'Duck Dynasty' star Willie Robertson talks teaming up with American-made outdoor apparel brand FORLOH
The TV personality and FORLOH CEO discussed partnership and 'Duck Dynasty's' enduring success in exclusive interview
"Duck Dynasty" star Willie Robertson has teamed up with hunting and outdoor apparel brand FORLOH.
In an exclusive interview with Fox Business, the 50-year-old television personality, who will be serving as a brand ambassador and collaborating on product development, explained that he decided to work with FORLOH largely because of the company's commitment to its Made in America mission.
"That's really what drew me in," the Duck Commander CEO said.
"It's 100 percent made in the U.S." said FORLOH CEO Andy Techmanski, who joined Robertson for the interview. "So, that was hard."
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"The fact that Andy actually did what it took to actually make the products in America meant a lot to me," Robertson said. "I think we all want that. We love the idea of it. And, you know, he pulled it off."
The entrepreneur continued, "That definitely drew me. I love the country. I love creating jobs here, and then the gear is actually awesome, so that's nice."
"I've been out in the Midwest. I've been using it. It's been really cold. And so it's awesome to actually match something that's a great product in the field that also has a great story, which is 100 percent Made in America."
Techmanski recalled that the two were first introduced by a rifle manufacturer who made guns that they both own.
"As soon as Willie learned that everything was made in America and that we were trying to push the envelope on technology and fabrics and everything else, and supporting a supply chain of 3,000 workers, I think it easily became a good fit," he said.
As a brand ambassador, Robertson will front FORLOH's Made in America media projects and represent the company and its mission at events.
The Louisiana-born outdoorsman and FORLOH will also collaborate on a co-branded, signature line of waterfowl hunting apparel, which will be 100 percent made in the U.S.
Techmanski told Fox Business that he couldn't have envisioned a better representative for the brand.
"You think of America and you think of an outdoorsman. And there's one guy that comes to mind," he said with a laugh.
For his part, Robertson said that he was blown away by the advanced technology involved in the creation of FORLOH's products. "They've put a lot of work in and science," he noted. "And by the time we get it out in the field, we'll take it out there and it really works."
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Robertson acknowledged that the cost of making products in America is often a deterrent for companies. However, he believes that the supply chain crisis that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the importance of making products in the United States.
"We just saw there's a lot of issues and problems trying to get products into this country," he said. "And so I think the timing's perfect. I think people are more aware of that now."
"And I think they'll make that decision, and it may cost a few more dollars because, unfortunately, that's the state we're in right now," he added. "But I think knowing that you're wearing something that's supporting American workers, that should win the day."
Robertson told Fox Business that he never could have predicted how successful "Duck Dynasty" would become and the business opportunities that it would provide him.
"It was amazing," he said. "It came out of nowhere. I never envisioned myself being on television like that."
The "American Entrepreneur" author recalled that when his family was first approached by A&E, his father, Phil, thought that the show was a "terrible idea." Robertson credited his wife, Korie, for encouraging him to take part in the series.
"She said, ‘Yeah, you guys should do a reality show,'" Robertson remembered. "And I said, 'Well, Korie, we're just normal people.' She goes, ‘Willie, your family ain’t normal,'" he said with a laugh. "And so that's where it started."
Robertson said that he is still amazed by the show's success.
"We came out and ended up being the most-watched unscripted show in the history of cable," he said.
"I don't think anyone, even the network, no one knew it was going to be funny. And so it came out with this humor and had these faith values about it, and it was just kind of a light."
He continued, "We hit it at the right time. And so it's been a great platform to launch off of and do all kinds of other businesses and great partnerships like this."
Robertson went on to say that the American dream is the heart of both "Duck Dynasty" and FORLOH.
"Because we grew up really poor with nothing and had this idea of doing something we love for a living, and it certainly paid off in way more ways than just financial success," he said.
"Just the outreach that we had and just our faith and getting that across, not just in America but all over the world."
While Robertson and his family had their doubts over whether "Duck Dynasty" would be a success, he said that the network's team was confident that they had a hit.
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"To watch the original, which was like a three-minute sizzle reel, to go from there to actually have it on TV is amazing," he said.
"But I did wait before I bought big things because I said, ‘You never know, this thing may be over,'" Robertson added with a laugh. "People said, ‘Hey, enjoy that 15 minutes’ and it kept going longer and longer than 15 minutes."
Robertson went on to say that hearing from "regular people" made him realize the show's impact.
"Even if they weren't, you know, if they did not live together like we did, or they didn't have that family dinner like we had, they could try, and they could try to put these aspects in their life," he said. "And just our way, how we kind of looked at life and kind of laugh at ourselves. I think it was certainly needed in our country."
Robertson told Fox Business that he doesn't get recognized out in public as frequently as he did before he cut off his trademark long hair in 2020.
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"In fact, it works so well that as soon as I got my haircut, I went to see my wife at a restaurant and walked by her. She had no idea who I was," he said. "None of my kids recognized me either. It was amazing. So, that's been fun."
He added that he still gets recognized but not like when he had the "full, giant, wooly mammoth" look. Robertson said that he used to disguise himself with hoodies that he pulled over his beard.
"I was at LAX and a guy came out, and I mean, you couldn't see any part of my face," he said. "I looked like the Unabomber. And he goes, ‘Hey, mate, you still get duck calls?’ And he is from Australia and recognized me somehow. I still don't know how he recognized me."
Robertson told Fox Business that the show's enduring popularity around the world has been "unbelievable."
"And I've got the most awesome family history video collection ever because I can look at my kids at different ages, and so it's super fun," he said. "And then all the stuff that's launched out of it has just been amazing as well."
In addition to his partnership with FORLOH, Robertson revealed his family is working on a new show.
"And we've got a movie coming out next year. It's about when my mother and father kind of found their faith and came to the Lord," he said. "It's set in the ‘60s and ’70s, and so that'll be out next year."
He added that his children have also stayed busy with their own projects, including his brothers Jase and Jep's Fox Nation show "Duck Family Treasure."
"And [my daughter] Sadie goes all over the world," he said proudly. "She still speaks, and she's got more businesses than I have."
"In fact, she's booted me out of my office," he said with a laugh. "My office is now her office. That's why I'm watching the next generation. Here they come."
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