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CharkBait Staff
Captain
Picture of Chark
posted
Over the past 15 years we've been proud to represent Seeker rods. The firm was sold a year ago, and we have tried to be supportive of the new ownership, heck one of my nieces kids play with the new owner's children and I was hopeful that the new owner would continue the tradition of quality Seeker achieved under old management and with the old production team headed up by Randy Penny. There were several changes made by the new owner, many of which I personally did not necessarily like, but then again that's the owner's call based upon factors which I simply don't know. What I do know was that Randy Penny was very capable, a straight shooter and a knowledgeable professional. He was really the heart and soul of Seeker for over 20 years. Upon sale of Seeker, Randy moved on and bought my all time favorite rod company (United Composites, formerly Graphite USA). When Randy moved over, very soon thereafter the rest of the key production staff moved to UC as well. Seeker had decided to relocate their plant, and actually sold off most of the hardware used to make rods. Instead of making their own blanks, they are now dependent upon another firm to make their rods - a firm with no background in saltwater rods. While the new owner states that the rods are the same, truth is they are not. The new owner was clear that there would be some downgrade of components, simplification of guide wraps (not as nice), but the blanks themselves have in our opinion absolutely changed - and changed for the worse. We've seen breaks in rods that never had an issue before! SO, as of 3/6 I informed the new owner that we would no longer support the line. I cancelled all backorders with them. The day BEFORE we cut a check for any monies owed the manufacturer. With the change in ownership I honestly no longer felt that we had a partnership between manufacturer and retailer. I allowed one years time for the new owner to get their act together. We saw minor progress, (that's being optimistic). Given other options, RainShadow, increasing our Calstar inventory and knowing that United Composites always had the better designs and technology, as well now with Randy at the helm the capability to enter the finished rod business rather than only being a blank supplier, well it seemed like the right time to part ways. It's unfortunate to move away from support of Seeker, but in truth we lost Seeker a year ago when the firm sold. We've been trying to ride a dead horse the past year, and this month we simply gave up trying.

Sincerely,
Mark Smith
CharkBait

p.s. I have no doubt that there will be some anonymous posts regarding this decision, speculation and rumors are always rife on the boards and this evening Seeker's owner called me to make just that threat. So I will set the record straight here and now. There were times we had a small past due with Seeker, and times when we paid early. That's the nature of a business that is seasonal. Our own cash flow could certainly be better, I did not come into this business with daddys or grannys money... But we have never stiffed a supplier and when we elect to drop a line we clear the account, just as I did with Shimano and Jerry Brown. I view business as a partnership between retailer and manufacturer. As a retailer I invest in a product line and hold substantial dollars in a particular product. We support our suppliers and it's my expectation that it's not a one way street. If we are not also supported, then I'd call that a parasitic relationship and it's time to part ways. In terms of cash flow, we could always be better, but we're pretty darn good with what we do, though that's not always been an easy road.

Five years ago I entered into a partnership with a fellow to open our store in San Diego. I would not have gone that direction without a partner with an investment in the business, since opening a new shop properly does cost some substantial money and having an owner/operator running things keeps a shop focused on staying afloat. I tied up about 400K opening the store and my partner put in 50K (not much, but it was a commitment for the future I had hoped, and I gave him a 25% stake in the SD business for his investment), and I signed off on a five year lease. In less than a year that partner decided that he was not making enough money in the venture and moved on. I could have stiffed him on his small investment into the SD operation, but instead I paid him off his total investment less his monthly draw. That was fair in my opinion, though not typical of investments... Usually when you make a bad investment you lose money. My old partner lost nothing but time. I on the other hand was left with a cash flow drain and a shop 90 miles from my home, and four more years on the lease. Thankfully we've had some great folks working at our shop in San Diego and they have validated the trust I placed with them. But, no doubt taking 400K out of this businesses pocket to fund another shop ain't exactly easy for a fellow like me that started from the ground up, working a couple jobs, seven days a week, trying to build up the capital to fund a business. Whether or not we keep the SD shop beyond our lease is another decision we will make later in the year, and I will consider those that are working with us, and take their commitment and future goals into account and try to do the right thing by the people to whom I am in debt (like Megan). A year or so later during the financial woes of a bad economy, banks backed away from business lines of credit, I had 100K there that went away which helped me deal with the slow months. So, two years ago I sold off a condo which I was renting out in order to put more funds into the business to support the inventory held at the SD shop, and that solved the cash flow issues, which could have knocked me back into another profession. We weathered that storm, when others did not.

