FA: Fred, when and how did you get interested in archery?
As I recall, my love for archery occurred the moment I received a rubber tipped set of toy arrows and a bow for Christmas in 1937. The following year, I was fortunate to have seen one of the first Howard Hill bowhunting short movies which were shown during intermissions at most movie theaters. From that exact moment on, I became an avid bowhunter and still hunt exclusively with a bow and arrow.
FA: Freddie, it is said that your first love has always been music. How did your interest in music begin and to what level of proficiency did you ascend? What type of music did you play and which instruments did you learn?
Luckily, I was born and raised by a family of musicians which started with my musician father, grand father, mother, two sisters, and two brothers. Yes, we were all musicians who played several instruments including piano, guitar, violin, cello, viola, bass, clarinet, flute, and tuba. I, myself, personally started playing music on the violin, won a $500 scholarship in violin competition, was Assistant Concert Master of our high school orchestra, and was also Assistant Concert Master for the Los Angeles All City Orchestra. I also was very fortunate to win five consecutive high school competitions on KTLA Channel 5. I also placed first in three consecutive talent competitions which were aired on Harry Babbitz’ High Talent Battle TV Show. Those victories were all played on violin along with my sister Virginia who always accompanied me on the piano. During the above era, I specialized in Classical and Symphonic music.
FA: Did you ever go into music full time?
Yes, I started playing with a dance band for dances right after I joined the United States Air Force during 1952.
FA: How about Eva?
Eva took piano lessons and learned how to read and play music – up until the advent of television. When TV appeared, many people including relatives suddenly lost their interest and appreciation for music.
FA: How did you two meet?
Eva and I met during a college picnic event during 1954.
FA: . Freddie, you introduced Eva to the sport of archery and were her only coach. What were the most important requirements you stressed with regards to her shooting?
As a coach, I was fortunate to have married a very kind and mild mannered young girl who was a 100% natural to the sport. She was extremely well coordinated and did everything as she was instructed to do and she did it to perfection.
FA: What was your proudest moment in archery?
My proudest moment, in my world of archery, was when Eva won her very first archery championship held in Aurora, Illinois during 1973. Eva astounded everyone with her precise shooting at the 1973 National Field tournament, where she won by a 27 point margin. She accomplished this amazing feat with her Carroll stick bow without any help from wheels, cables or pulleys.
FA: When you and Eva competed, what were the highest awards you each individually won?
Eva’s list of noteworthy tournament wins are many. Eva won three NFAA National Championships, three Las Vegas championships, and one Cobo Hall International woman’s Championship. I, in contrast, spent most of my archery life at the designers table. During that time, my main interest was bow hunting and tinkering with archery equipment. I shot, experimented with, and patented several noteworthy improvements for archery equipment starting with release aids. I also came up with a diverse number of novel arrow rest designs. During 1961, I developed the very first double-loop nylon rope release and also hand made a multitude and diversified selection of solid nylon arrow rests. Going back to the question, my most notable archery tournament placement occurred at the 1970 Las Vegas Indoor Championship where I placed and tied for fourth on target No.1. Also on target No.1, was the legendary Vic Berger who won the tournament and beat all of the release shooters with his fingers!
FA: How did you become involved in the designing and manufacturing of novel archery products?
I believe that I have always had the built-in curiosity and dedication aimed toward finding out how things work. When I was a child, the first thing I would do, with a new toy, was to tear it apart to see how it worked. My dear mother used to call me, “the Destroyer” and she was right. Immediately following the dismantling process, I would then put it back together as best I could.
FA: Freddie, what was your very first idea and product you developed for the sport of archery?
My very first product was a mechanical release which was way ahead of its time. Sadly, the experimental release was one which did not conform to the shooting rules of any of the existing archery organizations. My development was fashioned after a hinge type trap-door model which had a detent and a trigger for shooting with a bow. The year of this development was 1956. The second Troncoso Release was a double-loop nylon rope release which worked very well and increased my scores during 1961. My third development was a turn-key type release which I named and called the “Golden Key Release”. The year was 1967.
FA: What made you decide to go into the manufacturing of archery products full time?
