Stan Bogdan: "I'm Not Retiring"

February 18, 2010 By: Marshall Cutchin

Despite what the Cape Breton Post reported on February 9, Stan Bogdan and his son Steve have no plans to sell their business or end their 70-odd-year tenure as makers of finely crafted fly reels.
I spoke at length with Stan Bogdan for yesterday about Bogdan reels, his life as a reel maker, and what drives him to want to step up to the lathe and drill press at age 91. Bogdan was typically direct when I asked him about his plans.
“I don’t know who got the idea. My son will eventually retire. But I will never retire, until they pick me up off the floor from in front of a lathe or drill press or something. I’m only ninety-one years old now, and that’s all I’ve ever done in my life, for seventy years.”
“I’ve been at this too long, and I have too many friends, and I sold the business to my son back in ’95, so I work with him once in a while, but very seldom. Most of the time I’m fishing, and I’m fortunate enough to fish some of the best rivers in the world. In the course of a year, I probably get more quality fishing than anyone I know of. It came with a price: I run this thing as a hobby much more so than a business.”
Read more from yesterday’s interview in the extended entry.

“I’ve done this since 1940. I made my first reel during the war, by hand — I mean I didn’t even have a lathe or anything else. But I do it only because I love what I’m doing. I wouldn’t work for anyone else; I can’t do it. I gotta work for myself, and I gotta do things my way. I’m kind of stubborn about that. But I do this a little bit differently than most people — they run it as a business, and I don’t. Some days I don’t feel like working at all and I’ll just goof off and go fishing or something. But eventually I get things done and we’ve done this for seventy years not with not one cent paid in advertising. It’s all been word-of-mouth.”
“It works, but I can’t tell you why it works. I never try to explain what I’m doing, because I don’t know what I am doing half the time. But I’ve been the most fortunate man in the world because I’ve got a million friends that are so loyal to me that well… it’s scary really. And the older I get, the more they make sure that I’m taken care of.”