Businessmen Who Fish,The Glorvigen Twins | Walleye Fishing
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Walleye First Tournament Series

Businessmen Who Fish,The Glorvigen Twins

Jim Kalkofen
Published June 17, 2010

Two excellent businessmen who are also two very good anglers have discovered many similarities between their favorite pursuits.  Scott and Marty Glorvigen, identical twin brothers, raised and living in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, rattled off what tournament fishing taught them.

Speaking almost in unison, the brothers said tournament fishing forced them to focus, which is no different than life.  They cited the preparation and study essential for success on the water, and said it's the same in business.  Tournaments taught them to work through failures while enjoying successes.  They said learning what works takes time, and often, it's necessary to trust your gut and yourself.

"The most successful tournament anglers are the most disciplined in their pre-fishing," Marty said.  "Those who work the hardest end up on top," Scott added.  "The same successes result from hard work in business," they echoed.  Marty said he's the impatient brother, and after figuring it out, moves on to another challenge.  "This is true on the water and in my life," he said. 

Marty said, "Scott has the skills and ability to catch every fish by grinding it out on a spot."  Those are the same efforts they bring to their considerable business empire.  "Competitive angling taught us one very important lesson - the bite will change!" Scott said.  Both admitted that tournaments are seldom won on day three by doing exactly what worked on the first day. 

By flexing with the changing environment in business and knowing that this is part of every phase of life, the twin's history "behind their desks" is enlightening.  Both have fished the major tours, qualifying for many Championships.  Scott has claimed both RCL and PWT Championship victories. 

While guiding throughout high school and college, and dreaming of making it in the fishing industry, they knew they had to learn the business of fishing first.  Their parents were entrepreneurs and owned several businesses.  Marty's college course work included accounting and industrial technology; Scott majored in business and industrial engineering.
An idea emerged for a class project, and the Sport Towel was born.  They talked with sporting goods business experts, wholesalers and distributors and found out how the system worked (pricing, programs, reps, etc.) from the inside. These lessons would soon prove extremely valuable.

Venturing into the business world stalled.   They were still living at home, fishing, guiding and hunting every day six months after graduation.  Scott said, "That finally climaxed during a northern Minnesota deer season.  Living on Mom and Dad, eating their food, but keeping our guide money was good while it lasted.  But, the atmosphere changed that pivotal Sunday night."  Dad finally said, "Be in my office in an hour."  It was the Come-to-Jesus meeting with him insisting they get jobs.

Two weeks later, they were still living at home, but selling resort ads for the Minnesota Fish Finder.  Marty ran the office, wrote the fishing reports and handled accounting.  Scott made the rounds in the straight commission business.  Marty also guided every day.  Their office was an 8-foot table next to the furnace.

Scott heard repeatedly from resorters about customers destroying "room" towels in boats.  He asked the resort owners if they could sell towels with their logos.  In a short time, they were ordering tens of thousands of towels.  About the same time, 1987, they attended the large fishing industry trade show, set-up licensing agreements with about 40 tackle companies, gained immense distribution and instant success.
"Jumping in over our heads was nothing new," Marty said, "When the truck backed up to the garage and we filled it with 10,000 point-of-purchase towel displays, Mom and Dad were not pleased.  But, when Scott came home with an order for $87,000 worth of towels from one distributor, we felt we were going somewhere."

Talking history, the twins digressed, because at the same time all this was occurring, they branched out and fished the fledgling MWC tour on the Alexandria chain.
""It was in 1986, and we were hotshots at home, able to catch almost every walleye in less than 12-feet of water.  Well, it was different, and after the weekend tournament with no bites and no fish and watching McClelland and Propst haul in big fish next to us, we slunk home with our tails between our legs," Scott said.  "Our attitude changed."

The following year, after talking to the top anglers from that "butt-kicking" tournament, they finished fourth at Alex, and in the top 10 in the four events (of six) they fished.  They made the Championship, and immediately noticed a peculiar shift in the industry people they were calling on.  The manufacturers and distributors who knew the Glorvigens as businessmen were impressed they could also fish.  Scott said, "This opened up a gusher of sponsorship dollars," Marty said.  "When our names were on top of the standings, the industry guys asked, 'You guys can fish, too?'"

