If I can help with anything, please let me know. I have been in business for 3+ years now and have made huge strides. I Started in the corner of my bedroom while working at my families company with no pay just so we did not have to lay off anyone in 2008. To now having 2 full time employees and a warehouse in Southlake, TX near Dallas.
We did have some issues with a few sharp edges when I first started and most of those were scrapped. I'm a machinist from the age of 13. So pointing something out is not hard.
The reel foot issue. With mfg things don't happen overnight and it did take 2.5 months (it might have took less, but needed to work around days off due to holidays) to have the new reel foot made, approved (by me), and the put into production. They are now on all reels and sent out to those that reached out to us who wanted a replacement. I was aware of the issue and flew to China to meet with them in person for 4 days to discuss that and did some QC training while I was there on assembly.
I now visit both Korea and China 4 to 5 times a year to discuss projects and QC training. I also have video calls on a weekly scale aswell. I take pride on what I do and how its done.
From working on my wedding day, missing days at home from traveling, canceling personal vacations, working on my honeymoon, and not being there when my wife told me shes pregnant with our first child 3 months ago while I was at a fly expo in CA is all worth it in the long run.
I think our msrp is more than reasonable on the Trout reel and that the quality is more than the price point. Of course I say that because I started the company. But, meeting 1000's of people across the country at trade shows would say the same.
Some companies do go under for the lack of trying and growth. I did not just think of this and wanted to start a company. Entrepreneurs are the backbone of the country and others are sometimes quick to judge. If the 10 year rule was correct we would not have any start up companies and we would not have emerging growth markets. I look past that and think of ways for AFF to continue on the right track.
My grand farther started his molding company back in 1961. It has been a great source for 1000's of workers, myself included while I ran it. One thing that I was lucky enough to do is "listen" to the older generations what to do and what not to do. Though out my education. The "listening" part was the best source of advice I received.
Shimloom, I think you would enjoy a product from AFF and look at us as a choice for future products. I stand behind my word and will give you your first reel for Free. Just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll be happy to have it in the mail asap.
This msg is to only address issues from prior posts.
Ausable, I understand your need to present the full picture of the reviewer base and I also understand how I personally seem biased as a perfectly content Allen customer. Certainly everyone loves a good deal and ebay is often a way to come by such deals, among other places. I love to buy stuff on sale and certainly I have come by a lot of fly fishing gear on sale. In fact, I know a lot of people, yourself included, that have bought Allen gear on sales offered by the company (one of which is a standing discount available to forum members). However, it is rather unfair to compare a reel from one price category to a reel from a decidedly different price range, simply on the fact that it may crop up on ebay from time to time. The suggestion that you would not buy an Allen reel at full price also seems to apply to any other reel you discussed, since you suggested that you bought all those other reels at deep discount. At MSRP, all the reels you cited were at least $100 dollars more (in fact, in every case the cost of a single spare spool was comparable to the price of the complete Allen Trout reel).
The main fact under discussion here is that Allen, at their MSRP, not at a discounted rate, is seeking to meet a niche need, for those who want a solid product with great performance, coupled with a bulletproof warranty and, at least in my experience, industry-best customer service. In order for a product to appear on ebay at those deeply discounted rates, it must have been purchased at a higher price and then re-listed from someone who decided they did not want that product. Companies are not going to regularly sell product at such a discount (over $100 dollars in the case of those reels, which is around a 50% discount) that they will go out of business (unless of course they plan on fizzling out in their first ten years).
