You may not have realized that Darton Archery archery, sport of shooting with bow and arrow, an important military and hunting skill before the introduction of gunpowder. England's Charles II fostered archery as sport, establishing in 1673 the world's oldest continuous archery tournament, the Ancient Scorton is one of the oldest companies in the archery industry. Few people outside of eastern Michigan know the company s long history. In 1950 Darton was established as a division of Container Specialties, Inc., a Flint flint, mineral
flint, variety of quartz that commonly occurs in rounded nodules and whose crystal structure is not visible to the naked eye. Flint is dark gray, smoky brown, or black in color; pale gray flint is called chert. , Michigan-based company that made cartons and provided products for Detroit's automotive industry The automotive industry is the industry involved in the design, development, manufacture, marketing, and sale of motor vehicles. In 2006, more than 69 million motor vehicles, including cars and commercial vehicles were produced worldwide. . Among other things, Container Specialties made leather goods for foundry A semiconductor manufacturer that makes chips for third parties. It may be a large chip maker that sells its excess manufacturing capacity or one that makes chips exclusively for other companies. and mill workers. It was a bustling bus·tle 1
intr. & tr.v. bus·tled, bus·tling, bus·tles
To move or cause to move energetically and busily.
Excited and often noisy activity; a stir. trade for nine months out of the year, but during the summer the auto industry practically shut down for model year changes. Ralph Darlington, who owned Container Specialties, knew he needed to find another market for his products that would prop up Verb 1. prop up - support by placing against something solid or rigid; "shore and buttress an old building"
prop, shore up, shore
hold up, support, sustain, hold - be the physical support of; carry the weight of; "The beam holds up the roof"; "He supported flagging summertime sales.
The up and coming archery accessories market offered a perfect opportunity to put Container Specialties' leatherworking experience to good use. Immediately, Darton Archery was formed. It began offering arm guards, quivers, shooting gloves and tabs, and eventually moved into other products such as arrows.
In 1961 Ralph's son Rex came on board to head up Darton Archery. Immediately, Rex began design work on additional products for the line. This was the pre-compound era, so it was natural to expand into recurves and longbows, which Rex did with great success.
In 1969 Darton moved to Hale, Michigan, after outgrowing the facilities in Flint. Things went along great for several years with steady growth. When the compound bow A compound bow is a modern bow that uses a levering system of cables and usually cams and pulleys to draw the limbs back.
The limbs of a compound bow are usually much stiffer than those of a recurve bow or longbow. started to show signs of acceptance, Darton became one of the dozen or so companies that received an exclusive license under the Allen patent.
Effectively, this exclusive licensing agreement limited competition and allowed each participant to focus on production. With only limited effort and money involved in the task of obtaining and growing market share, all the companies did well. It was a time of growth and prosperity throughout the archery industry-especially at Darton Archery.
The First Major Hurdle HURDLE, Eng. law. A species of sledge, used to draw traitors to execution.
Things got a lot tougher when the Allen patent ran out and the technology became public domain in the late '70s. "While we were still under the protection of the patent we sold exclusively through distributors," said Rex Darlington. "The process was straightforward and efficient. But when the patent ran out there was no limit on who could produce compound bows. Several more manufacturers jumped into the marketplace. Suddenly, the cost of sales went through the roof. We had to work a lot harder at reaching the ultimate consumer through advertising and dealer-oriented sales programs. That was our first big hurdle-having to deal with the high cost of sales, a reality in the modern archery market.
"We went through a real learning curve, starting with factory reps (they were too expensive) and finally settling on a select group of independent field reps to take our products into the pro shops.
"The biggest challenge today is figuring out where to spend our advertising budget," added Darlington. "There are so many different opportunities out there: magazine, television and Internet. Coming up with the most effective mix is tough."
Darton On The Internet
Though Darlington may wish for the "good old days," he hasn't been slow to embrace changing technology. One way that Darton is keeping up with changing communication and buying patterns is to become very proactive on the Internet. "We have two websites," said Darlington.
