BW – So you started out as a lure painter and that morphed into a total custom lure business. When did you turn to making your own baits? KB – Yes, that’s right. From the time I got out of college through about 2002 I mainly repaired old wood baits and did custom paint- ing for a number of people including FLW pro Jeffrey Thomas. I’d been carving all along but never really thought much of my carving abilities. I’d been painting 9 hours a day and my painting abilities were getting really good. It was hard to compare my carving ability to my painting because I’m a perfectionist and never satisfied. Then I carved my first crankbait, the Haw River Humpback, and started doing really well in the local tournaments. Then by word of mouth and some press in the North Carolina papers the word about CLU spread. That’s essentially when the company was born.
BW – How long did it take to make the transition from bait painter to custom lure designer and builder? KB – That actually took a few years. I was carving the Haw River Humpbacks and repainting but I wanted to offer more custom baits. That’s when I started designing and making some of our injection molded baits. About the same time, Jerry Wright from Save Phace asked me to paint a mask for Skeet Reese and we got a lot of press for our painting. But when people came to our site, they saw that not only did we paint we also had our own line of lures. So, they’d send us 8-10 of their lures to paint and then order one of our baits. Gradu- ally our lure sales started to grow.
BW – Has this always been your full-time job since graduating college? KB – No, I had a real job in childhood developmental pediatrics for 15 years before devoting my life to CLU full-time in 2006. It was serendipitous really. The day before I quit I was offered the highest paying position I could have attained at that job and I went home and thought it over. I had to weigh taking on a job with more responsibility and less time to devote to my passion or quit and go with CLU full-time. At that time I was spending more time at night drawing, designing and painting baits than I was devoting to my day job. That’s when I decided to quit and try a shot at what I truly love to do. We’ve been extremely blessed and everyday I get up and go to work is the happiest day of my life.
May/June 2009 »