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Orvis to Acquire the Scientific Anglers and Ross Reels Businesses from 3M

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Orvis to Acquire the Scientific Anglers and  Ross Reels Businesses from 3M

The Orvis Company, Inc. of Manchester, Vermont today announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the Scientific Anglers and Ross Reels businesses from 3M (NYSE:MMM)

Manchester, VT (May 1, 2013) – The Orvis Company, Inc. of Manchester, Vermont today announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the Scientific Anglers and Ross Reels businesses from 3M (NYSE:MMM). Upon completion of the transaction, Orvis plans to continue to operate the Midland, MI based business independently under the Scientific Anglers brand. Ross Reels will also continue to operate independently under its brand name from its Montrose, CO headquarters. The transaction is expected to be completed in the second quarter.  Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

“We think both businesses have incredible opportunities to drive fly-fishing innovation well into the future,” said David Perkins, Orvis Executive Vice Chairman. “Jim Lepage will move to Midland and from there he will be dedicated to running both S.A. and Ross. He and the excellent teams already in place will build these strong brands for the future. Neither consumers nor the trade will likely notice much of a difference in the branding of these businesses under Orvis ownership. What they will notice is renewed marketing energy, well-supported sales and service staff and an even higher level of new product innovation.”  

Ross Reels is well-known for an excellent line of mid-priced fly reels highly regarded by fly fishers.  Scientific Anglers, founded in 1945, developed the first fly line to utilize a tapered plastic coating, the first modern floating fly line that could be fished without constant applications of messy line dressing, and the use of glass bubbles or micro balloons in floating fly lines, revolutionizing floating fly lines and still the major technology in floating lines today.

“Our goal is for Scientific Anglers to be the world leader in fly lines, leaders and tippet, and for Ross to be the leading innovator in American-made fly reels,” said Jim Lepage, newly appointed President of both businesses. “We plan to maintain strong investment in R&D at both businesses and we intend to bolster their sales and distribution resources here in the U.S. and build both brands internationally.” 

Lepage, trained as an aerospace engineer, is a consummate outdoorsman and fly fisher, equally adept at hunting wild turkeys and trophy whitetails as he is with a fly rod.  He holds a world record for Atlantic bonito on the fly rod and has fly fished from his home in Vermont to the spring creeks of New Zealand and most places in between.  His proficiency in the field is matched by his business sense and his significant skills in managing complex manufacturing operations. 

Joining Lepage and bolstering the new product innovations will be Bruce Richards, a 33-year veteran of Scientific Anglers responsible for many past new product breakthroughs.  Richards had retired from Scientific Anglers in June 2009 but he says:  

“When Jim Lepage called me to tell me that Orvis had acquired SA and wanted me involved again I was excited! I've known Jim for many years and have worked closely with him developing fly lines for Orvis. We see things the same way when it comes to fly fishing and fly lines and both have a passion for fly fishing and the outdoors in general. Jim is one of the most innovative product developers I know, it will be fun to work with him again. It will be great to work with the staff at the SA factory too, that was a hard place to leave.”

Both businesses will maintain their current operations, facilities, employees and independent sales representation. Lepage will relinquish his responsibilities as Vice President of Rod & Tackle with Orvis to be fully committed to his new role as President of both companies. Lepage is relocating to Midland, where he says he will consolidate R&D for both S.A. and Ross. 

“There is no plan for Orvis to carry Scientific Anglers-brand fly lines in its catalog, stores or website, nor are there plans to more widely distribute Orvis products through S.A.’s established wholesale accounts. Each brand must remain focused on being the leading innovator in their respective product categories and distribution channels,” Lepage said. “Maintaining that clarity will be the key to our success.” 







