You'll Never Be Sorry


Brian's dad first bought his back in 1972, Brian bought his a few years later at the age of 14. Brian Engel and his dad bought them up in Canada. Harry England sold them out of his garage in Garden City, Michigan. Harry's cousin invented the thing but went bankrupt. Harry took over and sold 'em for more than twenty years. So, just what is this 'it' we're talking about?

A Snagaway. What's a Snagaway, you ask? Good question. A Snagaway is an ingenious little gadget that belongs in the tackle box of any self-respecting fisherman with good sense to come in out of the rain. A Snagaway is an oval nickel-plated steel device about two inches long with another smaller oval piece hinged inside. Here's how it's used.

You're relaxing in your boat out on the lake, it's a beautiful day when suddenly your idyllic afternoon is shattered; your favorite $8.00 fishing lure is snagged on a log or root or some other obstacle way down in the murky deep. Calmly, as any good fisherman would, you reach into your tackle box removing your Snagaway and thread it onto your line. Then you send it down. The Snagaway glides straight down to your prize lure, clamps onto it like a vice and all you have to do is haul it up. People have told Brian stories of pulling up everything from logs to a five-pound anchor.

Brian had saved so many lures by the time he got to college he had paid for his Snagaway twenty or thirty times over. He was fond of his Snagaway and began to correspond with Harry out Michigan way. When Brian graduated Harry offered to sell Brian the business. Brian considered but decided to go on to graduate school. Two years passed and Harry offered again, Brian seriously considered, but declined, not sure if that's what he wanted to do.

Back when Brian was a teenager he enrolled in the 4H Junior Shooting Sports Program taught here in Columbia County by Peter Burke. It was there Brian met Laurel. Laurel's father was an avid hunter and fisherman and always took along Laurel and her sister. Brian and Laurel fell in love and married.

One time when their families went up north on a fishing trip, Laurel got her lure snagged. She tugged and tugged but couldn't tug it free. She pulled out her trusty Snagaway and sent it into action. "I couldn't believe it, it didn't work," she tells me. It was the first time that had ever happened so she tried again. This time it moved. What Laurel reeled in was not a snagged lure, but a 43", 22lb Northern Pike. "No wonder it didn't work," she grins.

Brian just couldn't shake the notion of buying the Snagaway business. "I didn't want to be 80 and wish I'd done it," he affirms. So, finally in 1996 Brian called Harry, proposed a deal and Harry agreed to sell. Brian said he'd drive out in a few days to finalize the deal. Harry said, "Fine," and asked for Brian's name and number. Brian reminded Harry that he had that information and Harry replied, "I know, I just want to write it down here," so Brian complied. A few days later, as Brian and Laurel packed for the drive to Michigan, the phone rang. It was a member of Harry's family saying that Harry had died and the only thing stuck on Harry's refrigerator was a piece of paper; on it Brian's name and number. They were curious why it was there and called. Brian explained the business agreement he and Harry had worked out. The family graciously upheld Harry and Brian's agreement. Some things are just meant to be.

"Trust me, Brian, you'll never be sorry." Those were the last words Harry said to Brian. I look at Brian and Laurel as they recount this story, the amazed look of having touched something special fills their eyes. I feel I'm living a moment of true wonder in a Frank Capra movie.

Snagaway is a real family business for Brian and Laurel. Their new daughter, Lydia is too young, but her sister Anna even helps pack up orders. They are a great team, learning all they can about marketing and distribution they even have a web site: www.snagaway.com.

Brian and Laurel are the sort of people who inspired me to create this column. They are the resilient and blessed thread woven into and holding together the fabric of this great country; hard work, dreams and devotion to family their great and unique strengths. The holidays are about family and dreams and the hope of tomorrow. Brian and Laurel have a solid grasp on that in their quiet, fulfilling lives. Let their smiling faces be my Christmas card to you.

We'll talk next time, From The Road.

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