A Camby, Indiana, military veteran may have the answer on how to make recreational powerboating more adaptable and enjoyable for physically challenged persons. The outcome of a fairly simple idea — attributed to Jeff Thompson and his business partner Alan Sipos — is a removable tubular stainless steel handicap-accessible rail system that is installed on a boat and known as the Fish-N-Rail system. “The idea of doing something for our wounded warriors returning from military service and others who are faced with mobility challenges looking again to enjoy recreational boating and fishing, is the motivation behind this innovative design,” said Jeff Thompson, a disabled military veteran and former test pilot who helped design the Fish-N-Rail system.
Jeff sought assistance from the Central Indiana SBDC to help with securing WBE certification and formulating a distribution strategy. “We want to continue to work with the SBDC as we get further along in our business development. The Central Indiana SBDC was very helpful in helping us get our WBE/SDVOSB status applications completed and in focusing our distribution strategy on the end-users with a slick web presence instead of the boat dealers who like the idea but are not interested in carrying inventory or selling a customized after market product. The boat manufacturers have been very helpful in getting the word out and offering us free promotional opportunities within their show booth space. So far we have recently had an interest from 40 customers which will translate into about $80,000 in sales revenue once their boats are measured and we can ship the rail systems out. It has become evident that we will need some kind of regional support to help customers measure properly to get the correct rail system and base flange so we will continue working with the Central Indiana SBDC to get in contact with various retail sporting goods chains and fishing outfitters to try to get regional sales support for the product.”