Ameristep Has a ‘Blind Spot’ for Hunters

Ground blinds continue to grow in popularity, and Ameristep is helping lead the way.

Ameristep Has a ‘Blind Spot’ for Hunters

Ameristep Pro Series Thermal Ground Blind

The COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States just about the time spring turkey hunting seasons were getting underway. While the virus affected retailers of all sizes greatly, turkey hunting — which has always been a social distancing activity — continued pretty much on schedule in most places.

That was good news for Ameristep, a hunting blind company that’s part of the Plano Synergy portfolio of outdoor brands (Avian X, Frabill, Plano and about a dozen others are all sister companies). Starting with this year’s turkey season, the 2020 hunting seasons are expected to be a boom for Ameristep, after the company brought a number of new, innovative ground blinds to the market.

Joe Snatchko, vice president of sales of outdoors for Plano Synergy, provided a glimpse of where Ameristep is going with its ground blinds and how that dovetails to where Plano Synergy is growing as a larger company.


HR: You introduced some new products at SHOT Show, including the Pro Series Thermal Ground blinds. Can you talk about the new products that have rolled out?

JS: The No. 1 rule in retail that’s tried and true is “newness sells.” With that in mind, we’ve delivered over 50 new hunting products into the market for 2020 across 11 brands. Our newness spans the good, better, best price segments, and we remain committed to driving exciting innovation into the market while providing our consumers great price-value product offerings. 

The Pro Series Thermal Ground Blind (top photo) is a great example of just that. It features heavy-duty, insulated material to keep you comfortable in any weather conditions; full walk-through door; extra-large footprint, providing 37 percent more space versus a standard blind; quick-adjust ratchet tie-downs for quick and effective setup; and it’s topped off with Mossy Oak’s newest Terra Elements Camo for ultimate concealment. 

We’ve also delivered an expanded lineup of sub-$100 ground blinds offering the quality and design our consumers have come to value without breaking the bank when making a multi-blind purchase to outfit all of your best hunting spots. This lineup consists of the Doghouse Run & Gun, Caretaker Run & Gun and Caretaker Magnum — all tried-and-true designs now in different configurations to meet any consumer’s needs.


HR: What specific styles/types of hunting have you seen the most growth in recently? 

JS: That’s the great thing about ground blinds — they’re so versatile and accommodate all types of hunters and hunting situations. Whether up against the edge of a thicket, tucked underneath the canopy of a tree along a field edge, or brushed into the edge of a corn field, you can throw it up just about anywhere and be successful. Better yet, it’s great for running and gunning solo for that #1 buck on your hitlist or packing the family in it for a comfortable evening hunt.


HR: Who are your bread-and-butter consumers? Whitetail hunters? Turkey?

JS: Without a doubt it’s the whitetail hunter, though you can’t discount our turkey hunters. I’ve found it’s a great way to get the kids out during youth turkey season and to ensure an enjoyable hunt given the ability to move around and stay concealed. My son A.J. shot his first gobbler last spring out of our Ameristep Care Taker Kickout Blind (below).

Ameristep Care Taker Kickout Blind
Ameristep Care Taker Kickout Blind

HR: Is there a specific type/style of hunting where you think there is great growth potential?

JS: Ground blinds for sure. With all of the continual efforts surrounding hunting participation, I feel ground blinds are the best way to introduce the next generation of hunters into the sport as well as provide our fathers and grandfathers the ability to continue hunting successfully when they prefer a blind over a stand.


HR: As the total number of hunters declines across the country, how has that impacted your growth strategy? 

JS: Our goal is actually the help reverse the trend of declining hunters, and we feel promoting ground blinds can assist with those efforts. As well, when the pie isn’t getting any larger, we hustle to grab the largest share.


HR: Retailers have had their issues in recent years. What’s Ameristep doing (programs and other initiatives) to incentivize the smaller, specialty retailer to help keep them moving forward?

JS: We work hard to drive both newness and value into the market with the goal of providing the winning combination for all of our retailers. We focus on each individual channel and work to cater our offering and selection to ensure success. Whether inline product or special make ups, we want each retailer to assort what’s going to sell best for their consumers.


HR: Pro deals…good for the industry or a bad practice?

JS: When handled correctly, pro deals are very beneficial — it allows the retailers to become well versed with your product and to gain appreciation for it. We’ve all been there — it’s pretty evident when you’re being sold a product that the salesman obviously has never used and has zero idea about. What a bad experience! On the flipside, it’s so refreshing to have that great consumer experience when working with a knowledgeable, helpful salesman that gets you into the right product and out the door ready to go afield.


HR: Has the COVID-19 outbreak affected your business practices in the short-term?

JS: COVID-19 has caused every business in every industry to adjust business practices. I pray that we’re soon back to some sense of normalcy.

HR: What are some the more unique or creative ways you’ve seen your blinds being used?

JS: Whether brushed-in like a cedar tree or the extension of a corn field, it’s exciting to see the creativity that our hunters display with our Ameristep Blinds.


HR: Can you talk about your relationship with Mossy Oak and Realtree?

JS: Who can really say enough about the amazing job Toxey Haas and Bill Jordan have done pioneering what we know today as “camouflage” and the relentless pursuit of concealment both of their great companies pursue? Hats off to both of them and their awesome teams.


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