The Holzmanns are the true power couple. Dean Holzmann, 47, is a law firm partner who puts in long hours in the courtroom. Jola Holzmann, 47, is a dentist who also puts in her share of hours. Between the two, they have three sons that keep them busy at home in Glen Head, N.Y. So when the weekend comes, they do something they can all appreciate together — fishing.
So it comes as no surprise that the Holzster, the latest fishing gadget that straps rod holders around a cooler, sprang from a passion for a sport rather than a desire to make a marketing mint.
“Fishing is really a hobby for us, and we had a lot of fun developing this,” says Jola. “We’ve already gotten a lot of positive feedback.”
The idea began last summer when Dean was fishing with son, Dean, and Jola’s sons, Christopher and Peter, on Mom’s Mutiny, a 43-foot Egg Harbor they bought in 2006. They needed a way to get their additional fishing rods off the deck after they used up the holders on the boat. They tried pulling the rods together with a bungee cord, but then they proved hard to remove. After some thought, they realized perhaps the rods could be attached to the cooler.
“Every fisherman and woman has a cooler on their boat,” says Dean. “We thought if we could develop something that held the rods in place and got them off the floor of the boat; it would certainly help us and maybe others.”
The couple first looked online and in catalogs to see if there was anything similar, and when there was none they began brainstorming.
“We wanted a way that the rod holders could stay on the cooler without drilling into the cooler, and that’s where we came up with the idea of a rack,” says Dean. “That way, we could take it off when we didn’t need it.”
All of the other products such as the belt, the buckle and the holders could be ordered from various marine suppliers. The challenge was inventing the horizontal panel that the rods would be attached to.
“Dean pays a lot of attention to detail and is a very goal-oriented person,” says Jola. “I couldn’t help but get involved. He really wanted it to be the best it could be,and he did a lot of homework on what products were out there already and what supplies he could use.”
After perfecting the plastic panel, the Holzmanns, much to their surprise, had created a patent-pending product that friends and family were already buying. Officially launched April 1, the Holzster comes with stainless steel ratchet buckles; a bundle of blue polypropylene-webbed strapping cut to fit any size cooler; polyethylene UV-resistant rod holders; and the marine-grade polymer horizontal panels Dean makes in his house. Customers have the selection of three-, four-, five- and six-rod holder racks and either two- or three-holder optional side racks. Prices range from $89.97 to $169.94, which includes the strapping and ratchet buckle.
“The kids were really excited about what we were working on, and it was great because it was something totally new for us,” says Dean. “We’d talk about it over dinner, about what a positive development this was.”
Not that fishing wasn’t always positive for the Holzmanns. When Jola was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago, they decided it was time to stop dreaming about the perfect boat and get one. Now with her cancer in remission, Jola speaks enthusiastically about how fishing brings her family together.
“The boys are 19, 15, and 9, and those are pretty drastic age differences. But they all have a passion for fishing,” says Jola. “It is a hobby where we can all get involved, as well as being healthy and active.”
Upcoming improvements to the Holzster include a selection of colors for the straps and continuing to make the product more practical, useable and accessible.
“We got this idea that just kept unwinding,” says Jola. “If it continues to be a success — great. If not, we still had fun.”
This article originally appeared in the December 2008 issue.