I have met the guys from Allen at the show in Somerset, NJ and had the pleasure of speaking to them at length. Justin is the consummate business man, dedicated to the success of a company that sells a quality product that people actually WANT to use, not just dedicated to the success of a business endeavor. If there is a problem with a product, they will strive to correct it so as to most benefit the customer. Certainly all start-ups run the risk of failure between insufficient exposure, customer dissatisfaction, and market swings. However, in the three years that Allen has existed and specifically in the last year, at least in my following of the company, their (visible) business plan has followed the path of a highly successful company. The owner (Justin) runs the company as his livelihood, not a hobby as you see in many fly fishing endeavors, and has expanded his means of exposure to shows countrywide, as well as expanding to dealers worldwide. This forum is not the only place where you will see fishermen from every demographic lauding his products. Furthermore, there is countless visible incidences when Justin has gone well out of his way to benefit customers or even skeptics. The above post shows exactly what I'm talking about, where he will stand by his product so much as to give a reel to a skeptic just to show its quality.
Sure, there are companies that make a more expensive product, that by virtue of the way demand economies function, perform at a higher level. In that same vein, those products can often be found at a lower price due to individuals choosing to sell them for one reason or another (such as in the case of an entire collection of Abels being sold, as cited, in exchange for Allen reels). I can't expect anyone to understand all these reasons. However, as a broke graduate student, I will continue to buy Allen product and continue to maintain, until some other manufacturer proves otherwise after the same extensive testing that all my Allen gear goes through, that for the price, it's the best new, from-the-manufacturer product that I can buy. And I am 100% certain that I am nowhere near the only person who holds such beliefs.
I hear ya Gator, and I did admit my "jaded" outlook. I also am a broke grad student; not quite so broke anymore but when I started looking for upgrade gear, and different size gear to expand my fishing I found that I could buy TOP NOTCH and only spend half price!!! There is just such a level of fierce loyalty to this company on the forum that I feel I should exercise my rights to air my reservations. A google search of other forums or reviews will give the whole picture, but a search on our forum will not. And I also admit that I am impressed with the product for the price, like you said it is a niche that needed filled. When people ask for a machined large arbor reel under $125 NOTHING comes to mind without scouring off name/no name products. Or closeouts/used on the auction site or clearance sites. Things are on the upswing for Allen, but they are still relatively a "no name" as far as the industry pie chart is concerned. If I were not on the forum, I would never have heard of them. I wish him success, I really do and it sounds like the bugs are getting worked out of the products and the business.
It's part of my job to be the biggest critic of Allen products. You've made a lot of points that I personally would never debate for a second. But the amount of improvements we've made in just the last few production runs have been huge. A lot of the things you experienced in the past were not "the norm," but were anomalies making it through quality checks. Those are holes we've been working tirelessly to close, and as one who believes in full honesty and transparency, I can say they're things of the past.
Everyone has full rights to state their opinions on any products, including ours, publicly. But whether you're happy with them or not, you'd be surprised how grateful the individuals working for the company are to hear direct correspondence from the customer on their level of satisfaction. It helps me greatly while I work my "product development" side of the job. Remember, I'm just one person, so having suggestions coming from all over is always something I don't take for granted.
Not many people know who we are and I absolutely love that outside the forums. When we go to shows I would say 10% of people know who we are. The best enjoyment I get is introducing them to our brand and testing our rods and reels out.
Again, I want to thank everyone for their heartfelt opinions and assessments of the Allen product. I have called and talked to Justin personally and thanked him for his most generous offer for a free reel, which I have turned down. I believe that Justin and his crew are doing all they can to provide a quality product at a price point that almost anyone can afford. That I believe is the heart and soul of this company, and he has certainly put HIS money where his mouth is. Justin is willing to do what it takes to bring his product to the consumer. Because of this I have decided to purchase a Trout 1 reel and am looking forward to reviewing it soon. Thanks to all, and to the forum for the ability to get first hand experience and advice from a wide range of individuals and talent!
Mojo, thank you, you are correct. I am proud to be a member of this community, as we all should. The help and advice here is second to none. Most fly shops I have visited are very good. Some are insufferable dens of pretentiousness which if you are not part of the "in" group, meaning, spending a boat load of money or use Latin to describe the bug you're trying to match, they would rather not talk to you. This forum has a great group of people trying to share their knowledge and help a fellow angler. That is IMHO a noble group of people!