Backstage Perspectives with Alan McGuckin of Dynamic Sponsorships

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Alan McGuckin with Skiatook smallie from February 2015

Alan McGuckin with Skiatook smallie from February 2015

by Mike Ferman of Tackle Modz

Hard worker – Salt of the earth – Marketing madman… These are all terms I had heard to describe this week’s guest Alan McGuckin of Dynamic Sponsorships. Born on the Ohio border in Western PA, Alan or “Guck” as he is more commonly known has been working in various roles in the fishing industry for over two decades. Graduating in 1995 with a Master’s Degree in Fisheries Management he quickly moved from the science to the business side of fishing and has been making a name for himself and leaving a legacy anyone would be proud of ever since. Guck has a unique view of and place in the industry I wanted to share with you all here. So let’s all settle in and get to know “Guck” a little better as he joins us for this week’s edition of Backstage Perspectives.

Name: Alan McGuckin

Company: Dynamic Sponsorships

Position: Public Relations

Location: Skiatook, OK

 

MF: What exactly led someone who just graduated with a degree in the science side of fishing to a marketing apprenticeship at Lowrance almost immediately?

Alan McGuckin Hard at Work at Guntersville

Alan McGuckin Hard at Work at Guntersville

AMG: When I was in Graduate School getting my Masters in Fisheries Management I was fishing what at the time was known as the Redman Tournament Trail. During that time I met a gentleman named Dallas Hodges who was also fishing some of those tournaments. Dallas was one of the sales and marketing leaders at Lowrance and he knew that in addition to studying fisheries I had a great interest in the fishing industry. One day he called me and said there an entry level marketing position open at Lowrance Electronics, and that if I was interested I needed to get him a resume and prepare for an interview… I did and I got the job! But at the time I was still finishing my Masters in Fisheries so I worked full time during the day and spent all my nights & weekends finishing writing my Masters Research Thesis in Fisheries Management.

MF: Since making that move to the business side of fishing it seems you haven’t looked back… Can you talk about the impact that apprenticeship had on you?

AMG: It was full time job at Lowrance, even though it was an entry level position and it only lasted 21 months I was thrust into so many different amazing opportunities and got to meet so many important people during that time. Everything from Walleye tournaments to the Bassmaster Classic… To writing events where I met all the leading writers… A lot of the relationships that I built during those 21 months at Lowrance as a fresh out of graduate school 25 year old guy are still relationships that I hold dearly today. So even though it was short lived and twenty years ago… Lowrance was such an important part of the fishing industry at the time, that I was afforded chances to experience a ton of things and meet – in a sense – everybody who was somebody in the fishing industry at the time. From Walleye pros in the north to Saltwater guys in the south and everyone in between. So really the relationships that came out of that short time are probably more important than any of the actual work I was doing.

MF: After your time at Lowrance ended you began working at a then little known lure manufacturer called Terminator… We all know how popular they are today; can you tell us how that occurred and what part you played in that rise in popularity?

AMG: I often joke that perhaps someday when I’m old and retired that my time in this industry will probably often still be connected mostly with my time at Terminator. That job came as almost sort of a gift in a sense.

Alan McGuckin in front of the Flora-Bama sign

Alan McGuckin in front of the Flora-Bama sign

I had just been laid off from Lowrance and was out of work and had already started interviewing with other companies in the fishing industry. At that exact moment, that week, or month in time if you will, no one had yet to hear about Terminator, it was a well kept secret in some of the offices here in Tulsa, Oklahoma but it hadn’t hit the market yet.

The word got out in Tulsa that I had been laid off and I had a cheeseburger lunch meeting if you will, with Jeff Stava who had just been asked to basically run and launch this new brand of titanium spinnerbaits that were going to sell for $9 a piece. At the time I was engaged and out of work and essentially followed my heart on that one and instead of taking a more stable job in the industry took a chance on working for a startup lure company that no one ever heard of who was going to sell spinnerbaits for I think we launched at $8.88 apiece – Which at the time was super high for the market. We launched the brand with an infomercial that I had a hand in the production of featuring Hall Of Fame Quarterback Terry Bradshaw and Jimmy Houston down on Lake Okeechobee.

