Some of the most popular fishing lures in the nation are made in Tulsa.
Folks are so hooked on Gene Larew and Bobby Garland baits that the business has expanded to keep up with demand.
The machines inside the Gene Larew and Bobby Garland warehouse are working hard to churn out fishing lures that will go on store shelves across the nation.
“We're in every big chain from Bass Pro, Dick's, Academy, Cabela's,” said owner Chris Lindenberg. “They're everywhere.”
Lindenberg bought the company 12 years ago. His business started out in a small shop in Owasso before eventually moving into a much larger space on Tulsa's stretch of Route 66.
“It's been a remarkable growth story,” Lindenberg said. “This is a homegrown product and we enjoy making these lures.”
And they make a lot of them. Lindenberg says production has jumped from 15 million to about 25 million in the past few years. And now they business has expanded again, with four shiny, new custom-made machines.
“We're adding four new babies to our six other machines to try to keep up with the demand for our production,” he said.
Lindenberg says they're seeing growth partly through word of mouth recommendations, but also because a lot anglers are turning away from live bait and using lures instead.
“People have found out they can catch crappie and fish on soft plastic lures and these don't die,” said Lindenberg.
There thousands of lures to choose from, in about every color imaginable, with lots of glitter.
“We have like 86 colors of this lure, of this just one,” Lindenberg said holding up the famous “Baby Shad” bait.
Workers mix everything on site and once out of the machines, the lures hang to dry, then they’re sorted and packaged by hand..
Lindenberg says they've always done it with one goal in mind.
“To make a lure that caught fish,” he said. “[So people can] actually enjoy fishing. That's the motivation we have.”
Gene Larew is one of the oldest names in soft plastic baits, getting started in the industry 40 years ago. The company moved in Oklahoma in the mid-80s and started its manufacturing operation in 1998.
Lindenberg bought the Bobby Garland brand in 2007. He says it was voted “America’s No. 1 Soft Plastic Brand” in a 2016 national survey