College fishing builds foundation for success, part 2

Part one of this story gave a quick glimpse into the last 10-plus years of Drew Sanford and Dalton Wilson’s lives. Two former Carhartt Bassmaster College Series anglers turned propane industry entrepreneurs who in many ways embody the American dream.

They both credit a love of the outdoors, specifically their dedication to bass fishing, with helping establish the tireless work ethic necessary to expand one local propane business into four burgeoning companies. All while raising beautiful families and remaining active in the outdoors. They don’t just talk about the impact fishing had upon them either; Dalton and Drew live it.

The Green-LP wrapped Toyota Tundra you see in the picture above is Dalton’s personal vehicle. He bought it and became a Toyota Bonus Bucks member largely based on Toyota’s support of the fishing industry. Furthermore these two, along with their coworkers, proudly wear Carhartt on the jobsite as a “thank you” for what Carhartt has done for college fishing throughout the past eight years. Fishing is woven into their lives as well as their work, and they wouldn’t have it any other way.

A passion project

The “fishing division” of James River Manufacturing was started two years ago as a pure and simple passion project. Drew had experience in making his own lead jig heads and had enough connections within the fishing industry that he believed he could produce them for tackle companies in the Ozarks region. Drew thought if nothing else, it would keep him connected to bass fishing.

“I have a lot of moving parts in my life, but I needed to feed the hobby part of my brain,” Wilson laughed. “Fishing has always been a part of my life, and I figured this was a way I could spend a few minutes of my day playing with fishing lures.”

After doing some research on the equipment needed to scale his production process and bringing his vision to life, Drew realized it was more of a financial commitment than anticipated. So he brought in Taylor Baker – a friend and recent graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute who happened to be adept with a 3D printer and CNC machine.  

Using some “redneck engineering” and a can-do attitude Drew, Taylor, and Dalton helped piece together a one-of-a-kind mold production outfit in the corner of their Green-LP warehouse. They use a CNC machine to construct any type of lead mold an angler or a tackle company could think of — from Ned and shaky heads to swimbait and ball jigs.

Their distinctive manufacturing machine then mass produces the jig heads, sandblasts them, and applies a powder coat before “cooking them” to finish the process. Lastly, the jig heads are painted to order before shipping out to a tackle company near you.

With a little elbow grease and some TLC, their passion project was operative. After seeing their creation run smoothly and efficiently, Drew started thinking about applying a similar system to another piece of equipment he was innately familiar with: propane tanks. And thus a new endeavor began …