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TC business has fishing in its blood

Patrick Sullivan - August 22nd, 2011
TC business has fishing in its blood
By Patrick Sullivan

Roger Borgeson had been retired for six years, but he missed the tackle
business, the line of work he’d been in for a half century.
He’d been sidelined by illness, could no longer fish, and he wanted to
find his way back.
“Basically I got sick and I couldn’t work anymore and I can’t stand
retirement,” Borgeson said. “The boys came to me, Mike and Pat, and said,
‘Let’s get into the lure business.’”
For the past four years, Borgeson, along with his stepsons Mike and Pat
Steffes, have run Warrior Lures, a Traverse City-based fishing lure
company.
“I never wanted to retire, I love the business, the people in it,” he
said. “Most people that get into this business are the same way -- it
isn’t a job. It’s more like a love affair.”

AMERICAN MADE
One reason Borgenson wanted to get into the manufacturing end of the
business was to be able to produce an American-made lure.
“I’ve seen it come and I’ve seen it go,” he said. “Nowadays, the fishing
tackle industry is very, very small here in the U.S.”
He’d spent his career as a manufacturer’s rep for tackle companies and he
watched the domestic industry decimated by foreign competition,
particularly from Japan.
He thought with his knowledge of the business he could succeed where
others failed.
“Our whole deal was to manufacture here,” Borgenson said. “A lot of guys
get into this business with no knowledge of the business. A lot of guys
just like to fish and just get into the business.”
Borgeson’s stepsons, Mike and Pat, also have fishing tackle in their blood.
Their uncle is John Emory, the brother of Borgeson’s wife, Sharron. Emory
is a salmon fishing legend, a fishing gear inventor and the founder of Big
Jon’s Sports, a downrigger manufacturer he sold several years ago.
At Warrior Lures, a division of M & P Sporting Products, LLC, Mike works
on the business end of things and Pat hand paints the lures.
The company does sales in the six figures but no one makes a salary yet,
Borgeson said. Everything goes back into the business.
“It’s a matter, in our case, of how much money we are able to put into raw
materials,” he said. “We haven’t had any problem selling our product
because we know the customer.”

NEW DESIGN
Borgenson said theirs was the first lure company in decades to introduce a
lure made from a magnum die of an original design.
He said he didn’t like what was on the market when they started the company.
“We knew the action on them wasn’t proper on those spoons,” he said.
On their lures, the spoon is deeper, which Borgeson says makes it travel
through the water better, mimicking fish movement at a wider variety of
speeds.
Warrior Lures are sold at some Bass Pro Shops and Gander Mountain outlets.
Next year they hope to expand to more Bass Pro locations and Cabela’s.
Some may use Warrior Lures in the upcoming Salmon Classic in Traverse City.
But that sort of thing isn’t for Borgeson anymore. And there’s no
guarantee that using the Warrior Lures will bring victory.
Due to his illness, he hasn’t fished in years. While he would still love
to fish, he’s no longer interested in tournaments.
Borgeson entered the Salmon Classic in its first year, in 1991, and he
hasn’t been back since.
“Guys that win tournaments spend a lot of time fishing. Anyone that tells
you you can win a tournament just out of the box has never won a
tournament,” Borgeson said. “It’s hard work.”

 
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