So the brand was launched to the world, if you will, on a high frequency run of infomercials. It was the job where I really learned how to work in this industry because I was involved in everything from product development to sales as well as over time very involved on the marketing side of the brand. I was involved in everything from taking photos and laying out the production of a full color product catalogue, to writing the headlines and copy of national print ads to writing scripts that were used in TV commercials by Bill Dance & Jimmy Houston among others.

My time there lasted ten years and it was very special. It was a small company that evolved into a large brand and we actually; over ten years, had grown distribution to include South Africa and Europe as well as obviously at that time over 2000 Wal-Mart stores, tons of independent retailers like Mark’s Outdoors in Birmingham and obviously just national and international distribution. The brand was eventually sold to Rapala/Normark in 2006.

When the brand was sold – much like how I came from Lowrance to Terminator, word got out in Tulsa that Terminator had been sold and McGuckin was going to be in need of a job and that’s when the folks at Dynamic Sponsorships called me and asked if I would come interview with them. At the time Dynamic much like Terminator was, a small company who was also basically in its infancy. In those days Toyota was our only major client. We’ve since gone on to include brands like Carhartt, Zebco/Quantum, Leer Truck Caps, and although they are no longer a part of our business for several years we marketed the BoatUS Weigh to Win program.

Guck with College Bass Champion Brett Preuett

Guck with College Bass Champion Brett Preuett

MF: It’s fitting that you brought Dynamic up since that’s where I was headed next… Currently you can be found on the front lines at a full service sponsorship services company called Dynamic Sponsorships… Can you fill the fans in on the multitude of things that entails?

AMG: My primary focus at Dynamic is Public Relations. Dynamic as a whole is involved in everything from booth activations and promotions to branding of pro’s trucks and clothes. My job is PR and essentially my job is to expose the brands that we’re paid to represent either online, in print media, or for radio and television.

The vast majority of my time is actually spent writing and shooting photos that often involve stories and images related and encompassing in some way either boldly or very discreetly one or more of those brands we represent. The example I’ll give is… I may write a story involving Gerald Swindle eating a pb&j that his sweet wife LeAnn made out there on tour, But Gerald is a Toyota angler that fishes with Quantum rods & reels… So that is an example of how I’m able to leverage the brands we are paid to represent as I am telling the story and covering the sport that we all love.

MF: You spend about a third of the year on the road… When you do get home to Oklahoma, what are you waiting for most?

AMG: Senor Salsa, a Mexican joint in my hometown of Skiatook… Or a local country music concert; whoever is playing in Tulsa, and/or a fishing trip to Grand Lake, Eufaula (Okla.), or my own back yard in Skiatook.

MF: Most fishermen have one or more baits that seem to never leave their deck rod rotation… What’s yours?

Alan McGuckin Hammerhead

Alan McGuckin’s Hammerhead

AMG: Singling it down to one is tough but there are a few that are almost always in the rotation; a green pumpkin 5-inch Yamamoto double tail Hula Grub on a 1/4 oz. football head with a weedguard, a 5-inch wacky-rigged Senko on a weighted Falcon Lures hook, and although it’s mostly during the warmer months, a 10-inch Blue Fleck Berkley Power Worm Texas-rigged with a 3/8 oz. pegged weight… That’s going to get the nod this time of year basically every time I’m on the water.

MF: Who exposed you to fishing for the first time and what type of fishing was it?

AMG: My father Ken took me Bluegill fishing at Lake Tomahawk in eastern Ohio a lot as a kid. We’d catch them under a bobber.

MF: What was the first lure you remember throwing?

AMG: Probably a Rooster Tail for stocked Trout in western Pennsylvania.

