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Thread: Fishing Mega-Corporations

  1. #1
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    Default Fishing Mega-Corporations

    I was just reading another thread where a user mentioned their Mitchell 300, and it prompted me to read more about the Mitchell 300s history, since I myself was given a late 70's era reel for my first "real" reel as a hand-me-down from my dad, UglyStick included. What I learned, after chasing the changes in ownership of Mitchell down the rabbit hole, is that Mitchell is owned by some mega-corp (Pure Fishing) that owns half of fishing it seems like, and that mega-corporation is owned by an even bigger mega-corp (Newell Brands). I guess I always knew these mega-corporations were out there, but looking at the fishing industry really hit home. Mitchell, like most companies, started as a family business and eventually sold out to a bigger company, no surprises there, but now it seems like every major brand is owned by some bigger conglomerate that likely has nothing to do with the businesses it owns. Newell, which owns everything from household goods, to stationary companies, baby products, outdoor gear, the list goes on, started out as a shower rod manufacturer. For Mitchell, these mergers all took place around 2000, and since then what benefit has the average Joe gained as a result. In the UK, Newell is not very popular as a result of eliminating tons jobs and outsourcing to China. I'm sure the story is the same for the US, and yet they sell the majority of these products in the countries they are leaving. Now that I'm starting to speak in more general terms, I guess I'll get to the point and ask, what are you guys all doing about it?

    For me, I'd like to avoid purchasing anything from these companies, but if you look at the entire fishing industry it's nearly impossible. We cannot avoid supporting huge corporations in some way. If they don't get you with their fishing products, your wife will buy $100 worth of Rubbermaid. At some point, I feel like these huge companies will have to implode, but not until they suck the middle-class completely dry. The internet has changed this situation to some degree, allowing visibility of smaller start-up companies like Avet or Seigler, both of which make fine reels, to compete, but in the end they will get bought up too. Is there anything we can do?
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    You hit the nail on the head, it's kind of the dark side of american capitalism (among other things). You get these mega companies (Amazon, Verizon, Pure Fishing, Comcast, etc) that buy up anything and everything, and the level of competition shrinks to 0. It's all about making more and more money. I've never bought a Penn reel, but I like Ugly Stik rods, and they're both owned by Pure Fishing. Shimano is still it's own company (at least the fishing reel division), so is Okuma, and so is Daiwa. Those are the big 3 manufacturers as Alan Hawk puts it, and typically produce the best quality reels, even though they're made in factories right next to ones producing Penns, Mitchells, Abus, etc (though I think Okuma is made in Taiwan). The difference is that those 3 brands own those factories and they exclusively produce their own reels from them, not like Penn who may own the factory, but sell their reel plans to other companies (compare the BassPro Frigate reels to the Battles/Fierces). I try not to buy anything from Penn, and as far as tackle, I've been trying to buy a lot more local stuff. Come to think of it, power pro braid is also owned by Pure Fishing, yay! I guess the best approach is to stay informed. I try to purchase things that are within my budget, but may be at the top of it, just because I know it's coming from a good source, like wild-caught gulf shrimp, kokatat drysuits, etc. I was very sad to see craftsman tools get sold to Stanley, but they have promised to keep production in the U.S., at least of the hand tools.

    Oh and one of the best things you can do, research your craft beer, and only buy true craft beer! There are a lot of clones out there, all owned by mega-corps...like InBev which owns Budweiser and a bunch of brands. They still put out the America cans every summer, haha what a joke! I think they may have bought out well-known craft breweries like Goose Island, and Lagunitas is owned by Heineken, Ballast Point by Constellation Brands, etc. If you want to drink the American way, drink craft beer made by small (ish) American companies, which keep the money here, and often even grow all their hops and barley right near their breweries. MD is a great beer-producing state, we've got Heavy Seas (my favorite), flying dog, jailbreak, etc

