Crews Succeeding On Both Ends Of Business

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By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor

John Crews says he’s always been a multi-tasker.

“Going back to when I was real young and when I was in high school, I always got my best grades while I was playing sports,” he said. “Those times in between when I had lots of free time, I didn’t do as well because there wasn’t a time crunch on getting things done.

“I manage my time better when I’ve got a bunch of things going on at once.”

He’s exhibited that over the past 3 years while competing on the Bassmaster Elite Series and also operating his own company, Missile Baits. He’s posted three consecutive Top-20 finishes in the Toyota Tundra B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year (AOY) race after ending up 30th in the 2011 campaign.

“Some of it’s also having fished full-time for 12 years now – I know what I need to do to be prepared for each event. It’s a combination of my personal nature and having that much experience to rely on.”

Good Growth So Far

Crews’ Missile Baits office is just a couple miles from his home in Salem, Va., near one of his children’s elementary school. If he’s not out of town for a tournament or an appearance, he’s there for close to 40 hours a week – sometimes considerably more.

He has two full-time employees – a creative director who does just about everything involving a computer (graphic design, video production, updates to the website and social media) and an office manager who handles interactions with dealers and distributors, processes orders and makes sure everything gets packed up and shipped out.

He said business has been about as good as he could’ve hoped for.

“The first year I had some pretty ambitious goals and we came pretty close to meeting those,” he said. “We doubled our sales the second year and I’m not sure right now, but I think we’re on pace to do it again.

“It’s about all we can sustain without investing a ton more cash – at least for us. We’ve had a lot of the growing pains that a lot of small businesses have when they’re going through the steps, but that’s how you grow.”

Missile’s offerings so far have been limited to soft plastics, but the company is expanding to include jigs and jigheads. The D-Bomb, a creature-type bait that Ish Monroe used en route to winning the Elite Series event at Lake Okeechobee in 2012, has been the top seller.

“We’ve sold a decent amount of everything we’ve made so far. The Drop Craw has sold the least, but even with that, there’s some areas where it’s caught on and been effective, so it’s not like we’ve produced any total flops.

“We’re not going to come out with a bait unless I can put it in the boat and fish with it. I’ve designed a few that we didn’t come out with because after I fished with them a little bit I knew they were something I wasn’t going to throw much – there were others out there that were better or they just didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped. I just said, ‘Okay, we’re canning this deal.”’

A Fabulous Start

Few pro anglers have ever had a more rousing start to a season than Crews experienced – on his initial cast in the Bassmaster Classic at Lake Guntersville, he caught a 7 1/2-pounder on his own Shockwave 4.25 swimbait. Then he popped a 6-pounder about 10 minutes later.

“I thought I was just going to cave their heads in, but not much happened after that,” he said.

Indeed. He finished 28th in that big-weight event, failing to advance to the final day by three slots. He missed three more cuts during the regular season, but none by more than eight places.

“In general, I feel like it was a good, consistent year. A couple of those tournaments where I finished in the 50s, I made something out of nothing after I’d had a crappy practice. I came pretty close to having eight Top-50s and that would’ve been a nice achievement.”

He said one of the biggest highlights of the campaign for him was reaching the final day at the Delaware River and being on hand to see good friend Mike Iaconelli claim the title in front of his hometown crowd – which was huge and raucous.

“That was a special moment,” he said.

Next year he gets to return to the California Delta, where he bagged his lone Elite Series victory in 2010. He said he’s looking forward to that, but as always, he doesn’t pay a lot of heed to the slate of upcoming venues.

“I think every year’s a great schedule, so I’m kind of indifferent about it,” he said. “I do like when it’s a good mix of new places and places we’ve been before, though.

“I like change and I like it when we take a few years off from some of the paces we seem to go to all the time.”

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