Posted by: socalsalty | June 7, 2013

Avet Reels Factory Tour

IMG_6841Last week after my Thursday cuda trip on the Enterprise, with the issues that I had in terms of gear, I wanted to resolve those issues in order to be fully prepared for this week’s seabass hunt.  Specifically, I needed to replace the clamp screws (one of which I had lost) for my trusty old MXL, it needed normal maintenance, and I had been wanting to update the handle to the newer style which I find much more comfortable.  My buddy Adrian lives close to the Avet factory and told me I should just drop in and they’d handle it for me.  I took his advice.

The Avet factory is located in Chatsworth and you can find all their information at the Avet Reels website.  Since I was going to drive up, I asked if I could meet their marketing manager, Scott Throop, and get a tour while my service was getting done.  Scott was very gracious and took the time to show me around and tell me the Avet story.

Avet Reels was founded by brothers Harry and Sarkis Alajayjyan.  They introduced their reels in March of 2002 at the Fred Hall Show.  The story really started 25 years back though.  Harry is a pilot and was an engineer in the aerospace industry that used to be such a big part of the SoCal industrial scene.  Harry’s company manufactured parts to spec for the big aerospace companies (like McDonnell Douglas).  Harry also has a passion for fishing though and he found a creative outlet in designing and engineering his reels.  The reels were an immediate success at the show and they haven’t looked back since.

Jeff shows me a reel frame and the billet of aluminum it came from

Scott shows me a reel frame and the billet of aluminum it came from

Scott used to have his own rod company and his booth happened to be next to Avet’s at that 2002 Fred Hall Show.  Scott’s background is as a machinist and he and Harry immediately hit it off talking shop.  Scott liked building rods matching the guide wraps to the different colored Pac Bay reel seats.  Avet was the only reel manufacturer that made reels in matching colors and he found himself selling his rods with Avets as a combo.  The product collaboration led to him eventually joining Avet.

Scott took me out on the factory floor and showed me how the reels are made.  The process starts with raw rods of 6061 aircraft grade aluminum of varying diameters depending on the size of reel it’s going to be made into.  It’s a 6 step process from the raw rods of aluminum to a finished frame that is then ready for anodizing (color).  First the rods are cut into billets or “slugs” that are roughly the size of the frame.  The billet is then shaped on the outside and cored, openings are routered, screw taps are made etc.  Flat pieces are made in a similar process from bars of the raw material.  Each step is done in various high tech CNC machines allowing Avet to manufacture each piece to an exacting standard. The quality comes out in the final product being very durable and requiring little maintenance (as I can attest to firsthand).

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All but a very few pieces (small things like some springs and screws) are manufactured inhouse to produce 742 different reels (models, and then the different colors for each model).  The only outsourced process is the anodizing  where color is applied.  Unfortunately, when product comes back from anodizing, the color sometimes comes out inconsistent.  Rather than throw these pieces out, Scott had the bright idea of using them to make the 2 tone “blem” models you see at a discounted rate.  Scott hates the term blemish.  These reels are exactly the same, the color just didn’t come back an exact match.  “Contrast is better than an almost match” he says.  Final assembly is then done by hand at Avet.

Avet chief Harry Alajayjyan

Avet chief Harry Alajayjyan

While we were out on the floor, we ran into Harry.  Scott introduced us and Harry was kind enough to give me some time.  I was curious to ask him about the new SXJ reel that was introduced at this year’s FHS.  Why that reel?  “The SX is overkill for 90% of the local fishing we do.  A smaller diameter spool also has less drag which makes for longer casting and is better for fin bait when in free spool.  It’s also opened up a new market for us with the salmon fishermen in the Northwest.”  What’s coming up for Avet?  “We’re excited about what’s happened with the SXJ in the Northwest, so we are introducing a levelwind which is something that our Northwest dealers are telling us the market up there is very excited about.”  I am too.  My daughter would love a pink Avet levelwind.  Would you ever do a star drag?  “Actually, after we do the levelwind, a star drag is next up.  You’re actually the first ‘press’ we’ve told about it.”  That’s exciting (the reel, not my ‘scoop’).  I’ve found myself in situations where I wanted to adjust the drag in the middle of a fight, but was scared to even try.  An Avet star drag would be just the ticket.

By now my service was done.  Scott told me as we were walking back to his office that the SXJ has been tremendously well received.  It’s actually their best selling reel now.  I picked up my finished MXL.  Ah, much better.  Smooth and the new handle felt good.  It’s already battle tested and it works great.  Thank you Scott, Harry and Team Avet.  I’ve always felt that Avets were great reels and a tremendous value.  Seeing what they do and everything that goes into the final product, that feeling is even stronger.  Keep up the great work.  Tight lines!

The Alajayjyan family...product-testing ;-)

The Alajayjyan family…product-testing 😉


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