    I know I came off like a beer snob, but hey, it's my money, and life's too short to drink bad beer. I'll never turn down a budweiser or coors product, but I ain't buying it myself.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by yakscientist View Post
    power pro braid is also owned by Pure Fishing
    I just looked it up and they are owned by Shimano. Maybe you're thinking of SpiderWire? Regardless, your point is sound that we all simply need to be informed. It's a pain in the a$$ to constantly look stuff up, but it's the only check against uncontrolled capitalism. That or collapse.
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    Why the doom and gloom? Luxuries are much more affordable to the common man than at any time in my recollection. There are option after options to buy goods or services from both large and small corporations. Sometimes the same manufacturers even offers low and high end stuff at different price points. I don't quite understand the presumption to equate big or large with bad. It seems to be quite pervasive but in my experience I have run into many small outfits that I think personally may have been run by satan and I end up really screwed and I have products from mega corporations that are just wonderful and I can get all the support I ever need. Buying something I find value in is not being had or taken in some way by a large corporation. If I buy, the fact is I find more value in it than I do my cash. I come out on the plus side just as the small or large corporation does. Same thing happens if I buy a car, I could care less if the other guy happens to have vast resources or lives in a big house. I buy it if I find value in it. He sells it if he finds more value in my cash versus the car he has. That is the magic of trade, we both make out and not something I feel the need to get depressed about or rail about.

    You seem to want to fight a law of economics. The economics of scale gives larger entities the ability sell at a profit margin that smaller companies can't touch and As an example Walmart make their billions by earning only three cents per dollar invested. A mom and pop can't do that and make money. You can argue that mom and pops are better in some way but if the whole economy was based on them prices would rise. Things such as kayaks, cold weather gear, lures and fishing rods & reels could well become luxury goods that only small percent of the population could afford. That doesn't seem any better to me than the current system.

    I'm not sure of Hobie's profit margin but suspect it is quite a bit higher than some of the large corporations that make perfectly wonderful products. To presume one evil and one good is a little above my paygrade or understanding. When I'm buying something I tend to just consider cost versus value. Maybe if the CEO was serial murderer or something I'd feel the need to drag some moral judgements in. If I want to save the world I think going to help mom with the dishes or volunteer at an old age home may be the more moral thing to do versus trying to punish a mega corporation for being a mega corporation even if they may well offer me a product that I find great value in.

    I'm old enough to remember mom and pop and it wasn't all that. Prices were high, quality was low and customer service was mostly non existent. There were seldom if any return policies and I remember my mother being escorted out out of GC Murphys by the police when she tried to return a pair of shoes she had bought me only the day before that had already fell apart. I remember a plain steel circular saw blade that might last a week costing $30. Hammer drill or circular saws that ran $400- $600 and would not be as durable or have the features that an $80 one has now. Tools and supplies that could have expanded my business were non existent or just out of reach financially and I was making damn good money at that point. The same local lumber yard would pawn of their bad material on me a a very small contractor while treating their large ones like kings. I remember ADC maps that ran $40 that covered one county. All this at a time when I was making way more than the average joe and had little expenses, no house,no mortgage, but things were expensive, didn't tend to last. I had to turn down luxuries, hobbies and that I might be interested in just to make ends meet. I don't remember the time of small business being a golden one.

    BTW This all has absolutely nothing to do with kayak fishing and is way too close to politics. Economics has a way of becoming quickly political and it's a topic that this forum should be concerned about. I did a lot of writing but I really hope the thread gets taken down.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonV View Post
    Why the doom and gloom? Luxuries are much more affordable to the common man than at any time in my recollection. There are option after options to buy goods or services from both large and small corporations. Sometimes the same manufacturers even offers low and high end stuff at different price points. I don't quite understand the presumption to equate big or large with bad. It seems to be quite pervasive but in my experience I have run into many small outfits that I think personally may have been run by satan and I end up really screwed and I have products from mega corporations that are just wonderful and I can get all the support I ever need. Buying something I find value in is not being had or taken in some way by a large corporation. If I buy, the fact is I find more value in it than I do my cash. I come out on the plus side just as the small or large corporation does. Same thing happens if I buy a car, I could care less if the other guy happens to have vast resources or lives in a big house. I buy it if I find value in it. He sells it if he finds more value in my cash versus the car he has. That is the magic of trade, we both make out and not something I feel the need to get depressed about or rail about.

    You seem to want to fight a law of economics. The economics of scale gives larger entities the ability sell at a profit margin that smaller companies can't touch and As an example Walmart make their billions by earning only three cents per dollar invested. A mom and pop can't do that and make money. You can argue that mom and pops are better in some way but if the whole economy was based on them prices would rise. Things such as kayaks, cold weather gear, lures and fishing rods & reels could well become luxury goods that only small percent of the population could afford. That doesn't seem any better to me than the current system.

