End of an era as Alvey factory shuts its doors
THE phone was ringing off the hook at Alvey Reels' Carole Park headquarters yesterday morning.
As news spread about the pending closure of the iconic 97-year-old Ipswich business, so too did the feeling that Queenslanders, and indeed fishermen across the country, were about to lose something dear to their hearts.
And with that, the orders came flooding in.
But it appears that nothing short of a miracle will be saving the famous reel manufacturer from here on in.
Managing director Bruce Alvey and his brother, director Glenn Alvey said they had agonised over the decision to close, but that current sales could not justify keeping the business going.
At the heart of the down turn in business, the brothers say, has been the change in Australian fishing culture over the last decade or more.
"People have gone from using bait and big rods to flicking lures with light gear,” Glenn said.
"Our bigger reels used to be popular too but then overheads came in and they became a lot cheaper over time.”
With more than 40 reels across their range during their peak, it wasn't like Alvey didn't diversify.
At one point, they even did a deal with manufacturer Zebco to release a completely different style of reel, but customers found they didn't last anywhere near as well as the good old Alvey.
"I've had lots of sleepless nights. We are pretty gutted,” Bruce said.
"We have known things were not good for a few years, but this year it is like someone has turned off the tap.”
With orders still coming in, the Carole Park factory will continue to make reels until August 22.
The Alvey brothers told their 17 staff of the decision before publicly announcing the closure on Wednesday evening.
The decision brings to an end a business that was established in Brisbane in 1920 by Charles Alvey, the great-grandfather of Bruce and Glenn.
The factory has been at Carole Park since 1978.
One of the keys to Alvey's success over many years was the user-friendly side-cast design, which allows the user to quickly rotate the reel 90 degrees for casting, before flipping it back for fishing.
The key to the longevity and toughness of the reels themselves is the lack of moving parts, and the quality of the parts themselves, all of which are made in the Carole Park factory.
"This is still one of the few factories in Australia where the raw materials come in through one door, and the finished product comes out at the other end,” Bruce said.