Faces In the Crowd: Kameron Vanscoyoc

May 16, 2019

by Aaron Michell

Kameron Vanscoyoc, a 2013 Evart grad, learned his lesson in perseverance shortly after high school.
While traveling the country marketing a new kayak anchoring system for the family business, Vanscoyoc was initially told no. And then later on, a few states away, he was told no again.
In his first foray into the business world, he was told “no” again and again, until finally, industry leaders started telling him yes.
Kameron, along with his father Bruce, and his brother Keevin, run Hicks Lake Grinding – a full production machine shop – and Anchor Wizard – a manufacturer of boat and kayak anchoring systems – out of their shop near the corner of 15 Mile Road and 90th Avenue in Evart.
The companies continue to grow – production of their anchoring systems has tripled in recent years – and Kameron looks forward to being able to provide not only a good product, but an opportunity to provide locals with gainful employment for years to come.
It’s his drive to make a difference that keeps him – and his dad and brother – going. His advice to others who may have experienced setbacks is simple: Just keep going. Don’t ever stop.
We caught up with Kameron recently at the family shop where we learned all about Anchor Wizard and Hicks Lake Grinding. We learned a lot about the Vanscoyoc family, their farm, and how they’ve gotten to where they’re at today.
Most importantly, we learned that Kameron Vanscoyoc is more than just another face in the crowd.

Kameron Vanscoyoc

Marion Press: Can you give us a little background on how Anchor Wizard and Hicks Lake Grinding came to be?
Kameron: My dad, he originally started the company in 1994. He started the company out of our garage just down the road. He started the business down there with a couple of grinders and Bridgeports; built the company up, got a bunch of customers, and then built the business up here [in the shop]. [It] took him a while to do that – I think he built this building in 2001. So it took him about five or six years to move out of the garage and into here, and move into the CNC world.
From there on out, he’s been constantly building and building [the business]. It was funny, he was working for 42 customers – I remember coming in and outta here all the time as a kid – and he had around eight employees on the floor. When the economy took a hit, we went from about 42 customers to about five. It was a big hit, but the nice thing was that we were running with low overhead – so it didn’t shut us down; we could keep going forward and building ourselves up. My dad continued to do that, and in 2004 or 2005, he started developing the anchoring system; he put a lot of his efforts towards the anchoring system. And he built them for jet boats, pontoons, deep v boats.
[Then] my brother and I started getting involved in the business. I started working here in 2012 – about a year before I graduated. My brother and I developed the kayak system. I took it on the road, drove around the United States; visited stores. I actually did 4-H for about 16 years, so I took my 4-H money, bought a truck, and then drove around the United States. I visited stores, I did some TV down in Tennessee with a guy, and it just kind of built up from there – built up to where we are now, where both businesses are constantly growing.
My brother and I’s goal is to put more and more people in place; to hire more folks to help us run the business. We’re not college educated – we’re all kind of self-taught. So we want to hire people to help us run the business. We can’t do it ourselves – we’re not smart enough to do it ourselves.

MP: Well I don’t know about that – you guys seem to be running a pretty good operation.
Kameron: That’s our next step: To put people in place to help us run the business. We’re getting big enough to get more employees, but we’re too small to put them on quite yet. So a lot of it is running overtime between Keevin and I to get us caught up and keep us going.

MP: And Anchor Wizard has kind of taken off recently.
Kameron: Absolutely. We’ve probably tripled in size over the last year. It’s been really, really good. The kayak system, especially. We built the kayak system in 2012, and it was the aluminum version – our first version – and that’s the version I took around to all the states and the stores. And then the low-profile system, I didn’t have to do as much marketing because our original systems were in the store. And I did enough social media hype to get it going; people were comfortable enough with buying it and understanding it, and it’s been doing really well since then.

