Executive Edge: Konrad Krauland
GRAND JUNCTION — Fishing line was never a product that Konrad Krauland thought he would produce at his Grand Junction-based company, Innovative Textiles.
"If I’d have known we were going to be a fishing line manufacturer when we started, I would have named (the company) something else," said Krauland, who founded Innovative Textiles in 1992.
Today, his company’s leading product is PowerPro, a unique braided fishing line used by serious anglers worldwide.
PowerPro is made of several tiny fibers woven together into a single strand. In contrast to common nylon monofilament line, PowerPro doesn’t stretch, which makes it better able to transmit that telltale tug to the angler when a fish strikes and also gives anglers better control when they set the hook.
"Super lines are continuing to gain popularity," said Krauland, 47. "The demand for this product is outstanding. I would never have guessed that we were going to get this big."
Many outdoor-equipment manufacturers were started by sports enthusiasts who wanted to make a living from their hobby. But Krauland said he is an exception to that rule.
"I did not start this business from my passion for fishing. I started it from my passion for functional textiles," he said. Krauland’s father owned a New York knitting mill that made everything from yarn to finished goods, such as sweaters.
"My love of fiber started at an early age," he said.
After high school, Krauland studied textile engineering at the Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science, now Philadelphia University.
"A textile material is an engineering material, just like wood or steel," he said.
Krauland was recruited to Grand Junction as industrial sales manager for Western Filament, a line and textile manufacturer. He later left that company to form Innovative Textiles with the intention of making a variety of industrial textile-based products. However, Innovative Textiles found its niche making kite lines from Spectra fiber, a super-strong material produced by Honeywell. Krauland said those products proved to be 25 percent stronger than competitive offerings of the day.
In 1992, a fishing-tackle distributor in California bought some of Krauland’s braided kite string and sold it to anglers. The next year, a professional fisherman won a bass-fishing tournament using Krauland’s 50-pound test kite line, and the popularity of braided fishing lines began to take off.
Innovative Textiles started making Spiderwire braided line for another company, and the brand’s popularity grew.
Krauland’s company trained subcontractors to help produce the line but in 1996 lost the manufacturing contract.
"We lost 90 percent of our business overnight, and it was completely unexpected," Krauland said. "In retrospect, it was one of the best things that happened to me. I basically had the opportunity to start PowerPro."
That summer, Krauland tested three or four line prototypes each evening in a pond at a Grand Junction condominium complex, looking for a product that would overcome what he believed were shortcomings with other next-generation fishing lines. Eventually, he found what would become PowerPro.
He began selling the product to individual fishing shops, slowly building a customer base.
Today, PowerPro accounts for 95 percent of Innovative Textiles’ sales, and the company is growing at least 25 percent annually.
In 2006, Innovative Textiles announced an expanded agreement with Honeywell that will secure for the firm a long-term supply of Spectra fiber. This year, Krauland said, he expects the company to produce about 3 million reels of PowerPro line.
Although Krauland said he isn’t a serious angler, he still makes use of his products.
"We go down to Blue Mesa (Reservoir) about every weekend in the summer," he said. "My wife likes it there, and I like it there."