    I'm not sure of Hobie's profit margin but suspect it is quite a bit higher than some of the large corporations that make perfectly wonderful products. To presume one evil and one good is a little above my paygrade or understanding. When I'm buying something I tend to just consider cost versus value. Maybe if the CEO was serial murderer or something I'd feel the need to drag some moral judgements in. If I want to save the world I think going to help mom with the dishes or volunteer at an old age home may be the more moral thing to do versus trying to punish a mega corporation for being a mega corporation even if they may well offer me a product that I find great value in.

    I'm old enough to remember mom and pop and it wasn't all that. Prices were high, quality was low and customer service was mostly non existent. There were seldom if any return policies and I remember my mother being escorted out out of GC Murphys by the police when she tried to return a pair of shoes she had bought me only the day before that had already fell apart. I remember a plain steel circular saw blade that might last a week costing $30. Hammer drill or circular saws that ran $400- $600 and would not be as durable or have the features that an $80 one has now. Tools and supplies that could have expanded my business were non existent or just out of reach financially and I was making damn good money at that point. The same local lumber yard would pawn of their bad material on me a a very small contractor while treating their large ones like kings. I remember ADC maps that ran $40 that covered one county. All this at a time when I was making way more than the average joe and had little expenses, no house,no mortgage, but things were expensive, didn't tend to last. I had to turn down luxuries, hobbies and that I might be interested in just to make ends meet. I don't remember the time of small business being a golden one.

    BTW This all has absolutely nothing to do with kayak fishing and is way too close to politics. Economics has a way of becoming quickly political and it's a topic that this forum should be concerned about. I did a lot of writing but I really hope the thread gets taken down.
    I don't disagree with anything you said, however comparing your experiences in the past, and trying to apply them to current events does not always compute. I agree that the general public has access to more, and in some cases better, products than it did in the past, but there are lots and lots of exceptions to that. To try and stay on topic of fishing, do you really think a Mitchell 300 made today is better than a Mitchell 300 sold in the 70s? To my knowledge my dad still has that damn reel and it probably still works. To get a solid metal reel with metal gears now you're looking at Van Staals which are not cheap. We all know a $30 spinning reel today is a one season reel, and that makes no sense to me. Why are we producing all this crap, just so the average Joe can buy one and throw it away a year later. Using your example of tools, I think the same is true. My dad owns a residential construction company, and since I could swing a hammer I've bought and used a wide variety of tools over the past 15-20 years. Maybe that doesn't go back far enough to refute your position, but hand tools in particular are garbage compared to what they were 50 years ago. I have many hand-me-downs from my dad, some of which he got from my grandpa, that I still use regularly and the difference in quality of steel is significant. I just broke off the tip of my $40 Klein angle cutters last night on a thin diameter cable, something this tool was made for. Powertools have gotten better perhaps, particularly battery operated ones as a result of lithium packs, but durability I still think was better even 15 years ago. Don't even get me started on appliances.

    The point is, you're right. Mega-corps can and do produce goods more efficiently than smaller operations, but they tend to focus on throw-away products that in my opinion should never be made in the first place. Corporations care more about market share than profit margins, because they know selling 1000 widgets and only making a $1 on each is better than selling 100 widgets and making $2 each. That has resulted, in my opinion, in a throw-away marketplace and the fishing industry is a prime example of that.

    I certainly did not intend on getting political, and I don't believe that we have, but what is wrong with that anyway. Why are we all so scared of each others opinions. It's ok to disagree, I'm no snowflake For me, I love hearing other opinions and perspective on topics, especially from older people with more perspective, and often opinions, on things than I have. To get political for just a second, I think one of this countries biggest problems right now is we don't listen to each other anymore, and more importantly nobody ever changes their mind on anything. Ask my poor wife, I change my mind on big and small issues ALL THE TIME.
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    John

