I have about 20 years worth of experience with the Billy Pate reels, both DD and later with the AR. I have bunch of them and some of them are numbered in the low 100's, Ted recently commented about the age of some of them. There has never, ever been a problem with any of them.
Every other year I have them serviced, have never been charged for that and they have even upgraded some of them and never charged for that either.
They are low maintenance, I never open them and they just continue to work perfectly. As a captain I often get comments about the fact that I provide quality gear and tackle, that's an image I'm proud of.
If you really want to compare reels, check out how long it takes to get one serviced! Will they give you less than a week turn around time?
And It's hard to beat the price.