It was a bitterly cold November morning and I was finally nestled into my favorite treestand. I could see the sky beginning to lighten and I was not sure if the goose bumps on my neck were from the cold or the eager anticipation of having a deer walk right under me. As the sun slowly crested in the draw just above me, it was akin to the sound of reveille playing for all the creatures of the mountainous big woods. First, I could hear the squirrels, and next the birds, then it was the unmistakable sound of a deer marching through the frozen leaves—-heading in my direction! I slowly stood; trying to anticipate from which direction it was coming. And then, out of nowhere, I could see the beautiful doe heading towards me. With every step she took, warm breath seemed to roll out of her nostrils like a steam locomotive. She was finally at 20 yards and although her angle was a little askew to my position, it was a shot I had made numerous times before.
In an effort to straighten out the angle, I slowly shifted my weight just before the moment of truth. In my mind everything was perfect. I was already thinking of the different ways I was going to enjoy the fruits of my labor. Then, without warning, my treestand made one of the most dreaded noises in the deer woods. The loud “creaking” noise from the platform of my treestand couldn’t have been any more damaging than a smack to the big boss doe’s face. Without a second thought, she bolted across the wooded point with the speed of a Kentucky Derby thoroughbred. As the unfortunate sight of that big white tail disappeared into the thicket laden hollow, I decided that would be the last time my equipment (especially my treestand) would ever negatively affect my chances for success.
Considering the amount of time bowhunters spend in a treestand, why would one want to settle for anything but the best in available options.
As hunters, we spend more time in our stands than we would ever care to admit. During my time in the timber, I have learned that it pays to have quality in the products you use; especially the ones that are so integral to the success of our pursuits. Recently, I spent some time discussing this topic with Jared Schlipf who is one of the co-owners of Lone Wolf Stands. I was excited about the information he shared with me and I hope it will help you be more successful this fall.
Question: For our readers that may not be familiar with the subject, what is your background?
Answer: I have hunted all of my life. My brother in law, Jeff, and I are actually partners in the business. I graduated from the University of Illinois with an agricultural communications degree. I was also the Director of Golf for a family golf course in Peoria, IL. We had been looking for an opportunity to get into the hunting industry because of our passion for hunting and the outdoors. At the time, Jeff and I were using Lone Wolf climbers and we really liked the product. We knew their products were “high end” and there was nothing on the market that compared to them; apples to apples speaking. That was exactly the situation we were looking for. Then, we were presented with the opportunity to purchase the company. The rest, as they say….. is history.
Question: When did you guys take over Lone wolf?
Answer: We purchased the company in 2006.
Question: What type of barriers have you faced and how have you overcome them since you took over Lone Wolf?
Answer: One of the biggest barriers is that Lone Wolf has always been more expensive than other stands. It is a “get what you pay for” world, coupled with the push for US made products. A lot of guys are thinking quality over quantity. They know they may spend a little more on a Lone Wolf stand, but it will last them a lifetime if they keep up the maintenance. We have focused on the quality of our products and materials that we use to build our stands. We do not cut corners in any facet of our production.
The owners of Lone Wolf are just as passionate about bowhunting as they are about making the best stands in the industry.
Question: Can you explain the manufacturing process?
Answer: I can, to some extent, without getting into our proprietary processes. Everything is made here in the United States. Our casting is done at Alcast, a local company here in Peoria, IL, which is only six miles from our corporate headquarters. All of the subcomponents are manufactured at plants in surrounding states. Once the casting is complete, we will bring the casts and the sub-components into our facility. The final assembly and packaging is done here in our corporate headquarters.
Question: What type of quality control do you have for your products?
Answer: We have very strict quality control processes in house and also for our suppliers. During the assembly process, our employees will inspect each component and will sign off that it is a quality piece going into the individual stand. We also have hunters in the plant assembling these stands. Everyone that works for us uses the products and they have friends that use our products. When you have people working for you that use and understand the product, they know every minute detail of how that product should look and perform. They understand how much tension should be on each bolt and how the stand should open and close, without making any noise whatsoever. This is very important to every one of our employees because they take pride in our company and the work they do.
