THE Wigston family have hooked fishermen from all over the world across several decades with their renowned Tasmanian Devil lures, but Garth Wigston has decided the time is right to sell his business.
Wigston Lures has been manufacturing the Tasmanian Devil — the only lure it makes — for 39 years, first at New Norfolk and more recently at Derwent Park.
Just short of a million Tasmanian Devil lures are produced annually in 78 colours and four sizes, and they are exported across Tasmania, overseas, and to 23 countries.
The official takeover by Victorian company JM Gillies took place yesterday, and all six permanent Tasmanian employees have kept their jobs.
The Wigston family began working in retail at New Norfolk in 1934, when Garth’s father, Eddie, started a shop selling fishing, shooting and radio equipment.
Garth worked in the family business, but in 1977 discussed with his father and brother, Ian, the possibility of starting to specialise.
“We thought ‘Let’s think about the possibility of manufacturing them on a mass production basis’, but Dad said ‘Don’t be so silly, you won’t make any money out of that’,” Garth said.
Ignoring their father’s advice, Ian and Garth started making lures in 1979, but hit an unexpected speed bump.
“We went along for about five years and all of a sudden a nice little envelope turned up from a company called Warner Brothers, telling us that we [couldn’t] use this, we own the trademark for the Tasmanian devil,” Garth said.
“We finally reached an agreement where if we used the brand name Tasmanian Devil in fishing equipment only, they wouldn’t object to our use of the name, because they were mainly interested in their soft toys and things like that. These days to get a brand name such as Tasmanian Devil, you would never get it in a pink fit.”
Today, Garth says the company is probably the largest manufacturer of fishing lures in Australia.
While he is sad to stand aside, he won’t be stepping away completely.
“I’m to the stage now where I’d like to spend a little bit more time sailing my yacht and doing other things, so now is the time to be selling the business,” he said.
“I’ll retire into the background, I’m just going to be a reference point and give a bit of a hand in the background for a couple of years.”