Grapentin Specialties was born in 1983 when Jeff Grapentin purchased his first sinker mold from Jack Biewer to make fishing sinkers for R&R’s Sporting Goods, Pat Creger, his mother-in-law’s store, in Almont, Michigan. His dad Wilfred L. Grapentin told him that his Uncle Harold had operated his own fishing tackle business “Halken Specialties” located in Roseville, Michigan. He and his wife, Del, manufactured fishing sinkers and leaders for area stores. When his Uncle Harold moved, he gave Jeff his fishing sinker molds. Jeff began to make sinkers. Then he went on the road to sell what he had made. He had gone to several stores with no luck. Ready to give up and forget it all, Jeff said to God “If I don’t sell to the next store, I’m done!”. He went into KK Party Store in Harrison Township and made his first sale. That year, his total sales were $500.00.
Then in 1984 Grapentin Specialties was established. Jeff then informed Diane she was to quit her current job at R&R’s Sporting Goods and be his salesperson. Diane laughed “No way!” “I’m not selling sinkers!” Diane is now in charge of day-to-day operations at Grapentin Specialities. Diane’s favorite fishing is pan fishing or perch, especially ice fishing, while casting with crawler harnesses in Ohio is a close second.
Grapentin Specialties began in a one car garage in Almont. Doing sales out of the trunk of a Chevy Caprice, with her three sons (Joshua, Jonathon and Andrew) the sales began.
Diane heard about a large shop on 10 mile and Jefferson (Lakeside Fishing Shop). She got directions and decided to check it out. Walking in she said “Hi, my name is Diane Grapentin, I was wondering who I’d talk to about fishing sinkers”. “Me, my name is George, we already have a sinker person.” End of conversation.
The following week, Diane went back to Lakeside but this time to purchase a gift for her brother Bob. Running into George again, he said “Aren’t you the sinker lady?” “No, not me”, Diane replied “I’m just here to get a gift”. “No, weren’t you here last week on sinkers?” George said. “Yes” Diane replied. “Do you have any on you?” “Yes, let me see.” Diane opened the trunk of her car and showed George a trunk full of sinkers in coffee cans. “I’ll take them all!.” George said. Having no calculator and no pre-packaged sinkers, Diane counted each sinker, added them up by hand while another owner, Dan Chimelak, held little Andrew, only one years old at the time and showed him the minnows. George told Diane “You’re gonna have to get a van if you’re going to supply us”. So we bought our first van “by faith” from Kevin Lahaie.
In May of 1988, we purchased Reilly’s Enterprises, owned by Donald H. Reilly. This business consisted of fishing sinkers, sinker molds, chugg’n boards, chugg’n sticks and chugg’n sinkers. The same products we still sell today.
Then in 1989 or thereabouts, we purchased Walter Jaster’s business which consisted of fishing sinker molds, lead army men molds, sinkers, cannon balls and spreaders. This also increased our sales and product line.
Even with this purchase, we still needed more molds. Wilfred Grapentin, Jeff’s Dad, made us our first custom mold, a 1/2 oz. and 3/4 oz. in line trolling sinker mold. Then because of demand, he also made us our depth finder mold, all our tolling sinker molds, our 10 oz. to 2 lb. triangle sinker molds, a multi cavity 1 oz., 1 1/2 oz. and 2 oz. bell sinker mold, all our wire benders, as well as a wire cutting machine. He did all of these things by hand in his basement. He helped us in so many ways, he encouraged us when we wanted to quit. He was an inspiration and our “main man” while we had him. He left us on May 8, 1989. He will always be missed — but never forgotten!
In 1984, Jeff Grapentin began making crawler harnesses for R&R’s Sporting Goods in Almont, Michigan. Since then, we have expanded to a full line of crawler harnesses made in homes throughout Michigan.
In 1990, we began to carry perch rigs and flutter snells. We have had many people tying for us and still do. While everyone does a great job we are extremely proud to have Rita Purdon still tying for us daily and she’ll be 91 on Sept 8th! She is Awesome!!!!! May we all look to her for inspiration!
In 1994, while Diane was working in her office at 2798 South Van Dyke in Imlay City, Michigan, she suddenly felt a “gentle wind” and heard a whisper “Catchmore”, register it, “Catchmore Fish with Catchmore Products!“.
In October of 1995, we relocated to our present location at 5599 Bowers Road in Imlay City, Michigan.
Diane’s sons Joshua, Jonathon and Andrew, have all been a large part of the business.
Joshua now has his masters degree in business and works in sales, although he lives in California that doesn’t stop him from calling his mom and coaching her with motivational sales talks. When Josh isn’t working, he loves to hike and is taking up trout fishing.
Jonathon now works in maintenance, he is good with his hands and loves fixing things, whenever he’s not working he’s kayaking, fishing or working in his yard.
Andrew is still working full time and is being mentored by his mom to take her place, or at least half of her work load. Andrew is working towards his bachelors degree in Business Administration and hopes to bring a freshness to the company and to improve our business. Andrew enjoys walking, bike riding, snow boarding and would like to take up Salmon fishing.
Donna Grapentin started in 1993 tying flutter snells for us and tied for us until 2007.
In 1999 Donna came on board as an employee working while her sons were in school. Now she works full-time, staying until your orders are done. Diane cried out to God for Help and during a conversation on the phone, Donna said I can help you. She has been here ever since. But she never knew how much help I needed. God is good! We thank God for Donna every day, without her dedication and integrity we would not have been able to go to this level. No one can fulfill a vision alone. Donna Grapentin likes perch fishing, especially when she catches 3 at a times using Rita’s Triple Slammers (made by her mom Rita).
Jeff is founder of this company and his heart is here. He still is working another job, focusing on being debt free so he can step into his calling. God calls and equips us, we just need to trust Him for the timing. Diane’s timing is now, Jeff’s is when… When God tells Jeff to come on board full time he will. It seems like it’s been a long time coming but to God it’s not, He’s Always on Time. Jeff enjoys Whippin using our nite stalkers and fish stalkers and Diane’s favorite fishing is panfish or perch, especially ice fishing, while casting with crawler harnesses in Ohio is a close second.
We have had many people help us as we have grown and we realize that without God, we would have gone no where, but with God’s help and the help of the people he sends our way, the skies the limit!
We are looking for brighter tomorrows, clearer paths and a boat full of fish. As we grow and prosper, we hope to help all of you grow and prosper as well, not only financially (that’s only a small part), but in every area of our lives.