May 19, 2023
Decked Stacks Success In Crowded Pickup Truck
How the Decked storage system works in the bed of a Ford F-150. Even in the
How the Decked storage system works in the bed of a Ford F-150.
Even in the generously outfitted world of pickup truck aftermarket accessories, there remains white space. Decked is proving that with its sustainably produced bed-top drawer assemblies, which given the company nine-digit annual revenues in a multi-billion-dollar market.
Decked systems retail for around $1,500 and are made out of 100%-recycled, tough plastic and recycled steel, in a category where it occupies a rather vacant middle between extremes of cheaply priced drawer sets and much more expensive ones.
"Customers say they see good value for the money and a product-market fit, and it's recycled material, and built in America," Jake Peters, Decked's founder, chairman and former CEO told me. "The first part of the equation is that it's got to be a good product-=market fit, and does it fulfill the needs of the consumer. Once you check those boxes, then you think about other parts of the decision tree."
Peters’ career decision tree took him from a Wall Street tech-banking career to a short-term retirement in Idaho and then about a decade of entrepreneurial involvement in automated driving. Then he ping-ponged into developing a prototype for a Decked-type system because he was close enough to the market to see the white space.
No doubt a bed-top organizational scheme is crucial for many pickup truck owners, especially those who are in the trades, or have a hobby like fishing that demands a lot of equipment. "There are 100 ways to make a drawer system for a pickup truck, from steel, or wood, and hundreds of YouTube videos on how to do that," Peters said. "But I found a thing called low-pressure injection molding, which is used for things like pallets and underground storage vessels. It doesn't look as nice. It doesn't have what in automotive they call a Class A finish, a high level of consistency for anything on a vehicle that's visible to the consumer."
Peters found that low-pressure injection molding could make things that were very durable, however, and that it coudl be done out of recycled and regrinded plastic, giving the material a sustainability halo. He added recycled steel "and now you’ve got a 200-pound thing that you can put 2,000 pounds on top of."
Decked located its output with a contract molder in Defiance, Ohio, where the company now is building its own plant. Bain Capital owns 15% of the company, whose CEO now is Bill Banta.
The product line comes in lots of configurations, with 110 different SKUs. "Each product fits your truck perfectly and is engineered such that it will attach to tie-downs in your truck," Peters said. The approach is similar to that successfully pursued by WeatherTech in making plastic automotive floormats that are digitally customized to each car model.
Decked still has escaped significant competition in its segment. "I’m pretty sure we’re doing fine against our direct competitors," Peters said. "Our real competitors are people who make tonneau covers, and traditional tool boxes in pickup trucks."