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IFallsRon

Lindy leaving Brainerd

27 posts in this topic

By BRIAN S. PETERSON

Brainerd Dispatch

Roland Kehr knows a thing or two about numbness. He is, after all, a prominent local dentist.

But not even Kehr, also long affiliated with local icon Lindy-Little Joe Inc., was prepared for this shot.

On Thursday morning, PRADCO Fishing, which bought the Lindy-Little Joe tackle manufacturing company in February 2008, announced it was moving the company's shipping and warehouse operations to Fort Smith, Ark., where PRADCO Fishing is headquartered.

According to Bruce Stanton, vice president and general manager of PRADCO Fishing, 11 office workers were laid off at the Brainerd office Thursday and 13 more - from shipping and the warehouse - will be given 90-days' notice and be let go by the time Lindy-Little Joe relocates to Arkansas - within about six months, Stanton said.

"I think people are absolutely shocked," said Kehr, an owner of the company for nearly 30 years before last year's sale. "I'm basically in shock. These people have been here for 14, 15, 20 years. And the company was one of the most profitable of that division. I don't know what to say. There was no forewarning on this. They were pleased with Lindy. The product was doing just fine."

Stanton, who was in Brainerd on Thursday from Fort Smith to break the news to Lindy-Little Joe employees, said, "It was something we had to do. With the economy, and sales down, we're trying to find cost savings. We can move it into our warehouse facility (in Arkansas) and ship it with the same overhead structure we have now. That's a big cost savings to us."

He said a handful of Lindy-Little Joe representatives will remain with the company - and stay in the Brainerd area in some capacity - including fishing rep and former Lindy-Little Joe president Ted Takasaki, marketing director Wayne Zitzow, sales manager Ron Kiffmeyer and operations manager Steve Borders.

"We're committed to the Lindy brand, it will just be shipped from a different location," Stanton said. "The same faces you're used to seeing will still be there. We think that's important."

Last year, at the time of the sale, PRADCO Fishing - a division of EBSCO Industries of Birmingham, Ala. - had all but assured Lindy-Little Joe that the company would remain in Brainerd, where it essentially was born and had been for the better part of four decades.

"We will remain Brainerd-based, they assured us of that," Zitzow said at the time. "I don't think there will be much change at all."

Hence the shock factor.

"They (PRADCO Fishing officials) were talking about making this (Brainerd) the northern distribution center," Kehr said, adding that he, too, believed the economy likely played a role in the decision. "It's one of the reasons we went with them."

At the time of the sale, Kehr said other companies had made offers to buy Lindy-Little Joe, but that the board had always turned them down. But with a number of board members in their 60s and seeking an exit strategy, Kehr said a marketing firm was hired in October 2007, and of the six companies that made offers, PRADCO Fishing proved to be the best fit.

"We were extremely excited when there was a company (that wanted to keep Lindy-Little Joe in Minnesota) that wanted us," Kehr said. "(The others) had no experience in the fishing industry. It was very similar to when the Lindners sold In-Fisherman. They sold at the top. And if you look at the industry now, it's a ghost of what it used to be."

The Lindy Tackle Co. was started in 1968 by brothers Al and Ron Lindner and Nick Adams in order to manufacture and market the Lindy Rig. The company was sold to Ray-O-Vac in 1973. That same year, Ray-O-Vac acquired Mille Lacs Mfg., which owned the Little Joe brand name of fishing tackle, and combined Mille Lacs Mfg. and Lindy to form a fishing tackle division.

Lindy-Little Joe Inc. was incorporated in November 1978 to acquire and operate the business of the fishing tackle division of Ray-O-Vac starting in January 1979. It markets products under the Lindy, Little Joe, Thill, Old Bayside, Munchies, M/G, Beckman and Drift Control brands.

PRADCO Fishing was founded in 1960 as part of Plastics Research and Development Corp., a custom injection molder. PRADCO Fishing has operated in Fort Smith since 1962, when it was Rebel Lures. In 1980, EBSCO Industries Inc., of Birmingham, Ala., acquired Rebel. Since that time, PRADCO Fishing has added many brands, including Arbogast, Bomber, Booyah, Cotton Cordell, Creek Chub, Smithwick, Silver Thread and YUM.