I started making and selling archery products for the purpose of becoming better in touch with the archery industry and for the main purpose of being able get a first hand feel for the needs and wants of archers and bowhunters worldwide. Spurred by a great fire by noticing a great need for further invention and product improvements in the arrow rest market, I felt that I could best serve the sport of archery and bowhunting by taking the sport to the next level. Much to our surprise, we were very fortunate to have accomplished this deed (along with the advent of the compound Bow and release aid)by changing, improving, and finding a better arrow rest which eventually became the “Key to better archery” for Golden Key-Futura Inc. and for our beloved sport of archery.
FA: What were your duties and positions within the Golden Key company structure?
I was President, and Eva was Secretary Treasurer of our newly formed Golden Key Archery company. Our successful archery business entity was started in 1968 and turned over, to our three sons, in 1993.
FA: Where did the name Golden Key come from?
The name Golden Key, resulted and came from one of our newer type turn-key archery coupler bowstring releases which we advertised and claimed to be the “KEY TO BETTER ARCHERY”.
FA: What was your best selling archery product during Golden Key’s peak and very productive years?
Our best and most popular product was the “Hunter-Supreme” arrow rest. This extremely popular arrow rest was eventually surpassed by our famous “TM Hunter” double adjustable prong rest. The TM Hunter ended up breaking our all time sales records by passing the million mark for amount of units sold.
FA: While your original ideas and advanced archery arrow rest designs unquestionably made Golden Key Futura the undisputed leader in arrow rests designs and developments, you also designed some of the very first archery release aids and other significant archery equipment. What else did you pioneer in the area of archery accessories?
While archery arrow rests were our specialty, I also managed to design and develop several varieties of archery scopes, bow sights, stabilizers, broad heads and target points.
FA: If you had to pick one item, out of the many you invented, designed and patented, which was the single and most important creation you developed as far as archery and the industry are concerned?
The single most important invention I developed was the Pacesetter type launcher arrow rest which is also referred to as the “Lizard-Tongue” arrow rest. Along with these, I also developed the new and unique No-Drill, bolt to the plunger hole, mounting bracket which changed archery and made obsolete virtually all of the older flipper style arrow rests that previously dominated the arrow rest market. For the record, most of the vintage arrow rests were of the stick-on variety and were affixed to the bow riser using contact cement, screws, and/or other types of fasteners.
Today, every arrow rest made, on the market, uses a similar version of the original Troncoso No-Drill arrow rest Mounting Bracket System with no exceptions. This wide spread use, further applies to all of the newer Fall-Away arrow rest versions including all of the “containment” type arrow rests currently on the market.
FA: When did you and Eva decide to retire and transfer all of the interests and holdings belonging to Golden Key-Futura Inc. onto your three sons?
Faced with some differences of opinion regarding our family Golden Key business, I opted to accept a Buy and Sell offer to give my three sons a chance to further improve and grow our family business according to their dreams and proposed better business guidelines.
FA: When Vince, Robert and Dan took over, what positions with the company did they assume?
Vince was appointed Vice President, in charge of Research and Development, Robert became Vice President, in charge of Marketing, and Dan was appointed President and also served as Production Manager.
FA: Today, as it frequently has happened to several giant companies within our sport of archery, Golden Key is gone and is no longer considered an icon or leading force in the world of archery. Does Golden Key plan to return to the archery market place in the near future? Or is Golden Key-Futura really gone for good?
Eva and I believe that our former #1 arrow rest company Golden Key-Futura Inc. is gone and will never return to the archery market where we once so firmly stood. As is true of life and history, everything has a beginning and everything eventually comes to an end- for one reason or another.
FA: Freddie, you have spent a life time in the sport of archery. Who have you met during your years in archery and who influenced and impressed you the most?
Eva and I had the privilege of meeting several of the living archery legends of yesteryear. We have also become acquainted with scores of great archers, worldwide customers and many dedicated friends, who are still active in the sport of archery today.
