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Cortland Line Company Bought by Group of Private Investors

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Cortland Line Company Bought by Group of Private Investors

Hot off the email this morning is this press release from Cortland announcing their acquisition - "Fans of this Fabled Brand Look to Restore Luster through Better Execution, Revamped Marketing and Introduction of New Product To Achieve Strong Growth Momentum."

Cortland Line Company, one of the oldest manufacturers of premium braided fishing line and a comprehensive assortment of fishing equipment and apparel, is pleased to announce the sale of its business and various operations to a well-capitalized group of private investors. As lifelong fly fishermen, the new owners have a deep respect for the brand and appreciate its commitment to quality over the past 98 years.

The investment group is not an existing investment firm, but rather friends who came together with the objective of owning and restoring one of the fishing industry's oldest brands to a leadership position. According to a spokesman for the group, the first step will be a capital infusion to preserve continuity and strengthen the balance sheet in an effort to stabilize the business. The next step will be to focus on execution.

Brian Ward will continue in his capacity as CEO with a focus on key client relationships and growing the overseas customer base. Internal operations will be overseen by incoming COO Randy Brown, who wants to better define how to optimally manufacture, market and service the industry and become a more innovative, responsive enterprise. Randy brings 35 years of banking and operations management to Cortland, most recently as President of a business he took from $10 million in annual revenues to $100 million in less than a decade. "This is not a long shot but rather an exceptionally attractive opportunity with lots of potential," Randy said. "I think we can begin to focus on growing the business and earning back market share within the next twelve months. We have all the essential ingredients; working capital, viable product, a good reputation, a loyal customer base, and most importantly, a dedicated, knowledgeable staff. In fact, a majority of our employees have spent their entire careers with Cortland. I was immediately taken by the family-style culture internally, with many here being third generation Cortland employees."

“I have been involved with operations and managing people most of my career, and I feel fortunate to have enjoyed a little bit of success along the way,” continues Mr. Brown, who is busy developing a thoughtful, realistic corporate vision. He has already created a series of plans that focus on the areas of plant floor operations, shipping, brand awareness, sales, and product innovation. He also suggested that once his management team gets a better handle on the business, we shouldn’t rule out more acquisitions and perhaps some important new hires at the senior level to lead defined growth and new market opportunities.

Another investor and owner will be incoming Chairman Alexander "Sandy" Douglas, a successful businessman who resides in nearby Syracuse, New York. As a member of the Adirondack League Club, Sandy has been fly fishing his entire life and is considered by many an expert, though he is not a professional guide. "My wife laughs at my obsession, but honestly there is nothing I enjoy more than throwing a fly on a beautiful summer evening. I had the pleasure of fishing with Leon Chandler on several occasions and nobody could cast a line like Leon. He was my hero," admits Mr. Douglas. "Please call me Sandy, Mr. Douglas is way too formal and makes me feel old. I've probably owned fifty rods but my first was a Cortland. All these years later I still have it and it's still one of my favorites, so I am genuinely excited to become a part of Cortland."

"Regarding the business, I appreciate all that Cortland is, but see room for improvement," Sandy continues. "I would like to see a renewed emphasis on R&D, and a rethinking of sales and marketing altogether. While Cortland has customers in an impressive number of countries where fishing is prevalent, we must focus the pro shops and independent dealers domestically that have been ardent supporters for generations. We will improve our support to them and begin with a stronger website and product delivery system. There are many areas where we can improve but we will start at the customer level. The fishing industry is well served by many strong and respected competitors and we have to earn business, but Cortland was a leader for many, many years and there is no reason it can't be again."

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Comments (13 posted):

