Pros help in product development

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Kevin VanDam

Kevin VanDam

In the world of professional bass fishing, Kevin VanDam is at the pinnacle and arguably the best in the world.

One of the elements of being a pro angler is working with sponsors in product development.

A lot of people don’t realize how much time a pro works with sponsors in research and development. Of course, that’s not the case with all companies, but I’ve tried to align myself with those that want to use its pro staff in a partnership to better the products we use.

A good example is Strike King and Mustad, both of whom have worked closely with me and others to create functional lures and hooks that enable us to be successful on the Elite Series.

Motor Guide is another example. This week, my nephew and fellow Elite pro Jonathon VanDam, walleye pros Keith Kavajecz and Gary Parsons, and The Bassmasters TV host Mark Zona spent time at the plant in Lowell, Mich., meeting with engineers, marketing experts and people who actually build the trolling motors. Motor Guide originated in Mississippi and is now part of the Mercury Outboard family under the Atwood brand.

We’ve been providing input on the development of their new X3 and Xi5 motors which are being shipped to retailers across the country this year.

The X3 is an entry level bow mount electric motor while the xi5 is an electronically steered electric with a variety of features. Both models have been in development for three years and the company has listened to us and implemented the improvements we felt were needed in modern day trolling motors.

The new electrics have a totally redesigned mount, bracket, shaft and foot pedal. We’ve addressed every aspect an angler demands from a trolling motor and the new ones offer more precise steering and quieter performance.

While at the plant, we watched them move on the assembly line and met with the people who build them. We could see the pride and commitment this team of employees has in their work. It’s something you don’t see every day.

We got to explain to them how important it is to all anglers to have a reliable product for use in our treasured time on the water, and I could tell they took that to heart.

Now that those new motors are being shipped, the attention is focused to the Tour Edition models designed for high performance bass boats and the ones we use on the pro trail. We’ve offered some solid ideas that I’m sure will be implemented in new Tour models that will be developed and released in the months to come.

A lot goes into bringing a new product to the market and being involved directly as an angler is a part of my job I love most.

It’s not surprising that the companies that integrate pro anglers’ input into their products are the most successful ones!

Remember, it’s all about the attitude!

Kevin VanDam's column appears weekly on Bassmaster.com. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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