After a brief transition period following the acquisition of the company by a private investment group, Cortland Line’s executive committee has promoted COO Randy Brown to the position of president and CEO. Cortland’s long-time president and CEO, Brian Ward, will retire to pursue a career in university-level teaching.
“This is truly the dawn of a new day for Cortland,” remarked chairman Sandy Douglas following the announcement. “We’d like to thank Brian for his 25-plus years of service to the company as well as his assistance during this transition of leadership. We also welcome Randy as Cortland’s new president and CEO. He’s already done a superb job rebuilding our manufacturing infrastructure and reinvigorating our R&D department, and he has the investors’ full personal and financial support to return Cortland to the leadership position it has historically enjoyed.”
A member of the investor group and lifelong resident of neighboring Ithaca, New York, Mr. Brown has enjoyed successful careers in banking, manufacturing and distribution. Most recently, he was the president of Ongweoweh Corp, a national distributor and leading recycler of pallets and packaging, where he grew sales from $25 million to $140 million in 12 years.
“Many members of our investment group have been fishing Cortland lines for years,” explained Brown following his appointment announcement. “So when the opportunity to actually buy the company arose, we jumped on it. Based on our collective experience, we think the quality and performance of Cortland’s fly lines and leaders are second to none — although that’s very obviously been the best kept secret in the fly-fishing market. With the sustained financial backing of our investment group, we plan to change that. We’ve already made substantial investments in our manufacturing and R&D, and our next priorities are marketing and strengthening our retail network; 2013 should be a very exciting year.”
Cortland’s new investment group is made up of business executives with equally impressive resumes, from heads of Wall Street and west coast investment firms, to the founder of a respected advertising agency, the CEO of a leading publishing company, and a Texas rancher with interests in real estate and energy markets. “And, we’re all bound together by a common mission: to build Cortland into a global leader in fly-fishing and braided products – we expect to work closely with our customers and supporters as we develop and test our products along the way. Right now we just might be the best capitalized company in the fly-fishing market, too.” Brown concluded.
Jim Teeny, a long-time customer and friend of Cortland offered his own perspective from his office in Gresham, Oregon. “I have been a fly fisherman since I was 12 and active in the fly-fishing industry for over 40 years. I know something about fly tackle, and it has been my personal experience, as well as that of my wife and business partner, Donna, that without question the highest-quality fly lines are produced by Cortland. As much fishing as we do, it’s most important that our fly lines hold up in both fresh and saltwater fly fishing. Now, with such significant capital provided by their new investors, Cortland has a new energy, a more ambitious trajectory and a new sense of purpose. We are very proud to say that our Teeny fly lines are produced by Cortland.”
About Cortland Line Company:
Cortland’s history of fly line manufacturing goes back to the earliest days of the 20th century. Founded in 1915 by an avid fly angler and successful clothing merchant, Ray Smith put his experience braiding thread to work manufacturing fly line, and quickly grew to become the largest manufacturer of US-made silk fly lines. The company prospered for the next 25 years — and retooled to manufacture parachute and bomb cord for the war effort, which funded a major upgrade in its braiding technologies and manufacturing equipment.
During the post war boom, Cortland continued to grow, introducing the first modern PVC-coated fly line in 1953 (the 333), the first truly slick, glossy-coat, ultra-supple cold-water line in 1963 (the 444 “Peach”), the first high-performance shooting line in 1979 (the 444 SL), the first high-floating tip line in 2005 (the Precision Dyna-Tip), and the first crystal-clear polyethylene polymer saltwater fly line in 2008 (Cortland Crystal). Along the way, Cortland innovated the Cortland Pro Shop, the first true dealer-direct sales and marketing program designed specifically to support independent fly shops, which has been widely imitated by other fly-fishing tackle manufacturers and importers.