Thread Wars

The biggest problem facing the rod building industry today is duplication and over-saturation of product. There simply aren’t enough rod builders out there to buy all the product currently being manufactured and offered, and thus not enough business exists to profitably support every rod building manufacturer and dealer out there.

Of course, a handful of companies are doing well, but these are the few that have managed to reach the mainstream craft. The majority of companies, however, have pulled back into wholly internet based enterprises and thus are competing with too many others for what constitutes only a tiny percentage of the market. But that’s another story which we’ll save for later…

The latest example of product duplication and over-saturation regards rod winding thread. When it appeared that Gudebrod was leaving the market, several folks decided that they could cash in on the rod building thread business. What they failed to realize, is that the thread market had never been a lucrative one to begin with. And even with Gudebrod seemingly out of the picture, there were no less than 4 other specialty rod winding thread manufacturers still in place. Add in the plethora of sewing threads being utilized by rod builders and an additional 3 or 4 new thread suppliers and you again have more product than the rod building market can possibly absorb.

I spoke to one dealer just this past week who said that he’d had no less than 6 companies call and ask him to stock their thread. According to him, he’s got enough Gudebrod left in the popular colors to last him another 2 years. I’ve heard similar stories from a half dozen other dealers as well. Frankly, it’s gotten a little humorous lately watching a half dozen thread suppliers fighting with each other in order to sell a few spools of thread to a handful of rod builders. You have to wonder when sound market research prior to introducing product went out of fashion.

Where’s there’s a need, somebody will rush to fill it. The problem is when too many rush to fill it. At that point the pie is cut into so many pieces, that the slices become too tiny for anybody to sustain themselves on.

Tom Kirkman



  1. LB on February 12, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    Your not kidding! Thread, thread, everywhere thread! The builders could not use all this thread in a million years!!!

    • Joe Kipper on February 22, 2011 at 5:32 pm

      This over saturation reminds me of the golf business about 10-15 years ago….over saturation of clubs, apparel, balls, etc. Speaking as a former club pro. Industry has really shrunken since. Probably will happen with thread suppliers too…..

  2. Mike T on February 23, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    There is a plus side to the saturation. As companies are bringing thread to the rod building nation, some are bringing a much larger array of colors and quality that no one knew existed. Probably not as profitable for the seller, but the buyer on the other hand seems to be a win-win situation. And as we have seen, you never know when a reputable company no matter how large or how long they have been in business disappears, its good to have a company already established to meet the demands,