Interview with CORE Outdoor Power Founder Lincoln Jore

When 30-year-old entrepreneur Lincoln Jore was in college, he started looking for ways to build better power tools. What resulted was a new gasless motor technology so versatile that it's used in everything from hedge trimmers to wind turbines. His tech uses copper-etched conductors embedded into a multilayer circuit board stator, which, when coupled with permanent magnets, allows for high torque at extremely high efficiencies. Recently, he founded CORE Outdoor Power to apply this technology to outdoor power equipment, creating a line that is powerful, noiseless, and emission-free.

Q: How did you get started?

A: I went to college at the University of Montana and studied business—though hard-knocks engineering would be more my forte. Growing up, I spent a lot of years in the manufacturing business with my father, and gained a lot of experience building things, designing things, understanding how things work in general, from a mechanical aspect. I think I've always been ingrained with a little bit of inventiveness.

Q: How did the idea for this technology come about?

Our initial intention was to license the technology for the motor itself and start to build power tools that were more powerful than what was on the market. I came across a few designs that had wire-wound copper coils mounted to printed circuit boards and I thought, circuit boards are made of copper. Why couldn't you just put the coils inside the circuit board?

We started researching how printed circuit boards are manufactured and how we could design the coils into the printed circuit boards with multiple layers. It took us about a year and a half to even get one turning—and by turning, I mean it moved in a clockwise direction, but barely.

That was in 2002, and since then, we've dialed it in and created a mass model around our technology that allows us to prescribe different rpm, different horsepower, different sizes. And we know exactly what it takes to design and build those particular sizes for any given application.

Q: Why do you think this product is a game changer?

A: Basically, by using the printed circuit board, we've made it the simplest design to manufacture of any electric motor out there. Typical electric motors require a lot of really expensive tooling to wind windings, wrap around steel armatures, and stamp out all these steel plates. We're using manufacturers around the world that are already creating millions of circuit boards a year.

We can also change the design on the fly. We don't have to retool winding equipment for a new design. We just design it on the computer, hand it off to the manufacturer, and it gets printed on copper panels.

The other benefit is from a performance standpoint. Because we use a circuit board, we can put our magnets really close together so we get a lot more flux in our motor and not have as much resistance in the stator, which allows us to get higher power in a smaller package. Typically, we can get the same power output in about a third of the size of a traditional motor.

Q: Why use this technology for outdoor power equipment?

A: We started with the intention of going after power tools. What we found in that marketplace is that the motors being used are commodity motors, and ultimately, most people are satisfied with the performance. So we started looking at other areas, where we would have a better impact.

Outdoor power equipment has lacked innovation for years. There's been the same repackaged stuff over and over. On the electric side in outdoor power equipment, Black & Decker and other [similar] companies have used little power tool motors that aren't powerful enough to compete with gas. They're not high performance or good quality, but they've appeased a certain amount of the marketplace.

On the other end of the spectrum, the gas-powered stuff has plenty of power. Yet anyone who has ever dealt with gas outdoor power equipment knows the hassle and the difficulty that comes with a gas engine. So we found we could offer a good benefit competing with a gas-powered product.

Q: Where else is your tech going?

A: Some of our stuff is licensed in the military on shipboard applications. We started that relationship by offering them weight savings versus their conventional motor. We jumped into the oil industry and, using the same concept of printed circuit boards and magnets, were able to drive a mud pump up to 1000 hp and 1200 lb-ft of torque.

In 2009, we decided to take a really big step and started Boulder Wind Power to take the motor to a 40-foot-diameter generator for wind turbines. Boulder Wind Power is developing some of the first CORE-powered wind turbines right now. We also set up another company, CORE Innovation, that is focused on industrial motors—using our technology in any industrial application from traction motors to running industrial equipment to licensing in the oil field.

Q: Where do you plan on taking this technology next?

A: We really had to focus on the low-hanging fruit. Wind turbines were an obvious fit for us. We offer some unique benefits there as far as weight savings, cost savings, and overall reliability. There's no doubt we'll also get into the agriculture and automotive industry.

Q: Describe the CORE Outdoor Power products you currently have on the market.

A: We launched the trimmer last year in March, and it has set the tone for CORE Outdoor Power. We've focused heavily on competing with gas-powered stuff on a commercial level. We want to get our product into the hands of the commercial guys—the guys that are making money with these products and whose livelihoods depend on them.

We want to start with that, but then let it make its way down to the producers of the world—the do-it-yourselfers — and then eventually hit the mass market in a couple of years. We set the trimmer up in about 1500 dealers nationwide within the first nine months. We then added the hedge trimmer and blower. We also added a quad pack: a backpack-charging system that allows you to carry four power cells in it and extend your run time.

We just launched our Power Lok system, which is the same three products—trimmer, hedge trimmer, and blower—but they come on a detachable shaft so that you can buy one back-end power cell and charger and plug in the attachments. The Power Lok is unique because the back end recognizes which attachment is connected and knows the speed and torque profile it needs to use to run that device.

Q: How cost-effective are these products?

A: Just at the starting price point, we're competitive with gas-powered stuff. It also saves a huge amount on operation and maintenance costs. A typical commercial guy will spend $500 to $600 a year on gas for one trimmer. So look at running our unit for a year—the cost of electricity is minuscule to charge a power cell, and that's just one unit. You can imagine a commercial guy that's outfitted with five or six units. It's an enormous amount of savings.

Q: Is it environmentally friendly?

A: Absolutely. It's also clean, and it doesn't make anyone angry in the morning when you walk by the window because it virtually doesn't make any noise. You also don't have to inhale smoke while you're running it.

Q: Where is the gear available?

A: We offer demo units in most of our dealers. We like people to feel the unit before they purchase it because it really speaks for itself. The proof is in the pudding.