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"Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value."
The story of how a New Orleans street cop became the Jedi Knight of fishing navigation maps is an American success story that could only have happened in Louisiana.
Glenn Schurr grew up in New Orleans’ Gentilly neighborhood in fairly typical fashion for a kid of his age and time. He loved to fish but had to make a living, so he joined the New Orleans Police Department — partly to take advantage of the scholarship opportunities the agency offered.
Schurr was bright and especially strong in mathematics. He left the department in 1977 and built a subcontracting business refining aerial photography for military decision makers in the U.S. Air Force.
But Schurr never gave up his love of fishing. Shortly after selling his business in 1986, he walked into Chag’s Sporting Goods in Metairie to buy some tackle.
Store owner Ray Chagnard had posted a large aerial photo on one wall of the shop. After chatting with Chagnard a bit, a light went off in Schurr’s head.
“I realized that my capabilities could be useful,” Schurr said. “I went home and began to make detailed maps of aerial photos.”
The maps were targeted from the start for use by fishermen.
Schurr had to build his business, now named Standard Mapping Services, from zero, but Chagnard knew of the maps’ market potential and continued to encourage him.
A veritable Who’s Who of Southeast Louisiana outdoor personalities pitched in, including Tony Puglia, Dave Ballay, George Bent and Frank Davis.
In 1987, he hired Ralph “The King” Burst to do the actual production of the maps, as well as handle shipping. Burst’s 10-year old son, Ralph Jr., tagged along as a helper.
In 1998, Junior Burst became a full-time employee and Schurr’s regular fishing companion.
The durable, full-color laminated maps became enormously popular.
“I could forever see one guy in a boat holding a map and giving directions while the other guy drove,” Shurr grinned. “For several years I thought about getting major electronics manufacturers to put my cartography on a GPS.
“Then, at the 2011 Bassmaster Classic bass-fishing tournament held in Westwego, competitors would hold my maps in their laps while running 60 mph and making 90-mile round trips. Two of the participants — Gary Klein and Skeet Reese, who are pro-staffers for Lowrance Electronics — went to the company and said that my maps needed to go on their machines. I got a call from Lowrance to ask if I had the capabilities to put my hard copy maps into digital form.
“It was like a call from Heaven. That’s my background.”
Schurr had a prototype out in six weeks, and by December 2011 Standard Mapping Services E-cards became commercially available for Lowrance, Simrad and B&G GPS units.
Standard Mapping Services currently produces more than 60 E-cards, one for each of their hard-copy fishing maps that cover the entire Louisiana coast, as well as important interior fishing areas such as the Atchafalaya Basin and Toledo Bend Reservoir.
Combo cards called EC-cards, each of which covers the area of two to six maps, are also available.
The SD cards, as well as Standard Mapping Services hard maps, are available at tackle stores, marinas, electronics outlets, and boat dealers.
- Jerald Horst / Louisiana Sportsman
February 15, 2015 at 7:00am