Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Opinion on the Future of Thomas & Thomas
Thomas & Thomas has a history of building top quality fly rods; unfortunately, they have a creel full of brand image problems. Over the last few years, they have dealt with a number of setbacks including weather-related production delays, financial problems stemming from the financial crisis, and possible mismanagement (speculation on my part). Mark Richens, a T&T enthusiast and successful businessman, hopes to turn it around.
I have a few thoughts about T&T and their potential for moving forward. In my mind, they have a reputation for building quality, American-made rods for upper-class anglers. Although a number of their rods are at a similar price point to brands like Sage, Scott, and Winston, I don't know many anglers who would pick a T&T over the aforementioned brands. Their product lines have been relatively stagnant over the last decade, and they are going to need a great deal of innovation if they want to succeed.
Unfortunately, I'm not convinced that Mark Richens, the new owner, will be able to bring about these changes. He seems to fit into the exact category of angler that T&T has targeted over the last decade. He will need to make T&T a relevant brand for the younger generation of anglers who fish rods like Sage, Scott, and Winston. Further, they need to increase production to a level that will allow T&T rods to be found on the rod racks of more fly shops. Finally, they need to pour some cash into developing rods that can compete, technologically, with the rods of nearly every other brand.
Over the next few years, we'll see if T&T can make it happen. Perhaps I'm too skeptical, but I just don't see it happening. I'll set the over/under for new ownership at three years. What do you guys think?
An interview with the new owner, Mark Richens, can be heard over at The Itinerant Angler.