MP: Basically, it’s an anchoring system for a kayak, right? You probably get a lot of people around here who might want to purchase something like that.
Kameron: It’s funny, two years ago we probably never sold a system in Michigan. We just never did. Kayaking was still kind of foreign to Michigan. Now, Michigan’s really getting into the kayak hype, and we’re selling a lot more systems in Michigan locally as well. A lot of our big systems – TS-415 or WS-150 series – those we sell a ton in Michigan. Those are for bigger boats, and that’s where everything still was before kayaking. But now that we’re moving into kayaking, we’re getting a lot more local sales.

MP: Tell us a little bit about the Vanscoyoc family. You grew up right here, correct?
Kameron: Yeah, I was born and raised just down in this house, a hundred yards away. We’ve been running cattle and farming since I can remember. My grandma lives just a hundred yards [down the other direction on 90th Ave.]. My uncle lives another 100 yards; my other uncle lives just down the road. We’ve got a big community.

MP: Vanscoyoc corner, huh?
Kameron: Yeah, Vanscoyoc corner basically. We still farm, we still run cattle. My brother just bought acreage kitty-corner from here. We’re very family-oriented; we try to keep it that way. We still have family dinners all the time, and there are a ton of Vanscoyocs there. And there’s still more coming. Our family’s grown, and our business kind of grows with the family.

MP: And you said 4-H kept you pretty busy growing up.
Kameron: Yeah, absolutely. 4-H was something I did a lot of. I did the fairs; I did the state-level shows. My brother never got into it too much like I did. Our neighbors – the Salinas’s – I showed lambs for them. They helped me raise cattle; I helped them with cattle sometimes.
The community here is pretty cool. We all help each other and get along. If anyone needs help, we’re there for each other.

MP: What kept you busy at Evart High School?
Kameron: Sports. Sports kept me busy – and if it wasn’t sports, it was probably girls. And if it wasn’t girls, it was probably animals. 4-H was kind of an after-school thing. During school I played a lot of sports, and then I really started getting into the business. I started taking online classes at colleges when you could do dual enrollment. I was able to take a business class before I graduated with dual enrollment. It just kind of helped me get a jump start in here. I really enjoyed this – and I really still enjoy this. I love social media and videography. That’s something I’m passionate about – videography. I don’t get to do it as much as I’d like because we’re so busy here, but as we start growing and put people in place, it will free me up to do more of that.

MP: What’s your favorite part of living in the Evart community?
Kameron: This area, the reason I love it is because it’s quiet. We’re more the quiet type, even though I love to travel. In Evart, it’s crazy when you go into Evart because things are changing so much. Businesses are moving out, businesses are moving in. Ventra, for example, or Flex-n-gate now, they’re just growing and growing and giving so much business opportunity to the locals; same with PGW. The one thing I love about Evart is that it’s growing into more of an industrial town, and it’s renovating. There’s a lot of opportunity in Evart with the river going through, being an old logging town. You have the ash plant; there’s just so many new things that are coming in that make the community really, really good.
And we’re not necessarily in Evart – we’re in the same zip code, but we’re in our own township – but at the same time we still receive the same support. And we try to help and support the schools as much as possible to this day – whether it’s a banner, or new jerseys or something like that. We want to still be community based. That was always my goal coming out of school. Not to make a lot of money, but to help grow the community and put work in the door for other people. I think it’s really cool when – not just when the owner runs the company – but when they can find individuals to help run the company with them, and they love that business just as much as the owner does.

MP: Who’ve been some of your biggest role models?
Kameron: I’d have to say, when I was younger – and still to this day – my dad, for one. It’s hard to take a business, and take it from where he was at and build it to what it is. And my brother as well.
And all of my friends – not just any in particular. A lot of my friends who I spend a lot of time with help me just by saying, hey, you’re doing a great job – and helping me move forward. But my biggest role models are my brother and my dad. My dad, doing what he’s doing; my brother, he just had a new baby and still being able to make time to come back and forth and do this. And, of course, my whole family. Big support; lots of support from my family and that helps a lot.

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