The Power-Pole Micro Anchor won the top award at the ICAST tackle show this month in Las Vegas. JL MARINE SYSTEMS
BY FRANK SARGENT Tribune correspondent
Published: July 21, 2013
Updated: July 21, 2013 at 08:46 AM
For John Oliverio, it's just another day at the office.
The Brandon flats-angler turned CEO of a very successful national company thanks to introduction of his Power-Pole automatic anchor some 13 years ago, scored another big first at the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades - ICAST - in Las Vegas from July 9-12 when his new electric anchoring system for small boats, the Power-Pole wMicro Anchor, was named Best of Show among the hundreds of new products debuting at the event.
The new anchor is one more step in Oliverio's development of the Power-Pole lineup, which began on the flats of Tampa Bay when the angler sought a fast, silent way to anchor his flats boat. Prior to the Power-Pole, anglers used a push-pole plunged into the bottom, or struggled with a noisy, messy anchor to secure their boat within range of prime fishing holes.
Oliverio built the first model of his original Power-Pole out of Lego blocks, and cobbled the first working model together in his garage. He found a partner to invest some seed money and began building the first production models in a rented shed in West Brandon about 2000.
"When we put one on a boat in the Redfish Tour competitions, the demand went crazy," Oliverio recalled.
"Everybody wanted one when they saw how easy it was to position the boat or just stop it cold when you saw a tailing fish."
By 2005 he had sold 5,000 and had eight employees. That turned out to be just the beginning, however.
As soon as the popularity of the poles spread to the bass fishing community - far larger than the flats angling population along the coasts - demand skyrocketed. Most tournament anglers now boast not one but two of the $1995 units on the transom of their competition boats, and the anchoring systems are sold from Maine to California. Models designed to anchor at depths from 4 feet to 10 feet are available, all with silent, fast remote control systems.
This year, the company, JL Marine Systems, moved into a large, modern factory on Palm River Road in Tampa, and with the Best of Show Award, seems poised to make the same sort of impact on the burgeoning kayak/canoe market as they have on inshore and bass fishing boats.
The new Micro Anchor weighs just 10 pounds and can be run on a lightweight, portable lithium-ion battery as well as a conventional 12-volt battery. It can anchor at depths to 8.5 feet, and includes a remote fob-type control.
A USB connection allows for quick software updates, and there's also Bluetooth connection which allows controlling the motor via Android cell phone.
"Kayak anglers will be a big market, but the Micro can stop a boat up to 1500 pounds, so it's going to be a good choice for aluminum bass boats, jon boats, any small boat," Oliverio said.