Fishing is a seasonal business and there are both good and bad months. We don't cycle through people here, and we pay our staff well and pay them first. They are key, and we have the best team in the business in my estimation. If we are tight some months, well that's the nature of business. We're also well ahead of the game other months. So there are those times when we have great cash flow and times when we don't. That's reality. In the case of Seeker, over the past year we've had times when I've owed them nothing and times when we've had a past due balance of a small amount. Under the previous ownership of Seeker we had 90 day terms, under the new ownership terms were reduced. I've always held far more inventory than monies owed and in this business most manufacturers well understand the nature of the business, it's seasonality and understand how business is conducted. That has not been the case with Seeker and their new owner. We've never been placed in collection, never stiffed a supplier, and have always tried to represent our valued manufacturers professionally. Bottom line, Eric from Seeker can make any claims he likes, truth is truth. I owed Seeker about 4% of our annual volume at the time I decided to part ways, and it was I who decided to part ways. I saw no reason to support the line. I personally feel more loyalty and affinity to other suppliers and other relationships. The folks from Calstar, RainShadow (Batson), SaltyDawg and of course Randy at United Composites are all closer to my heart - and they create fishing rods I'm more comfortable fishing myself. On Thursday of last week I had a check cut to clear Seeker's account and it was mailed Friday. I had reached a decision that I'd rather put money, inventory dollars, into Calstar, United Composites and RainShadow products. I did not see a reason to support Seeker given the new direction, revised products, construction quality as well as the person who owns the firm. That's my decision to make, my opinion to express. If my business is going to make money for a supplier, I'd sure rather that supplier/person be someone I like who makes a product I respect. We did not send back Seeker products we held in inventory in order to clear their account with us, I simply cut a check for any and all monies owed about 4K and that was not due yet - I early paid most of what was cleared. What I did is not indicative of someone with a major cash flow problem.... The following day while at the Fred Hall Show I informed the owner of Seeker that we would no longer support his line. That's fact, all the above is fact, and Seeker's new owner can take his threat elsewhere. I don't intimidate others, nor do I take to being intimidated. The broken, delaminated Hercules rod sitting next to my desk and your call this evening confirms to me that I made the right call. I'm quite glad to be done with Seeker.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Chark,
 
Posts: 1276 | Registered: 18 September 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Captain
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Chark, you have my respect and sympathy.
 
Posts: 115 | Registered: 30 May 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
CharkBait Staff
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Picture of Chark
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No sympathy needed, but thanks. Took a year to give the new owner a chance, some others pulled the plug far earlier. Many mistakes made by the new owner, and probably wrong advice taken from some who were not to be trusted, and unfortunately the new owner did not solicit or listen to voices who would have been helpful. Guys like WahooDad bailed almost immediately, Daren also pulled out after the first day's meeting. Randy from Seeker stayed on perhaps 3 months before pulling the plug. If anything I tried longer to give the fellow a chance. But, a year is plenty.


Great Stuff!
Mark
 
Posts: 1276 | Registered: 18 September 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Captain
Picture of SoCalAngler
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Thanks for your continued honest reporting in such matters. Being here in So Cal one hears things but for me they are just rumors until confirmation and I know I just got it.

It is sad when things like this happen for everyone evolved but is seen all too often when companies are purchased and key staff moves on.

If there is a void in the market place which needs to be filled and there is money to be made someone will fill it, that's the American way. The cream will rise to the top just like it always has and the falling companies start to circle the drain, some slowly and others at a faster pace.

Again Mark thanks for the heads up. I don't fish Seeker but those who do should have info like this when looking to make their next purchase. I know most other retailers would not mention anything like this but it is not hard to notice something is up when I see less and less Seekers are in tackle shops.
 
Posts: 399 | Registered: 22 September 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Captain
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It's a pity there's no good way to distinguish those rods on the shelf that predate the decay in Seeker's quality control and those which were made after it began to slide. No doubt there are some good rods out there that will be sold at a bargain price.
 
