It all started when Bruce Caldwell was winning the pole vault back in high school meets 49 years ago. Yes! 49 years ago. Bruce Caldwell is a Pole Vaulting Community legacy, often referred to as Mr. Pole Vault.
In those early days, as little Bruce Caldwell ran down the dirt runway, holding the pole, and planting it into the narrow wooden box, to ride the pole up over the bar; that he was in fact, branding pole vaulting as part of his DNA, at that early age.
It is unimaginable how the sport has played such an essential part of his life, as well as the life of many others! It has been a journey that has involved many, and continues to do so even now. In 1974, he partnered with a pole vault illustrator and Colorado University Vaulter, Dave Bussabarger, to write the book “The Elusive Bar 2nd edition,” about the pole vault sport. Steve Smith, a World Pro Vaulter, endorsed that informative book, and this book was used by many top vaulters over the years to build the foundation of their pole vault careers.
Bruce spent two years in college preparing to be a coach and a sports therapist. When he was 23, he became more involved in the study of the Pole Vault event, which led him to consider how the design of vaulting poles could be improved. His desire to help many was not as a competitor, but rather as an inventor of quality track products to support and enhance athlete’s talents. The Sky Pole Company in Costa Mesa CA, offered him the opportunity to make his designs a reality. In 1976, he gave one of his new pole design to his friend, Earl Bell. A month of this gift, Bell broke the World Record with Bruce’s new concept, with a jump of 18’7 ½”, helping him to be part of the 1976 Olympic team.
In 1976, in Kansas City Missouri, Bruce founded the FiberSport Track and Field Company. Sky Pole MFG started making his design a private label under the FiberSport name. Many of Bruce’s athletes such as Billy Olson, Earl Bell, and many High School, found value in this design, something that instigated Foreign athletes to begin jumping on FiberSport. Wladyslaw Kozakieweicz, the polish vaulter, broke the World records with the FiberSport design concept. He also went on to capture the World outdoor record twice in the 1980 Moscow Olympics and also captured the Gold Medal with a jump of 18’11 ½”. Earl Bell went on to jump higher using this design in the 80’s in many World Championships.
Ten years after starting the company, Bruce sold the company assets to Sports Supply Group TM in Dallas joining as part of the staff promoting the “PORTaPIT” TM name they had acquired. Due to the value of the credibility he had established with contacts all over the world, Bruce had the opportunity to bid on with Sports Supply Group. They and he won the bid to be the official equipment supplier of 15 sports at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta — an incredible experience.
In 1998, Bruce started a new company, the ESSX sport. It produced equipment and uniforms for several sports, including soccer and track and field, the two largest participation sports in the U.S. In 2001, Bruce took the company public on the OTCBB trading under the symbol of ESXS. The company sponsored many sports camps and competitive events, providing advice and assistance to athletes and coaches. Earl Bell endorsed the ESSX Vaulting Pole he founded; Dwight Stones endorsed the ESSX landing system, there was even an ESSX soccer shoe made and endorsed by Alberto Caberlotto, the inventor of the LOTTO shoe. Even though the company had raised over $500,000 in a private placement, they had spent much of it to maintain a public image. In 2004, it was time to get out of the public space, as legal rules for Public Companies grew, making it expensive for companies to remain as a public entity. As such, Wallstreet.net and Miss Beverly Hills .com under the direction of Giant Junior Investment Corp took over the public entity.
In 2004, Bruce bought his way out of the public arena and moved ESSX to be a private Company. With the concept of the ESSX’s consistency, many great vaulters such as Olympian Kellie Suttle, Jillian Schwartz, and top vaulters such as Tracy O’Hara, Tye Harvey 19’2”, Jim Davis, and Bubba McLean went to the Olympic trials on ESSX poles. Master’s vaulter Bubba Sparks has jumped on every concept and design of a vaulting pole designed by Bruce; such as Sky-pole, FiberSport, and ESSX. He is currently the master’s World Record holder at several ages.
In 2012, he sold the manufacturing part of the company to UST- Mamiya Golf and worked as a distributor for ESSX poles for over three years, as a way of creating demand for the ESSX pole.
Bruce always states that the Best Pole in the World is the one you can get and the one that fits! Providing vaulting poles to fit athletes is Bruce’s biggest asset. Many jumpers today, such as Sam Kendricks, the 2017 World Champion, (6.00 meters-19’8 1/4”), has worked with Bruce to select the Right Pole. Beginners to well-established jumpers all over the World, like Venezuelan Vaulter Robeilys Peinado (Ruby), Polish Vaulter Pawel Wojciechowski, Estonian Vaulter Eric Knool, Norwegian vaulters Eirik Dolve and Sondre Guttormsen, Ukrainian Vaulter Maryna Kylypko, have worked with Bruce.
Most recently, he worked with Amber Anand and Varun Anand, the principal owners of NELCO India, a World supplier of track equipment, to develop a new discus system called NELCO Rim Glide TM. It maximizes athletes' ability to throw the discus with more stability, consistency and durability. http://nelcousa.com Also, he recently partnered with 2-time Estonian Pole Vault Olympian Valeri Bukreyev to bring Kanstet VSS-1 Sports Surface for Indoor banked Tracks and Roll-Out runways to the USA. shoulder discus kit to hold three discuses, and back pack type bag to hold hammers and shots on wheels. http://kanstet.com Bruce also works Bernie Miller, Inventor of the Rock-Back Patent, to provide personal pole cases for protection of poles. http://trackbagworld.com
Since 1976 to date, Bruce continues the tradition of providing athletes’ products to maximize and enhance their performances on the track, in the throwing ring, on the pole vault runway and traveling with discus and vaulting poles. When asked what the future holds, He stated; “I have had the opportunity to travel the World with my wife, Bonnie and I will be continuing the legacy; the adventure with a new book, new products, because helping others is in my DNA.”