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Comments (39 posted):

fredaevans on 01/05/2013 17:10:40
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Very interesting read Paul, thanks for posting that up. And speaking of companies up for sale does anyone have any current info on Hardy? They've been 'on the block' for quite some time and not a peep as to a potential buyer Fred
Rip Tide on 01/05/2013 17:18:59
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In other news... Scientific Angler is offering 20% off on last season's plaid dog beds :frogdance
waterfordcreek on 01/05/2013 17:54:05
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Fred- I have been watching this also. I haven't seen any of my trade publications in a couple of months...They have been on the block for a bit as you mentioned. From what i understand, most of the issues where management. There sales looked strong. My thoughts are, the major problem has to be cash flow and lack of cross collateralization.(sp?) Still interesting. I am still digesting the Orvis situation. I am hoping this isnt the start of a trend. NOT a big fan of Orvis, except for the great things they do on the conservation side. Just sayin... Jim
kwb on 01/05/2013 19:42:59
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I can say this... Those that I know that work for Scientific Anglers are extremely happy about this... 3M is simply put a massive corporation and I think it is the general consensus was actually hindering SA more so than helping them...
Guest1 on 01/05/2013 19:54:23
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I'm not so sure that I am all that happy with this. SA has been a good brand and as often happens when this stuff occurs, you get the name but not the products. Orvis has been and continues to head in the direction of a clothing chain and hangs on to the fly stuff it seems, just because they can't figure out how to divorce themselves cleanly from us. It isn't hard to find examples of these kinds of buyouts where the product and/or services have taken a dive on us. Worse yet is when these kinds of buyouts put the buyer in a less cash rich position, and any hit in the period following the buyout, can put the company at risk of becoming insolvent. I can see at least a half dozen things that could end in a less than good way for us, the end consumer. NOT a big fan of Orvis, except for the great things they do on the conservation side. Not an Orvis fan either. I looked into their conservation efforts after seeing your comment. Other than a mild bit of partnering with TU, who I distrust with every fiber in my being, they seem to be pretty good eggs in that respect. :thumbup:
Jackster on 01/05/2013 20:46:42
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Fly lines have to be such a small part of the business that 3M does overall I would expect good things to come out of this. I recall when SA (3M) bought a few of the finest companies in the U.S. that manufacture fly fishing gear and spit them out in a very short time, never to be seen from again (non-compete clause?) except one of those companies who, many years later, started ramping up production of exquisite and inventive fly reels again. I'm actually a bit geeked about this. For one I might feel good about buying Orvis reels again and a fly fishing company buying a fly fishing company seems to take things a step higher than bean counters buying relatively successful companies to drain the name and assets. Just a thought on why Ross was sold so soon after they were purchased by an investment group. In my mind I can see their new owners telling them to build in China and Ross telling them to go pound sand. Again, this is all in my imagination but it does seem plausible, no? Having a very nice Orvis corporate store near me I can completely understand why Orvis markets the clothing that they do. This store is in a very high-zoot area where average clientele looks like the type who wouldn't blink about paying what they do for clothes. The markup on that stff must be quite handsome. In fact, I know a very famous wader manufacturer who also markets high priced 'lifestyle' clothing most likely because the rewards are so great yet no one calls them to task for doing so. Since Orvis has been making fly fishing gear since the 1850's one would think they might know a bit about the business and the market. I know that Orvis is a name I can trust to back up everything they sell. This lessens the pain if you happen to buy a product that is a dog. I would much rather see this scenario than have SA and Ross simply die or fade away. Here's to a long and happy marriage between all of the great brands!
jaybo41 on 01/05/2013 21:18:00
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This is interesting, thanks for posting it Paul. From the read of the article, it sounds as though Orvis' immediate plans are to continue to produce products under all brand names. I for one hope it stays that way and the American jobs stay in America. Who knows, this could lead to more jobs being created, and maybe more manufacturing here in the US. I'm hopeful of that anyway. I'll let time tell the tale.
fredaevans on 01/05/2013 21:44:09
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This has to be the 'story of the day;' hard to find a board that has anything to do with fishing that this hasn't been posted up.
