Netbait flourishes in county
Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 8, 2007
Top tournament fishermen swear by them. They go by catchy names like “Finesse Worm,” “Paca Craw,” and “Salt Lick.” And they are made right here in Butler County.
Welcome to the world of Netbait, a company that started small in the southern part of the county. Decades later, the flourishing business is now found in a manufacturing facility on Manningham Road in Greenville.
Netbait produces a variety of soft plastic baits, tens of thousands a day, which are shipped out to retailers and sold to fishermen across the U.S., Canada and Japan. Cabela's, Bass Pro Shops and Gander Mountain all carry the locally-made products.
Braxton McNaughton, founder of the company, said there's one major reason he started it: “I fished a lot.”
“I really loved fishing, and I decided to make some bait of my own to fish with. I
decided to start selling it to recoup some of the money I put into making it,” McNaughton told members of the Greenville Lions Club on Monday.
“I probably sold $500-$600 in bait the first year, which I thought was pretty good.”
McNaughton, who started his business by hand pouring the plastic into molds, said he initially made about 700 pieces of the soft plastic bait a day.
“Later, I made a machine to do it, and we got up to about 1,000 in an hour,” McNaughton said.
Over the years, newer, more efficient machinery was added, producing up to 5,400 per hour, he said.
When McNaughton's father fell ill, he found operating his bait manufacturing business, working full time and trying to spend time with his dad was just too much.
“I sort of let the bait business go down there for a while. After my dad's death, I decided to try to get things going again,” he explained.
McNaughton began tinkering with a new type of bait, and showed off his work to his son, who said “it just might work.”
“The first prototype mold didn't work quite right. It took me making four molds before it would work properly,” the businessman admitted.
McNaughton's new creation was sold at the New Orleans Classic, where it did well - until a patent infringement suit was filed against him.
“It took some more work, but I made some changes and was able to apply for patents on my own designs,” McNaughton said.
Designs like “Paca Craw” and “Mac Daddy” are drawing fans from across the country and the world. The company has “eight or nine” U.S. distributors, four in Japan and one in Canada, McNaughton said.
“We don't really advertise; it's been word of mouth. People use our products and they like them.”
Today, the Manningham Road facility produces some 30,000 to 40,000 pieces of its “go to bait.”
“We have 11 employees at the plant with another 15 to 20 people who work at home packaging the products to be returned to us for shipping,” McNaughton said. The company manufactures 17 different baits, from the “Baby Action Cat” to the “Frog.”
What sets Netbait products apart from the competitors? The super-soft plastics are loaded with salt, anise scent and pork fat “to make the fish bite and hang on.”
“My son enjoys fishing and really likes using your product,” Lions member Frank Hickman told McNaughton.
As Hickman pointed out, it seems McNaughton opened quite the successful “can of worms” with his hobby.
“I just started out with this as something I enjoyed tinkering around with, and just wanted to make my money back. Things turned out OK,” McNaughton said with a smile.
To learn more about Netbait products, go to the company's Website at www.netbait.com.