MF: You spend a lot of time on the water with some of the best anglers in the world. What is the single most important thing you have learned either directly from them or by watching them during that time?

AMG: Probably that every one of them has supreme mechanical abilities. I mean watching Gerald skip a dock really just leaves a guy in awe. I don’t care how long you’ve been doing this, you can be quickly humbled by watching Gerald Swindle skip a jig around a dock.

In fact even though I’m an avid angler you know; it’s in those moments that you realize just how much of a different league it is that those guys actually play the game in. So first of all they’re all mechanically just in another league. Any time I get asked a question like this I use the Swindle example because there are a lot of pros that can’t even do what Gerald does.

Then the other thing is kind of an intangible, but it’s their energy and intensity level, and I’m talking about a lot of these guys who are now in their early to mid 40’s, and they fish the entire day with such a tremendous amount of intensity on the water.

Roman Candles with Gerald Swindle

Roman Candles with Gerald Swindle

There’s nothing laid back about their approach. Every move they make, every physical move with their body; from how they move their arms or get out of the seat or move from behind the wheel or even how they pick up the trolling motor; everything is done with a far above average amount of intensity and energy. Every one of them no matter how laid back or type-A of a personality, is highly calculated and methodical. It’s a truly amazing thing to witness.

MF: With all the traveling you do in a year… What is the one comfort item you have to have with you on the road?

AMG: A bottle of shampoo that doubles as both body wash and shampoo… In other words you don’t want to get stuck with that tiny matchbox sized bar of soap that the hotels provide. So you get yourself a decent bottle of shampoo that can double as your body wash and shampoo – kind of one of the tricks of the trade!

Also, the first thing I do when I pull into a tournament city is hit the grocery store. I go and pick up fruit and some healthy food to eat and some plastic utensils and other stuff that allows me to be more healthy and retain some normalcy in my life so I’m not eating fast food on the road all the time. Oh and my Kenny Chesney CD’s, I’ve gotta have almost every album with me when I’m on the road.

MF: Time for the Flash 5… Please answer with the first thing that comes to mind.

MF: If you had to choose ONLY ONE technique or lure to use for eternity, what would it be?

Guck with a Wisconsin Smallmouth

Guck with a Wisconsin Smallmouth

AMG: Tough question man! Hmmm…. Probably a jig that would be suitable for both dragging on rocky points and/or getting in and out of a wood laydown on the shore line

MF: Sushi… Yes Please! Or No Not For Me!?

AMG: No not for me!

MF: What’s your favorite lure color?

AMG: Sour Grape by Zoom

MF: Clam Chowder… Red or White?

AMG: Neither!

MF: If you were going to be stranded on an island with any other angler who would you want it to be?

AMG: So at that point it’s really not about fishing right… It’s just pick a person?!? I mean I’m friends with ALOT of the pros… But probably Swindle – it’s the Combination of great heart, rock solid character, and an incredible amount of humor for entertainment.

MF: Is there anyone you’d like to thank or mention?

Guck:  I’d like to thank God for guiding my steps, even at times when my own internal compass is broken. My parents for pouring your blue collar resources into my white collar dreams. Ken Cook for giving me a dream to shoot for as a high school and college kid. Gene Gilliland for being an academic life raft as I studied fisheries – but mostly for 23 years of incredibly insightful and loyal friendship. My Coworkers at Dynamic for being a sanctuary I feel at home in when I’m not out on the road. The musicians I listen to like Kenny Chesney whose words inspire my words and get inside my head, heart, and soul. The City of Skiatook for wrapping its arms around me so many years ago and never letting go. And lastly, to a fishing industry full of adopted brothers and sisters – you guys just need to feel good about knowing in your heart who you are – ’cause I’m just barely smart enough to know not to try and name all of you without leaving somebody out. For example, Mercer and Zona might never invite me for fried bananas again – if I failed to mention them. Thank you, each and every one of you!