St. Croix positioning for the Future

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Brothers Dave, Jeff and Paul Schluter.

Park Falls, Wisc. – St. Croix Rod CEO Paul Schluter announced a planned transition of leadership to St. Croix Team Members on Jan. 3. Sometime in 2019, Schluter will step aside from his current role with the Park Falls, Wisc., based company. Paul will continue serving as a member of St. Croix’s board of directors, guiding strategy and monitoring performance, along with his sister Pamela Smylie, and brothers Jeff and Dave, and Chairman John Smylie.

An internal and external search for a new CEO is underway. 

Not retiring, Paul is stepping aside to allow the next CEO and trusted management team to advance the company in alignment with the goals established by St. Croix’s board of directors. Timely to this transition, St. Croix has adopted a balanced scorecard approach to operationalize and measure company performance.  

“I’m grateful for the opportunity my father gave me at St. Croix. I can’t imagine a more rewarding experience,” said Paul. “We’re a family company and will continue being so. To me, it’s wonderful how we work together with the St. Croix team to create great fishing experiences.

“Someone else will be responsible for the daily operation of St.Croix, and I’ll be freer to focus on those aspects of the business which I love best.”

Paul’s journey with St. Croix started in 1983 when Gordon hired him to manage retailer accounts in Minnesota. A year later, Paul was promoted to sales manager. In 1989, Gordon stepped aside, and Paul assumed the role of president. Brothers Paul, Jeff and Dave, along with sister Pam purchased St. Croix from Gordon and Irene in 1990.

For 40 of its 70 years in business, St. Croix has been owned by the Schluter family … and continues to be today.

From day one, St. Croix has completely controlled the rod manufacturing process, which is a source of great pride for Paul. “We own and operate two state-of-the-art facilities, including the core operation at our headquarters in Park Falls, Wisc., where we engineer and handcraft a broad spectrum of rods for all types of freshwater, saltwater and fly fishing.” Paul adds that St. Croix does not reverse-engineer rods or source from overseas contractors. St. Croix rods are organic from butt to tip.

It’s this dedication to building premium species and technique-specific rods that has helped catapult St. Croix’s growth, as well as garner substantial accolades from the fishing trade. Since 2012, St. Croix has won 11 ICAST (International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trade) New Product Showcase “Best of Show” awards, spanning the freshwater, saltwater and fly-fishing categories.

“Bringing those first two ICAST awards back to Park Falls and sharing the victory with our employees, our extended family, was a watershed moment for St. Croix,” said Paul. “It galvanized, and validated, all of the hard work and dedication that goes into building the Best Rods on Earth.”

American Sportfishing Association’s (ASA) President Glenn Hughes spoke of Paul’s commitment to the organization, ICAST and greater well-being of the fishing industry: “Paul Schluter, and St. Croix Rod, have been leaders in the sportfishing industry for many years. Paul has always been committed to the success of the association and the entire sportfishing community. 

“Paul served on ASA’s Board of Directors for eight years, as well, he served on several committees, including the Trade Show, Consumer Shows and Nominating Committees. The industry is a better place because of Paul’s involvement and leadership over these past 30 years.”

Beyond the ICAST award-winners, St. Croix has literally created rod categories, as well as influenced others. In 2008, the company introduced the iconic Mojo Bass series. The rod’s craftsmanship, componentry and technique-specific applications forever changed consumer expectations in its price-range. 

In the realm of timelessness, St. Croix introduced the USA-made Premier series 60 years ago. It remains one of St. Croix’s best-selling rods, covering every freshwater application with 80 unique models in the series.

“Every angler deserves the best fishing experience possible, and St. Croix is positioned to deliver that to a growing number of anglers in all parts of the world,” said Paul.

After 36 years of fulltime employment at St. Croix, Paul is planning to spend more time fishing with a modest handful of the Best Rods on Earth.

This CEO recruitment process is being managed by LymanDoran. Interested candidates should contact Nora Klaphake at nklaphake@lymandoran.com.