PARK FALLS, Wisc. – When it comes to serving the needs of both anglers and fishing tackle dealers, St. Croix Rod – handcrafters of the Best Rods on Earth® for nearly 75 years – subscribes to the “it takes one to know one” school of thought. So, when the family-owned, American company recently added a new E-Commerce manager to its team, it was no big surprise that they chose Curt Schlesinger for the job.
A passionate angler with nearly two decades of experience in the management and operation of several fishing retail shops, Schlesinger – well known in the fly fishing industry – lives the life of the anglers and dealers he now serves in his capacity as St. Croix E-Commerce Manager. “I’ve spent close to 20 years in the fly fishing business, operating stores in the Chicago area,” he says. Previous to joining St. Croix, Schlesinger also spent time creating content in the e-Commerce space and led the digital sales efforts for a medical education company.
“Bringing Curt on board is a big win for St. Croix, and – more importantly – for our anglers and dealers,” says St. Croix CEO, Scott Forristall. “He possesses the unique combination of experience and expertise that we expect will add immediate value in terms of continued growth for the St. Croix brand and an improved customer experience for our anglers and dealers. Of course, Curt’s fishing lifestyle and knowledge will also pay dividends.”
The youngest of three brothers, Schlesinger grew up in the north suburbs of Chicago, where he took to fishing at an early age. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Kansas and – ever angler-focused – moved on to discover his niche and passion in the management and operation of some of the most popular fly shops in the Chicago region. He began his new career as St. Croix E-Commerce Manager on July 6.
“I’m responsible for executing our content plan and making sure our angler-driven brand and products are properly represented on all our sites,” Schlesinger says. “I’m tasked to do (and love to do) the difficult work that makes it easy for our loyal and new customers – and our valued dealers – to work with us and buy from us, while ensuring that each and every visitor to our site gets the best service available.” That service, Schlesinger adds, includes everything from product information and knowledge, fast and easy warranty fulfillment, to secure and easy purchase transactions. “Put simply, I’m here to make sure that our customer experience lives up to the St. Croix brand.”
St. Croix has a proven track record of delivering anglers new rods and continual innovation each year to improve their on-the-water experiences. Schlesinger says anglers and dealers should expect the same levels of ongoing improvement with respect to their customer experiences. “Our dealers are going to get the best B2B site on the planet. That means a lot more than being able to place an order and interact with us on behalf of their customers,” Schlesinger says. “St. Croix dealers deserve visibility into what our brand is up to in the marketplace, and we’re going to make sure they have the resources they need for digital success, which means more sales in their stores and on their websites.”
With respect to service to anglers, Schlesinger says they can expect to see more speed when they contact the company, smarter tools to help them gain knowledge and insight into what makes St. Croix Rods the Best Rods on Earth®. “Overall, they are going to experience a website that is a pleasure to shop in and interact with. I’ve only been here a couple of weeks, but the fact that I’ve been allowed to dive right in and start helping this team is amazing. I already feel like I’m making a difference.”
Schlesinger had always heard about the great people behind the St. Croix brand. “It was quickly confirmed during my first contact with the St. Croix Leadership Team during the hiring process, which took the form of a Zoom interview,” he says. “I took note of how caring and thoughtful this team is from the very start, and it has been repeated and proven to me every day since. I deeply appreciate the family-like culture here. It can’t be faked. This team cares most about what’s best for anglers and they back it up with humility and the kind of careful, hard work that results in amazing fishing rods and an elevated on-the-water experience.”
Schlesinger appreciates almost any gamefish that puts a bend in his rod – in both fresh and salt waters – but carries a special affinity for smallmouth bass. “Growing up as a midwestern angler, I always seem to go back to smallmouth, especially those found in the big rivers of Wisconsin,” he says. “I love our Imperial USA fly rods and switch (2-handed) rods. These rods cast and fish as well or better than a lot of rods that cost twice or three times as much and they’re handcrafted right here in the USA in Park Falls,” says the fly fishing enthusiast who is also rediscovering spinning and casting gear. “I’ve become addicted to the Legend Xtreme series. I love the unique tech in those rods that culminates in extreme performance and sensitivity for the angler; they make a fly fisherman like me want to go toss a D Bomb or a wacky rig.”
At the end of the day, St. Croix is a company of anglers working for anglers, and that’s what Schlesinger would want any angler unfamiliar with St. Croix to know and understand about the brand. “I am passionate about fishing and passionate about working with this incredible brand, its people, and its dealers and anglers in the digital space,” he says. “I’m grateful to be able to work in the fishing industry I love. It’s something I don’t take for granted. And within this great industry, I couldn’t be happier or prouder working anyplace else.”