fredaevans on 25/07/2012 14:24:24
Interesting to first see this up on the UK 'Mother Board.' Not a peep that I've seen about this on US based boards.
Vans on 26/07/2012 01:09:52
I guess i am surprised Cortland is or was considered a premium brand. I have always have seen them as a cheapy low budget brand. All the Cortland accessories i have had are average at best. I have one spool with some Cortland line on it. Crystal i think it is called. It is on my 7wt and is a sinking line i use for fishing the Metolius for bulls.Seems good enough but it was also $60-$70 which is pretty high for Cortland. I guess their time was before i got into fly fishing.
cathyg on 01/08/2012 15:35:12
Part of Cortland's problem may have been to try to have something for everyone. They sell everything from cheap ($15) reels to really nice Brook series rods and Diamondback rods. The cheap stuff is found in Walmart and places like that so people get the impression that's all there is to the company.
theboz on 01/08/2012 15:52:05
Have only had negative experiences with Cortland lines . Don't know about the rest of their line but hopefully the transition wil see an improvement.
Rip Tide on 01/08/2012 16:02:51
I grew up using Cortland lines and I'm always surprised that they don't get more love Right now I own at least 14 Cortlands and the 444 "peach" floaters are a personal favorite. They're all very usable lines except maybe for the Lazer line which IMO has too much memory
wt bash on 01/08/2012 18:36:25
The 444s are classic and always be as far as I'm concerned. So long as there are glass and cane rods being built and fished there will always be Cortland Peach. The owners can change with the times just along as that line stays the same! They can sell budget lines at Wally World or sell some technical taper at a rediculous price point just don't mess with the 444 DT!!!
woodrivertroutbum on 01/08/2012 19:19:56
The 444s are classic and always be as far as I'm concerned. So long as there are glass and cane rods being built and fished there will always be Cortland Peach. The owners can change with the times just along as that line stays the same! They can sell budget lines at Wally World or sell some technical taper at a rediculous price point just don't mess with the 444 DT!!! Got excited when I saw the 444 peach is a great line, but then heart broken when you said to stay away from their DT. I don't want to sidetrack this thread but is it really horrible? I have always liked RIO then when I asked my shop about Scientific Angler line for my 2wt he suggested the Cortland 444 DT in peach.
Rip Tide on 01/08/2012 19:58:18
woody.... I don't think that you understood what wt bash meant The DT peach is a peach and the 444 line that most people use rather than the WF I have to disagree with one statement he made though ... I happen to think that the "cheap" 333 lines are better with fiberglass rods :D
wt bash on 01/08/2012 19:58:55
Rip Tide beat me to it! Now I'm intrigued by the 333.
woodrivertroutbum on 01/08/2012 20:37:15
Ahhh, I read it again and see now. The technical tapers don't mess with the DT, he wasn't saying not to mess with the DT haha. Sorry about that, I misread. So go for the DT and be super excited when I do? I have a 4wt 333 that was my first fly line, I still use it for bass in nasty water.
sweetandsalt on 01/08/2012 21:21:37
Cortland was an inovative and great fly line company until SA, behind the technological might of 3M, eclipsed them in the 80's. They also lost key personel to other companies including RIO and mortality. Their braided dacron "Micron" backing is still the industry standard and I prefere it to gelspun in most applications. I just recieved a new "Boss" extended head 5-weight and plan on testing it against RIO Gold and SA Expert Distance Taper...later for a report on that. With new resources and, importantly, leadership, Cortland may well recreate itself as a central player among fly fishing brands. Good luck, Cortland
mojo on 02/08/2012 02:15:29
I don't get the fan base that the Peach has. I had some in the 90's, didn't last a season until it started cracking. It was replaced for free which was cool. I used it until I got some Wulff TT. I thought that was a much better line then the Cortland. Late 90's I got my LT and tried a SA line on. Since then it's been SA and Rio for floating lines, and the only Cortland line I have is the intermediate sink Clear Camo. ( which might be replaced by AirFlo Glass). I did buy some Sylk for my cane and 'glass and I thought that was the biggest waste of money ever. But I understand it has gotten better. Now, 90% of my floating lines for graphite, 'glass and bamboo is Sharkskin. From 3wt up to 8. It works most excellent for my rods and style. I hope Cortland can get back in the game. It's a great company. If they come up with a good line, I'd love to give it a go.
wilky on 02/08/2012 16:30:24
Well Cortland was a good brand in the past but it is now lower quality nd yet they keep the price tag high. I rarely get any good reviews on Cortland products but i do have to deal with complaints about the quality of there products. there reels are bad ( my opinion) they are really cheap materials an cast bang the reel seat slightly = broken reel lines are outdated compared to Rio and SA at around the same price ortland nets are Cheap and tend to split ( also smell bad ) I do own a Cortland line it has lasted but i wouldnt buy another one. I Really hope they can pull there finger out and step up there game and get back to making quality and lines and equipment people will be proud and happy to own. Vincent
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