A newly announced partnership between a Mount Airy hosiery firm and a professional fisherman with the Bassmaster Elite Series will allow locally produced socks to net widespread exposure.
The relationship involving Nester Hosiery and touring professional Andy Montgomery — who will wear the company’s Farm to Feet brand of socks during his angling exploits in 2014 — is being described as a perfect fit.
“As an outdoorsman, Andy understands the importance of good footwear, which starts with the perfect pair of socks,” Marty Nester, the CEO of Nester Hosiery and himself an avid fisherman, said in a statement accompanying the announcement. “Andy is a talented fisherman and we’re proud to have him on our team.”
Montgomery, of Blacksburg, S.C., will wear the local company’s Farm to Feet socks exclusively and the brand will be featured prominently on his boat and jersey during the 2014 Bassmaster Elite fishing season.
“We’re very excited about it — he’s up and coming,” Nester Hosiery Vice President of Marketing David Petri said Tuesday of Montgomery’s involvement with the company.
Nester Hosiery, located on Carter Street in Mount Airy Industrial Park, launched its Farm to Feet sock line last year, which is more than just socks in that it also highlights the local company’s unique position in the American marketplace.
The Farm to Feet label, a takeoff on “farm to table” and similar slogans used to highlight sustainable food products, represents one of the few products of its kind still made in the U.S. It helps relay the fact that Nester Hosiery’s socks are 100-percent manufactured in America — including the materials (Merino wool grown in the Rocky Mountains), manufacturing plant and workers.
Petri explained Tuesday that as a result of his travels in top-flight fishing circles, Marty Nester, the CEO who launched the family operated hosiery company in 1993, crossed paths with Montgomery.
“He’s fished with him,” Petri said. One thing led to another, and the partnership between Nester and the pro angler was forged.
“Andy was totally on board with our product and what we’re presenting,” Petri said.
Nester Hosiery will serve in a sponsorship role with Montgomery that Petri compared to NASCAR, in which various companies support the racers and in return have their logos displayed during the tour.
“I always thought a sock was a sock until I gave Farm to Feet a try,” Montgomery said in a statement. “They kept my feet warm and dry as well as providing the support in ways I didn’t know were possible. On the water I was comfortable and less fatigued at the end of the day.”
The pro fishermen on the Bassmaster Elite tour compete for the best catches in a series of events at various venues during the season, which sometimes are televised by ESPN2.
Montgomery is a Bassmaster Elite Series and FLW (Forrest L. Wood) Tour veteran. In his 12 years on tour, he has 25 top-10 finishes and has won more than $600,000. He will kick off the 2014 season at the Dick Cepek Tires Bassmaster Elite Series tournament at Lake Seminole in Bainbridge, Ga., March 13-16.
“He has a chance to do really well,” Petri added Tuesday. He mentioned that due to Montgomery being involved in two series this season, the local company has a chance of being in the limelight in a sport that enjoys a devoted fan base.
“For us, it’s a chance to get a lot of exposure to very dedicated followers,” Petri said.
This is especially true of the closing rounds of a tournament, in which the focus is on those fishermen at the top of the leaderboard — similar to golf.
Montgomery also will participate in retailer events on behalf of Farm to Feet and be included in marketing initiatives throughout the year.
With a supply chain completely within the U.S., Nester Hosiery officials take pride in the fact that the Farm to Feet label reflects what the company believes is the highest-quality materials and end products, while having as little impact on the environment as possible.
Once the wool is grown and sheared in the Rocky Mountains, the remaining processes take place within 300 miles of the company’s sustainability-focused knitting facility in Mount Airy. All Farm to Feet socks also feature special seamless toe closures, a comfort compression fit from the top through the arch and cushioning that set them apart from other products, the company says.
“Bass fishing is as American as apple pie and we’re excited to share our 100-percent American story with the bass-fishing community,” Petri commented.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-719-1924 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.