Quality, craftsmanship, and passion – the three critical ingredients in Simms Fishing Products’ award-winning recipe, writes the company’s John Frazier.
Sewing machines reverberating, heat presses hissing, tape machines whooshing, sporadic bursts of compressed air releasing, stacks of GORE-TEX® rustling – if you’re an angler, this frenzied cacophony should be music to your ears. This is the soundtrack of Simms’ 40-year hand-made heritage. Are there faster, more efficient, cost-effective ways to manufacture waders? Not if your aim is to deliver the finest, most durable, performance-driven waders in the world.
Simms has never settled for anything less. Its wader-making team in Bozeman, Montana, men and women with a penchant for perfection, obsess over every minute detail and take pride in the merits of building by hand, heart and soul. These are the building blocks of Simms’ DNA – quality, craftsmanship, and passion. Simms’ secret to success isn’t as much dependent on following an overly complicated recipe as it is adhering to a stringent and meticulous process. Just like in cooking, achieving award-winning results begins by sourcing and using premium ingredients. Fabrics and other components must meet a multitude of specifications before receiving a green light for implementation. Performance, durability, functionality, comfort, mobility, fit… the list goes on and on. When collectively considered, yes, all of these attributes create a narrow lane of acceptability. But Simms has always believed that when it comes to waders, the only way to achieve the desired result is to work with the finest materials.
The advantage of working with the best ingredients is further bolstered when they’re brought in-house to Simms’ Bozeman manufacturing facility. As virtually every step of wader-making – from design to delivery – is under one roof, Simms controls each step of the entire process.
Ultimately, this amount of control delivers an unmatched level of quality. From an all-star cast encompassing designers, developers, material experts and quality technicians, anybody and everybody who has skin in the game of the final product has a direct line of communication with colleagues who assiduously transform concepts and ideas into reality. Whether it comes from the wader makers, the in-house testing lab, or the in-house repair centre, feedback on making something better can be implemented right then and there.
If there’s a single key to quality, it’s doing more at the front end. Before a Simms wader reaches the production floor, not only have the materials passed scrupulous lab and field testing, so have the designs and construction methods.
The other end of the process is equally rigorous. Each wader undergoes a final test before leaving Bozeman. Every pair is turned inside-out, filled with water and inspected for leaks. Once verified leak-free, then, and only then, are they turned right-side out, hung to dry and packaged for delivery.
Just like in cooking, premium ingredients fall flat unless they are put into capable hands. In Simms’ case, these hands belong to Bozeman-based Wader Makers. These highly skilled craftspeople scrutinise every wader they touch. Some waders require over 150 steps, each with incredibly slim margins for error.
The Wader Makers assume responsibility, accountability, and ownership. For the angling consumer, there’s great satisfaction in knowing every cut, every stitch and every seam has been made by someone who cares.
There’s also a level of trust in knowing that the Wader Makers themselves are more than familiar with the end use of the products they build. Many of them fish, and they fish hard. Because of that, they too demand waders that offer the best performance and endurance season after season. They take pride in building the best for the angling community of which they are part.
Pushing the limits of design, development, materials and technologies to produce better waders requires people who actually wear what they make. Simms’ heritage offers a distinct advantage, but the passion of individuals also provides a unique edge.
In addition to all of the great benefits that come with building waders from design to delivery under the same roof, a ton of their core users are also in-house. Simms employees wear what they build. So not only do they have a better understanding of how a wader moves, where it stretches, how it should fit, and so on, it also validates why they choose to manufacture waders the way they do. Everyone at Simms recognises what it takes for its waders to earn the reputation they have.
Simms waders stem from innovative design, cutting-edge materials, and tenacious testing. But they are also the end result of a painstaking process that’s accomplished by men and women who live and die by precision.
Simms deliberate manufacturing choice is not an easy path to take. However, the end user’s experience is the over-riding consideration. As with all highly regarded products, sometimes what is novel isn’t so much what you see but rather how it’s made and, in the case of Simms, who makes it.
Quality, craftsmanship, and passion – three elements anglers are sure to find with each and every wader that leaves this factory floor.