newby on 01/05/2013 21:58:37
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I hope this all works out in the end and SA as well as Ross stay the way they are or move forward in a positive direction. It would be Silly for Orvis to end the production of Ross and SA products for more than one reason: 1. Bad PR 2. They would loose a chunk of potential sales from Ross and SA to Rio, Airflo, Galvan, Nautilus, etc..... since a lot of people buying SA and Ross would refuse to switch over to Orvis products. Just two reasons off the top of my head. I hope they do well continuing the Ross and SA tradition.
mbchilton on 01/05/2013 22:24:12
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I don't know the ins and outs of the outdoor retailing industry, but this looks like a good situation for all involved. SA and Ross now have the fishing knowledge of Orvis at their disposal. Orvis has a built-in distribution channel for the newly acquired brands. I can see this being a very good marriage. The argument that Orvis may start moving Ross production overseas can be countered with the idea that Orvis could start producing private label reels domestically. I'm optimistic.
Jackster on 02/05/2013 01:59:22
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Other good news of this is that Bruce Richards is back at SA. I wonder and hope SA and Orvis will give him the tools needed to update his once famous Casting Analyzer to todays technology.
itchmesir on 02/05/2013 02:11:05
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Seems SA was doing just fine under 3M.. SharkSkin and the new Mastery Textured both released under 3M ownership and they both are some of the best lines on the market by far... I can't say anything as far as Ross Reels is concerned though.. Never owned one
Guest1 on 02/05/2013 03:04:28
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I own several Ross Reels and like them. Fantastic drags. The argument that Orvis may start moving Ross production overseas can be countered with the idea that Orvis could start producing private label reels domestically.. What do you base the last part on? The way things are going, we are going to lucky if anyone makes anything in this country.
waterfordcreek on 02/05/2013 03:32:22
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Dan, From what i can tell, MOST of Orvis's stuff is from overseas. Couple that with the salaries they pay in their retail operations, which, is close or at poverty levels kinda makes you wonder. The Walmart of fly fishing?? I hope not. I just chose not to be a part of it. The business models are there, to design and manufacture right here in the states. I guess it all boils down to the bottom line or greed. Just sayin.... Jim
caseywise on 02/05/2013 03:32:29
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ross has already moved allot of their production overseas. this merger, as it paines me to say, may well be the end of ross as we know it:( its gonna be an interesting time in our industry in the near future to say the least:eek: casey
fyshstykr on 02/05/2013 03:33:55
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The company I work for, as well as a local major ski producer are actually bringing jobs back home to the USA from China. It seems manufacturing issues, quality, design change delay, wage increases, and potential tax advantages are showing that's there are some advantages to being stateside. I doubt the day will ever come that we see all our jobs come home, but it's nice to see potential changes coming.:) It'll be interesting to see what happens with this Orvis addition.
shotgunfly on 02/05/2013 03:37:50
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I don't know much about the industry so I'm guessing and hoping a bit here: 1. Ross makes reels in the US right? I owned one. Maybe Orvis will leverage those tools and workers to make some US reels. Do they make any reels in the US? I think all are currently made in S.Korean. 2. Yeah, I'm a bit of an Orvis fan. That includes some of their 'lifestyle' stuff. I've been told that when they develop a new rod they "borrow" money from their other retail sales (home/lifestyle) to develop it. I mean face it, there just aren't enough people buying fly gear to support the biz. Not that they need experienced fly fishing team members, but having a little more weight/credit/resources in that area can't hurt. I suspect they'll play nice and let Ross and SA continue as they are and develop some new products labeled Orvis. Sounds good to me so long as they keep every person working for them employed.
sweetandsalt on 02/05/2013 12:31:04
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SA has been making Orvis's lines for them for decades, obviously that will continue. Orvis has been reel challenged for some time; a collaboration with Ross both in CO and Asia could improve both brands product. Jim LaPage is departing VT to be Pres. of SA/Ross. Jim, a long time highly accomplished Orvisite, was responsible for some great reels in the past like Ard's beloved Odyssey. Jackster revealses above that seminal designer, fly line guru, Bruce Richards, is coming out of retirement in Montana to re-join SA...this is major news. Sceptical at first, I am becoming optimistic now.
mbchilton on 02/05/2013 15:13:23
