Don Swanson, a veteran of over 20 years with Abel Automatics and president of Abel for the past 7 years, has accepted the position as Director of Rod Shop Manufacturing for Orvis. Don replaces Jim Logan, who retired as head of Orvis rod manufacturing in late 2014 to spend more time fishing, skiing, traveling, and building drift boats. Logan was responsible for many Orvis rod innovations in his 20 year tenure at Orvis, most notably Orvis’ patented Helios thermoplastic technology for building rods.
According to Jim Lepage, president of Scientific Anglers but also in charge of rod manufacturing at Orvis: “Don Swanson’s experience is perfectly suited for the focus and growth that we want to bring into our manufacturing skill set here at Orvis. After having an opportunity to meet with Don several times over the past few months, I am particularly impressed with his commitment to people and culture, quality, lean manufacturing, and process improvements. He comes to Orvis with a proven track record within the industry for integrity and mutual respect, innovation, and building products in the USA that we would rave about.”
Shawn Combs, head rod designer at Orvis and also in charge of all fly-fishing product development, will work very closely with Don and the process and design engineers in the Orvis rod shop.
They are already exploring some new technology to further push the envelope in rod design. Says Combs, “I can’t think of a better person to carry on the legacy of Orvis rods being made in Manchester Vermont than Don. His attention to detail, pride in US manufacturing and career of producing great fishing equipment will make his transition to Orvis that much better. I’m looking forward to the next step in Orvis fly rod evolution. Don and I first worked together on the US made CFO project. The result of that product speaks for his commitment to excellence. I’m also looking forward to showing him around his new home waters and traveling to fish with him.”
Don will have some cultural and climate adjustments (for the first time in his life he saw ice on the inside of his window) but he is right at home with all the fly-fishing addicts that populate Orvis headquarters “It’s been a warm welcome from the entire Orvis team, when I say warm, I’m not speaking about the weather. I experienced the coldest night of my existence, negative 15 degrees! But visible from all areas inside the corporate building is the beautiful setting of the Green Mountain National Forest. This is a constant reminder of Orvis’s rich passion and thirst for the outdoors. “