As two well-respected ATA Board members step aside for two newcomers, all four agree the Archery Trade Association is strongly positioned to expand the industry by capitalizing on archery and bowhunting simultaneously in the years ahead.
“There’s strong potential for major shifts in the archery business,” said Mike Ellig, president of Black Gold, who served the past three years on the ATA Board of Directors. “All of us have competed for the same 3 million bowhunters for many years. Now we have great opportunities to expand our reach far beyond bowhunters and into the general population.”
Ellig left the 18-member Board on March 31 with David White, president and CEO of Hot Shot Manufacturing, when their three-year terms expired. Replacing them are Rob Kaufhold, president of Lancaster Archery Supply Inc.; and Jeff Adee, president of Headhunter Bowstrings, whose three-year terms began April 1.
All four said the ATA is working aggressively to capitalize on archery’s star appeal from “The Hunger Games,” the 2012 Olympics, and other movies and TV shows that feature lead characters shooting bows and arrows.
“The ATA is doing amazing things,” Adee said. “I’ve been impressed by its outreach with ‘Archery 360’ and ‘Release Your Wild’ to get kids involved. I’ve taught archery in the Scouts and 4-H Club, so this work is right up my alley.”
Kaufhold, a 32-year industry veteran, said he’s excited by the ATA’s progress since 2000. “I remember how things were in the early 1990s when the trade organization had no money and couldn’t do anything for the industry,” he said. “Now I’m excited about the future of our sports and I’m looking forward to seeing how these new ATA initiatives expand our customer base.”
White said the ATA has been proactive since he entered the industry in 2004, and believes it’s grown even stronger since he was first elected to the Board in 2008. “The ATA is better today both as an organization and as a community that works together than it’s ever been,” he said. “The ATA has really matured. It’s doing great things for the archery community. You see it in the Trade Show, which ATA manages extremely well, and it consistently gets better every year.”
White also attributed the ATA’s strength and growth to its work in Washington, D.C. “We have many friends in Washington, and that’s no accident,” White said. “We’re an industry that often has 10 to 30 companies competing with similar products for identical customers, but the ATA allows us to come together as one strong, united force in Washington.
“You can’t overestimate the importance of that strength,” White continued. “Our industry might not be the largest contributor of FET (federal excise tax) dollars but, thanks to the ATA, we have a major say in where FET contributions get spent. Politicians care about using FET wisely, and they trust the ATA’s help in making those decisions.”
Ellig also credits ATA for not taking archery’s popularity for granted the past two years. He believes the fly-fishing industry missed its chance 20 years ago when “A River Runs Through It” sparked a similar craze.
“The fly-fishing guys patted themselves on the back over all the new sales, but made no effort to expand their base and draw even more people into the sport while they had everyone’s attention,” Ellig said. “When ‘The Hunger Games’ and all those other things fell into our lap, I said let’s not be the fishing industry. The ATA Board spent a lot of time and energy making sure we capitalized on it.”
Ellig said it’s important to work hard and fast when opportunities knock, because they usually pass quickly. “I’m optimistic the industry will see a nice increase in archery participation from this,” he said. “That bump will eventually level off, but I want it to be at a significantly higher level than where we were three years ago. That’s what the ATA and the Board is trying to achieve: Make things better for everyone.”
Ellig said he enjoyed his time with the Board because it’s fun to work with people who share his passion for archery and bowhunting. “Things don’t move as fast as when it’s just you making decisions for your company,” he said. “You’re just one voice on the Board and you go by majority rule, but I still viewed every vote and decision as if it were my own money.”
Adee has served with boards of directors before, and is pleased to see how well the ATA Board works together. He believes his background will help the Board craft the ATA’s strategic plan for the years ahead.
“The ATA has faced down many big issues in recent years, and can now be proactive in drafting its roadmap for the next decade,” Adee said. “I’ve done that kind of work often on previous boards, so I’ll help any way I can. I should have some good opportunities to put my experience to use.”
Kaufhold is also looking forward to working with the Board. “The ATA means more than just bowhunting now,” he said. “That’s still very important, but I’m excited about being an ambassador for archery as a sport, whether it’s 3-D or target shooting too. This industry is an exclusive group that includes bows, scents, targets, quivers, releases, broadheads and finger tabs. I’m very excited about the direction we’re going.”