"We are very excited," said John Hendricks, Luck-E-Strike owner. "These lures are old-fashioned and really fun to produce."
Around 11 months ago, Hendricks began researching the idea of producing an American-made lure similar to the lures anglers remember purchasing years ago.
"It has been a long time since a manufacturer geared up to build baits in the United States," said Bob Dennis, Luck-E-Strike manufacturing consultant. "We are getting a terrific reception to what we are doing."
The idea for American Originals was set in motion when Hendricks began asking why the baits purchased today are so much different from the ones he fished with in the past.
"Why can't we get baits like we used to?" asked Hendricks. "Can we build baits that are affordable?"
Dennis and Hendricks worked together to develop a plan to produce a line of American-made lures. American Originals are molded and glued at manufacturing facilities in the local area.
In order to mass produce baits at manufacturing facilities outside the United States, producers have changed the materials used to made the lures, said Dennis.
"Everything is automated," said Dennis. "They use sonic welding, and the color is printed on rather than painted. When they change the materials, the bait doesn't sound the same or run the same.
"Each American Originals lure is hand glued and hand painted," said Dennis. "They are painted here and hooked by our home contractors."
American Originals will be sold at Bass Pro Shops across the country. The lures will also be distributed to around 600 small dealers through Luck-E-Strike's two distributors. Hendricks hopes to see the lures added to Walmart's inventory in 2013.
"The market has accepted American Originals well," said Dennis. "This is an American-made bait that will retail for under $5. We can do that because we control the costs here. We can produce a shipment of 100 lures as easily as we can produce a shipment of 500 lures."
Although Hendricks hoped to unveil the new American-made lures several months ago, he spent extra time tweaking the models to make sure the baits closely mirrored those he remembered fishing with years ago.
"This system is very employee friendly," said Dennis. "The fans and exhaust were designed for this paint room."
The manufacturing facility's new paint room offers work space for up to nine employees. In the future, Hendricks would like to see the area expanded to accommodate more than 50 employees.
The American Originals line currently offers the Wart Hog Crank Bait. Additional body styles, including two deep divers, will be added to the product line in the near future.
"My short-term goal is to have 20 people working on this project," said Hendricks. "Right now, we are producing around 2,000 lures a day. The goal is to produce around 10,000 per day."
In addition to creating more local jobs, Hendricks hopes the new line of lures helps inspire pride in American products.
"A lot of the manufacturing jobs have gone away," said Hendricks. "We feel that people know that, and given the choice they will buy American-made to give someone a job. We want to create more than local jobs. We want to create pride in American workmanship."
Luck-E-Strike employees are also now painting umbrella rigs, which are currently one of the top-selling accessories in the fishing industry, said Hendricks. Umbrella rigs allow anglers to fish with three to five lures using one fishing rod.