The Story Behind the Success of the K-Drill
Many are learning about the K-Drill for the first time, so many may be surprised to know the story of the K-drill spans nearly 60 years in development. Named after the Kluge family that created one of the first gas powered ice drills back in 1959. Jacob Kluge, was a visionary who experimented with one of the first electric powered ice drilling systems. He was a true pioneer in ice drilling technology and was the first to create a “chipper” cutting blade. Back in the day, ice blocks were common and ice picks were used to fracture the ice. If you hit the ice at just right angle, it would be easy to create small chunks of ice. Jacob designed a blade with five cutting fingers to chip the ice at just the right angle so as not to dig in or skip across the surface. Indeed the ‘Chipper” blade proved to be revolutionary for ice hole drilling and his very design is used in the new K-Drill nearly 60 years later!
Jacob’s Son Doug worked with him in the gas auger business until 1973 when the business was sold. The Kluge name in ice augers continued later after Doug Kluge graduation from the University of Minnesota with an engineering degree. Doug worked with several major companies but his heart was still with the ice auger business. Doug started KECO brand gas augers in 1995 but had limited success and stopped making them in 2005. Like his Father before him, Doug once again started looking at electric power to drill holes in ice. He realized that making an electric drill and an auger assembly was not the way to go and focused exclusively on the drill bit only, based off his Father’s very unique chipper blade design.
Doug knew the drill needed to meet one requirement: The drill had to be made from materials OTHER than steel. His Father told him a million times steel is heavy, and wants to freeze-up in the hole. At the time, he had few options, but now, 50 years later his son could finish the dream of his father.
In 2008 the newly named “K-Drill” assembly was presented to businessman and Hall of Fame angler Steve Baumann, the owner of Vexilar Marine Electronics in Minneapolis. Steve knew the potential of the K-Drill and purchased the first 500 units in an exclusive marketing agreement. Unfortunately, the hand-held drills at the time were expensive 28 volt models that would over-heat from the drain the batteries. Many of those 500 drills sat on the shelves for 4 years until the first brush-less 18 volt hand drills came to market.
Doug brought one of the Milwaukee 18 Volt FUEL drills to Steve and stated, that finally the tool industry has created a drill that is brushless and with batteries designed to work in cold weather. In 2014 the second order of 750 drills were made and word was getting out, in 2015, 1500 K-Drills were sold and in in 2016- 8,500!
For sure the K-Drill seems like an over-night success, but as you can see, it took nearly 60 years to be realized.
Today the entire K-Drill product and its two patents are owned by Steve Baumann, the Kluge family is still active in all phases of the current and future designs of the K-Drill to ensure their family tradition for American made quality and innovation continues for many years to come.