Our Smart Ass Story

Jerry Hoffmann here, founder and CEO of Smart Ass Products.  I wanted to share a little bit about myself and the company, how it came to be, who makes up the team now, and where we're going. 

First-- A little background.  Originally I worked in the IT field for about a decade, but in late 2004/early 2005 I founded a company called DIYAutoTune -- a manufacturer of automotive standalone engine management systems... if that's too much of a mouthful-- we built race car parts.  Beginning in a spare bedroom in 2005, I and my wife Joy built that company from the ground up, taking over the basement of that home, then as we outgrew that space we moved into a leased space in Suwanee, GA.  And eventually, purchased a building and moved the business to Gainesville GA with room to continue on it's path of growth.  In October of 2023, I exited that company and it continues to live on in the capable hands of the new owners.  If you need engine management, go talk to the guys at DIYAutoTune.com!

That was an amazing experience that gave me huge opportunities over the years, I got to write a book, got to set some land speed records and to do some other racing, meet some really cool people, etc.  It was great, but it was time for me to move on. 

Jerry Hoffmann's 217mph Land Speed 240sx

Fastest ever was 217.3913mph with the ECTA in Wilmington, Ohio

Along the way my hobbies shifted more into boating and watersports, and as my ideas tend to be generated from my hobbies-- I began to have a stack of new product ideas that didn't really fit that business.  I also during that time came to understand I'm much more an entrepreneur and inventor than I am just a day-to-day operator/executive, and that I needed to get back to what I really loved-- bringing innovative new ideas to life.  

I love to wakeboard, by far that's my favorite watersport.  That said, I have to go a little easier on my knees after donating two of them to the sport, surgery and recovery get's annoying.  But I'm just not good at doing things halfway (I'll just take it easy... yeah right!), and with 47 yr old knees... well....  I still wakeboard some, but we spend a lot of time wakesurfing these days behind our 2021 Supra SA400.  

Jerry grab

I, my wife Joy and our three girls live on Lake Lanier in Gainesville GA, and keep our Supra on the water at our home.  We're very close to a marina, but with gasoline prices being as much as $3/gal more than street gas station fuel, I started carrying jugs of fuel down to the dock.  The boat commonly needs about 50 gallons to refill, typical jugs are 5 gallons... that's a lot of jug luggin...  

My name is Jerry Hoffmann and I can't shaka.  (and this is my awesome wife Joy!)

My name is Jerry Hoffmann and I can't shaka. 

(and this is my awesome wife Joy!)


In early 2020, I got tired of being a jug lugger and decided there had to be a better way.  I tested the solutions that were on the market, siphons and dumb-caddies and funnels and... now I knew for sure.  THERE HAD TO BE A BETTER WAY. 

So I got to work-- and after testing a couple of possible methods that I wasn't happy enough with, I came upon the solution, and the Smart Ass Fuel Mule was born.  I drew the design up in CAD and started ordering parts to build a prototype, but then had a terrible boating accident in August of 2020 that delayed my building that first unit.  In early 2021, I got back to it.  Still not recovered from my accident (I never will be fully, but I digress) I welded up that first frame, wired and plumbed the unit, and started testing it.  I used it for the next three full lake seasons.  And oh man, I would never want to go back.  I found not only did I save $100-$150 on every fillup, I also saved TIME compared to filling at the marina.  And the convenience of having a full tank of fuel sitting on ready each weekend for a 5min fillup anytime I needed it was amazing.  After three seasons I had saved somewhere in the $12,000-$15,000 range in gas expenses.  That's insane.


I knew I was onto something cool. 

I called it the Fuel Mule...  the Smart Ass part, well... you know... Fuel Mule, and what can I say, from there my personality shines through ;).   

