Ultimate Fishing Gear, Inc., the family run company in Bellevue is behind “The SKINZIT Electric Fish Skinner,” and they have struck viral gold. Not once — but three times, with videos getting 30 million views and half a million shares on Facebook.
In January of 2015, just a few weeks after SKINZIT went on the market, a fan demo video went viral with over 8.9 million views. Then that April another customer posted a SKINZIT fish cleaning video that went viral with 10.4 million views. And just January 1, another recent Facebook video went viral with 10 million views and counting.
The passion project of two sets of Omaha metro brothers, Perry and Eric Parks and Chris and Brian Kielian, started back when the Parks brothers grew up working in their family bait shop in Lake Okoboji. They would hop off the school bus and get to cleaning customers fish at the family’s local bait shop. In 1976, their dad Jon Parks came up with the genius idea to motorize a manual fish skinner using a grill rotisserie — but they never did get it completely figured out.
For nearly three decades, the Parks brothers kept thinking about their Dad’s invention, but on the back-burner, as they were busy founding and running another Bellevue business. It wasn’t until after their father passed away in 2007 that they were ready to set out to accomplish the impossible family dream.
“We’ve cleaned fish our whole lives, but we’ve seen people that don’t fish that often try and clean fish,” said Perry. “They just struggle.”
It took four years to develop and design the product with engineers and product developers. It officially went on the market Christmas of 2014, almost 40 years after their dad first imagined it.
“It felt pretty amazing to skin that first fish,” Perry said. “I just wish Dad could have seen it.”
Over thousands SKINZIT’s have been sold in 49 states, across Canada and even globally.
“When people see the skinner in action their mouths literally drop open,” says Eric Parks. “It’s the quickest, easiest way to remove the rib bones, skin, and get the most meat from fish in seconds. What’s phenomenal is not only the speed but the quality of the filet when you are done.”
The product also doesn’t use a blade. That feature played to their advantage.
“Ten, 11, 12-year-old people are doing it so the product really bought them in with fish cleaning,” said Perry.
The team is hitting the road for a SKINZIT Tour in 11 cities across the Midwest and East Coast to meet customers and do live demos.