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2020 IBEX Innovation Award Interview with Rupp Marine

Boltless Rod Holder

Two rod holders in one! An investment cast stainless steel rod holder design that allows for use in either a “fixed” or “360 degree rotating swivel” configuration, by simply swapping a washer (included). Finally, a rod holder that can be easily installed while still providing the clean bolt-less look.

What problem does this product solve?
The primary problems we aimed to address were the common installation issues with competing products. Until now, boltless rod holders required special attachment hardware and/or installation tools to be purchased from the manufacturer and required a great deal of time and expertise to install. Our product is designed to install easily, from the top, utilizing common fasteners and backing plates, while still providing a clean bolt-less look.

The second problem the product addresses is for the builder or end user that doesn’t know where they want to install a rod holder, and whether they want a swiveling and fixed rod holder. The Boltless Rod Holder can be used in both configurations, allowing the boat builder or end user to set up their rod holders as they see fit, depending on how they are fishing the boat.

How did Rupp Marine become aware of these problems?
By listening to our customers. We are fortunate to have a very diverse customer base, we supply large boat builders as well as small service companies with one or two employees. When you hear about the same issue from both there is usually an opportunity to offer a solution, and that was the case with this product.

What obstacles or complications did you encounter?
Creating the interface between the upper and lower stainless-steel flanges was a challenge. The flanges get almost entirely machined after casting for dimensional consistency.

What was the product development process?
We rely heavily on the latest 3D printing technology for new product development, and this product was no different. We conceptualize, model and 3D print a plastic sample; this allows us to progress through various design ideas very quickly. It is hard to overstate the benefit of being able to assemble and handle a part that was just an idea a few hours prior.

For this product we also used a similar 3D printing technology for prototype tooling, giving us a finished production representative part in casted stainless steel in a fraction of the time required for production tooling.

We did experience some design and early production delays due to COVID. The production related issues were mainly due to raw material shortages, luckily these issues seem to have subsided. As with most companies these days we rely on technology like virtual meeting platforms, etc. to help us protect the health of our employees while enabling us to continue on with safely designing and developing new products. We have been fortunate, so far we haven’t had any employees test positive for COVID and we are doing what we can to make sure this trend continues.

Participating in the first virtual IBEX event was an enjoyable experience that was made easy through the extra efforts and communication from the IBEX team. Winning an innovation award, in a year filled with such disruption, was an extraordinary achievement for Rupp Marine and an experience we won’t soon forget.

Are customizations available?
The top flange of the rod holder is a separate, removable component and it lends itself to easy customization, like engraving or color coatings. We don’t currently offer these as options, but the product was designed to make it easy to do.

Were there noteworthy personnel involved with this product?
We have a small design team here at Rupp, and we take a team approach on new product design with each member offering valuable input based on their area of expertise and design background.

What else should we know about this product?
This product provides an added benefit to boat manufacturers, especially those with SKU rationalization programs. One rod holder can now be used in place of a few different varieties, enabling benefits such as reduced inventories and other cost savings in the form of operational efficiencies.

For more information about the 2020 IBEX Innovation Award winners, click here.

Rupp Marine


Rupp Marine is a branded manufacturer of sportfishing hardware for boats from 18 to over 100 feet in length. A world leader in the design and production of manual and hydraulic outrigger systems and associated fishing hardware.

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2020 Innovation Award Winner

Category: Deck Equipment and Hardware

“SKU Flattening, easy to install, and now the consumer doesn’t have to choose fixed or rotating, they get both,” said Greg Thornton.




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