A RETIREMENT OF NOTE: AKIN PRESIDED OVER 10 YEARS OF CHANGE & GROWTH
Alabama native Bruce Akin was not an angler when he was selected to lead B.A.S.S., but there is little doubt he has learned all the skills necessary to land the big ones. After leading the B.A.S.S. Organization for 10 years, Bruce stepped down as CEO on September 30 after attending the Hall of Fame inductions of two people who stood by his side during a period of great change and growth in the industry, and at B.A.S.S.- Trip Weldon, and Gene Gilliland.
During a time of rapid growth and change in our sport, Akin tackled everything that was thrown at him with his sharp intellect, quick sense of humor and with personal grace and respect for the sport. From TV exposure on ESPN, the growth of Bassmaster LIVE, navigating the way through
COVID, and the signing of the four-year deal with FOX Sports, Akin always gave credit to his team.
He was hired in 2011, to lead the company just purchased from ESPN by Don Logan, Jerry McKinnis and Jim Copeland. Logan had worked with Bruce for many years at the media giant Time Inc. but a lot of people were skeptical with his lack of experience in the world of fishing- especially Jerry Mckinnis. He quickly learned the business of fishing and its many complexities, and through frequent visits to JM Associates in Little Rock, was able to win over the famous veteran of many fishing campaigns.
He rallied his team to build a website, implement business systems and build the unique culture- a grassroots membership as a foundation for the media, tournaments, events and conservation efforts. Management was streamlined, a sales & marketing team was put in place, and anglers were brought into the fold, all with the mission of bulding relationships and an organization with a reputation of working with anglers and partners for the best interests of bass fishing.
One of the things Bruce is most proud of is the B.A.S.S. involvement in college and high school
fishing, and the introduction of a kayak tournament network. He will also be remembered for how well he guided the organization through the split with Major League Fishing and the departure of some big stars and name brands. He will be missed, and for sure he leaves a strong organization to his successor.
Photos courtesy of B.A.S.S.