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by silasvirus82 View Post
    I don't disagree with anything you said, however comparing your experiences in the past, and trying to apply them to current events does not always compute. I agree that the general public has access to more, and in some cases better, products than it did in the past, but there are lots and lots of exceptions to that. To try and stay on topic of fishing, do you really think a Mitchell 300 made today is better than a Mitchell 300 sold in the 70s? To my knowledge my dad still has that damn reel and it probably still works. To get a solid metal reel with metal gears now you're looking at Van Staals which are not cheap. We all know a $30 spinning reel today is a one season reel, and that makes no sense to me. Why are we producing all this crap, just so the average Joe can buy one and throw it away a year later. Using your example of tools, I think the same is true. My dad owns a residential construction company, and since I could swing a hammer I've bought and used a wide variety of tools over the past 15-20 years. Maybe that doesn't go back far enough to refute your position, but hand tools in particular are garbage compared to what they were 50 years ago. I have many hand-me-downs from my dad, some of which he got from my grandpa, that I still use regularly and the difference in quality of steel is significant. I just broke off the tip of my $40 Klein angle cutters last night on a thin diameter cable, something this tool was made for. Powertools have gotten better perhaps, particularly battery operated ones as a result of lithium packs, but durability I still think was better even 15 years ago. Don't even get me started on appliances.

    The point is, you're right. Mega-corps can and do produce goods more efficiently than smaller operations, but they tend to focus on throw-away products that in my opinion should never be made in the first place. Corporations care more about market share than profit margins, because they know selling 1000 widgets and only making a $1 on each is better than selling 100 widgets and making $2 each. That has resulted, in my opinion, in a throw-away marketplace and the fishing industry is a prime example of that.

    I certainly did not intend on getting political, and I don't believe that we have, but what is wrong with that anyway. Why are we all so scared of each others opinions. It's ok to disagree, I'm no snowflake For me, I love hearing other opinions and perspective on topics, especially from older people with more perspective, and often opinions, on things than I have. To get political for just a second, I think one of this countries biggest problems right now is we don't listen to each other anymore, and more importantly nobody ever changes their mind on anything. Ask my poor wife, I change my mind on big and small issues ALL THE TIME.
    The reason that products (in your case the Mitchell 300) aren't "as good" is that they aren't intended to be. The products are completely different, only the name remains, which was purchased for pennies on the dollar when the enthusiast led enterprise failed or was forced into financial difficulties because they catered to the perceived customers. Don't get me wrong, I wish we lived in a world where we could walk into the local tackle shop owned by the nice old gentleman who's family started the business after the depression and buy the perfect reel for $39.99 and it would work flawlessly and last forever, that's just not realistic. Oh, and Van Staals got bought out long ago and are made in China. ZeeBass is what you want.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by silasvirus82 View Post
    I don't disagree with anything you said, however comparing your experiences in the past, and trying to apply them to current events does not always compute. I agree that the general public has access to more, and in some cases better, products than it did in the past, but there are lots and lots of exceptions to that. To try and stay on topic of fishing, do you really think a Mitchell 300 made today is better than a Mitchell 300 sold in the 70s? To my knowledge my dad still has that damn reel and it probably still works. To get a solid metal reel with metal gears now you're looking at Van Staals which are not cheap. We all know a $30 spinning reel today is a one season reel, and that makes no sense to me. Why are we producing all this crap, just so the average Joe can buy one and throw it away a year later. Using your example of tools, I think the same is true. My dad owns a residential construction company, and since I could swing a hammer I've bought and used a wide variety of tools over the past 15-20 years. Maybe that doesn't go back far enough to refute your position, but hand tools in particular are garbage compared to what they were 50 years ago. I have many hand-me-downs from my dad, some of which he got from my grandpa, that I still use regularly and the difference in quality of steel is significant. I just broke off the tip of my $40 Klein angle cutters last night on a thin diameter cable, something this tool was made for. Powertools have gotten better perhaps, particularly battery operated ones as a result of lithium packs, but durability I still think was better even 15 years ago. Don't even get me started on appliances.

    The point is, you're right. Mega-corps can and do produce goods more efficiently than smaller operations, but they tend to focus on throw-away products that in my opinion should never be made in the first place. Corporations care more about market share than profit margins, because they know selling 1000 widgets and only making a $1 on each is better than selling 100 widgets and making $2 each. That has resulted, in my opinion, in a throw-away marketplace and the fishing industry is a prime example of that.

