By Ron Presley
An Underlying Mission of Customer Service
B’n’M Poles rose from a humble beginning as a Broom and Mop Company (B’n’M) to be one of the premier fishing rod companies in the nation. The company began business in 1948 in West Point, MS. “We’ve been in our current location since 1982,” said company president Jack Wells. “I am proud to say that we are in a different building, but still right here in West Point, MS. We continue to design and produce the very best crappie, bluegill (we call them bream), and catfish rods, poles and reels.”
Buck Simmons, Wells’ predecessor, looks back fondly and proudly on the near 70-year evolution of B’n’M. The company that moved into making panfish poles has come a long way. “Now, as I look back on our long history, position and reputation in the industry, our standing with the public and now being in our third generation of family ownership and operation are the things I am most proud of. The one thing that I feel is a real feather in my cap is that I chose Jack Wells to be my successor. I say this because of what he is doing to carry on our tradition of making quality equipment at a fair price.”
Wells definitely fits well into the B’n’M company culture. “I love the people in this industry,” explained Wells. “They are down-to-earth, honest and passionate about the outdoors. We need more of em’ in today’s world.”
“Obviously, when running a business, some days are better than others,” offered Wells. “However, if you love what you do it doesn’t feel like work. Any time we receive an attaboy from a fisherman or vendor we feel good about what we are doing. I look forward to continuing our tradition of listening to fishermen and providing products that help them catch more fish.”
His passion at the helm of B’n’M runs deep and is rooted in family. “As a father of four children (7- to 16-years of age), I’m driven to ensure that today’s children discover and nurture their outdoor spirit,” explained Wells. “I believe all children have a natural desire to be outside, but many of them are distracted by electronics and other indoor activities. Fishing is a simple and inexpensive way to get them outdoors, and all you really need is a cane pole and worms!”
Simmons looks back at the company’s long history and views the company’s greatest accomplishment in terms of what they did for crappie fishing, not what they did in the business.
“I would have to say that our greatest achievement is that we had a hand in making crappie fishing a year round sport,” remarked Simmons. “Before we introduced the graphite jig poles crappie fishing was largely a two-month window that corresponded with the spawn.”
There was a popular perception back then that crappie could only be caught during that period. “With the introduction of light weight jig poles we finally got the equipment matched up to species,” continued Simmons. “Those graphite poles actually put fun into catching crappie. That first strike on those sensitive poles started many a lifelong love affair for countless fishermen. Matching the equipment to the species is the key to the enjoyment and success of fishing.”
B’n’M is now making similar contributions to growing the sport of catfishing. “The catfish rods are all Jack’s baby,” commented Simmons. “I think the word sport is now appropriate, but really wasn’t back in my day. I can envision the sport of catfishing taking off just as crappie fishing did not too long ago. Even then we would receive photos showing large catfish that were caught on our jig poles. I thought it was quite an achievement and source of pride that our poles could accomplish that feat, but back then they certainly were not intended for that use.”
B’n’M’s philosophy of matching equipment to the species has now moved on to the world of catfishing. “I knew that the category was growing rapidly,” indicated Wells. “The observation was based on feedback that I received from numerous retailers, both large and small. It’s also a pretty fractured category, with no one major brand being dominate. I thought, that if we could recruit a good prostaff, they would be able to guide us in our product development and help us move to the next level.”
Following the model they used in the crappie market, B’n’M recruited a group of prostaffers to lead the way into the catfish market. “My primary role is that of a coach,” said Wells. “I’m very blessed that my players here at B’n’M are All-Americans.”
B’n’M prostaffers include such well known catfish anglers as George Young, Jr., Cary Long, Jason Aycock, Hunter Jones, Brian Barton, Joey Pounders, Jay Gallop, Nick Dimino, Adam Long, Mark Blauvelt, Ryan Lawrence, David Magness, Rusty Jackson David Shipman and Natalie Brooke Wilbanks, to name a few. These knowledgeable anglers provide feedback from the field that guides B’n’M in their production of quality products.
“Pro Staffers play a vital role in our marketing and product development,” explained Wells. “Keep in mind that we are not just looking for great tournament fishermen, but for people with excellent reputations in their local markets. In addition, we want people who can speak and teach to a crowd. As more techniques are designed to catch catfish, we need folks who can then go out and teach these new methods to anglers.”
B’n’M has an underlying mission of listening to customers and their needs. “We are taking things year-by-year in the catfish world,” said Wells. “I would like to think that we are perceived as a company that listens to our customers and provides top quality equipment for their needs at a fair price. Then, we back that up with the absolute best customer service. Finally, we want to be viewed as a company that is supportive of the industry. We want to promote the great sport of fishing, and that now includes the sport of catfishing.”
Editor’s note: A similar version of this profile appeared in the April 2016 edition of Catfish Magazine.