Wandertec was first conceived as a bicycle accessory manufacturing company focused on the development of our first product, the CELLO bike case system for BOB Trailers.
Inspiration for the CELLO first came to company founder, Josh Lipton, in 1997, the spring before Lance Armstrong won his first Tour de France. Josh was in college at the time and imagining traveling from place to place with a bike and a bike trailer but using planes, trains and buses to go long distances while having the trailer and bike ready for use at each destination. In pondering this mode of traveling, the idea for the CELLO was born.
The idea in it’s original form was to build a bike trailer with a bike case built into it. The direction quickly shifted toward utilizing a BOB trailer with the realization of two important advantages. First, this design would be based around a high-quality and well known product that would serve very well in the bike trailer function. Second, making the bike case an accessory to the bike trailer rather than integral to it, offered up the ability to remove the bike case and just use the bike trailer as needed.
The BOB Trailer turned out to be an ideal “platform” to design the CELLO bike case around. The first prototypes of the CELLO were basic wood structures with brackets bolted and clamped to the BOB. Cardboard cutouts were used to model the shape of the case’s panels. With an upgrade to hardboard panels, the first working prototype emerged as a functional unit.
With the goal of convincing BOB Trailers to license the idea, Josh began refining the prototype. Learning to use a CAD design program, a CNC mill, a CNC router and his Mom’s old Singer sewing machine, Josh began building a series of improved prototypes. By 2003, the CELLO began to look somewhat presentable, but it soon became clear that BOB trailers wasn’t interested in pursuing the opportunity. Their insight that the potential market for the product was quite limited would later prove to be an accurate assessment. Without a licensing agreement but having already invested a good deal of time, money and energy in the idea, Josh decide to launch Wandertec, Inc. on his own in 2004.
By 2005, the CELLO was refined enough for small-scale manufacturing and an introduction, to the market. Josh’s close friend, Ben Robinson, joined in on the effort, helping to put together their first of many websites, Wandertec.com. Around this same time Josh began corresponding with Michael Asberry, who was working on developing relationships with bicycle touring focused companies in the Netherlands and the UK.
With a bit of a marketing push, the cycling press reacted quite favorably to the CELLO. But despite the good buzz, the limitations in potential market size quickly became apparent. Looking for ways to increase revenues, BOB Trailers were put up for sale on the Wandertec website alongside the CELLO. Benefiting from the press that the CELLO was bringing in, the BOB Trailers began selling at a decent pace.
Josh began researching a variety of other accessories for the BOB Trailer. The seeds for the Bike Trailer Shop had been planted. The idea of selling multiple accessories for the BOB Trailer lead to the idea to a shop specializing in a full range of bike cargo trailers, parts and accessories and by the spring of 2006, Bike Trailer Shop was launched with Ben’s web design help and Micheal’s inspiration and product ideas.
The Bike Trailer Shop was a hit right out of the gates, and Josh quickly shifted his focus in this new direction. Wandertec manufacturing continued as the Bike Trailer Shop grew, utilizing the experience gained in developing and manufacturing the CELLO to develop and manufacture several accessories for the BOB Trailer. Fast forward several years and Bike Trailer Shop grew to the the point of bringing on several employees and was joined by a 2nd specialty shop, Bike Bag Shop. Many of the BOB trailer accessories were doing quite well, though the CELLO was eventually ended due to the very low volume in sales.
The experience of running what has become the largest specialty shop for bike cargo trailers in the world, had sprouted quite a few ideas for manufacturing a bike cargo trailer of our own. Joining forces with Stuart Henderson, who then joined Bike Shop Hub full time in 2010, Wandertec was reborn with the introduction of the Wandertec BONGO Bike Cargo Trailer in the Fall of 2009. And the story of Wandertec has really just begun…