When I was a kid, a bream pole was usually hand hewn from a willow branch cut from a tree growing along the creek we were getting ready to fish. Finding one long enough to reach good bream hiding structure was the key to success. After the pole was fashioned by stripping off the smaller sapling branches, some kite string or if we were fortunate some actual fishing line was tied on the tip end. This was our high-tech fishing pole in those bygone days.
With any kind of fish hook, a lead (heaven forbid) sinker weight secured on the line by biting it with our teeth, maybe a red and white globe float, a worm or cricket for bait, and we were ready for action. As kid anglers in those days, we were just content to be on a fishing safari away from mom and dad. Catching anything was a bonus, but dragging home a nylon cord stringer with several bream or crappie on it made us king for a day.
My how things have changed.
The B’n’M Pole Company
I’ve often reported here in the pages of the Mississippi Business Journal some of the many unique yet somewhat obscure outdoor recreational companies that reside in the Magnolia State. As long as I live here it never ceases to amaze me of the businesses I continue to uncover that either provide an outdoor- related service or product.
Up in Mossy Oak’s West Point territory is another company well founded in offering a line of products actively used by outdoor enthusiasts virtually all over the world. B’n’M Pole Company markets some of the finest fishing poles in the country and has been around a whole lot longer than Toxey Haas and his Bottomland Camouflage.
In fact, I bet that most dedicated anglers can go check their stock of fishing poles and they are quite likely to find a B’n’M pole in the mix. This is especially true if their primary angling quarry is panfish like bream and crappie.
Zeroing in on a targeted market
B’n’M Pole Company is known from their advertising motto as “America’s Crappie and Panfish specialists for over 60 years.” Their expertise lies in selling the best fishing poles and angling accessories for these two species of fish.
Talk about narrowing a product focus!
Their success in a very crowded fishing equipment marketplace is in fact due to their sole mission of supplying the best goods for such a limited piece of the pie. The other factor that maintains their status on the cutting edge of fishing products is being acutely astute in adopting new technologies into the making of their fishing poles.
In the early days B’n’M was on the forefront of marketing fiberglass rods. Today’s high-tech bream and crappie poles are made of carbon or ceramic components. Part of B’n’M’s assurance to its customers is that they will continue to offer them the advantage of the best that science has to offer. New technologies are constantly being tested in the development of the next generation of panfishing poles.
One would think that zeroing in on such a seemingly small segment of the huge fishing equipment market would be detrimental to the growth of a small company. All I can say to that is how can one argue with 60 years of business success? Their mission only goes to prove that doing something very well and concentrating on that alone can prove to be an entirely viable business plan.
B’n’M spokesman, Jack Wells commented, “One unique fact about B’n’M is that it is the world’s only company whose entire product line is dedicated to the panfish sportsman. Every B’n’M pole is custom-made to be species specific. In other words, a bream pole from B’n’M is designed from butt to tip for the unique challenges that bream fishing presents. This is true for every pole we sell. And every pole in our product line is made specifically for B’n’M. You can’t get them anywhere else.”
Specialized product line
I should get a job naming fishing poles. B’n’M must surely have a corner on the fishing rod title market with some of these, Buck’s Brush Cutter, the West Point Crappie Pole, Black Widow, Crappie Duster, Skeeter Pole, Slo-Troller, Sharpshooter, Cadillac Comb and the Little Jewel, among others. With fishing poles hung with these monikers how could any company go wrong in selling them to panting panfishermen waiting in the aisles of their favorite angling supply outlets?
Of course, their fishing pole line up comes with all kinds of options in terms of pole lengths, handle configurations and materials. Some are specifically engineered for attaching a variety of crappie or bream reels, too. Even others have built-in reels like the unique Fish-Pole Reel Combo set.
B’n’M’s supplemental line of accessories includes a selection of different types of reels designed to complement their own line of rods. These include an open spool reel, an in-line pole reel, a universal pole reel, a West Point Crappie Reel and a West Point Spinning Reel. They also offer numerous rod repair kits, line guides and tips. They also offer several books and fishing videos. On top of those items, they even have a line of frog gigs and fish spears to complete their product line. All of this can be seen and bought on their Web site at www.bnmpoles.com.
It’s only natural I suppose to expect somebody in Mississippi to market a specialized line of fishing poles given the level of angling activity and opportunities in the Magnolia State. Then with crappie and bream fishing being two of the top sought after panfish species in America and elsewhere, it is no wonder this company way up in little ole West Point has such a strangle hold on this narrow market. But then again, maybe the market is not so narrow after all.
John J. Woods of Clinton is an award-winning outdoor freelance journalist. His column appears monthly in the Mississippi Business Journal. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.