Meet Our Machinery
March 09, 2022
Many of our anglers tell us their St. Croix rods have always been something more – or meant something more – than their remarkable performance. There are different reasons for this sentiment, many of which can be tied to our brand’s 70+ year history. There are generational connections and emotional ones, too.
But consider the principle of embodied energy. St. Croix rods are the sum product of the energy consumed and expended by all of the processes associated with their manufacture and delivery to you, our anglers. From the production of our buildings and equipment, the mining and processing of our raw materials, to manufacturing, assembly and the transportation and delivery of our rods into your hands, all that energy is invested and present in every St. Croix rod. Does this include the positive energies and personalities of all the passionate people who have built our brand and skillfully crafted our rods for nearly 75 years now? We believe it absolutely does. Our people are a big part of that extra-special feeling anglers experience when they pick up one of the Best Rods on Earth®.
In the same way a slashing smallmouth bass telegraphs its strike, Jake Schmidt’s passion and energy courses through every St. Croix rod.
A Maintenance Technician at St. Croix Rod since 2013, Schmidt says his favorite part about his job is getting a good and genuine smile or a laugh out of someone. “It’s not really that hard to do around here,” he says. “As a group, St. Croix employees are a pretty happy bunch, but I enjoy cracking a joke or doing whatever else I can to lift someone up. I think happy people at work make a better product.”
A journeyman carpenter by trade, Schmidt worked in various maintenance and facility positions at an insurance company, a school and a hospital prior to landing at St. Croix nearly 20 years ago. He also worked in construction in Milwaukee on hospitals, factories, hotels and museums.
Schmidt uses his versatile skills and experience doing remodeling at St. Croix’s factory, office, store, and global distribution center in Park Falls. “I also take care of the preventative maintenance and repairs on the equipment used to build the Best Rods on Earth,” says Schmidt, who also works closely with St. Croix’s top-notch fabricator, Pete Smith, building some of the proprietary specialty equipment used only at St. Croix Rods. “I consider myself very lucky because I get to work with just about every person at St. Croix, and they are all such great people!”
Schmidt says it’s rare to find someone working at St. Croix who doesn’t fish, and he’s no exception. “When I find time to fish I like to chase musky and walleye,” says Schmidt, who expresses a particular penchant for St. Croix’s most-advanced offerings like the 8’6” medium-heavy power, fast action Legend Elite Musky rod (LEM86MHF) and Legend Extreme spinning rods for walleye duty. “You can catch fish with a bamboo pole, but it’s much more fun using a St. Croix rod!” he adds.
When he’s not at work building and caring for the facilities and equipment used by the people who make the Best Rods on Earth, Schmidt enjoys spending time with his family at his home in the woods and serving his community as a volunteer firefighter. “I really enjoy cooking and making maple syrup on our family land,” Schmidt says. “It’s a family tradition we follow every spring that dates back at least 100 years.”
Jake’s wife, Michelle, is a hospice social worker and is very active in the Northwoods communities surrounding Park Falls, and the couple has raised three daughters, Miah, Kiana, and Jasmine. Miah is the oldest and will be graduating from the University of Minnesota as a civil engineer. Kiana will be graduating from Mid-State Technical College in health and wellness, and Jasmine will be graduating high school this spring with hopes of traveling the world before going to college. “In addition to being really smart,” Schmidt says, “all three of my girls outfish me on a regular basis!”
Schmidt says he firmly believes that if you can laugh, have fun, and spread joy and love, you’ll be successful in any job or task you tackle… whether it’s at work or out on the water catching fish. So, remember that the next time you hit the water and know that Jake’s philosophy and good vibrations are literally built into the St. Croix rod you’re grasping in your hand.
About St. Croix Rod
Headquartered in Park Falls, Wisconsin, St. Croix has been proudly producing the “Best Rods on Earth” for nearly 75 years. Combining state-of-the-art manufacturing processes with skilled craftsmanship, St. Croix is the only major producer to still build rods entirely from design through manufacturing. The company remains family-owned and operates duplicate manufacturing facilities in Park Falls and Fresnillo, Mexico. With popular trademarked series such as Legend®, Legend Xtreme®, Avid®, Premier®, Imperial®, Triumph®, Mojo, and BASSX, St. Croix is revered by all types of anglers from around the world.