All Hands on DECKED: TechHelp Alumni Make An Impact
Based in Ketchum, Idaho, DECKED designs and manufactures a storage system that attaches to the tie-downs in the bed of full-sized pickup trucks. The system requires no drilling and provides secure, weatherproof storage for gear while improving the utility and functionality of the pickup truck bed. DECKED products are sold online through their website and at selected dealers located throughout the United States.
The concept for DECKED came from Lance Meller, who worked out of his truck for years as an outdoor product salesman. During his travels, Meller learned that he needed a better way to organize and protect his gear while retaining the truck bed’s functionality. For three years, Lance and Jake Peters, DECKED’s General Manager, teamed up to design a proper truck bed storage system and create a company that could deliver it. In 2013 they brought their highly engineered and innovative product to market.
Being based in a relatively rural resort town, DECKED management anticipated a critical shortage of engineering and product development talent as they grew their company. To complicate matters, the company’s long-term designer planned to retire at the same time DECKED wanted to bring new products to market. To maintain its rapid growth and market expansion, DECKED needed to create new products and innovate features, and functionality to expand its product line. The company’s leadership realized the only way to innovate quickly would be to increase its design and prototyping capabilities to enhance and expand its product portfolio.
DECKED leadership found capable design talent in an alumnus of TechHelp, a member of the MEP National Network™. Calvin Allan was a talented Mechanical Engineering (ME) student at the Boise State University College of Engineering when the TechHelp New Product Development (NPD) Team hired him as a student employee. After graduating, Calvin became a full-time NPD Specialist and later managed the NPD Lab. Calvin also built his ME chops outside the Lab in a variety of entrepreneurial ventures as well as larger engineering and manufacturing company environments.
In his new position at DECKED, Allan knew he could reach back to TechHelp to support the company’s rapid prototyping needs. His experience with the NPD Lab allowed him to make engineering judgments and design iterations remotely in collaboration with TechHelp NPD Manager, Grey Beaudry. Allan’s trust in the Lab helped him accelerate decision-making on DECKED product design changes. Allan’s work with TechHelp and Beaudry led DECKED to invest its own in-house prototyping capabilities.
DECKED soon hired two additional product development engineers with connections to the NPD Lab talent pipeline; one as an NPD student designer, and the other as an engineering services partner. DECKED’s experience with the NPD Lab and its connections to third party engineering resources helped the company build its team at a much lower risk. The combined team is now working in a highly coordinated way to rapidly design the company’s new product line expansion.
Utilizing the resources available at TechHelp helped DECKED add the design, prototyping, and talent firepower the company needed to innovate and grow its product line. Working with TechHelp helped DECKED drive sales, save costs, create jobs, and make productive investments in plant and equipment.