The New York Yankees aren’t the only organization buying the best in order to attempt to end up #1 every year. Finland based Rapala VMC is attempting to do the same in the world of ice fishing. Even though ice seasons have shortened in the past 100 years -- Lake Monona 100 years ago had three months of ice, the lake now manages an average of 1½ months of ice, and this means a lot less cold weather perch fishing pressure – Rapala has dove into hard water angling in an impressive way.
Minnesota based StrikeMaster is no longer American owned. StrikeMaster is now part of the Rapala organization. Formed after WWII, as were many companies such as Lowrance, StrikeMaster soon became the leading company in America in the manufacture of ice augers and cutting blades. Now Rapala is #1 in America, but no word was released regarding a name change. StrikeMaster has used Solo® German made motors for 64 years, and for many years they’ve used Mora drills and blades on their premium models.
Per GlobalSpec Inc. of New York, there are 82 manufacturers of augers. These drills are not meant to drill holes in ice, but are designed to drill holes in good old Mother Earth. Post hole drillers are augers, as are the drills used in making holes for telephone poles. B@B Manufacturers.com who represent the Taiwan and China Manufacturers and Suppliers, site states, “An auger is a device for moving material or liquid by means of a rotating helical flighting. The material is moved along the axis of rotation.” In the case of ice angling, the cut ice flows up the auger blade toward the angler, where the ice falls onto the frozen surface of the lake or river.
As far as the Asian market is concerned, per their site, “Team Machinery Co., Ltd. is an outstanding wholesale manufacturer, supplier and exporter of lawn mower, grass trimmer, Ice augers with a factory in Taiwan.” They are not currently a major auger sales factor in the United States.
Becoming #1 in America wasn’t enough for Rapala. They wanted to also become #1 in Europe where ice angling is an extremely old sport.
Mora of Sweden AB, located on Mora, Sweden, is the Rolls Royce of European knives, ice augers and ice blades. Mora is a 2005 combination of KL Erikson and Frost’s Knife factory. The managing director of Mora of Sweden AB stated, “Mora of Sweden is Europe’s premier manufacturer under the famous Mora and Mora ICE brands.” He added, “This strategic partnership with Rapala further secures that position for the Mora ICE brand, and promises to consumers that they’ll continue purchasing the most advanced augers on the market.” Again, no name change is in the works.
The president of Rapala USA stated, “We have jumped into the winter business with both boots.” Ice boots, I assume. He went on to say, “Now we have the ability to reach anglers during all seasons. Our new ice-fishing lineup is quite extensive with tackle and accessories, augers, electronics and more. Those acquisitions are directly in line with our core competencies and a perfect fit to the Rapala family of brands.”
As a practical standpoint, we ice anglers are happy as long as we get equipment that drills fast and is offered at a good price. With the removal of major competition among brands, we hope this remains a priority as these major auger-manufacturing companies join forces under one roof.
Wisconsin has two major manufacturers of quality ice augers.
In southeast Wisconsin, Feldmann Engineering & Mfg. Co. Inc. continues as a small family owned business. They are the manufacturer Jiffy Ice Augers, in Sheboygan Falls, WI, and it says on their site that “Winter fishing enthusiasts throughout the world recognize and enjoy its use as the best ice drill product in the marketplace, thus causing Jiffy to be the number ONE selling product.” They like StrikeMaster started after WWII.
Eskimo is a brand of Ardisam, Inc - a manufacturing company located in northwest Wisconsin in the Island City of Cumberland. Started in 1960, they manufacture the powered Mako, Shark and Stingray and the Barracuda™ and Standard™ hand model ice auger models.
As if Rapala hasn’t created enough exciting news on their way becoming the global leader in ice fishing products, they have struck a deal with famed MarCum Technologies, of Minneapolis, Minn. MarCum is a trendsetter company. They manufacture the No. 1 selling underwater camera. They are the fastest growing manufacturer of ice fishing sonar and underwater cameras. Their model LX-7 set the industry standard.
Rapala was once known for its outstanding crankbaits that were made by hand by people in the basements of Finland. They have grown to include the following brands as part of their product line: VMC, Storm, Sufix, Blue Fox, Luhr Jensen, Dynamite Baits, Williamson, Martini andPeltonen. In 2010, they had group sales of EUR 269 million. You’ll find them employing 2,000 people in 33 countries including Finland, Estonia, France, China, Russia and the UK.
Fishing is big business, but it’s also a lot of fun.
I’ll see you on the ice.
Jiffy Ice Auger Pro4 auger commercial: http://www.jiffyonice.com/EComStore/pages/PRO4/Commercial.aspx
Feldman Engineering & Mfg. Co., Inc: http://www.jiffyonice.com/EComStore/pages/home.aspx
Eskimo augers: http://www.geteskimo.com/home.asp