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Sean Stickler, 39-year-old resident of Fort Lauderdale Fla., is currently involved in that very challenge. Stickler represents an example of what it means to solicit sponsorships in the new millennium.
"I have been very fortunate in the opportunities I have been given in the sponsor marketplace despite my lack of fishing experience" acknowledges Stickler, who started fishing the EverStart Series in 1998 and joined the Wal-Mart FLW Tour in 2000. "I have been surprised by the positive response I have received from companies."
But one look at the Stickler's resume, work ethic, professional business practices and respectful enthusiasm for the sport, and it is easily understood why he is a welcome sight to the bass fishing industry and why his flagship sponsors include Fuji, Ranger, and Mercury.
Although 39 could be considered a little late to be entering the bass fishing market, Stickler brings with him a mature business background. He has a business management degree, has started and sold his own business, and has worked as an assistant general manager in another company. His past business dealings have been with corporate giants such as NASA, General Electric and Boeing.
But this hefty business background does not make him the least bit pompous when it comes to the fishing industry. "My parents instilled in me a strong work ethic. I have always worked from the bottom up. Fishing will be no different. I have only been doing this a short while. For now, I know where my place is-at the bottom. That is the way you learn everything you need to know about a business, and it makes you appreciate the opportunities you are given," Stickler says.
And talk about sweat equity, Stickler is not above donating his time to work shows and move boats. He is the media liaison for the Broward County Junior Bass Tournament Trail, which gives kids ages 12 to 17 the opportunity to compete in tournaments.
Stickler spent his own money to travel to the Ranger headquarters in Flippin, Ark., so he could learn about boat manufacturing and marketing. "How can you represent a product properly if you do not know it inside and out?" Stickler asks.
Stickler also carries his professional business practices over to his fishing correspondence. He documents promotional activity and tournament performances and sends the information to companies. He treats the companies in the fishing business with the same respect that he has for his own corporate clients.
The business background and undaunted professionalism that Stickler and others like him bring to the table is helping to elevate the sport of professional bass fishing.