By Patrick Sullivan
Roger Borgeson had been retired for six years, but he missed the tackle
business, the line of work hed been in for a half century.
Hed been sidelined by illness, could no longer fish, and he wanted to
find his way back.
Basically I got sick and I couldnt work anymore and I cant stand
retirement, Borgeson said. The boys came to me, Mike and Pat, and said,
Lets 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
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
isnt a job. Its more like a love affair.
One reason Borgenson wanted to get into the manufacturing end of the
business was to be able to produce an American-made lure.
Ive seen it come and Ive seen it go, he said. Nowadays, the fishing
tackle industry is very, very small here in the U.S.
Hed spent his career as a manufacturers 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
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.
Borgesons stepsons, Mike and Pat, also have fishing tackle in their blood.
Their uncle is John Emory, the brother of Borgesons wife, Sharron. Emory
is a salmon fishing legend, a fishing gear inventor and the founder of Big
Jons 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.
Its a matter, in our case, of how much money we are able to put into raw
materials, he said. We havent had any problem selling our product
because we know the customer.
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 didnt like what was on the market when they started the company.
We knew the action on them wasnt 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
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 Cabelas.
Some may use Warrior Lures in the upcoming Salmon Classic in Traverse City.
But that sort of thing isnt for Borgeson anymore. And theres no
guarantee that using the Warrior Lures will bring victory.
Due to his illness, he hasnt fished in years. While he would still love
to fish, hes no longer interested in tournaments.
Borgeson entered the Salmon Classic in its first year, in 1991, and he
hasnt 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. Its hard work.