On September 29, 2015, Gordon Wilson and his three sons launched a modest, one-page website advertising their new RV leveling accessory called “SnapPads.” The page had a product description, a small gallery of images, and one product (a “SnapPad” for 9” round jack feet), arranged into two different packages: a six-pack and four-pack.
By then, the family had already worked together on the project for about a year, prototyping different concepts, searching for manufacturers, applying for patents, and third-party product testing. Their idea – a “permanent jack pad” – seemed to have some theoretical value, but they had no idea when they launched the company late in 2015 if anyone in the industry would care.
They had their first sale the very next day, September 30th, 2015. The user couldn’t recall how he heard about the product, but he took the plunge nonetheless. Although he originally abandoned his cart, when contacted, he explained that the shipping fees was over his budget. The Wilsons agreed to waive the shipping charge if he completed his purchase. They did and he did.
By the end of 2015, the Wilson family had sold $10,000 worth of SnapPads via their small, self-made website. By April 2016, that number had grown to $40,000 and it had become clear that the SnapPads had found a market.
SnapPad’s beginnings actually date all the way back to 1992, the year when Gordon and his partner launched a different leveling accessory into the RV industry. Since this was long before the days of eCommerce, their path to market was through large, established distributors in order to sell into RV dealerships and retailers.
The cost of developing the product and selling through wholesale channels was enormous, spurring Mr. Wilson to raise a lot of capital to get the product to market. It eventually worked, and the product he created is still an established RV accessory to this day. However, at the time, the company was owned by other parties, causing Gordon to depart and seek other opportunities.
Some 20 years later, Mr. Wilson wanted to take another shot at the RV industry. A serial entrepreneur, Gordon recruited his three grown sons to turn his vision of a new, permanently attached jack pad into reality.
The concept began with a number of ideas, including using industrial adhesives and rare earth magnets to adhere the rubber pads to the bottom of metal jack feet. Unfortunately, prototypes proved that those ideas either wouldn’t work or wouldn’t scale.
During testing of the initial product concepts, they noticed that a physical lip could be used to “snap” the pad in place, as long as it was engineered to be very tight (and the force applied during installation was strong enough). Thus, SnapPad was born.
By working with a rubber manufacturer in Indiana who was willing to take a chance on the SnapPad concept, the Wilsons commissioned a handful of pads for beta testing and creative asset creation purposes. They applied for a provisional patent on their idea and went about trademarking the SnapPad brand.
Gordon’s middle son, Devon, quit his day job to help Gordon bring the vision to fruition. His oldest son was busy working at a digital marketing agency but helped develop branding and marketing strategies in his spare time. The youngest son, Barrett, was busy working as an SEO specialist full-time. Nevertheless, he was able to help develop that first, one-page website to get the product to market.
Gordon was 67 years old at the time. The risk of starting a new, bootstrapped venture at that point was immense. Nevertheless, he was confident in the vision and opportunity. His experience in RVing meant he still had contacts in the industry, and he was able to spin up an “instant team” thanks to his children and their willingness to jump in with both feet.
Luckily, Gordon made the right call. As it turned out, RVers wanted a permanent jack pad solution. With their manufacturer willing to make and ship the pads initially, Gordon and his sons we able to go direct-to-consumer (DTC) with their first product. By July, 2016 they had released the second version of their SnapPads (with a water drainage channel this time). As 2017 rolled around, consumer demand spurred them on to release another two SnapPad sizes.
By 2018, SnapPads were being sold directly through dealers, as well as on Amazon.com. As of 2020, they were an “omnichannel” brand, selling through major distributors, online, RV dealers, and other retailers. The Wilsons had now gone from working from their bedrooms and coffee tables to an office with 15 other employees.
SnapPad now has over 30 different SKUs available on their website, with multiple new products currently under development. Their products are sold in over 500 different dealerships across North America and their revenues have grown over 100% year-over-year since launching.
Benefits of the RV SnapPad
If you’re an RV owner, then the SnapPad is a must-have accessory. It’s the perfect way to make leveling your RV quick and easy without sacrificing comfort or safety.
The SnapPad is also a great investment for anyone who plans to use their RV regularly:
- Makes leveling your RV quick and easy
No more wrestling with those cumbersome jack pads! With the SnapPad, leveling your RV is a breeze.
- Protects your RV’s jacks
The SnapPad helps to protect your RV’s metal jacks from the elements, which can prolong their life span.
- Expands your footprint
SnapPads greatly increase the surface area of your jacks thanks to their unique, octagonal shape. Depending on the jack in question, the increase can be between 30 and 300%, increasing stability and helping to prevent sinkage risk even in soft or muddy conditions.
- Prevents slippage
The SnapPad’s rubber tire material prevents slippage, even on slippery or uneven surfaces. The rubber also acts to absorb vibration when you are inside the RV.
The pandemic caused major challenges for the company, ranging from labor shortages, manufacturing pauses, and supply chain disruptions. However, with RVing exploding in the wake of COVID-19, this small family company is poised to take another step forward in their journey.