Gary Loomis Interview Part 1 - The Legend Lives (much to our relief)
G.Loomis: Gary Loomis left Lamiglas in 1978 and tried to pursue a new industry which he had created at Lamiglas – the graphite arrow industry. Because he had troubles buying that industry from Lamiglas, the company never got off the ground.
Gary Loomis wasn’t the first person to bring the material we all know as graphite into the fishing industry but he played a major role in the beginning years of its use.
“When I left I never wanted to compete against Lamiglas in the rod business,” he said. “But I couldn’t get the arrow company going so in 1980 I started Loomis Composites. Then, in 1981 the U.S. government said to the manufacturing industries that we need to start training our preferred nations and begin joint manufacturing ventures with them. That’s when I started a joint venture with Taiwan Tackle and began Loomis Franklin – a rod manufacturer. Shortly after that started, I bowed out of that venture and Loomis Composites all together.”
At that point, he had the time to sit down, collect his thoughts and determine the future of blank manufacturing. Enter G.Loomis.
“The beginning of G.Loomis is quite a remarkable story,” he said. “At the time I was working as a machinist at Sherman Machines. One day I went home and told my wife I needed her to sit down because I wanted to talk with her. She asked, ‘what do you want to talk about?’ I told her I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life but it would require that we sell everything we had accumulated over our lifetime and take the knowledge I’d acquired over the years and start a new rod company.
“She said, ‘I better sit down.’
“We sold everything we had to come up with the money to start G.Loomis,” he said. “For the next six months, I completely redesigned the tools of the blank-making industry and had one more piece of equipment to finish before I could get the company started on production.
“That’s when my wife came into the shop and told me I better sit down because she wanted to talk.
“I told her I was too busy at the moment and what could be so important that she wanted me to take time to sit and listen. She said, ‘I just want you to know you have a loving wife, two great kids and $32.10 left in the bank account. I said, ‘I guess I better sit down.’
“We talked it over and at that time I decided I’d go back to work for Sherman Machines for a year, save some money and then start again when I had the money. We were all set to do this when a short time later, Dennis Shiebe from Cabela’s called me and wanted me to build blanks for them.
“He told me they wanted 280 blanks a day for the next eight months. I told him my last piece of equipment hadn’t been finished and that I needed the capital, which I didn’t have, to finish it. He didn’t want to hear what I had to say and I had to tell him I’d love to take the order but it just wasn’t going to happen.
“He then asked how much money I’d need to get the equipment made and start up production. I told him I’d have to call him back with a firm number.
“I figured it’d cost me $50,000 to get the equipment made, buy the materials and get staffed up for production. That much money back in the 80s was a tremendous amount of money and I figured they’d never give me that kind of money. So I called Dennis back, told him the bottom line and he asked, “if you had $50K in your bank, you’d be able to fill this order?’ I said yes. His next reply was, ‘what’s your bank account number?’
“Three days later I had the money in our account – I never signed for anything. It was all on a handshake. I paid back the first half of the money that year and the second half the next. I continued making blanks for them when I sold the company in 1997. That’s how G.Loomis began – on a dream and a handshake."
More to come... In Part 2 of this article, Gary talks about the G.Loomis days, the Shimano buyout and finally, Northfork Composites.