The hunting heritage of Pennsylvania is well known throughout the nation. These rich traditions can be experienced in about every corner of the state. It should come as no surprise that Pennsylvania provided the birth place to one of the most successful electronic game call manufacturers in the world -- FOXPRO Inc. It was from within the heart of Penn's Woods that John Dillon (company president, lead engineer) began to forge a new path in electronic game calls. By developing new, state of the art products, John was able to begin reshaping the future of electronic game calls and establishing the bar of standards for generations to follow.
The history of FOXPRO begins with John Dillon. John was the first born of a large family with nine brothers and sisters. At age 11-while most kids were wrapped up in comic books-you could find John situated beneath the old shade tree engulfed in electronics magazines and books. The world of electronics provided him with enough allure and fascination to keep him intrigued for hours on end. His insatiable thirst for knowledge would lead him to read every book on the subject of electronics that he could get his hands on. Although he may not have known it at the time, the knowledge he strived for would later help catapult him atop of an evolving electronics industry.
Also, at an early age, John quickly learned the importance of hard work, dedication, and developing a drive for success. When he was just 12 years old, his electrical desires led him to finding a job repairing radios and television sets. For a young man fascinated by electronics, it was the perfect job to help him continue his quest for electronics exploration and later mastery. That same drive that motivated him to repair televisions at 12 is still with him today while developing new products.
John's passion continued and he eventually became chief engineer at a local radio station. Not only was electronics engineering his career choice, he also spent spare time in his home workshop-a two car garage that was transformed into an electronics lab. There he would create new gadgets, experiment, and continue to hone his electronics prowess. At one stage he developed a short wave receiver that landed him on the front cover of a national magazine, the same one that he read under the shade tree at an early age. An extremely creative man, John was always making new steps with technology, often times being inspired by his observations and experiences.
One particular experience occurred one day when he noticed his sons, Mike and Steve, heading out on a fox hunt with one of their friends. John watched his sons lug around a large and cumbersome game call of that era. It was heavy, bulky, and thanks to the additional cassettes needed for calling, it turned the hunt into a painstaking venture. Just the sight of the equipment provided him with the inspiration needed for developing a new and more efficient way of calling fox without all the excessive gear.
Over the next couple of years, John cycled through various designs, ideas, and concepts. Clearly, this product could not contain tapes, motors, cogs, or belts. Each new design was tested and evaluated with the help and encouragement of his wife Sherry. She was with him to witness his first calling success. Together they hid under a blanket and observed a fox running in at full speed to investigate the distressed rabbit cries coming from that jumble of electronics hidden in a paper sack. That early success spurred more improvements to the electrical marvel. Once the electronics portion was finalized, the next step was to find an appropriate housing for the unit. A trip to a local Wal-Mart uncovered a potential fit for this need. He purchased the find, a Rayovac flashlight, and discovered it to be the perfect fit. The first FOXPRO was born.
It didn't take long for the word of a new electronic game call to start circulating through word of mouth. Phone calls would come now from not only local hunters, but from all over the country. Each electronic game call would be built one at a time in the same garage that they were designed in. After more and more hunters started using his game calls, the FOXPRO name was swiftly becoming synonymous with quality. Around this time, Mike and Steve Dillon would work part time evening and weekends to help their father assemble the units. As FOXPRO began to bloom, John still maintained a full time job. He dedicated his nights, weekends, and every spare moment building units to try and fulfill the rising demand for his game call. Eventually, that demand grew to the point where he had to take an early retirement from his job to put all focus and energy on FOXPRO. Mike and Steve would eventually join their father and become full time employees at FOXPRO.
As time passed, the Dillon's were forced to move operations from John's garage, to the basement, and then to a 4,500 square foot facility. The new space provided some breathing room and more employees were brought in. The additional employees afforded John the time to begin focusing on new product development. This focus would then lead to the creation of the FX3-a ground breaking unit for FOXPRO.
With the release of the FX3, FOXPRO had to bring in even more employees to help keep up with the demand. It didn't take long for the 4,500 square foot building to be outgrown. A new location was needed. John and Sherry finally settled into a 45,000 square foot facility located no more than a quarter mile away from where John grew up and where that old shade tree still stands to this day.
FOXPRO went from a single-man operation to more than a 70 person operation from 1993 - 2015. FOXPRO products are sold worldwide and are not just limited to the predator hunting community. On numerous occasions, FOXPRO has been contacted by universities and government agencies to build custom units for their specific needs. Where other companies did not have the engineering abilities to take on such a task, FOXPRO did-and did so successfully. FOXPRO has also worked with the U.S. military, oil refineries, and many other businesses and organizations.
FOXPRO will continue to develop new cutting edge products well into the future. A brief look at the product line from 1993 to current will allow you watch the evolutionary cycle that FOXPRO has gone through and will leave you with anticipation on where it will go next.