R.L. Winston Lays Off Production Workers

According to Nick Gevock in the Montana Standard, fly rod maker R. L. Winston has laid off a portion of its production staff to cope with slowing sales. “‘The uncertainty is so great that people just aren’t going into fly shops,’ [Winston CEO Woody] Woodard said. ‘That’s all the indications we’re getting and we have to reduce personnel accordingly.’ The layoffs took effect last week.”

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  • Jon

    All I can say is that if you are in the market for a flyrod, get a Winston! I recently got the Boron IIt in an 8 foot 3 weight and love it. My Z-Axis 4 weight now sits in the closet and will probably go on ebay soon, that’s how much I prefer casting the Winston. I sure hope they stay in business because I know what I’m doing with the cash from the sale of the sage!

  • When I was at FRT in Denver, I overheard a great many conversations among retailers in which there was a common theme: in the past 2 years they had experienced sharp drop-offs in sales in Sage and Winston rods, while TFO, Redington, and Echo were doing pretty well. Several said this had led them to drop Sage and Winston completely due to their inventory requirements on dealers. Small businesses simply cannot afford to carry tens of thousands of dollars in inventory that isn’t selling for long periods of time, and that is precisely what the higher end rodmakers require of their dealers at this point.
    It’s going to get worse before it gets better.

  • I’ve been saying this for awhile, but we need a FFARP – that is Fly Fishers Asset Relief Program. It would prevent the need for competition, insure high prices for rods, guarantee job security, and keep the caste system in tact. Really, it looks like this is all playing into a company like TFO’s hands. When the price line on the graph goes down for, say, Winston or Sage, you can bet my demand will go up. Deflation is obviously in the offing. It is happening to me and my business, and this depression will bring deflation to other business sectors as well.

  • john egbert

    We need to support our American fly rod and fly fishing equipment makers. Made here, not made elsewhere. Transparency, please, on where things are made. When push comes to shove, it’s going to be better to buy local and buy less stuff. Winston is local compared to Asian made products.

  • I have to respectfully disagree with you, John.
    It’s just like what is happening with the US auto industry right now. They are dying because (in large part) UAW workers at GM, Chrysler, and Ford cost those companies an average of $158,000 per year compared to the $80,000 that the workers at Mercedes, Toyota, Mitsubishi, and Honda plants in the US make. And those “foreign” brands built HERE by US workers are making better cars and trucks for a lower price tag. So I…as a consumer…am going to do what is in MY best interest and buy the best vehicle for MY hard-won dollar. Thus, Ford, GM, and Chrysler lose…big time!
    TFO is an American-owned company that builds rods and reels in partially-American owned factories in an extremely pro-American South Korea to reduce costs for American consumers. And they build quality products. And they aren’t the only brand doing it. Winston builds their Ibis series overseas in a contracted foreign factory and sells them to Amemrican consumers at a high mark-up, while holding to the “American-made” marketing position (for their brand as a whole). TFO makes ZERO claim and openly states that they make their products overseas. So who has a problem with transparency? (If anyone)
    The real issue is that the foreign-made fly rods and reels have achieved parity in quality with the (very few) American-made brands, but at a much lower price point. And the US rodmakers simply cannot compete. The only thing they have left to sell is “prestige” and “brand loyalty” with the exception of Sage. Sage is highly aware of this and doing some innovative things to expand rod offerings and spending a lot of money on R&D. But consumers aren’t going to pay $600 for a fly rod that is really no better than a $150 fly rod. That fact is now established. Why would we give away an extra $450? Charity? Last time I checked, Winston isn’t a registered 501(c)(3). It’s a closely held for-profit company. So I’ll keep MY money in MY pocket, thank you very much.
    That’s how I see it.

  • Jon Barrett

    US manufacturers also need to get competitive and drop their prices. Sage, Lamson, Galvan etc all price fix and it will get them very soon if this doesnt change. I will always buy American made products but things will need to change soon or there wont be any to choose from!