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Colorado State University Students DIY a Roof Rack Business

Year-old Fort Collins startup developed modular racks at the lowest possible cost


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With so many products, it seems improbable that a consumer can’t find exactly what they need. The co-owners of Rocky Mountain Racks, Alex Fleming, 20, and Will Oliver, 22, started their company because they couldn’t find a roof rack that did exactly what they wanted – So they made their own. As college students, they thought the journey would end there, but people were begging to buy them.

WHAT SETS ROCKY MOUNTAIN RACKS APART?

In August 2017 Fleming and Oliver launched their business with the goal of providing, “the best quality racks at the lowest possible cost,” according to Fleming.

The process is unique – the racks are completely modular, allowing for multiple connection points. or as a customer Ryan Adams said, “An endless pegboard of possibilities.” The assembly can be accomplished in a driveway with a standard socket set, no drilling required, and disassembled. It fits in a box commonly used to ship skis.  

FRIENDS YOU CAN DEPEND ON

Fleming and Oliver met through Facebook with a passion of Toyotas and the outdoors and their friendship blossomed. Fleming is a student at Colorado State University and Oliver is a graduate of University of Colorado Denver. Initially, Rocky Mountain Racks had a prospective investor, but after backing out, they said, “Hey, why don’t we just do this ourselves … it will be a lot harder but were not going to give up a huge percentage of this to somebody else,” explains Oliver.

Hayden Deatherage, 21, is the company’s lead engineer. He met Fleming and Oliver through a mutual enthusiasm for off-roading and he was brought on to help with 3D printing. Deatherage is a student at CSU and the company’s only employee.

“You will see our racks around town now, it’s really cool to see something you made out in the wild,“ says Deatherage. His job is to build the racks using computer tools to make them strong, functional, easy to manufacture and attractive.

YOU HAVE TO START SOMEWHERE

Hard work pays off.

In the last year Rocky Mountain Racks has done exceptionally well considering its rocky start. To raise funding early on they had to sell customers on just an idea.

“We sold our product to people when the product didn’t exist yet; we just had renderings and drawings,” said Fleming. But that is what Rocky Mountain Racks is all about: Ideas. The company creates an environment that fosters, “people coming in and having an idea and then helping them make it happen,” says Oliver.

VISION FOR THE FUTURE

While Rocky Mountain Racks’ current focus is making and designing roof racks and LED lighting for Toyotas, the team hopes to expand to many other manufactures.

“I want to see more roof racks and more platforms,” says Deatherage. The company also wants to reach a wider client base they hope to, “grow it a lot. I want to have multiple locations in different states,” says Fleming.

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