Posts: 115 | Registered: 30 May 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
CharkBait Staff
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In the case of the Super Seekers and Hercules rods there is a difference in appearance. The new Hercules look like the one pictured below. For the Super Seekers the difference is easily seen in the cheaper guides and simplier and cheaper guide wraps. So, those two series of rods are easy to tell. Color of the finished blank is different on the Hercules, similarly with the SUper Seeker the blank does indeed look different. Both series of rods have a much different feel, because both are NOT made the same way as in the past. For the Black Steel rods, harder to tell, but the Titanium guides were replaced by cheaper Fuji models, that's pretty easy to tell. But, you can't see a difference in blank color. I saw two rods at my booth at the FHS last week, Black Steel 6470 and 6470H, it was pretty obvious that they did not know quite how to space the guides. Difference between tip and first guide was about 2 inches, should be more like 3 for the real deal Seeker verses the weaker-Seeker.


Great Stuff!
Mark


Hercules Delamination - faulty build
 
Posts: 1276 | Registered: 18 September 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
CharkBait Staff
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Not the only failure we've seen, but certainly the most profound example of a poor build I have encountered in over 15 years. I've never seen such a break down near the handle - where the most strength would be assumed. We checked further, no doubt the mandrill was poorly wrapped with the graphite "flags," you could see variances in the thickness, areas where the material did not get laid down properly. I'm not a rod builder, no claim to expertise, but the problems in build quality are easy to spot, even the wraps look cheap and too thin. Hard to imagine that this one's going to be around in the present form long term.


Great Stuff!
Mark


Delamination
 
Posts: 1276 | Registered: 18 September 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Deckhand
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Picture of Agate D
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Damn shame.....kinda reminds me of the Sabre implosion/destruction-where the premier west coast rod went down in flames and became eventually the house brand at Big 5 and Wally World.
Now might be a good time to do a new set of rod/reel recomendations. Your last list is loaded with Shimano, Newell, and Seeker.
 
Posts: 760 | Registered: 03 October 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Captain
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I didn't even know that there was such a list.
Where on the site is it?
 
Posts: 115 | Registered: 30 May 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Deckhand
Captain
Picture of Agate D
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Used to be by the charters-it was a set of rod and reel recomendations for the boats. Long range boats usually have a similar type of list. It was very outdated, which is probably why it was pulled. It was helpful in its time, however. I hope that they do it again.
 
Posts: 760 | Registered: 03 October 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Crew
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Well, about 6 months ago I purchased a Pinhead D-8 from you. I hope it is not one of the 'Weaker Seekers.' It appears to be well made with straight guides and proper guide spacing.
 
Posts: 5 | Registered: 07 January 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
CharkBait Staff
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Probably existing inventory from the shop and with that no issues. We really had not been seeing 'glass rods from Seeker. Makes sense, they could not build them and the person they had building blanks for them didn't work with 'glass to my knowledge - he was supposed to be the graphite "expert" and as the Hercules pictured above proves he ain't exactly an expert with that material. We've gotten several reports of Super Seeker's failing - that also NEVER happened prior to sale and new production. Seeker is done as a quality rod supplier. That of course is simply my opinion and they can prove me wrong...but, with no expertise, no background, nobody working there that knows how to build rods and a profound penchant for not being honest, I just don't see much future with the line as she stands. I really wanted to see the new owner succeed, but every call he's made has been off the mark. Wrong advice or just wrong headed, either way I'm done.


Great Stuff!
Mark
 
Posts: 1276 | Registered: 18 September 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Crew
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Thanks. I was hoping that it was old inventory. Well, I got one of the last good ones I presume. My next rod from you will be a UC.
 
Posts: 5 | Registered: 07 January 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Captain
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Been off the boards for about 2 years, building my business as well.
It is always refreshing to come here, as Chark always, always, tells it exactly the way it is.
I will NO longer support seeker and will look to the other brands as my replacements.
 
Posts: 893 | Registered: 17 November 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
CharkBait Staff
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Harder to tell on the trolling rod since there was no guide change there and the wraps on the Black Steel's didn't change much if any. I'll guess its an older model, but honestly can't really tell.


Great Stuff!
Mark
 
Posts: 1276 | Registered: 18 September 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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