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Karl Beitzel of Jack Hooks

Karl Beitzel is an industrial engineer who doesn't fish. Yet he recently invented, designed and engineered the Jack Hooks knotless fishing hook technology in his basement. 

What is Jack Hooks?

We are a sole proprietorship that has made the first practical, knotless fishhook on the market. Previous incarnations of knotless hooks require complex wrapping of the fishing line that can be as difficult to learn and perform as actually tying a knot.  
How did you come up with the idea?

I was working on a medical device for my Hudson, Ohio employer. Braided fishing line is made of the same components as the medical grade materials and so I used it for the prototype. The client would not accept the completed device with knots. I worked on a process that would forgo the knots with some 30 pound fishing wire in my basement and came up with the knotless version.  Using the fishing wire in the process made it clear that it could be applied for fishing purposes.  
Why did you start your business?

I realized that in creating the medical device I had also created a process for a knotless fishhook that I could patent. I had the option of patenting it on my own or taking it to my employer. I took it to my employer, but they insisted that I was doing it wrong.  Eventually, I stopped talking to them about it and moved forward on my own. A year later, I had brought my product to market. Now I am taking advantage of resources like a $50,000 entrepreneurial business grant from the City of Canton to embrace having a business.
What resources or organizations in Ohio did you take advantage of, and how did they help? Have your received state or federal money? 

A friend of mine saw an article in the paper about the City of Canton grant. I gathered up some samples and went to present my ideas. That led to working with Jumpstart in Cleveland, which is now managing administration of the grant. Jumpstart had me start working with the Kent State University Stark Campus Small Business Development Center. They have coached and mentored me through the process of starting a company and preparing my presentations. Working with them helped me to gain an additional $5,000 grant for my patent and I went to Renner Kenner in Akron, Ohio to have that done. 
What was the biggest surprise in starting your business? 

I sent some of my hooks to a friend who gave them to her boyfriend for Christmas. Marc Beyers loved them and he helped me to develop the California Dreamin’ hook series. I sponsored him in a Pro and Joe Bass Masters event in Tennessee and he was paired with a professional, Keith Pouche. Marc showed my hooks to Keith, and he called asking for some samples to try because he didn’t have a hooks sponsor. I got a phone call from Keith in January saying he loved the hooks and was interested in having Jack Hooks as a sponsor. Sponsoring a third place Bass Masters classic world champion this soon is a pleasant surprise.
Where did you find your first employee?

My wife is the person who has worked consistently with me on the business. She handles sales, marketing, administrative duties and ties the occasional hook. 

What are some of the advantages to doing business in Canton?

I have the support of the mayor’s office in building my business in the area. Jumpstart’s administration of the City of Canton grant introduced me to the Small Business Development Center. I’m not doing this by myself.
What inspires you?

I really want to bring manufacturing jobs back to Canton. I grew up in Canton and think that I have a product that can stand up to the challenge of growing my business, manufacturing the product and creating jobs here.  
What companies or founders do you admire and why?

I admire the way Steve Jobs was able to take multiple technologies and bring them into one product to create his own market. I want Jack Hooks to be the new idea that revolutionizes the field of fishing in the same way. 
What’s next for you and your company?

Recently, I left my job in the private sector to make Jack Hooks my primary employment. My business plan estimates that we will be employing 75 new employees within the next 3 years. Next steps will be to create a line of hooks that meet the needs of different types of fishermen and cover each segment of the fishing market. Currently, I am collaborating with a couple different anglers, designing specialty fly hooks and a new line of catfish hooks to meet their specific needs.

Writer: Mona Bronson-Fuqua

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