Kinami Baits: The Tradition ContinuesKinami Baits: The Tradition Continues An interview with Derek Yamamoto having to wrestle with the perception that he's hanging on his dad's coat-tails.
By Tom Morrison
Every so often, a company enters the competitive sportfishing market with a product they hope and believe will make an impact on the industry and it's consumers. Some make it and unfortunately, some don't. It's a business not unlike any other but with fewer chances of longevity than most in other markets. The new product fads come and go and usually only those with a thorough knowledge of the market, a history of trial and error leading to success and an 'above reproach product' that consumers believe in, are around long enough to reap the rewards of their efforts. Kinami Baits will be around to reap the rewards of their efforts.
The Kinami Baits product line honed from years on the tournament trail and vast resource knowledge entered the market two years ago. However, when you consider the last name of the owner, Yamamoto, you would think they've been around forever. True, the last name is synonymous with excellence and quality, but the first name is Derek, not Gary, although it is relative. Derek and wife Amber have to make Kinami Baits work on their own merit. I believe they have succeeded. Everything about their products display class, professionalism and quality from the packaging on up. No gimmicks here.
Why don't I let them explain their success so far, where they want to be ten years from now and their philosophy on the sport and it's future.
Morrison - When did you decide to make to make the leap into the sportfishing market and why?
Derek Yamamoto - I was visiting a Bass Pro Shop in Charlotte, NC in January of 2001 and was just amazed at what a cool store it was. I said, "I need to get Yamamoto product in here." I knew that dad (aka Gary), didn't want to place his product in large retail chain stores, so I had presented myself with a rather large problem. After a while of pondering I decided to start my own company and private label dad's bait. I went to him with the idea and he liked it, so Kinami was born.
Morrison - Everything from the packaging of your products on up is first class, but the proof is in the fishing. What are every day anglers and tournament professionals saying about the product's effectiveness?
Derek Yamamoto - Both tournament pro's and everyday anglers love the products. They are amazed at how well they catch fish. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned pro we have the baits that will help you catch more and bigger fish. The Kinami Flash is the best example; it is so easy to use, but you can catch monster fish on it, even when conditions are less than perfect.
Morrison - Do you invite suggestions from the angling public and tournament competitors as to colour selections, configurations and new product ideas? If so, how can they contact you with their thoughts?
Derek Yamamoto - Of course, no one knows everything and the best ideas usually come from a small garage near a little lake with big fish in it. In the years to come we will be expanding our line to include some styles and colors that are exclusive to Kinami.
Morrison - Okay, the question you may be asked more than any other - Yamamoto is a high profile name, it can't hurt the business, but are you finding it difficult to defend your professionalism, quality and success as not riding your father's coat-tails?
Derek Yamamoto - I don't think that there is a single "father/son" relationship that doesn't produce comparisons and when you have grown up working with your Dad there will always be people who question your individual ability. The thing that matters to me is that I understand my own contributions and achievements. My father supports me, as I do him. I try to make people understand, though, that following in my fathers foot steps is different than riding his "coat-tails". He gave me a love of fishing, a respect for hard work and determination and the skills to produce quality products. Kinami Baits allows me to test my own ideas for marketing, advertising and business. When Dad and I go fishing, we show each other new ideas and he gives me advise and encouragement. Besides, I don't think I've ever seen him in coat tails!
Morrison - Most anglers from southwestern Ontario have to go to Detroit, at Bass Pro Shops, to purchase your product, do you have any idea or a strategic plan as to when or even if, you will cross the puddle and enter the Canadian market?
Derek Yamamoto - We have Canadian retailers interested in the product presently, it is mostly a logistical problem getting product up there and making it comply with the "dual language" requirements. One of our distributors is going to be testing the market in Canada with our products this year. I hope to get in some of the pro shops as well. We'll let you know as soon as product is delivered over the puddle!
Morrison - Further to that question, are there any plans to set up an Kinami Baits e-store to address the international consumers?
Derek Yamamoto - We don't plan on selling directly to the retail customer, but have begun discussions with several companies who are interested in the e-commerce market. Bass Pro currently sells the entire line of Kinami products at their site (www.basspro.com).
Morrison - Which bait in the Kinami Baits line-up, is your favorite bait and has produced for you in your tournament efforts?
Derek Yamamoto - I would have to pick two- the Flash and the Worm have both produced great results for me this year. As you know, the Flash can be fished any time of year and in almost any condition, while still producing you fish. I caught many good fish on the Flash this spring whether it was flippin' or weight-less, and I fished from California to Florida this past year, so it works everywhere. The 4" worm is awesome for drop-shotting. If you haven't tried this technique, learn it. Go to a shop and ask questions, take a guide out that knows how to do it. It is deadly for catching fish. You might think it is wimpy fishing with a spinning rod and 6lb line, but if you catch your limit, who will be laughing at weigh in? The drop shot technique is sound, but don't think it is limited to the 6lb spinning set up. I use it a lot on a casting rod with 16lb line and a 3/8 or 1/2 oz weight, fishing it like a carolina rig. Fishing has endless possibilities so keep your mind open and don't be afraid to try new things.
Morrison - Last question - Are there any new exciting baits on the drawing board for Kinami in 2003 that we should be looking out for?
Derek Yamamoto - We do have a few new things on the horizon, I can't give anything away yet, but definitely some new colors, and a few new Kinami exclusive styles are in the works. We won't release anything until it's production ready. Keep watching.... and thanks for all your support.
Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions Derek. I know many of our tournament anglers in southwestern and central Ontario know of Kinami Baits and are using your products with success. We wish you all the best and longevity in the market and please, come to Canada soon where more of us can purchase these quality baits.
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