“We catch the little ones’’ is not the motto by which most anglers go charging to their favorite waters.
It is the motto of a small company that makes it possible for anglers to go after trophy-sized fish, however.
Since 1980, Kandiyohi County has been home to a small business that manufactures minnow traps. Brothers Randy and Norman Kveene own and operate the business today, which they call KTraps. They build the traps on a farm site east of Pennock.
They bought the business from Jerry Radermacher of Willmar in 2008. He had launched the business from scratch in 1980.
Radermacher was the supervisor for the work therapy shop operated by the West Central Community Services Center, known today as Woodland Centers. He was in search of a project where clients could learn basic work skills.
Scott Johnson, of Johnson Furs, south of Willmar, was in search of someone who could fix and possibly build minnow traps.
“I didn’t know what a minnow traps was,’’ said Radermacher.
He took on the challenge, acquiring the equipment and know-how to lead clients in building the traps while also marketing the products.
He purchased the business when Woodland Centers closed its work therapy program. He continued to refine his designs and manufacturing process during the next 13 years as its private owner, all the while developing an ever-growing customer list across the country.
KTraps is the better way to catch minnows.
Yes, the home handyperson can still build their own minnow traps. But the Kveene’s know their product is tough to match. They use a heavier gauge of metal screening than most of us could buy at our local store. They have the tools and the bulk purchasing power to build and ship them to us at costs that even do-it-yourselfers would be hard pressed to beat.
“I guarantee, if you made one it wouldn’t be near the quality,’’ said Randy Kveene.
Many of their customers are commercial bait suppliers. They use the traps to catch millions of minnows. The commercial customers often have their own preferences and special “quirks’’ in the designs for their favorite traps. The Kveene’s oblige.
Many other customers are private individuals looking only to catch the minnows they need for their own fishing excursions.
The KTrap website offers them opportunities to purchase models including cylinder, box, and cloverleaf styles. There are also floating turtle boxes, shore traps, and river bait boxes available.
The traps are sent to customers in every state and Canadian province. Some are purchased by researchers at major universities.
The brothers report good demand for the product. It is a sideline for them, but they involve other family members in facets of the business to keep up with the demand. Norman does most of the building, while Randy handles much of the marketing and shipping.
There’s no telling where some of the traps will end up. The Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. has a model. The brothers know of a big game hunting guide who likes to give the traps as Christmas presents to some of his fishing friends.
Both said they enjoy the work and are pleased they made the decision to purchase the business when the opportunity was there. There is only one downside. They enjoy fishing, and the demands of the business limit the time they can get on the water.
When they do, they buy minnows like the rest of us. They do so knowing that chances are they supplied the traps used to catch them.
– See more at: http://tomcherveny.areavoices.com