Even in the Great Recession, people still want to play in the great outdoors. As an entrepreneur, Tom Dempsey saw an opportunity to make camping, already a relatively affordable vacation option, more comfortable for a new generation.
The Citizen-Times, Asheville, N.C., reported that at SylvanSport, a startup company, Dempsey and his team of designers set out to put the cool back into pop-up campers.
The Brevard, N.C.-based company came up with the Go, an 800-pound lightweight but solidly constructed platform that turns into a spacious living quarters that you can tow behind a Prius, instead of a huge pickup. The Go is billed as “Mobile Adventure Gear” rather than a trailer, which brings to mind the old-fashioned aluminum box on wheels.
“Pop-up campers are part of the entry-level RV world, which hasn’t really changed in the last 40 years,” Demspey said. “We wanted to take the pop-up camper out of the RV world into the REI world.”
The Go has proved a hit with enthusiasts eager to drive cross-country to Brevard to pick up their $8,000 campers, ordered online. Dempsey sees “a massive paradigm shift away from SUVs and big trucks to more compact cars, but people still want to play even if they own a Prius, so we hitched our wagon to a trend to more efficent vehicles.”
But there have been bumps in the road, and Dempsey and his team have had to reinvent their business plan along the way. “We’re still turning the corner,” Dempsey admitted. “Selling a nonessential recreational vehicle in this economy is daunting.”
Dempsey got his start out of college as an industrial designer for Coleman, the leader for camping equipment, including those pop-up campers that your father might have parked in the backyard between summer vacations at the campground.
Dempsey went on to become a serial entrepreneur, starting up a medical supply company in Huntsville, Ala., before returning to his first love — recreation. He was able to transfer much of the plastics injections technology from his first company into a successful kayak company, Liquid Logic, near Brevard, N.C.
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