Meet Our Machinery
March 18, 2021
Angling passions run deep
St. Croix Southeast Regional Account Manager, Randy Hamilton, is a familiar face in the fishing industry. He can answer any question one might have about fishing or the St. Croix brand, and if pushed, is good for more than a few gardening tips as well.
Graduating with a master’s degree in plant genetics and pathology from Michigan State University, the South-central Pennsylvania native took a job with a biotech company and moved to South Carolina over 20 years ago. “I already loved fishing,” says Hamilton, who started a guide business on the side and was trying to figure out how to make taking people fishing a full-time gig. “A good friend who had just sold his tackle shop here in Charleston told me about a rep opening with a brand he had carried. Both of us ended up being hired for the job. It was a good fit with my guiding at the time, and we started our own rep group two years later,” he recalls. “The door cracked open, and while I enjoyed my biotech and lab work, I never looked back,” he says. “Fishing won.”
Hamilton first worked with St. Croix at an independent sales agency, representing the brand for three years before coming to work directly for St. Croix in March of 2014.
“When I started with St. Croix, my real, driving interest was working on new product,” says Hamilton. “Now, after ten years with St. Croix, I still get to interact with the Product Team and I enjoy that part of the job very much. What excites me now is supporting and growing our dealer base in the Southeast… doing everything possible to keep them armed with information, stocked with rods, and fully engaged with the St. Croix brand. We’ve covered a lot of ground here in the Southeast, especially in the past three years or so,” Hamilton continues. “Ultimately, it’s our dealers who help move the needle on sales, but they’re incredibly helpful resources when it comes to facilitating our mission of providing anglers with the specific rods they want and need to maintain the upper hand. At the end of the day, St. Croix will always be an angler-driven company. That means consistently giving anglers new tools that increase their satisfaction and results on the water, and our dealers play a critical role in that process.”
Married 21 years to his wife, Mimi, with two sons (one currently attending the Citadel and another headed there this fall), Hamilton greatly values St. Croix’s family ownership and family-friendly atmosphere, along with the brand’s longevity and storied history. “These are some of the things that make St. Croix unique,” he says. “The entire story… what Gordon Schluter undertook and accomplished to save the St. Croix brand in Park Falls so many years ago, and what his kids (St. Croix owners, Paul, Jeff and David Schluter and Pam Schluter-Smylie) have done since then to make St. Croix the aspirational, angler-driven, American brand it has become and remains… all of it makes me very proud to be a part of this company… this family, which extends well outside of Park Falls and encompasses everyone with a passion for what we do and make possible for anglers.”
Eaten up with the fly-fishing bug throughout much of his early angling career, Hamilton has evolved into a self-described “technical gear guy”. His favorite two games are chasing speckled sea trout and largemouth bass. Perhaps a carry-over from his fly-fishing past, Hamilton frequently employs finesse tactics with small baits in both pursuits.
“My favorite rod in the entire St. Croix lineup is the Legend Elite 7’6” medium-light, extra-fast spinning rod,” he says. “Featuring SCV/SCVI blanks, Fuji® Torzite guides, and super-grade full cork handles, Legend Elite rods deliver wonderous lightweight sensitivity, and the ES76MLXF offers all the performance and satisfaction a speckled trout angler could want in just about any light-line, finesse presentation. It’s also an incredible rod for most finesse bass techniques, and I enjoy using it immensely. You’re going to run into some redfish while trout fishing, and this rod handles 8-10-lb. reds no problem.”
His favorite St. Croix series is a different story. “Legend Glass is near and dear to me,” says Hamilton, who was deeply involved in the development of these specialized reaction-bait bass rods. “They aren’t the rods I fish the most, but they’re the ones I love the most, because they were almost entirely dealer driven. For several years, my friend Jamie Koza, owner of The Dugout Bait and Tackle in Marietta, Georgia, had been politely pestering me about building a better glass rod for cranking and other moving-bait presentations,” Hamilton recounts. “Dan Johnston and I talked a lot about it before he took it to ownership, who asked some really smart questions, then embraced the project. It turned out to be exactly what so many bass anglers wanted… a forgiving, glass crankbait series that had the lightweight properties of carbon and other real advantages. We gave it a unique, retro aesthetic and had a lot of fun with the marketing, but ultimately, Legend Glass helped move the needle for St. Croix in the bass market because it solved problems for anglers. Everyone noticed, and Legend Glass rods remain extremely popular today.”
When asked what he’d want any angler to understand about the St. Croix brand, Hamilton didn’t hesitate. “We’re working hard every day – everyone on the St. Croix Team – to give anglers new advantages that help them have more fun and enjoy more success on the water. Your passion is our passion, your successes are our successes, your satisfaction is our satisfaction… these are the measures of all we do.”
And as for gardening tips? Well, almost any question is fair game for Hamilton. “Just don’t ask me how to grow tomatoes in South Carolina,” he says. “That’s a sore subject. I gave up on trying a long time ago!”