The brothers claimed it was preparation meeting opportunity while being in the right place at the right time and recognizing what was on their doorstep.  Scott said, "Sales were dramatic; the money was good; we were learning more; and we consumed our parents home.  Mom even had to answer the phone 'Gemini' our company name."  Gemini in astronomy means the Twins, a constellation between Taurus and Cancer with the brightest stars being Castor and Pollux.  Marty laughed recollecting their first office, the downstairs bathroom, with a second phone line. "It was the only place for a private conversation with customers," he said.  They soon relocated into extra space in their Dad's accounting office, eventually building their own complex on the water on the western edge of Grand Rapids.

 "The bite changed!" Marty said of the mid-1990's.  With easy access to the Chinese market, their biggest customers (usually about $250,000 in sales) knocked off the products overseas.  "It's the nature of the industry," he said.  That meant adapting, which they did by building products and private labeling for big retailers.  Brand loyalty had shifted to companies like Cabela's and Bass Pro Shops.

Recognizing the bite, the Glorvigens stepped into the media business, realizing that's where the real money was.  "TV stations were seeking content and at the same time manufacturers were interested in advertising locally where the new big box stores were expanding," Scott said.  Pro's Pointers was born, and this outdoor lifestyle (fishing) show was sold to stations.  This brought national sponsors to local markets, and TV stations were able to successfully sell the remaining ad space. 

Expansion was immediate, going from the original station to 15 markets.  These two-minute segments influenced sales.  "We were either in our boats at tournaments or in 3-piece suits in board rooms pitching our concept," Scott said. 

Getting started in the major tour of the era, the PWT, Scott headed to Lake Winnebago, the largest Wisconsin lake, and one he'd never fished.  "My goal was to finish in the top half."  Scott said, "I was in third after day one and when I talked with Marty that night, neither of us could believe it.  I finished fourth and knew I could do it.  I also made much more money than guiding." 

They decided this was the horse they needed to ride, and pursued the fishing career to enhance the business.  Being closely allied with fishermen and the tackle industry, they soon discovered another niche.  "Manufacturers didn't like doing shirt embroidery, so we told them we'd do it for them.  We serviced the fishing tackle companies and invested in embroidery equipment," Marty said.  "We wanted the professional look, and figured if the guys could get on TV and in the magazines with their sponsor logos, they'd buy more shirts."

Shirts with logos and patches were the norm, but once the Gemini team produced elite embroidered clothing, the standard shirt ran $200 to $300 each.  They hired Todd Hamill (Scott said, "One of the most knowledgeable persons in the industry - connected and honest and a great asset for us.") and did shirts for the bass pros also, won the Ranger contract and rapidly expanded.  That added embroidery to their media, product sales and tournament business.

The embroidery business branched into sublimated clothing products (exquisite printed designs).  But, the bite changed again.  In the early 2000's, the internet burst onto the scene, tackle companies consolidated, more TV channels became available, social media took on a life of its own and sponsorships became tougher.  Those factors forced them to decide where the next "big fish" would be caught.

    The first step was the internet.  "We decided to go all in," Marty said.  They hired the right people and was born.  It was an all species site with a concentration on bass.  Coverage of the fishing industry was the goal.  "It was about everybody, not Marty and Scott," they emphasized.  "Because of our reputation the industry was able to free some dollars and help us," Scott said. 

The website is the focus as they drive traffic from all their new TV and radio projects.  They recently began airing their new Wired2Fish on ESPN2, which created a national venue for sponsors' pros to appear on TV.  The first-half of the 3-minute mini-show is presented by the who's who in the bass world; followed by Scott talking about other species. 

Wired is also expanding this summer into radio with 350 stations, based on the network established by award-winning outdoor journalist Wade Bourne.  The 3-minute shows will air six times each week.  With the strong emphasis in media, Wired2Fish was split into a separate company with Gemini Sport Marketing handling sports products and apparel. 

As the market "bite" changes, the Glorvigens are reviewing many future expansion plans.  All will be based on their personal philosophy which was learned from their parents, and which they summed up as follows:

1.   "Have a strong faith, family, friends and career."
2.    "You better have a strong moral fabric."
3.    "Be true to the right thing."
4.    "Do the right thing, even if you finish last."
5.    "If you don't do these things, nothing else matters."

Scott and Marty are fishing the AIM series in 2010.