GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Ed Gaw’s impact in Green Cove Springs is no fish story. Instead he and his family were adopted into the community and have since made a mark on the culture that makes a …
GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Ed Gaw’s impact in Green Cove Springs is no fish story. Instead he and his family were adopted into the community and have since made a mark on the culture that makes a hometown, truly feel like home.
Gaw’s story began a long way from Clay County, a place he probably never knew existed.
After graduating college in Ohio, life took him to the Sunshine State.
Gaw inherited his father’s love of fishing, so he used his passion and knowledge to develop Hi-Liner Fishing Gear & Tackle Inc.
The company was founded about 10 years ago while Gaw lived in Broward County. The company was a success, but as the already busy area continued to grow so did problems for Gaw’s company. Transporting supplies through South Florida traffic became overly cumbersome. The biggest blow came when their leased headquarters in Pompano Beach was sold from out under Gaw.
Left with no building, he began a search for a new home for Hi-Liner.
“The search took us to about every vacant building in Broward, and Broward is an expensive market to purchase warehouse space,” said Gaw.
The exhaustive search did not produce any suitable properties for the company.
This meant Gaw would have to explore areas outside of the place he’d called home since moving to Florida. One idea that floated through his mind was the place his parents reside after relocating from colder climes – Fernandina Beach.
“We went up to Nassau County, found a building, took that offer, went through the whole process,” said Gaw. “But it didn’t work.”
In an instant, Gaw was back where he started, however his luck began to change that same day. While visiting a commercial real estate website, he stumbled upon the property he’s in today at 3529 Enterprise Way.
“The next day, me and one of my guys jumped in the truck drove up here looked at the building and went ‘that’s it’,” said Gaw. “We didn’t know a whole lot about Clay County, knew about Green Cove a little bit, but the more we looked around and the more time we spent I went, ‘Holy cow! This is definitely going to be something we can take back to the other six families that make up this company’.”
That’s exactly what Gaw did. The board was intrigued by his pitch to move operations to a town they never heard of, in a county most of them hadn’t visited. While it’s no secret to those who’ve resided in Clay County for at least the last decade, but this area is growing rapidly. As the executives at Hi-Liner discovered, it’s because of the prime real estate market.
Walking into Gaw’s office for the first time is a memorable experience. Guests are immediately thrust into the world of fishing, the world Hi-liner fishing gear caters to everyday. The walls are filled with memorabilia, akin more to a maritime museum than a corporate office, a testament to the kind of passion that goes into his work.
“If you went fishing with the same stuff your grandaddy used, you wouldn’t catch what you would if you used the new and better,” said Gaw. “It’s not tree surgery, but it is fishing, and there’s a lot of application of science to it.”
Since joining the Clay County Community, Gaw has wasted no time trying to leave his mark. He’s chairman of the city’s Planning and Zoning Board. Along with Green Cove Springs city council member Van Royal, Gaw purchased a plot of land next to the Clay Theater and helped create the popular event, “Food Truck Friday.” The highly successful, monthly event has brought a recurring bit of nightlife to Green Cove Springs’ core. The event continues to grow at each outing.
According to Gaw, hundreds of food vendors want to join future events and the addition of live entertainment has the potential to make Green Cove Springs a tourist destination year-round.
As Gaw enters his 10th year as a Clay County resident, it doesn’t appear that Hi-Liner will be getting a new home anytime soon.
“We left very familiar ground, moved up here to the unknown, and to tell you that I’m emotional about that, I am,” said Gaw. “These people have made me feel welcomed, they’ve made everyone at the company feel welcomed, and from a business owner perspective; you’re blessed.”