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May 22, 2011 / flogginwater

The Interconnected World is Damn Scary

While surfing the Oregon Fishing Forum, a young man (Brandon from Oregon Fishing Adventures) posted about getting a new, inexpensive 4 weight flyrod (which he caught some nice fish with). I inquired as to the brand, thinking it might be a Berkley Cherrywood or a Pflueger or something. Turns out it was a Shakespeare Micro Graphite – I’d not heard of these before. I googled them, wound up on the Shakespeare Website, and then noticed that Shakespeare is a subsidiary company of the Jarden Corporation. I visited the Jarden website and was shocked to see all the companies they own, which makes Shakespeare sister or cousin (or whatever) companies to the others.

Coleman, Penn, Shakespeare, Abu Garcia and Berkley are all related companies under Jarden. So are the Mr. Coffee, Sunbeam, Oster, CrockPot, FoodSaver, and Rival brands. First Alert smoke detectors, Bicycle, Hoyle, and Aviator playing cards are under the Jarden banner. It’s crazy I tell you – crazy!

I realize that these are all subsidiary companies that operate more or less independently of one another, but looking at the Jarden HR website (hey, I’m trying to find a better job than driving a tow truck) – they listed jobs for a dozen different companies all across the US, and if you’re hired, you fall under the Jarden benes program, probably get a paycheck from Jarden…it’s crazy man!

I guess the days of the big name companies being independent are long gone – and multimillionaires or billionaires create umbrella companies and vacuum up all the successful companies, and kill the ones that don’t perform to their expectations. It’s crazy enough to think that Shakespeare owned/owns Pflueger – one company has a reputation for putting out total shit products, the other a history of rock solid gear and current maker of some nice high end stuff. Same company, different name. So why can’t we get some Shakespeare branded Trions or Presidents at a lower cost? Why not utilize the Pflueger rod production facilities and pump out some Shakespeare branded rods that don’t suck? Shakespeare used to make some nice glass rods (the wonder rod!) but now – every Shakespeare rod I see is junk (except the Ugly Sticks, which are decent enough rods, although they’re very heavy) – and their spinning reels are cheap garbage destined to fall apart within half a season of serious use. Can’t blame Chinese production for that – because there’s a lot of GOOD stuff that’s made in China – TFO rod blanks for example, some of Shimano’s reels, some of Cortland’s reels… Just because the label says “Made in China” or “Made in Korea” doesn’t automatically mean it’s junk – there’s a good degree of design flaw in there, and sadly, most Shakespeare products I’ve used, or been around, or handled at the store are just junk, with the occasional gem in the mix.

Looking at that Micro Graphite rod of Brandons, it really does look like one of the inexpensive Pflueger rods I had when I was younger. Probably IS a rebranded Pflueger. Good for Shakespeare for doing that if they did.

I just wish the world wasn’t so crazily intertwined, and that when you bought a product from one company, you were really buying from them – and not just sending your money up a chain to some umbrella company run by some schmuck who probably doesn’t even know what they make, sell, design, or do.

And it’s bad enough that G. Loomis rods aren’t really G. Loomis anymore – they haven’t been since the 90’s (Shimano owns Loomis) – and Gary Loomis is making rod blanks under a new company (yay for beating cancer, Gary. How boutcha make some rods, or blanks for the sub $100 market?)

Is Sage going to get sucked up into some mega corporation that will also own Winston, TFO, Cabela’s, Diawa, and Ross some day? Will Cortland get sucked into the 3M corporation some day, so that Cortland and Scientific Anglers are competing cousins? Will AK Best and John Gierach have some sort of crazy closet love and produce some mystic love child that will tie flies and write books – both of which would be substandard compared to their parents? (Or rather, will AK and John both be sucked into some corporate world by brain sucking zombies and be bastardized into mediocrity?)

I’m going to go into the corner and rock now…

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5 Comments

  1. e.m.b. / May 22 2011 06:31

    “bastardized into mediocrity” — inbreeding doesn't strengthen the gene pool…at all! Great writing, man….but damn scary subject.

  2. John Montana / May 22 2011 09:41

    I believe jarden has well over 50 brand names. Check out masco corporation too, not fishing related but they have a ton of recognizable brand names from hot tubs to decking to delta faucets. Sad, but it is the current way of the world. Buy up your competition. In my industry, the #1 (gross sales of nearly 9 billion) is larger than the rest of the top 25 combined.

    In defense of gloomis, yes their prices suck but they make a fine, fine fly rod. I have one (a native run glx) and it is by far my favorite all time rod. It is a shame they price so many fisherman out of rods though. If you ever see one on closeout or craigslist etc. I would jump on it. Got mine on closeout.

    The best “mid price” rods in my opinion are the echo rods.

  3. Mel / May 22 2011 11:26

    Glad to see you got that off your chest. Enjoyed your rant! Your point is very well taken. Where is it all going to end up? Fish on!

  4. Cofisher / May 22 2011 18:23

    Wow, I don't know about you, but I feel better. What else can we rant about?

  5. Mark / May 22 2011 18:43

    You know, I didn't think it was going to come out as a rant when I wrote that – but I guess it did. I think it really started at work – we've had this ongoing discussion about the homogenization of the auto industry – and how you can't really be sure who has made your car, or it's components. It might *say* Ford on it – but it could be a Mazda. It could say Chevy – but could be an Isuzu or Toyota. And when you step into Commercial trucks – it gets worse. The chassis could be made by anyone, then a body kit added that's made for Kenworth or International or Freightliner, and the motor under the bonnet could be anything – Mercedes, Cummins, Detroit, Navistar/International… and the computers, wiring harness, and component parts are all interchangeable. For instance, the truck I drive is an International 4300 (now known as the DuraStar). It's got a Detroit 466 motor. It broke down last week, and the boss changed the cam sensor – as it was exhibiting identical symptoms to a bad cam sensor (we just changed this about 4 months ago) – and it turns out, it is the exact same part on our motor as the old “Ford” 7.3 liter Power Stroke (which is an International/Navistar made motor). The part from the International dealer is something like $400. The same exact part, from Napa, for a Ford 7.3 liter was $37.

    What you get isn't necessarily what you're really buying – and what you're buying could be the exact same thing someone else is selling, for more or less. It's all this damn genericification (I'm coining that word) of the world. A handful of companies make everything and sell it under different brand names and charge a crapton of money. I guess it's the same way with boats – you can buy a part from the boat dealer for $50, or get the same part from the auto parts house for $15. Same exact part.

    Yar. I'm ranting again. I need to go fishing…

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