AFTCO strengthens in freshwater and takes swipe at private equity groups
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US apparel brand AFTCO has strengthened its presence in the freshwater market while at the same time taking a swipe at the growing involvement of private equity firms in the industry.
In a statement announcing the company’s increased focus on the bass, crappie and walleye sectors, AFTCO President Casey Shedd said: “The past few years have brought widespread change to the fishing industry, with private equity groups taking over several respected brands, resulting in a lot of non-anglers at the helm of these companies.
“I see this as detrimental to the fishing community and our fisheries. It shifts a company’s focus away from what is important.”
In a separate statement, Shedd refers to ‘today’s world of shortsighted private equity bankers commandeering companies from high rise offices.’
AFTCO’s move into freshwater is inextricably linked to its longstanding commitment to conservation. Every year since 1973 it has contributed at least 10% of its profits to saltwater fishing conservation. Now, its more expansive strategy will help generate additional funds for freshwater conservation, says the Californian company.
“Amidst this change, we’re proud as ever to remain stable and family-owned with a laser focus on conservation and solving real world fishing problems,” added Shedd. “Our increased freshwater presence fits well into our company’s broader mission.”
AFTCO has expanded its pro team to include six new Bassmaster Elite anglers, including two-time B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year Gerald Swindle, Chad Pipkens and Mark Menendez. They are joined by Matt Arey and Shane Lehew, both top 10 Angler of the Year finishers in 2019, and Elite Series rookie Wes Logan. The company will also build on its conservation partnership with the B.A.S.S. Nation in 2020.
Following its partnership with the Michigan Walleye Tour, AFTCO has now teamed up with the National Walleye Tour as an official sponsor.
And on the crappie front, it has become a national sponsor of Crappie USA for 2020 and has partnered with 32-time Crappie Classic qualifier and National Crappie Champion Wally Marshall (aka Mr. Crappie).
AFTCO also plans to support the youth fishing movement through collegiate angling.