"Dartonarchery.com is our primary communications site and is where we offer product information and answer e-mail questions from dealers and archers. We have a person who responds to every question or suggestion as quickly as possible. We sell closeout closeout, closure
the finalization of a feeding program in a feedlot. The cattle are sold and a balance sheet is struck which includes the costs of feeding and housing or confining them. products through another site--archeryselect.com--at reduced prices. Consumers can buy directly through this site, but we've maintained our dealer emphasis by permitting dealers to buy direct as well, at even lower prices. We haven't cut them out of the clearance market."
I asked Rex if he felt the large e-commerce sites would someday some·day
At an indefinite time in the future.
Usage Note: The adverbs someday and sometime express future time indefinitely: We'll succeed someday. Come sometime. replace the neighborhood archery dealer. "I don't think so," responded Darlington. "The easy money from small items may go in other directions, but buying a bow is still a service-intensive process. If the dealer was that expendable he would have disappeared when Wal-Mart started selling bows. Instead, we will probably see dealers getting into Internet sales in an effort to win back some of the easy money."
Acquiring ProLine proline (prō`lēn), organic compound, one of the 20 amino acids commonly found in animal proteins. Only the l-stereoisomer appears in mammalian protein. Archery
In 1997 Darton Archery purchased the ProLine name and assets and moved them to the Hale plant. "ProLine was strong with the buying groups," said Darlington. "That marketing plan proved to be too restrictive because there are so many avenues for getting product to the consumer now. ProLine struggled as a result of relying too heavily on one form of sales. Darton has never been very strong with buying groups, so we saw the acquisition as an opportunity for us to get involved with those dealers without having to change the marketing plan that has proven effective with Darton bows.
"We viewed ProLine as the mass merchant and buying group product line while Darton would be more exclusive and sold mostly dealer-direct. I'd like to say the strategy has worked the way we planned, but it really hasn't. As a result, we are planning to explore other marketing strategies with ProLine going into the new millennium. This gives us a way to experiment without having to take any risk with the Darton product line."
Growing The Business
The two areas in which Darton has expanded in the past several years are polar opposites that which is conspicuously different in most important respects.
See also: Opposite : traditional bows and crossbows. In 1996 Ron Pittsley joined Darton Archery with the specific purpose of working with the company to redesign re·de·sign
tr.v. re·de·signed, re·de·sign·ing, re·de·signs
To make a revision in the appearance or function of.
re and produce a version of his popular Predator predator
an animal that derives its life support by predation. recurve bow A recurve bow is a form of bow defined by the side-view profile; in contrast to the simple longbow, a recurve bow has tips that curve away from the archer when the bow is unstrung. . The goal was to provide pro shops with a quality traditional bow line that they could use to compete with all the custom bow makers that only sell consumer-direct. The Predator has been a very successful extension of Darton to the point that the company has also released the new Predator longbow longbow
Leading missile weapon of the English from the 14th century into the 16th century. Probably of Welsh origin, it was usually 6 ft (2 m) tall and shot arrows more than a yard long. for 1999.
In 1999 Darton started a new crossbow company called Great Lakes Great Lakes, group of five freshwater lakes, central North America, creating a natural border between the United States and Canada and forming the largest body of freshwater in the world, with a combined surface area of c.95,000 sq mi (246,050 sq km). Crossbow. "After three years of research we used the experience of both the Darton and ProLine engineering departments to put together one of the best-performing crossbows in the marketplace," said Darlington. "Our top-of-the-line Durango takes performance to a new level. At 165 pounds draw force shooting a 463-grain arrow it achieves 320 feet per second. With a 535-grain arrow it still produces 305 fps.
"Our number one goal is to offer a product that can be used very effectively by disabled archers and non-disabled archers in the states where crossbows are legal," Rex added.
The Next 50 Years
"The millennium marks the beginning of Darton's second 50 years of business in the archery industry," said Darlington. "We feel we still have a lot to offer. Our C/P/S C/P/S City or Country / Profession / Status (married/single) system truly gives the consumer a viable option in single-cam technology. The system is definably different, visually different and physically it feels different. Its shootability is unmatched. Darton's number one marketing strategy going into the next century will be a continued focus on products like the C/P/S. We will focus on offering bowhunters a better way to do things."