Dylon DaSilva, co-founder and COO of Smart Ass Products, was a Michigan boy born and raised who after graduation from the University of Michigan moved to northern Atlanta in 2020.  He had originally worked for me at DIYAutoTune as an Engineer helping me develop automotive electronics and wiring solutions.  He had since moved on to sell Maserati's for a while.  Also a wakeboarder himself (from his lake life in Michigan) who had seen the early Fuel Mule Prototypes at the old shop, we got together at Lake Lanier in March of 2023, and we sat down on my dock with a cigar and had a discussion.  And Smart Ass Products was un-officially born. 

Dylon (the one pictured in the blue long sleeve shirt) is an engineer by degree, but an entrepreneur at heart, and he was excited to join forces with me in partnership, and I was excited to have him-- so that together we could bring the Smart Ass Fuel Mule to life for you in the marine world, and for countless other industries that need the BEST solution for all terrain fuel transportation available, using the only motorized gas caddy... the Smart Ass Fuel Mule.  (patent pending)

Good ol' Rusty.  Still going strong.

Good ol' Rusty.  My first attempt at Fuel Mule awesomeness.  He's still going strong too!

Dylon got right to work, first absorbing everything I had generated so far, learning the CAD models, learning all the in's and out's of Prototype 1 (P1) which is the unit I had at that point used for 2 seasons, later to be nicknamed 'Rusty', because I never painted/power coated the frame, and well... it is.  

Dylon and I discussed the design decisions I had made, and we questioned anything we thought we could possibly improve.  We made a few tweaks, one of the biggest being a shortening of the wheelbase as an attempt to improve tight space maneuverability, and Dylon built Prototype 2 (P2) later to be nicknamed 'Tippy'.  Long story short Tippy wasn't too temperamental, but we found the original wheelbase certainly provided for improved manners in some circumstances. 

Tippy P2 on the dock doing work

A number of other small refinements had been tested and entertained such another wheelbase adjustment, plastic vs metal tank, steering ackermann adjustments, motor and gearing, frame design and dimensions, tank volume and dimensions, and many more and most of those were retained where beneficial.  However, as P3 was developed we dialed in on these changes and it resulted in a beast of a machine.  This sucker was now rock solid stable in darn near any environment it was likely to be used in.  

We partnered with Intertek, a National Research Testing Laboratory, to further refine the product and to ensure we had looked at every possible angle on how to make the Fuel Mule as tough, rugged, and safe as it could possibly every need to be.  We had discussions with suppliers, completely upgraded the drivetrain motor, made everything water-resistant/used sealed components everywhere possible, and strategized on the electrical layout and safety with a Master Electrician and IBEW Instructor.  Everything had to be right.  And it is.  

The Smart Ass Fuel Mule - Ready for Prime Time.

Originally just an idea driven by an inconvenience while doing a hobby I love, the Smart Ass Fuel Mule is ready for prime time.  And Smart Ass Products is here to bring it....  No more half-assed fueling solutions lugging jugs up and down the hill...  we're giving you the whole (smart) ass....  With the Smart Ass Fuel Mule.


So is Smart Ass Products a one-trick pony?  Is the Fuel Mule it?

First Off - watch who you're calling a pony!   Calling a donkey a pony is like slapping a "unicorn" label on a regular horse – it might sound cute, but the ears don't lie! Donkeys are the four-legged philosophers, the Einsteins of the barnyard, and while they'll tolerate your mix-up, they'll probably give you an earful about the differences between hoofprints and horseshoes.  They don't need no ninny horseshoes.  They're all grit.  

Back to your question...   Not even close.  Smart Ass Products has a list of ideas we plan to bring to market that you're going to love.  Some of them are simple, cheap little additions to make your lake life easier, and are even in process already.  And just like you will feel about the Smart Ass Fuel Mule you're going to wonder how you ever lived without them.  Smart Ass Products is about bringing Smart Ass solutions to life, solutions to problems that some didn't even know could be solved so well....  

With that said, I'd like to introduce you to Alec.  Smart Alec that is.  He thanks you for your support.  

Smart Alec the Smart Ass Fuel Mule