My American Dream must be different than some.
I was awake tossing and turning for hours last night thinking about what 412BaitCo has become and how hard I’ve worked to get it there. I also thought about just how hard I’m going to have to work for quite some time to do it a way I feel is right. At one point I had over 90 orders backed up and I can only imagine there were some unhappy customers. While I’ve cut that down tremendously and I’m in the process of shortening wait times even more, I still feel I need to explain why to some extent there will always be a wait. I’ve had conversations with other company owners in the fishing industry about this and their advice was to send production overseas. While this would certainly eliminate wait times altogether and probably yield a halfway decent product I want to take this time to explain why that will never happen.
My dream is and always will be to manufacture a superior product right here in the United States with as many materials as I can possibly get that are also produced here. I dream about someday creating jobs that put food on the tables of other American families. Financially, I can’t afford to do that just yet but with all of your help I can make that dream a reality. So far I’ve been able to contribute to other small U.S. based businesses by way of my promotional lines. I have a few small businesses I work with on these things that I want to mention because well that’s what small businesses in this country need to do to succeed. Sticking together is key. For our stickers that everyone seems to know and love I was introduced to Anna Chapman a few years ago that owns a company called Grafik Trenz out of Virginia. I was very small back then and Grafik Trenz had no problem doing the little orders I made at the time that bigger companies would have avoided. Up next and coming a little down the line a good friend of mine introduced me to Eric Moore who is the owner of an outdoor apparel company called Chillybeat based in North Carolina. Eric is responsible for the Profishance 412 Logo shirts that are popping up all over the country. Finally Josh Swaney from PersonaForm Designs has done all the artwork as well as worked with these other companies to bring our apparel to life. Giving my business to these companies is my way of putting revenue back into other U.S. small businesses and my way of paying it forward.
This brings me to what I feel is the most important part of this read and what truly was bothering me the most last night. So many companies see their customers as a number or statistic. They make business decisions without a care for their customers and how that decision may affect (indirectly or directly) something that a person may love. For example I try to support small grass roots kayak fishing trails because not only do I love them but I know a lot of my customers do as well. My customers are people and those small trails are something they do that brings them joy. An example of me doing the opposite would be investing all of my promotional budget into a huge national trail or TV commercial at the expense of supporting small trails. While on paper thinking statistics this would most likely net a larger return on my investment but if all companies decided to do this something my customers love (grassroots trails) would die and I’m not willing to accept that. My customers aren’t just revenue to me. They are friends who in some cases have invited me into their homes and to meet their families. These people mean something to me.Finally, I feel like I should explain a decision I’ve made that could explain some of the longer wait times and growing pains we’ve experienced as a company. I have been approached by several would be investors some of which are very good friends I trust. 412 has been funded and grown solely by myself and the revenue created by all of you. Investors could really speed up the process of adding machines and other equipment that would greatly improve production. On the other hand the values I hold so dear that I’ve explained could easily be lost if I add the pressure of having to show investors a return on their money. When it’s all said and done I just hope to keep doing honest business while making a living and keeping the interests of my customer base at heart. I’m fine with making a little less revenue to feel good about the company that I’m building and the people I’m working with to build it.