If you aren’t convinced you need a SKINZIT® fish skinner, think again.
I had the privilege recently to interview Brian Kielian, one of the four inventors of the SKINZIT® fish skinner, about that very subject. What sets the SKINZIT® apart from every other gadget on the retail shelves? What’s the story behind the scenes? His answers entertain and enlighten.
The four inventors (two sets of brothers) include Brian and Chris Kielian and Perry and Eric Parks. They all grew up fishing, and used what’s called the Townsend fish skinner. It resembled a can opener and had a turn dial on the side.
How did the invention process go, and what inspired the SKINZIT® fish skinner?
“Perry and Eric’s dad always said it would be great to have this thing be electric [because] after doing ten or fifteen fish, your hand would hurt from turning that spinner on the right side.
The four of us got together and started sketching it out. I have actually the original sketch on a napkin from a bar, where we had lunch.
In between that and the time we found an engineering firm, we actually built our own. It was really crude, but it actually worked, so we continued to evolve that design.”
They finally found an engineering firm that helped re-design the product over several iterations. The process from first design to patents and final design for the SKINZIT® took over 4 1/2 years.
The company started manufacturing for the first time in June 2014.
How is the SKINZIT® fish skinner made?
“We have the different parts made in six different locations all over China, just so we can protect the product from being built all in one place. Then it’s assembled in Manila at their plant and then it’s slow-boated over to the States.”
What did the initial marketing campaign and sales look like?
“We pre-sold 1,000 of these on our website, as early as March . We’re in Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shops, Scheels, about 75 bait stores, on Amazon, and the website.”
From there, the company started a grass-roots marketing campaign by showcasing the SKINZIT® fish skinner on their website, and at trade shows and ice fishing shows between June and November. However, retailers started banging on the door to sell as well.
How does the SKINZIT® fish skinner work?
Several quality videos are available on the website, to show specific details. These videos include how to use it on various fish species, and how to clean and lubricate the product. It works great on walleye, perch, bluegill, crappie, bass, and virtually any other species with scales.
Cut the fish into two fillets first, and then run the fillets through the product, taking the ribs out first and then the skin. It should cut the process in half.
How are you reaching customers now?
“It’s been a lot of what I would call grass-roots marketing, which is basically demos and trade shows. Perry and Eric own a lodge up in Thaddeus Lake in Canada (Thaddeus Lake Lodge). So we’ve been promoting it through our lodge, we’ve been promoting it through fish cleaning shacks. [Perry and Eric] both have a place up in Okoboji. We go into the fish cleaning shacks and do it right there. People watch that and they’re just amazed.
Bill Dance has reached out to us…we met with him at a Crappie Masters tournament in Grenada, Mississippi a few weeks ago and he’s floored about the product too and he wants to somehow be part of it.”
The product has been featured in Midwest Outdoors, and endorsed famously by Ted Takasaki.
What are people’s reactions when they see the SKINZIT® fish skinner in action?
“We’ve done, I can’t tell you how many demos on the weekends at retail stores, and it’s awesome. It’s fun to see people’s faces when we see that person go, ‘I can’t believe that works.’ They look at it at first and they still can’t believe it works.”
Does Ultimate Fishing Gear have any other products in the works?
“We’re in the design stage of [several] products that will compliment this product…We’re designing a container for the device right now…We want to sell other complimentary products like knives, gloves, cutting boards, etc.”
What would you say to anyone on the fence about buying one?
“It really only takes about 4 to 5 fillets to learn if you watch the videos and pay attention…When we demo the SKINZIT® in person most customers are usually comfortable using the SKINZIT® after just a couple fillets.”
Thanks Brian for taking time to give us the back story on this fascinating product.
Follow me on Twitter @rjlisson