By: Matt Foster
Innovative, professional, cutting-edge, and ingenious are just a few words I have heard people use to describe Mark Ridl at Cornfield Crappie Gear. After seeing some of the products that Mark and his team at Cornfield Crappie Gear have been putting out, I had to give him a call.
When Mark answered the telephone, I could hear loud machines working overtime in the background. He politely said, “Let me step into my office so I can hear you.” Once in his office, I introduced myself and asked Mark about Cornfield Crappie Gear.
Mark explained that Cornfield Crappie Gear started when he was introduced to spider rigging. At the time, Mark stated he lived in Illinois and would travel to Kentucky to fish with friends quite often. Soon he purchased an aluminum Bass Tracker boat and built his own spider rigging stuff and a double seat. Mark said, “One thing led to another and other people started wanting the items I was producing.” A short time later, he began making drift paddles and started selling them. After quickly seeing that he could sell more, he made a website. While standing in his Illinois home, he messaged some friends trying to come up with a name for his newfound business. Mark revealed that while looking out the window he thought to himself, “Here I am in the middle of cornfields making crappie gear” and that’s how the name, Cornfield Crappie Gear, started.
Mark purchased a Ranger bass boat in 2013 and needed to purchase some graph mounts for it. He purchased some machined mounts he said were really nice and the craftsmanship was fantastic, but he felt like he could make it even better, so he made himself one. However, he didn’t want to make a product that was identical to something another company was making, so he changed the design and enhanced the quality. Due to living in the corn belt of Illinois, he started making them for farmers to use in their tractors, when mounting a GPS. Nonetheless, after rapidly noticing that there just wasn’t a market for the graph mounts with farmers, he began marketing them to fishermen.
I asked Mark what the most popular item he sells and he said, “Oh man, it’s a toss-up between the electronics mounts and the Cable Save’R.” I asked Mark how he came up with the idea for the Cable Save’R. Mark explained at the time, he was running a Motorguide Xi5 and after ruining two transducer cables, he thought, “There has to be a better way.” Mark stated that he got the idea from the coiled hose on the side of his trolling motor. He started off with thin-wall coiled air hose and is now using a thick-wall coiled air hose. Mark explained, “We never stop trying to better our own product.” Mark said he and his team at Cornfield Crappie Gear have been making the Cable Save’R since 2012 and have shipped them all over the world.
Next, Garmin LiveScope came out, and Mark immediately knew he needed to make a compatible trolling motor mount. After obtaining dimensions, he and his team went to work. They now offer a Garmin LiveScope mount to fit Minn Kota Ulterra, Ultrex, Terrova, Riptide, Power Drive V2, and Motor Guide Xi5.
In order to manufacture and ship the amount of product that Cornfield Crappie Gear does on a daily basis, I asked Mark how many employees he had. Mark said, “We’ve got four full-time guys that operate six CNC machines, my wife, and a couple other part-time guys.” In order to keep quality control on products in check, Mark and his team carefully inspect one another’s work before each package is shipped. Mark explained that all products are made in the USA with 99% of the products are being made in his shop. Cornfield Crappie Gear was relocated approximately three years ago and is now located near Gilbertsville, Kentucky.
One of the latest products that Cornfield Crappie Gear offers is Live Sweep “The Remote Scope.” The Live Sweep is a twelve volt powered sweeping arm that allows for 300 degrees of adjustment to move the Garmin LiveScope transducer. This allows the user to fine-tune their view. Mark informed me that he gets telephone calls each week asking if he makes a pole mount for the Garmin LiveScope transducer. Mark said, “We don’t, but we may at some point.”
I asked Mark about wholesale accounts and how businesses could stock products that he manufactures. Mark said, “They would call and set up an account with a credit card on file. The businesses would also get the products at a discounted rate.” Cornfield Crappie Gear also attends several events each year including, Grizzly Jig Spring Tackle Show and the Wally Marshall Crappie Expo. Mark stated, “By doing events, Cornfield Crappie Gear has been able to make some amazing connections.” Mark chuckled as he said, “We are so blessed; we sometimes don’t know what to do.”
If you are needing a graph mount, Garmin LiveScope mount, Humminbird 360 mount, rod transport rack, or anything to rig out your crappie boat, check out all the products Cornfield Crappie Gear has to offer at https://www.cornfieldcrappiegear.com.