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I own several Ross Reels and like them. Fantastic drags. What do you base the last part on? The way things are going, we are going to lucky if anyone makes anything in this country. US manufacturing is growing. Made in USA is important to consumers, particularly younger people. There was a great article in Time Magazine a couple weeks ago. How ‘Made in the USA’ is Making a Comeback | TIME.com It talks about how the relative savings of outsourcing is dwindling as wages in China grow, and the strength of the Yen to the dollar increases. 3D printing is a big part of the new American manufacturing.
swirlchaser on 02/05/2013 17:27:53
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I would have to agree that more manufacturing will return to the US. We all understand that as an country (economy) becomes rich it outsources manufacturing to a poorer country. What we don't realize is that WE ARE POORER THAN CHINA! Welcome home made in the USA labels, I'm not sure if I should smile or cry...
Guest1 on 02/05/2013 17:29:00
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There was a great article in Time Magazine a couple weeks ago. . I would take anything writen by Rana Foroohar, or for that matter Time with a grain of salt. Have you researched her at all? I have. In fact while I am asking, just how much does anyone actually bother to check about anything anymore? Lately I am starting to think it's pretty close to zero.
itchmesir on 02/05/2013 17:30:10
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US manufacturing is growing. Made in USA is important to consumers, particularly younger people. There was a great article in Time Magazine a couple weeks ago. How Made in the USA is Making a Comeback | TIME.com It talks about how the relative savings of outsourcing is dwindling as wages in China grow, and the strength of the Yen to the dollar increases. 3D printing is a big part of the new American manufacturing. yup.. can't wait for my "Made In The USA" replacement liver down the road....
fredaevans on 02/05/2013 18:01:42
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Yes, I'm retired Sr. Management, so lets get that behind us. Every 'job' has a 'value,' that value must produce, in dollars, more that paid for same. And profit. Example: you go in to a fast food place and ask for the 'dollar meal.' Do you really think it cost a 'dollar' (all in) to produce? Most industries run at a .03 to .05 profit margin (all in). Yes Boys and Girls, that's one half percent. But they sell lots and lots of stuff so it adds up to 'big bucks.' In reality, the majority of working folks are in companies with well under 100 employees. (That's a fact Jack, and I invest in them almost every day.Check it out on your own.) Starting on a 'rant' here so I'll leave it at that. But the two week pay cheque cashed? And you think the 'Boss' makes too much money?
Jackster on 03/05/2013 05:33:58
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SA has been making Orvis's lines for them for decades, obviously that will continue. I was under the impression that Orvis spent a huge amount of money on the equipment needed to manufacture their own lines and did so right here in the U.S.A. I believe there is one major player making cores for fly lines but from everything I've read Orvis does their own coatings for their lines right in their own plants. Being things change so much in the background in the fly fishing business world things might have changed but at least for a time a few years ago Orvis made their own lines.
pszy22 on 03/05/2013 11:04:13
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From my perspective, competition drives innovation. It makes no business sense to make a better/cheaper product, in order to beat the other guy, if you are the other guy. That's not to say this doesn't make good business sense for Orvis. As a matter of fact, one might hope that it does indeed make very good business sense. Since there are now alot more eggs in one basket, you have to cheer for Orvis to make the right business decision, regardless of how cold blooded it may seem. If they don't they go out of business. Business as with mother nature - survive and thrive, or become extinct.
sweetandsalt on 03/05/2013 13:31:55
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Jackster, I don't live in Manchester or Roanoke but I do believe that SA has made nearly all Orvis lines since Orvis ceased using some Cortland lines decades ago. SA makes lines for lots of companies; Wulff, (formerly) Hardy, Cabelas, even Sage before Farbank acquired RIO from the Vincents. When SA introduced their slick AST coating, they chose not to offer it on re-branded lines so Orvis devised their own coating and applied it to their SA built lines (I have this from a credible source). Of course, Orvis's current "golf ball dimple" lines are obviously identical in texture if not taper to their source companies product. Now, they need not concern themselves with these issues any longer...but will SA continue to make lines for Orvis's erstwhile competitors?
moucheur2003 on 03/05/2013 15:54:29
