tournament winner, salesman, national sales director, fishing and hunting guide, business manager, recent international fishing tournament champion, Can-Am fishing team director, community award winner, father and husband.
He’s been involved in many capacities in the tackle and marine industries, and most recently experienced the best day of walleye fishing ever in a tournament. He fished with son Aiden and Aiden’s buddy Luke on Lake of the Woods Aug. 13, winning the Angler – Young – Angler International Championship.
“Yes, it was my best fishing day ever. Our six walleyes weighed 46.61 pounds, and we won a trip to Disney World,” he beamed. To qualify for the Championship, the trio won the AYA tournament on Lake Wabigoon, in John’s backyard. He won a Lund boat rigged with a Mercury in that event.
He has racked up other Canadian victories, claimed a PWT victory in 2005, and still does a few Canadian events, including Pine Falls in October. “I just don’t have enough time to travel like I used to – at least to fish tournaments,” he said.
That “travel” commitment is taken up with other duties now. After five years as national sales director for FinTech fishing tackle, calling on dealers and major accounts, plus managing the pro-staff team, and gaining a tremendous experience in sales and marketing, making industry connections and building a solid reputation, John switched hats and accepted a position selling boats.
He works both the US and eastern Canada for WestWinn Sales Group, which is headed by former Lund Boats president Andrew Klopak. John’s Canadian territory stretches from Saskatchewan east. He’s also responsible for the Midwestern states. His original duties included selling Harbercraft, Jetcraft and Kingfisher boats. A few weeks ago, his workload doubled.
“Adding Alumacraft to my large Canadian region really doubled the work,” he said. “This is a great boat company, and they have high expectations from our sales group in Canada. However, this caused me to make one of the hardest calls in my life. I worked with the Crestliner Pro Team for seven years, and telling them I was moving on was a tough relationship to end. They’re an awesome company.”
Harbercraft and Jetcraft make jet and outboard boats. Jetcraft is the name they are marketed under in the US, and are up to 22-feet in length. Kingfisher boats are known for their heavy-gauge hulls (160-thousandths), and will soon introduce three new multi-species fishing models from 16 to 19 feet. “Our dealers love what we’ve showed them, and they’ll be at boat shows later this year,” he said.
Talking about his doubled workload, John said he would be signing six new Alumacraft dealers in eastern Canada by the end of October. “The response from dealers has been phenomenal,” John said.
John said it was a natural fit for him to move from fishing tackle to boat sales. “It’s a natural fit, although I really loved growing FinTech to its successful position today,” he said. “As a fishing pro, then a pro team member and director, working shows and calling on fishing people gave me the perspective and reputation that will help me sell boats.”
He described the boating industry as “good and steady” in Canada, while being somewhat softer in the US. “Boat sales are especially strong in western Canada,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Wearing his NPAA president’s hat, John felt he has more of an understanding of sales and marketing from the manufacturers’ point of view. He knows that success demands sales people (and pro anglers) need to become more professional. “Everything from attitude to presence is critical to success in today’s environment,” he said.
He was proud of the growth taking place with the NPAA. “Pat Neu is doing an amazing job as executive director. More supporting partners have come aboard and membership has grown by 20 percent. The new club program has just been rolled out and we’re building new programs for even more participation,” John said. He pointed to the $17,000 youth initiatives undertaken with NPAA partner MWC, AIM and FLW walleye circuits. “We touched lots of young people this season,” he said. “Many received tackle and rods and reels, and will become future anglers.”
On the walleye tournament front, John said, “I think the future looks good.” He feels consumers are adjusting, and with increased promotions, these potential buyers can be reached. He said the FLW numbers were real good. With higher payouts and more media coverage, anglers will step back in. Anglers look at the business-side of fishing and costs have risen significantly. He said, “Pros want to see new opportunities and higher purses in the fishing tournament game. In Canada, tournaments are still strong and full with waiting lists.”
He said, “With such a large boat sales territory, when not on the road, I will spend more time with my family in Dryden.” His fishing and hunting guide hats may be retired for father and husband duties. To contact John, email [email protected]