Sales and Fishing Success Lead to Fishing Tackle Career
Dec 22nd, 2009 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified Dec 22nd, 2009 at 12:00 AM
John Butts had a plan. Living in Dryden, Ontario, he wanted to compete against the guys at the top of the walleye tournament game. “To demonstrate success, I knew I had to fish the PWT,” John said. His vision was to fish the Canadian tournaments for 10 years, gain knowledge and confidence and acquire the necessary equipment.
When he headed south of the border for his first full year with the PWT, he realized, “I knew a lot less than I thought.” His advice for rookies was to accelerate the learning curve to “super fast,” because he said it’s tough to step in and compete at the top level. “In those first three years, a pro must find success out of the gates for sponsors, media and to cover expenses,” he said.
John qualified for the PWT Championship his second year on tour. He was fishing from a 17.5 foot Lund Pike, the smallest boat at Bismarck that year. It was easy to push off sandbars, but his wife Susan said to him after the first day’s weigh-in, “I feel bad for you. Next year you’ll be in a bigger boat.” He was. He won the tough Fox Chain of Lakes tournament in Illinois and continued with several other top performances in the US and Canada.
John gauged the mental aspect of competitive angling the most important aspect, saying, “Most people don’t understand the mental difference between the elites and the regulars. The top guys know how to keep plodding even when times are tough.”
While breaking into the tournament “Big Leagues,” he was selling industrial cleaning chemicals to customers in a huge territory. Fishing the national tour resulted in significant media coverage in Canada. He also got to know the marine and fishing tackle industry and the people who made things happen. All his sales and fishing accomplishments resulted in a move to national marketing director for Fin-Tech tackle two years ago. His territory stretches from one end of North America to the other.
“On many sales calls, the connection with my professional fishing has been a natural transition. We talk about fishing, and then move to the product. Sales have sky-rocketed,” he said. With owner Doug Hartle, also a past touring pro, Fin-Tech has secured most of the major chain and big box accounts in only a few years. Combined with an innovative marketing strategy, becoming a sponsor of AIM, brand recognition, unique products and one of the strongest walleye pro teams ever, sales growth has followed.
The Fin-Tech pro team consists of these anglers competing on the AIM tour: Rich Boggs, Keith Kavajecz, John Kolinski, Chase and Gary Parsons, Dan Plautz, Dave Van Oss, and John Butts. From a sponsor’s perspective, John said, “This new format (Catch – Record – Release™) is a very positive and good change to the way tournaments were being run.” The scheduled AIM events at major festivals will add to the excitement with built-in crowds, and he judged the new internet efforts being unveiled will gain the interest of even more walleye fans at home or work.
What does all this success mean to John personally? “I travel and am gone 50 percent of the time. I fish and hunt less, but when I’m home I spend as much time as possible with my family.