Van Comrade – Flexible Van Storage
Introducing Van Comrade – A Flexible Storage Solution, Creating Space Inside Your Work Van.
Have you ever been sat there with a problem you face all the time and wished you could create something that would solve it?
Well, John Scott and his business partner, John Leach, did exactly just that. They’re joint co-founders of Van Comrade, and their VAN COMRADE™ flexible storage solution has attracted interest from everywhere.
We caught up with the two John’s to find out what gave them the idea, and to tell us about the challenges they faced taking an idea and getting it to market….
What is VAN COMRADE™?
VANCOMRADE™ is a flexible, portable, space saving, tool storage solution that was made purely out of necessity. What started out as a perfect product for our own vans also has the added benefit of being able to be used pretty much anywhere – Sheds, Garages, Workshops, Offices, Storage Containers etc. Although we will shortly have solutions for van back doors and other add on accessories, Van Comrade is available in 3 Universal sizes to fit most vans or made bespoke, it can also be custom branded.
So how did VAN COMRADE™ come about?
We run a contract furniture business, and we were constantly moving boxes of tools in and out of vans, and at the same time also trying to make room for furniture items and other accessories. Most evenings when finishing on site our tools would be thrown in the van boxes ready to be organised and sorted out the next morning before our next job.
We realised that we were always compromising our valuable van space for tools and vice versa. Unable to find anything anywhere that was fit for purpose we drew up our own idea in our 3D software and made our own prototype.
From there we found a great manufacturer who fully understood our requirements and has been extremely helpful from day one.
We wanted to make sure it was easy to install, easy to fill, that it held tools in place in transit and that it was easy to re-locate for one or two people. It goes without saying that it had to be more than durable and fit for purpose to withstand the rigorous demands and be extremely long lasting.
What makes it unique?
There is nothing out there that offers you a Re-inforced – Heavy Duty, Space Saving, Portable, Heat Resistant, Water Resistant, Crush Resistant storage solution that takes only minutes to fit and with extra clips can easily be moved from your van to another location, also for added security it’s so quick to remove at the end of the day if you don’t want your valuable tools left in your van overnight.
Another great benefit of VANCOMRADE™ is that when you need to get a new van you don’t need to start all over again having racking and other storage systems fitted – you just un-clip your existing and fit it into your new van….simple
How did you go about testing your product?
Good question, we had carried out basic weight bearing tests where each eyelet was tested to hold a minimum of 30kgs, and then we thought lets really put it through its paces and get it down to our local scrap yard and throw everything at it we could think of. Our website shows some of our testing and videos of just how durable our product is.
First, we lifted John, our retail sales director (and ex-para) 10ft up in the air whilst just holding onto the empty pouches, he weighs in at just over 11 stone and all the pockets held perfectly. We then took a gas axe to it in full flame mode to test its resistance to heat with no issues either.
Then we threw wet plaster at it and hosed it off with a high-pressure power washer. The plaster just blasted off easily leaving it looking like new, although the pouches were filled with water it proved its water-resistant properties.
The mechanical grabber then took our VANCOMRADE™ in its vice like grip and dropped it from about 30ft up and then finally the same machine ran over it several times. At no stage did our product falter and after another blast off with the power washer it was left looking as good as new with only a few scratches here and there
Once it went to market, how did things go?
After initially coming up with the idea in February 2021, we initially planned to launch our Van Comrade at the 2021 Commercial Vehicle Show at the NEC, so we ordered our first batch of which sold out prior to the show without any advertising whatsoever, just good old word of mouth.
We soon followed this up with a second batch (and fortunately or unfortunately) due to COVID and shipping delays is overdue and will be here end of September however, most of these have been pre-ordered. We’re already on with our third batch. This time round we’re going to need several thousand.
We have had lots of enquiries for distribution and wholesale opportunities locally as well as in Germany, Sweden, The Isle of Man, Ireland and as far as Canada and Australia.
If there are people out there who have an idea for a solution to an issue in their work, what advice would you give them?
Sometimes in life you have to be prepared to take a risk, if there was nothing to lose then it wouldn’t be risky. If you have something you firmly believe in and your gut instinct tells you to do it, then do it.
Obviously, it goes without saying you need to investigate all the pros and cons properly and sensibly. At times the whole thing will become a huge headache and seem impossible. That’s when a good mental attitude pays off and if you’ve done your homework properly the two click together – a great product that everyone wants.
As Winston Churchill once said, when you find yourself walking through hell……..keep going
And finally, what are your plans for the future?
Well, we have several other products that are based around our VANCOMRADE™ which we’re really excited about and others we are developing at the moment. As soon as these items are available, they will be added to our website for our customers to check out and buy.