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ICAST is the ‘greatest’ learning curve for retail staff

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Tom Putman, President of Half Hitch Tackle, believes ICAST offers his employees an invaluable experience.

Visitors to ICAST are drawn to the world’s largest fishing tackle trade show by the most comprehensive array of new product on the planet.

Alongside that, the networking and business opportunities that the show also presents combine to make it a must-attend event for retailers across the globe. However, ICAST veteran Tom Putman, President of Half Hitch Tackle, a retailer with four locations along the south coast of the USA, says the show has a unique selling point that stands out from the rest.

He believes that it provides an important training tool for his employees. “It is the greatest learning curve for them and I wish I could take all my staff to ICAST,” he explains. “Being able to talk to the manufacturer’s sales staff, learn about the products first-hand and how to sell them is an incredibly valuable experience. Working alongside these people and being on the same wavelength is very important. This can only be done at ICAST.

“That is particularly useful when you are running instore promotions. It is of huge benefit when everyone is pulling in the same direction.”

Putman, who made his ICAST debut back in 1981 in Atlanta, Georgia, says that the show has grown out of all recognition. “It used to be all about fishing, but now it is much more than that – it is a lifestyle show and that is good news for retailers as it greatly expands the traditional tackle offer. This is especially important as the sport becomes more regulated in regard to when and what you can fish for. I am all for conservation, but some rules are becoming too restrictive.”

Top of Putman’s personal agenda at ICAST is networking. He says: “It is good to be able to touch base with the factories and talk over any issues we have. These discussions can make Half Hitch a better and more efficient company. Meeting up with friends I have made over the years is also a helpful and pleasant side of ICAST. It is good to touch base and talk over common problems and challenges.

“Making contact with companies that are not on the company’s radar is also one of the big advantages of ICAST. Distributors are limited to what products they can supply so you get to see gear that you would not normally. There are also many companies – like St. Croix – that sell direct so it is an opportunity to see what businesses like it have to offer.

“During my visit to the New Product Showcase booth I always make a note of companies and items that catch my eye. I have seen so many good things displayed there. Yeti Coolers has exploded over the last couple of years, but by going to ICAST we discovered it before it became a real hot ticket and have enjoyed success doing business with the brand.”

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