De Pere man invents the Ice Auger Machine

Published: Sep. 23, 2020 at 2:41 PM CDT
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DE PERE, Wis. (WBAY) - Despite today’s summer-like fall weather, it won’t be too long before ice anglers start getting their gear ready for winter.

And for some, that will include a De Pere man’s invention that’s gaining a lot of traction in the ice fishing industry.

Over the past ten years, Adam Ford’s basement has been much more than a mancave.

“This is it, this is where I developed and I guess made a business out of my basement,” says Ford.

It all started because of a frightening experience Ford suddenly discovered himself in, while ice fishing on the Bay of Green Bay.

“Trying to get back to shore with a storm rolling in and I was pretty far away, so I had to take a bunch of breaks on the way back to shore just from exhaustion and every time I took a break, I would stop and I’d be tired and I’d look around, look down and I’d say, I got a gas motor here and it’s just sitting there and I’m sitting here hauling it myself,” recalls Ford.

As a manufacturing engineer, Ford decided he needed to come up with a way to use his ice auger for more than drilling a hole, and by the time he reached shore that day, he already had a plan.

So he went to work immediately, designing and building an ice auger machine, gas powered or battery.

“This is my sixth prototype that has now transitioned into the real deal. It’s functionally very good, it goes through a good amount of snow and has just the right amount of power to get through that snow. We developed this thing to actually break apart with no tools which is really nice and handy, the total weight all put together with the motor and everything is only 110 pounds,” says Ford, who formed the company Ice Auger Machines, LLC.

Ford’s partner, Drake Vant Hul from Iowa, came on board a few years ago, realizing the ice auger machine could bridge the gap between an ATV and foot power.

“I was one of the guys on the Facebook page that was liking every post, checking it out, I thought it was an awesome thing. In Des Moines, we don’t have great ice, so we don’t have guys driving 4-wheelers out there, good years we get 10 inches of ice, so this was a perfect solution for us to still stay mobile on some of our lakes,” says Vant Hul.

After selling out the last two years, this fall, Ford and Vant Hul are assembling 50 machines.

Most are already sold to ice anglers around the country and Canada.

The average cost, depending on accessories, is $1,500.

“We were joking if we get a big order, I said I might have to move out to Green Bay,” says Vant Hul laughing.

Where he can then join Ford on the bay, with an ice auger machine of course.

“I am not walking out on the bay anymore, those days are long gone,” says Ford with a smile.

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