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I would expect that Orvis might pursue a 4-pronged strategy: (1) keep the SA and Ross brands and distribution channels alive, but support R&D and marketing more vigorously than 3M was doing; (2) continue to do contract manufacturing for other brands in the industry as opportunities allow; (3) expand in-house manufacturing of Orvis-branded products; and (4) exploit efficiencies in higher-volume purchasing and shared vendor relationships. Ross and SA were not critical business lines for 3M overall, and Ross in particular appeared to be suffering, so Orvis ownership ought to be able to operate those businesses more successfully. The vertical integration opportunities for Orvis's own products are icing on the cake. But now they have to make it all work. Hopefully they have learned from their false starts with BFR and Redington, and the third time will be the charm. ---------- Post added at 09:54 AM ---------- Previous post was at 09:48 AM ---------- Now, they need not concern themselves with these issues any longer...but will SA continue to make lines for Orvis's erstwhile competitors? Why not? Someone is going to make them, it might as well be SA. It's not as though SA could keep a competitor out of the market by refusing a manufacturing order. If they could, they would have refused those orders even before Orvis took over, because they already had their own brand to promote.
Jackster on 03/05/2013 21:54:29
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Jackster, I don't live in Manchester or Roanoke but I do believe that SA has made nearly all Orvis lines since Orvis ceased using some Cortland lines decades ago. Instead of guessing, conjecture and hearsay I went right to Orvis to get the straight scoop. I knew they invested a huge sum of money to put their own coatings on cores they like almost everyone else procure from a certain source but to spend that money and not put what they bought to use just seemed odd for a company as large and old as Orvis. You generally don't last long or grow by being stupid. I sent this to Orvis: "I'm sticking my neck out in saying Orvis applies their own coatings and tapers on their fly lines because of the huge investment you made several years ago in doing that. I haven't heard much lately about Orvis doing their own fly lines and now have to wonder. With the 'net all abuzz with the Scientific Anglers purchase from Orvis everything probable will change but please, can you tell me if you still make your own lines here in the U.S. and if not when did you stop?" To which Orvis replied: "Nothing has changed in that respect. We still apply our proprietary coatings in our rod shop in Vermont." I'm not certain what all this means now though with the SA purchase. and I really can't say if by 'coating' a surface finish is meant or the entire coating that goes from the surface to the core is meant. To be honest it doesn't much matter to me yet. It's just too soon to tell. I know what I like and use and as of now it's Rio and SA but now that Wulff also refined their coatings I'll definately get back into them too. So many choices and so little cash.
glcaddis on 04/05/2013 17:09:16
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I'm a big fan of Orvis. I have bought their products, including clothes, for many years. Hint, the clothes are not that expensive if you by them on sale at the end of the season. After Christmas is a great time to shop at their stores. When you own two well known brands, it would make no sense to incorporate them into yours and lose the identity of the acquired brands.
fredaevans on 04/05/2013 22:34:54
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I'm a big fan of Orvis. I have bought their products, including clothes, for many years. Hint, the clothes are not that expensive if you by them on sale at the end of the season. After Christmas is a great time to shop at their stores. When you own two well known brands, it would make no sense to incorporate them into yours and lose the identity of the acquired brands. Total agreement here. I have Orvis clothing that has to be 20 years old, in a couple cases possibly older. Truly things that 'You got what you paid for, and then some.'
sweetandsalt on 06/05/2013 19:44:36
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There seems to have been minor confusion over the source of Orvis's lines prior to their current acquisition of SA. To clarify and fact-check I simply logged in with their responsive "On Line Chat Service" with a fly fishing specialist in their product line. Below is a portion of our chat: ​Question 1: ​ Have not Orvis lines been built by SA to Orvis's specs even before this great new acquisition? And the "coating" Orvis applies; is this a post production external extra slick proprietary finish rather than the taper producing coating? Stefan F.: SA was making our lines and we ​ are​ just applying the proprietary coating not the taper producing coating, ​Question 2 : What is that coating called and is it significantly different from SA'a AST? Stefan F.: Its the same as the Wonderline coating we had previously, it just not going by that name and it is different from SA AST ​.​
silvertip8k on 08/05/2013 00:11:22
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I have been a customer of Orvis and Scientific Angler for many years...a trip to an Ovis shop was always highlight of the year for me...even though there wasnt much there I could afford...I got a thick black fleece sweater for a Christmas present over twenty years ago...and its still rockin... until I know better, Orvis has always delivered good quality...something the older I get matters a lot more...a merger or whatever you call it is better than another company in America going under...JMHO...
