Grandslam Baits is a soft bait company that began around two years ago in Edgewater. The following was gleaned from several conversations with the owner.
Dan: So Rick how did you decide to go into the fishing lure business?
Rick: Dan, I was living in Michigan while my son Brad was working in Edgewater and I was trying to come up with a way to be with him. My idea was to start a small business and the more I thought about it, the more I kept coming up with a Florida bait business.
Dan: Why So?
Rick: Well, I love fishing and fishermen and the winter weather here sure beats Michigan.
Dan: What did you do for work there?
Rick: I was a welder.
Dan: Well, I have to tell you I am very happy you decided to open Grandslam Baits. You know before you set up shop I was ordering my favorite jig tail all the way from Louisiana. That was causing me all kinds of problems. It seemed each time I would find a company with my four-inch chartreuse shrimp tail, it would soon go out of business or stop making them. It was very frustrating. I don't know if I told you, but I was considering going into the soft bait business myself. I had approached a few plastics companies but was not happy with the results.
Rick: I'm glad you were not successful. You may have ended Grandslam before we began.
Dan: I'm glad, too. You and Brad are dong a great job. What a luxury it is to know that my favorite bait is available at most bait shops in the area.
Rick: We're trying. Since we began, we have added several colors and styles.
Dan: I know you are. You have even managed to get me away from my chartreuse from time to time. I especially like the Lite Beer, Peppermint Crunch and the new Irish Beer.
Rick: You know Dan, just like you, all fishermen have their favorites and we try to give them what they want.
Dan: I know I'm stuck in my ways but expert fishermen like Capt. Leo Hiles are always willing to try new things
Rick: Yep, Capt. Leo has been great. We need the input of guys like that in order to know what to make. We now have several minnow style baits, including paddle tails.
Dan: Hey, speaking of that, you know the clear shrimp with green fleck that you made for me worked really well. I hope you begin packaging that one soon.
Rick: I'm glad you liked them. Thank you for your ideas.
Dan: Now Rick on the business side -- How is Grandslam Baits doing?
Rick: Oh we're hanging in there, but it has been tough. As you might imagine trying to introduce a new product into an established market has been difficult.
Dan: You only sell wholesale. Am I right?
Rick: Absolutely! We are often approached to sell to individuals, but would never do that. Our relationships with the bait stores are too important to us. From the beginning we have given away free samples and have encouraged pro fishermen like you and Capt. Leo to do the same.
Dan: Sure. You have to get your new products into as many hands as possible and the fishermen are the right hands. I believe we have all done a pretty good job with that.
Rick: We have, but there is still a lot of work to be done. It's our job to make sure that every fisherman in the area has a chance to use our baits. If they do we know they will beat a path to the bait stores to buy more.
Dan: I'm sure of it. Tell me have you considered making the lead head jigs? I have to tell you I always have trouble finding the jig hooks I want. Most of the time I am using jig hooks that are just a make-do version.
Rick: Hold on now, you want us to work too hard. First we have to make sure that our soft baits are a success.
Dan: I wouldn't worry. I believe Grandslam Baits will be here for a long time. You and Brad have done a good job and I thank you for doing it.
Rick: Thanks we couldn't do it without the support of folks like you and the bait shop owners. With all of your help we will keep em coming.
Dan: I know you will and thanks again
Dan Smith has fished the waters of Volusia County for more than 40 years. Email questions and comments to email@example.com. His book, "I Swear the Snook Drowned," is available for $10.95 at (386) 441-7793.