Humminbird: A History of Fearless Innovation

The old saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Much the same is true when it comes to ‘raising a company.’ Many individuals must combine unique gifts and unify a team in order to shepherd a vision into real success. In the case of Humminbird, there were so many that contributed to the present day leadership position in the market. From early visionaries, engineers, factory workers, dealers, to customers, all melded together to shape not only a company, but an industry. And after more than 40 years, Eufaula, Alabama is still home to Humminbird’s engineering, manufacturing and technical support.

This is a story of American ingenuity, passion and perseverance as told through the recollections of the fishing industry pioneers who lived it. Now, the next time someone walks into your shop you can share not only the best of technology and performance, but the story of how Humminbird earned its wings.

Humble Beginnings

Like many iconic American companies, fishing electronics manufacturer Humminbird has humble beginnings. Hatched in a modest Eufaula, Alabama, garage-like facility in 1971, Tom Mann and a handful of investors known as Allied Sports Company began modifying Heath Kits into the first Humminbird Depth Sounders.

Former Humminbird CEO Jim Balkcom recalls: “Around 1970 there was a Eufaula Hospital radiologist making changes to the electrical design of Heath Kit Depth Sounders to shield interference from the bigger outboards making their way onto bass boats. Tom Mann was impressed and they started placing foil over the Heath Kit logo and selling the modified units to a buddy here, a buddy there. Before they knew it, they were creating serious demand.”

What’s In a Name?

One of the most entertaining stories of Humminbird’s early years involves how the company got its name. Longtime Humminbird pro Hank Parker knows the story well, having spent a great deal of time with the brand’s pioneers.