theboz on 08/05/2013 01:10:42
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Three better than average product lines together. Could be worse, makes me think about Zebco and Fin Nor . I guess opposites really do attract! And you can predict all you want there still going to do what they are going to do the way they (Orvis) wants to do it! Seen and been through a few take overs and many promises of leave well enough alone and it invariably goes the way the new owner wants it anyway! Time will tell.
Jackster on 08/05/2013 02:49:55
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I read the Time article by Rana Foroohar in Time magazine. After a comment on here about Rana I did a bit of research on her. Her credentials are impressive as is her resum. She is not the only one aware that American manufacturing is ramping up again. I hold hopes that the Orvis experiment of pricing things as they do while making things offshore has played out and they have designs to bring things back to the country that made them who they are for well over a century. With Chinese wages soaring uphill maybe the tide is finally turning. If Ross starts making Orvis reels here there's a strong possibility the only Orvis reels I own which were made in England and have some miles on them will be joined by more Orvis reels made right here. Still, unless you sit in on the meetings in mohagany row at Sunderland VT, like me, you're guessing what will become of this merger. It is fun reading and seeing what people imagine will happen. As a satisfied customer of all three companies I wish them all the best in the future.
littledavid123 on 08/05/2013 13:10:44
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I don't know if Orvis can survive by bringing manufacturing back home. With escalating government regulation and the new health care questions, coupled with higher taxes on individuals (read less disposable income), the percentage of population able to afford quality Made In America is dwindling. Dave
sweetandsalt on 08/05/2013 13:45:36
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Dave, As long as profit margin remains fundamentally more important than assiduously protecting the environment for manufacturers large and small, I opine we need even more and more stringent regulations. Same goes for other industries like banking for different reasons. The underlying reason, however, is, and this has been proven over and over and over again from antiquity to today, that humans are a fundamentally irresponsible species. Until such time as we start behaving ourselves on our own in a responsible and thoughtful manor, not only toward one another but toward all life forms (including fish that swim in our growingly befouled rivers and oceans...now acidified on top of being chemically wasted), we need to be regulated to the hilt. Evidence indicates that manufacturing is incrementally returning from Asia to America. A deservedly popular company on our Forum, Allen Fly Fishing, has started making fly rods in Utah recently after years of producing them off shore, and I would be surprised if Orvis does not soon introduce reels made in Colorado. Don't worry, memory foam dog beds will continue to come from China to help keep Orvis in the black.
littledavid123 on 08/05/2013 16:02:39
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My thoughts were directed towards possible reasons why Orvis may not increase their products made in america. It was not my intent to start up the Chicken Little Parade. Dave
sweetandsalt on 08/05/2013 17:14:11
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Fair enough, no the sky is falling or clearing either. I heard a rumor that H2 blanks were made off shore and shipped to VT for assembly. Turns out not to be so...full US made. Some of their inferior rods are built off shore as are all their reels as well as most of their clothing and gift items. They do field some high quality fly fishing merchandise and great customer service despite not making a lot of money in fly fishing. This new acquisition though dramatically increases their FF Industry footprint. SA remains the leader in fly lines and now will have a new transfusion of expert talent in the product development end and Ross remains a force in the reel market with both Domestic and off shore production. I have felt that Ross's design philosophy has diversified to the point of being somewhat out of focus and with new leadership could be poised to reassert themselves. There is plenty of signs here for optimism both for quality and increased US manufacturing of fishing tackle.
Guest1 on 09/05/2013 01:50:59
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I don't know if Orvis can survive by bringing manufacturing back home. With escalating government regulation and the new health care questions, coupled with higher taxes on individuals (read less disposable income), the percentage of population able to afford quality Made In America is dwindling. Dave Other than inflation, that pretty much covered it. :thumbsupu
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