On this partial list are:
- Henry and Babe Bitzenburger of Fletchmaster fame
- James Doug Easton of Easton Aluminum Arrow fame
- James E. Easton Easton Aluminum Inc. and Archery Benefactor
- Davey Davis Famous flight shooter and archer
- Howard Hill World famous Bowhunter and Archery trick shooter
- Ann Weber Hoyt Most famous woman archer in the world
- Ann Clark Most popular and equally famous woman archer
- Roy Hoff Founding Editor of Archery Magazine
- Joe Fries National Championship archer of the 50’s and 60’s
- Jim Dougherty Elite Bowhunter and Championship Game Caller
- Tom Jennings Master Bowyer and Authority on Archery
- Fred Bear Bow hunter and founder of Bear Archery
- Ben Pearson Bow hunter and founder of Ben Pearson Archery
- Paul E. Klopsteg Archery Engineer, Physicist and Inventor
- Joe Fries World Class Archery Champion of the 50’s and 60’s
- Frank Eicholtz Archery Innovator and father of the laminated bow
- Sherwood Schoch Premier Archery Sales Rep.- Who helped to put GKF on the map
FA: Is there any special person you recall, who encouraged your business and archery shooting careers?
Yes, there is. Eva and I met Roy and Freida Hoff in 1961 while I was playing music at the Howard Manor Hotel in Palm Springs, California. It was Roy Hoff who started me writing archery technical help articles for Archery Magazine. He was also the gentleman who encouraged me to start my archery accessory business after he tried several of my archery inventions which resulted from my tinkering and looking for a better way to improve our sport. One of his most memorable words of advice which still linger in my mind are: “Build a better arrow rest and the world will beat a path to your door!” My friend and mentor Roy Hoff was correct!
FA: Did Eva ever hunt with the bow and arrow?
No, Eva never hunted with her bow. I sincerely believe that her personal convictions and philosophy, pertaining to hunting, is due to her placid upbringing and to her love for living creatures and nature. Eva admires bow hunting and readily admits that it is a big part of our lives and is also a big part of our family household. Eva enjoys 3-D shooting and has always done well on the NFAA Hunter and Animal rounds. During the height of her shooting career in archery, she posted several winning high scores over all comers on the field including having shot HIGH SCORE over all the Pro Men participating in said tournaments.
FA: What are you and Eva doing nowadays?
Eva started a sewing accessory business where she is marketing a newly patented sewing thread guide known as the Wonder Thread Guide. As I always have done in the past, I stand readily beside her as I did while I was her shooting coach back in her winning days of victory and glory.
FA: Do you have any words of advice for our readers and new upcoming manufacturers, regarding running a new archery business?
Yes, I do. As the history has shown, family businesses have a high mortality rate. This phenomenon is perhaps primarily due to the fact that the participants simply do not pay attention to the importance of being there and taking care of the business on a continuous and ongoing basis.
FA: If you had the opportunity to do it all over again, what would you do differently with regard with passing the ownership torch onto your family members?
I think it is best to answer that question with a list of owner-seller SHOULD DO and SHOULD NOT DO. In this manner, the seller and beneficiaries may be able to avoid certain pitfalls and unforeseen situations that sometimes prevail during the passing of the torch. So, here goes.
Do’s and Don’ts
- First of all, hire a financial legal adviser and/or a competent lawyer who will protect you and look out for your interests. This recommendation is absolutely important, when buying, selling, or starting a new business.
- Do not enter into any Buy-Sell Agreement of any type, that does not call for full payment for the total amount of the sale price. My personal opinion is that if the buyers truly want to purchase the business, they should be able to come up with the entire asking price for the business transaction by going to a bank, or lending institution, for the purpose of borrowing money and for paying the full asking purchase price amount.
- If sellers find it necessary to enter into a Buy/Sell Agreement with buyers who can not come up with the entire amount of cash required to make the purchase, you as sellers should stipulate and immediately demand full payment for the entire amount due, when the first default of any monthly payment occurs.
- Do not ever turn over any company or corporate monies, bank accounts, books or account receivable ledgers, belonging to the business, to any prospective buyers or take- over heirs under any circumstances unless the business is purchased outright and you have been paid the total amount of your sales contract money in full.
- Lastly and most important, make certain that the named and listed buyers unanimously agree that in the event that the sellers decide to sell the business and carry paper for the full amount, without demanding or receiving any money up front, the sellers have the right to demand that not one shall ever be granted full control of the business, monies, bank accounts, books and ledgers, while they as buyers, or as part of a group of buyers, are bound by contract to make loan payments to you as sellers.
