SALEM, Va. (WFXR) — They have names like — D-Bomb, Quiver, Shockwave, and Crawfather — and they are among the hottest-selling, top-producing soft plastic fishing lures on the market.
Oh, and two other things, they’re all made in the United States, and the company that makes them is headquartered right here in Virginia.
We are talking about Salem-based Missile Baits. The company is the brainchild of bass tournament pro John Crews. Crews grew up near Farmville but lives in Salem.
“I’ve been fishing professionally for 20 years; over 20, now,” said Crews. “I’ve worked for a bunch of different companies in the fishing industry and helped them design baits.”
While that was fun, it wasn’t enough for John. He decided to take a chance.
“I loved the design, promotion, sales process, and I knew I wanted to do that with soft plastics, and I thought no better way to do that than to start my own company,” said Crews.
So, Missile Baits was born in 2012. It is headquartered in Salem and has a commitment to making its products in the United States.
While that is noble, Crews also had to create baits that would catch fish so they’d sell and his business would grow. As he and the fishing world soon found out, Missile soft baits put fish in the boat.
“The fist soft plastic, there’s actually five of them, we developed five, and the D-Bomb was one of the first five.” said Crews holding up a D-Bomb. “That’s definitely our homerun hitter, right there, that D-Bomb, and still to this day it’s our number one seller.”
To the uninitiated, the D-Bomb looks like something your children might want to play with, it’s a soft plastic crayfish imitation. To a bass, they look like dinner, and that’s not an accident. Each Missile Baits soft plastic goes through a painstaking design process.
Drawings are made. From paper, it goes to a mold maker. Prototypes are produced. Designs get refined and field-tested. Finally, when the lures are proven to work, they are mass-produced, packaged, and sent to stores.
So, where does Crews get his inspiration?
“All of the ideas for the products come from right here on the deck of this boat,” Crews said while showing us his tournament fishing boat. “While I’m out there fishing, man I need something that does this or does that; and then a lot of times when I’m driving home from those tournaments and I get to cranking that windshield time, that’s when a lot of those ideas pop into my head. Then I get back to the office and start cranking out those drawings and designs.”
While Crews creates lures that catch fish, he also provides U.S. jobs. Missile Baits has operations in Virginia, Georgia, Arkansas, and Alabama.
“Having everything made in the U.S. is a big deal to me,” said Crews.
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