EBSCO, which stands for Elton B. Stephens Co., was founded in 1944 and is made up of more than 40 businesses, including fishing tackle. In 2008, the company employed more than 6,200 people and, according to Forbes magazine, was ranked in the top 200 of the nation's largest privately held corporations.

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I've never been a Lindy guy or fan, but that is a blow to Brainerd and the fishing industry. Unfortunately, this is the way of the fishing world over the past few years.

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It is a bad blow for all those employees without "faces" in the company.

A real shame all around to lose a MN company.

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A bad blow to the people and Brainerd.

I wish the best to the people this is going to effect.

Sifty

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If I'm not mistaken Pradco also owns Pure Fishing and has done similar things there to. To bad for the people of Brainerd.

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If I'm not mistaken Pradco also owns Pure Fishing and has done similar things there to. To bad for the people of Brainerd.

Pradco does not own Berkley/Pure Fishing (yet) . . . give them a year . . .

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Hmmmm. Wal-Mart's in Bentonville, just north of Ft. Smith.

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The Jarden Group owns Purefishing, Shakespeare, Coleman, K2......

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Jarden bought Stearns in Sauk Rapids. Most all of the local jobs were clipped over the past year.

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I wonder if it has to do with all the taxes we have in our great state?

Sorry to see them go...

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MM - you can be certain that is part of it...

I am sorry for the employees this is affecting, but I applaud the company for cutting costs!

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This is not only the way of the fishing world, it is the world in general.

Sounds to me that the original owner was confident that Lindy Little Joe would stay in Brainerd. Do you think he made the deal knowing that the new owners would move Lindy Little Joe to Arkansas? Doubt it.

Unfortunately, even with the best intentions by the original owner, once he's gone he has no say. The new owners will do what they want. Big business I guess.

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Whenever a company is purchased, it's just a matter of time before this happens, in spite of all the reassuring talk during the sale.

The hard fact is that companies are in business to be profitable, or why bother taking risks with the money? Doesn't mean you have to like that, but that the way it is.

Nobody likes this to happen, but get used to it. It will continue unless employees buy the company themselves, which usually doesn't happen.

Change happens, some good and some not so good. I feel for those losing their jobs.

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"At the time of the sale, Kehr said other companies had made offers to buy Lindy-Little Joe, but that the board had always turned them down. But with a number of board members in their 60s and seeking an exit strategy"

Its unfortunate for the town of brainerd but on the brightside at least it is staying in the country, much better than outsourcing everything to china

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Sorry to hear they're pulling the plug. That is something they said they wouldn't do at the time of the sale. In fact they stated they wanted a northern presence. crazy

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SAD DAY. You can thank Ted T. for this. Why didn't they get it writing to stay in Brainerd. You could see this happening a mile away. How much did Ted T. pocket when the deal was done? Why not sell to Rapala?

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I heard that Pure Fishing is moving south too! I can't remember where though. There is a lot of unhappy people over that too. They figured they already had a market up here so now they are trying to get into the southern market is what I was told.

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Charley, "how much did Ted T. pocket" & "we can thank Ted T. for this", might be alittle over the top. In any major corp. sale it would be awful hard to put anything in writing to direct the buyer how to run the business side of thier Co. after the sale. There are alot of Lawyer's involved on both sides for sure and getting a few of them to agree on anything can prove to be a challenge. As far as we know, Ted T. is or was the president, not the majority owner. I'm not happy about the out come either, but the reality is, the deals made are for reason's none of us may never agree with or understand.

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Its a real bummer. I always like getting stuff made here in Minnesota when I can. I guess its better than moving it to china though.

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Seems like everything up in Brainerd is up for sale now a days! All the Resorts are going private so you can't even find a place to camp anymore and they even moved their Icon packing down the road for a Kohl's store! Sad! frown

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Fin-- I agree some what with what you are say but, most CEOs and/or Presidents make out with money in deals like this. It also sad that the owners took the money and ran,Brainerd gets nothing.

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The bottem line is not everything unless your a wallstreet guy.I know now I will look at the brand name in a differant way and it will have a impact on what I purchase in a big way.

Agreed!

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