    I certainly did not intend on getting political, and I don't believe that we have, but what is wrong with that anyway. Why are we all so scared of each others opinions. It's ok to disagree, I'm no snowflake For me, I love hearing other opinions and perspective on topics, especially from older people with more perspective, and often opinions, on things than I have. To get political for just a second, I think one of this countries biggest problems right now is we don't listen to each other anymore, and more importantly nobody ever changes their mind on anything. Ask my poor wife, I change my mind on big and small issues ALL THE TIME.
    I have thirty dollars reels that have lasted ten years or longer under serious abuse. I Have had $100 reels that end up in the trash. I have $18 rods that perform as well as ones costing ten times more and are levels above what I could have gotten in past years. I don't quite see or have experienced the generalization that everything that is mass produced or produces cheaply is inherently inferior. Lately it seems to be the reverse and I am finding some super values at just unbelievable price points. Back to the tool thing. Estwing hammers that seem to be produced and perform exactly the same way now as in the past cost $30. They were once an item I just looked at on the shelf and wished I could afford. My tools needed to make money are cheaper. My leisure, luxuries and hobbie items and and just everything else is cheaper. The options as to quality are vast. I can spend $10 on something that I may not use much or $100 for one if I need durability. I don't consider any of that that a downside. I don't need everything top of the line and sometime cheap is the value. I still don't understand the doom and gloom and why you feel a collapse is imminent.

    You are correct there is plenty of crap produced and I see many purchases and items bought that I just consider bad. Many times I feel the opposite of your leanings and watch people make a purchase on something that is perceived to be high end when I know for a fact that the same functionality and durability can be had from another manufacturer for 80% less. I consider that as wasteful as buying something of so low quality that it ends up trashed. You also have the problem that modern people just seem to like to buy stuff. I don't know what came first the chicken or the egg. Are the megas the problem or is it just people' demand that is driving the mass consumption market. If it is people that are driving it I don't have a damn clue how to get them to stop, they seem to do as they will if I agree with it or not. At the same time if a cheap rod and reel setup is all that someone can afford and it gets them fishing and they get more value out of it then they feel they put in it I consider that a great good. I have numerous hobbies and interests and If I had to only go high end or top of the line it would severely limit my options and enjoyment. There are some real junk kayaks and fishing gear I see people using but they seem to be enjoying themselves doing so and it is sure better than spending a day watching TV. Even the poorest of the poor seem to have opportunities for leisure that were seldom available when I was coming up. I think the mass produced market makes that available and while it may have some bad sides I think it much like everything else that humans have a hand in, it's good or bad depending what people do with it. In the big scheme I think it may be bringing much more benefit than harm.

    With all the vast options and various quality of goods available, the burden is on the consumer to do some research. There are many many real bargains and gems that can be had for almost less than nothing. Sounds silly but they enrich my life. I can do the things I find pleasurable and have access to things that were out of reach in the past. I have more money left over for the necessities and other pastimes. Much I despise about the modern world but the availability of goods both cheap and high end is not something I see as a problem.

    BTW Klein just brands some tools. There are better options available and available cheaper. They fit the pattern if trying to pretend they are high end when not. I agree it gets hard but many of the trusted names are not so trusted anymore. We get into the whole China thing at that point and then can get political quick. They are basically just importing Chinese goods and trying get as much markup using their name as possible. The irony is that I can get quality made and better pliers from other Chinese factories without the markup and you would think Klein could also instead of selling something low end under their brand.

    I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiments and I'm glad we can have a civil conversation about all this but still think we are a little too close to politics for a fishing forum. I haven't helped one person catch a fish in these long diatribes of mine.
    Last edited by DonV; 01-05-2018 at 12:42 PM.

  8. #8
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    It's the cold weather. Everyone will be happy again come April and May. I'm counting the days until 3/11 when time changes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DonV View Post
    The irony is that I can get quality made and better pliers from other Chinese factories without the markup and you would think Klein could also instead of selling something low end under their brand.
    The main difference I see is the pride behind the product then vs. now. I don't want this to be an all-encompassing statement, but that pride is gone, replaced by profit margin. There a few shining examples of companies that stand behind their products, but for the most part, you're in the wrong. "I'm sorry the reel you bought two months ago seized up sir, but unfortunately, that's not covered by our warranty. Our policy only covers normal use, and that fact that it broke means you weren't using it normally. We can sell you a brand new one for 25% off MSRP though!"
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    Quote Originally Posted by DanMarino View Post
    It's the cold weather. Everyone will be happy again come April and May. I'm counting the days until 3/11 when time changes.
    CATFISH......catfish can make us happy.....jst get a bit more ice off the boatramp.....
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