It is Eva’s, and my humble opinion, that the foremost requirement for running a successful business is to continually tend to the business and to provide the needs and wants of your customers without fail. It is also equally important for each and every business member, to be 100% honest, totally reliable, and completely dedicated to the business and to one another.
Anyone can run a thriving business during peak and booming times. However, it takes a group of extra wise and attentive business members, who are willing to work hard, to make a business entity surpass and overtake all others. The successful businesses, who thrive during recession times, are the ones who thoroughly understand what their customers want and they do this by providing and developing an endless stream of exciting new products and services when the customers call for and need them most.
Beyond any doubt, the biggest headache in running a successful business is being able to manage your cash flow when good finance and accounting skills are non- existent. A seemingly successful business can go bankrupt and will eventually run out of money when the outgoing funds exceed the incoming monetary earnings. Without the availability of cash to pay suppliers and employees, the once new and thriving entity will go bankrupt and will invariably end up permanently out of business and gone forever.
On behalf of Eva and me, we wish you the best of luck and good fortune with your archery business endeavors and especially with any transfer of family business ownership experiences you may have in the near future.
Eva and I also sincerely thank Rich Walton, Frank Addington and Bowhunting Net for the opportunity to take part in this interview. We sincerely wish the sport of archery and bowhunting, continued growth with much success and enjoyment afield.
CONTRIBUTIONS AND SERVICE TO ARCHERY
- 1957-59 -Sec/Treasurer for Norwalk Archers and Javelinas Archery Club.
- 1971-77 -Was Assist. Instructor for Joad Programs at Archery Headquarters,
- 1984 -Inducted into the California Archery Hall of Fame
- 1968-93 -Sec/Treas. Golden Key Futura, Inc.
- 1990-95 -Wrote Eva’s Kitchen Corner and Wild Game Cooking Articles for Archery Magazine
- 1991 -Was Assist. Coach for Easton Sports Seminars in Germany, France, Belgium, Spain and Italy
- 1991 -Assisted the USAT Unlimited Archery Team at the Olympic Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado
- 1993 -Was Assistant Coach for Spanish National Coaches Seminar
- 1996 -Assistant Coach for Spanish National Coaches Seminar
- 2007 -Received her first U.S. Patent
- 1976 -Received Archery Inc. Award of Merit. Presented to Freddie and Eva Troncoso for Outstanding Contributions to Archery
CONTRIBUTIONS AND SERVICE TO ARCHERY
- 1961-2010 -Joined NFAA and is a continuous member for 49 years
- 1955-2010 -Private Top Level Archery Coach
- 1961 -Invented the very first Double-Loop Rope Release
- 1967 -Joined PAA
- 1968 – Invented The Golden Key Release & Started Golden Key Archery Products
- Experimented with and Invented the very first Lizard-Tongue Launcher Arrow Rest for archery bows
- 1969 – Developed and Invented the first No/Drill (Bolt to the Plunger Hole) arrow rest mounting system for archery bows.
- Elected Southwestern Director for the PAA
- 1970 – Began technical writer for Archery Magazine that lasted for 28 years
- 1974 -Patented the Pacesetter I Rest
- 1974 -Patented the Miletron Arrow Rest
- 1975 – Introduced and marketed the Futura-Bullet Point with Scott Bomar
- 1979 – Marketed the first Dual-Prong TM Hunter Rest
- 1991 -Appeared as Coach with Easton Sport Seminar Europe and visited Germany, France, Belgium, Spain and Italy as an instructor.
- 1991 -Assisted the USAT Unlimited Archery Team at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado
- 1992-2000 -Wrote shooting form help articles for US Archer Magazine.
- 1992 -Attended the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona as a reporter for U.S. Archer Magazine.
- 1992 -Inducted into the National Bowhunter’s Hall of Fame
- 1992 -Inducted into the California Archery Hall of Fame.
- 1993 -Returned to Spain for Coaches Seminar Presentation in Alcala,
- Madrid, Spain
- 1996 -Returned to Spain for 2nd Coaches Seminar in Alcala, Madrid, Spain
- 1968 -2010 -Holds 25 Patents in Archery
- 1976 –Received Archery Inc. Award of Merit -Presented to Freddie and Eva Troncoso for Outstanding Contributions to Archery.