Question: What is the hardest piece of the manufacturing process?
Answer: The casting is a difficult process. Just from looking at one of our stands, you can tell that it is a very intricate design pattern. The process in which it is poured and cast is a patented process, and this is very important because the cast aluminum portion of our stand is very unique. Over the years, other manufacturers have tried to duplicate this process in overseas plants, but the skill required to meet such close tolerances cannot be duplicated anywhere but here in the United States. The tolerances that we work on are so close that it translates to a product that is not only superior in quality, but it is quieter and more aesthetically pleasing.
Question: If you could only hunt out of one stand for the rest of your life, which one would it be and why?
Answer: That is a difficult question to answer, because most of the land we hunt, we tend to bounce around a lot looking for fresh sign. The Alpha TM Hang On and a four piece set of Climbing Sticks is my go-to set up. At the same time, I always have my climber ready in case I have to make a quick adjustment. If we are hunting away from home, I will always take both because it really is the best of both worlds.
Question: What is the one achievement you are most proud of since taking over Lone Wolf?
Answer: I am most proud of our ability to grow sales, innovate and create brand awareness. Since we purchased the company, we have come out with a lot of new innovations, this year being the new Wide Flip-Top Combo. This stand, which is for bowhunters, is really unique to the industry because it functions like a sit and climb, but you are perched above the frame more like an Alphatm Hang on. This allows you to shoot from a sitting position in a climber, which would normally be very difficult to do in a sling style seat. It also allows you to flip the seat up and step back against the tree, allowing you to breakup your silhouette when a deer is approaching.
One other innovation for this year is our Ladder Stick; it has had a wonderful response so far. Part of that is because the guys that have been using Lone Wolf for years are getting older and losing some of their agility. The Ladder Stick allows those same guys to put those sticks together on the ground and walk them up the tree and be just as mobile and efficient as they ever were with the other style sticks. We are always trying to evolve and provide the best quality product to our customers and improve on an already great product. We already have new products on the drawing board for next year.
Lone Wolf treestands are easily identified by their trademark 3-D camo, one-piece cast aluminum platform.
Question: What are the research and development goals for Lone Wolf?
Answer: Anything that can make a hunter quieter and more efficient; thus making the owners of our products more successful in the woods.
Question: What excites you the most about the future for Lone Wolf?
Answer: I think what excites me the most about the future is the changing demographics of the hunting industry. We are seeing people from many diverse backgrounds getting involved in the industry. These individuals seem to appreciate cutting-edge, elite products, like Lone Wolf treestands, to get the job done. That is where our stands have always been and our future will always be; to stay cutting edge and be the stand that sets the bar for everyone else to try and catch. I see some huge things in the future for Lone Wolf, as far as growth, innovation and the shift in demographics to people that expect American made quality products.
Question: What do people not know about Lone Wolf that they should know?
Answer: The one thing that I hope stands out is our customer service. We put family and people first. It is extremely important to us that if you call in, you will talk to a representative that knows something about the product. The people here at Lone Wolf use our products and understand how it should function and how it will be used in the woods. That is the one thing that a lot of companies fall short on nowadays with the overseas manufacturing. They seem to lose touch with the intimacy of the products they are selling. The public definitely needs to know that from the guys cleaning the warehouse to the owners, everyone within Lone Wolf has pride, knowledge and firsthand experience with each of our products.
Question: What is the best way for people to learn more about Lone Wolf?
Answer: A great way to get more information is our website www.lonewolfhuntingproducts.com. One of the coolest ways is Facebook. Anyone that wants to follow Lone Wolf and our products on Facebook will get details of what is going on with us on a daily basis. We will also introduce them to actual employees within the company that are putting the stands together. The users that are on Facebook will post back and forth with me about how they use our products and what they like about us. There are a ton of hints on there that can really help increase your hunting success.
If you would like more information about Lone Wolf Stands, please visit the website at www.lonewolfhuntingproducts.com or head over to their Facebook page.