Iconic fishing business secures distribution contract in USA

SETTING its sights on a market as big as the population of Australia, the future of a century old Ipswich business is looking bright just a couple of years after they nearly closed for good.

Director Con Athans first met with Bruce and Glenn Alvey, great-grandsons of Alvey Reels founder Charles, in October 2017.

The businessman became majority stakeholder in July last year and set about revitalising the producers of the famously durable fishing reels.

"I spent a good 18 months assisting with transitioning manufacturing changes and sourcing product," he said.

"I saw there was such an enormous opportunity with the brand that was around, at the time, for 98 years that could transfer into other areas in the leisure industry outside of just fishing.

"We don't just need to be manufacturing and distributing sidecast reels. That is predominantly where the decline at Alvey had come from.

"When you're manufacturing a product that lasts for 50 or 60 years, if not longer, and it has a 10 year warranty, you're going to struggle trying to get new users."

Mr Athans returned earlier this month from a trip to United States, where he secured a contract with a distributor, Farris Brothers, for the next six years.

"They will be our North American distributor, holding all the stock of all Alvey products for the whole of North America," Mr Athans said.

"This is the first time we have embarked on this kind of distributor arrangement in the US.

"The goal is within three years the business is exporting somewhere between $5-6 million into the US."

 

Alvey Reels director Con Athans (right) testing out the brand's new overhead reel in Brownsville, Texas with Charlie Guillen.
Alvey Reels director Con Athans (right) testing out the brand's new overhead reel in Brownsville, Texas with Charlie Guillen.

 

He also finalised deals to make Alveys a major sponsor of the Texas and Florida Insider Fishing Reports for the next three years.

Since Mr Athans arrival, Alveys has started manufacturing two new reels as its Carole Park factory.

One is a carbon composite and titanium spindle friction tube stealth reel that is 40 per cent lighter than the equivalent being produced previously by the business and the other is a four-inch reel with a camo finish.

"We applied a carbon composite spool and back plate for (the four-inch reel) which gave it additional strength but we also added the titanium friction tube to that which then turned the whole characteristic of the reel from being purely and simply a light fishing reel that was for some salt water fly fishing into an outstanding jigging reel," he said.

Another two, a bait caster reel and an overhead reel, are coming in the next four months.

A spinning reel, designed and engineered in Australia but manufactured overseas, has also launched.

"The future is looking extremely bright given we've now launched into a completely different market that has a saltwater fishing population the equivalent of the entire population of Australia," Mr Athans said.

"We can enter into the US, confident that there are 25 million registered salt water fisherman.

"Since we began our marketing campaigns and launching our new products, we've now got interest from distributors and retailers in Japan and, as of last week, have interest from distributors and retailers from India.

"We just need to be mindful we need to control our growth because there isn't an unlimited source of resources and funds. We need to grow in a sustainable fashion."