SARLEY: Illinois company dominates market for tackle boxes

I have always been a big supporter of purchasing American-made products. If I can get them and they are also made in Illinois, that is a big plus in my book.

I am happy to have learned that four out of every five tackle boxes sold today are made by the Plano Molding Company. I am proud to say that these boxes are made right here in our state.

I recently had the opportunity to go out to Plano for a tour given by Randy Lemcke, Plano’s VP of sales.

Plano is about 60 miles west of Chicago. It is a tiny, old-fashioned town that is where the new Superman movie, “Man of Steel” was filmed. It serves as Superman’s boyhood home of Smallville, and it certainly fits the part.

Plano began making tackle boxes in 1952. They have grown over the years and now have two manufacturing facilities in Plano and one a little further west in Mendota.

Plano has expanded to include gun and ammo storage products, hardware boxes, plastic shelving, cosmetics storage and other products. 

The newest plant in Plano has a field full of giant silos standing outside that hold the tiny polypropylene pellets that are melted into the plastic that becomes tackle boxes and such. Railroad cars filled with these pellets constantly move in and out of Plano’s rail sidings. 

The inside of the building is filled with the latest in molding equipment, packaging lines and conveyors that move everything around the facility. Basically, the pellets get melted down, the color is added, and then the plastic is forced into massive molds, then removed and cooled. The parts are then assembled and packaged before being shipped to locations around the world,

I was pleased to see that in addition to all of the magnificent machinery, there was plenty of manual work performed by a lot of American workers. The workers mostly wore big smiles. I’m still not sure if the smiles were caused by how well Plano treats its people or that the plant is completely air conditioned and it was a 90-degree day.

Plano makes almost every component that goes into its tackle boxes and other products. Plano bends metal to form locks and hinges and even makes the pins that hold the hinges together. The quality control processes used is rigid. The company gets few returns, and outdoorsmen always rave about the quality of Plano’s products.

In this age of world marketing and outsourcing, I am sure Plano would be able to have its boxes made overseas and make a lot more while paying out much less in wages and benefits to its workers. That’s not the way Plano thinks.

Rather than penalize its workers, Plano worked to drive out costs in production and made a conscious decision to earn less profit, rather than lose control over its products and sacrifice quality and hurt its reputation. I salute the company for that.

I’ve always been a fan of Plano’s products, now I am happy to say that I am proud to own these products because they are made in the good old U.S.A., and right here in Illinois, to boot.


Northern Illinois

Dave Kranz from Dave’s Bait, Tackle and Taxidermy in Crystal Lake reports: “Bass are on the beds and fishing is great! Yamamoto Senkos hooked wacky style will work well for bass. If you want to have a fun day it is a great time to use a Bang-O-Lure. Work this in the shallows with very small twitches and then pause the bait and wait for the hit. Make sure you let them take the bait down before setting the hook. Catfishing on the Fox River is very good right now. Use cut bait on the bottom with an egg weight. Bluegills are also up on the beds and can be caught on wax worms or red worms on a small hook or ice fishing jig.”

Call 815-455-2040 for updated reports. 

From the Spence Petros Fishing Report: “On May 10, Dan Zahnen, his father Bob and I fished both Delavan and Geneva the same day and only got three bass. We each got one. We had a 6- to 7-degree drop in water temperature and a strong, cold east wind. This was by far the worst day I ever had guiding. The Zahnens are good fishermen and understood how bad conditions can cause a slow-down in action. On other trips I had with them (sometimes with just Dan) we caught 38, 43, 23, 30, 30, 34 and 36 bass. On May 9 I again fished Delavan with the Zahnens and we caught 59 bass with a lot over 17 inches. The difference ... weather. On May 13, Brad Janis, Brian Dems and I fished Delavan and caught 56 bass with Brian getting the bass of the year, one that was pushing 6 pounds. On May 10 of this year we had a 35-degree drop in temperature from the previous day, and the water temp dropped 7 to 8 degrees. We caught 15 bass, seven pike and two walleyes. This was the day after we "slaughtered" the big ones. Beside this day we had one other below par day with 16 bass and 4 pike, but 12 of the bass were 3 to 5 pounds.

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