GREEN BAY, Wis. - Not many products can claim to be a better mousetrap, but Scott Stephani, president and CEO of TerraSport Inc., may have just created the ultimate trailer for outdoor enthusiasts.
TerraSport has created a range of trailers that not only can carry vehicles and gear, but are light and robust enough to make it down rough roads and trails themselves. Instead of having to stop at the trailhead, a TerraSport owner can detach and park the Jeep or other towing vehicle, and then unload the side-by-side and continue to tow the trailer down the trail behind the UTV.
The TerraSport trailer still carries the required gear, and there are accommodations, including a pull out bar-and-grill station and an expanding tent shelter.
The various models range from $12K to about $15K, and TerraSport is working with GE Financing to offer floorplanning (see below).
We talked with Stephani to learn more about the products and the rollout.
Dealernews: What led up to the creation of TerraSport?
Stephani: It actually came about indirectly. For the last 25 years I’ve owned a chain of retail stores. I was the franchise owner, and we had 140 stores in 33 states when I sold the business a couple of years ago. That sale came with a three-year non-compete during which I spent a lot of time with my own powersports equipment.
We found existing tools to be inadequate for doing the things we wanted to do. So eventually, I saw this as an opportunity to build things to fill the gap. It started out basically as a hobby, but after I sold the business it became more and more my entire focus.
What was the next step to make the ideas into products?
Stephani: We actually started with what will become our second line, with the off-road trailer. I probably spend more time in the dirt with the ATVs.
"We came up with the idea of putting campers on trailers that would be capable of going down the trails."
-- Scott Stephani, TerraSport
We could see [back then] that our trail system here in Wisconsin was going to be connected. Now, a couple of years later, they are connected, and that gives us the opportunity to drive hundreds of miles, for weeks, without ever seeing the same trails.
The problem was that we were tethered to a basecamp, and that meant a limited range. You could go out and come back, but you couldn’t just keep going. So we came up with the idea of putting campers on trailers that would be capable of going down the trails.
ATVs are primarily about the ride. We knew that we had to design a trailer that was as transparent to that ride experience as possible, or it would simply interfere with the experience.
We spent almost two years designing what is now our patented off-road suspension. We ... also built the BaseCamp line, and we thought that it was a better, more stable version to build our company around.
What’s the difference between the launched All-Sport BaseCamp line and the upcoming All-Terra BaseCamp line?
Stephani: In building the BaseCamp line we learned a lot about production methods, such as the best ways of working tube steel, and we’ve taken that back to the original off-road stuff, completely redesigning them so that we’ll have three to four different models.
In the All-Terra, we’ll have an ATV and an UTV version that is completely off-road designed with our new suspension. Then we’ll have another one that is more Jeep-oriented, more for the folks who simply want to go where the trails go.
Then we have one called the Sportster, which is designed to be the ultimate sportsman’s companion, the ultimate Cabela’s carrier. It’s just barely larger than an ATV, made from aluminum, and your ATV would fit on it. It would also include all of the camping equipment as our other trailers.
You put the ATV on it, trailer it out, park the truck, take the gear from the truck and put it on the trailer, attach the trailer to the ATV and then go beyond the end of the world with it. We’ve even designed our own tent system that can double as a blind, so it can double as a hunting blind in the field. It’s a sportsman’s everything.
Getting back to [All-Sport Base Camp] line we have now, it’s basically a powersports or toy hauler. It’s made for ATVs, UTVs, motorcycles or even WaveRunners. It’s the only trailer that I know off that can mount a WaveRunner next to your motorcycle.
We’ve designed a kitchen that pulls out into what we call the bar and grill, turning a powersport trailer into more a full-featured camper. It has everything that you’d expect for a nice, comfortable camping experience.I spent several years watching how people were actually camping. We then basically eliminated the things they weren’t using, then logically arranged the things they were using.
With gas prices going up and vehicles getting smaller, pulling a great big 30 ft. camper or a huge toy box is getting to be a thing of the past. I have a 28 ft. toy box, and I’ll take it on trip just around familiar areas, but because of its drag on fuel and its size, it limits where you can go. You’re not going to go down the lane to the river; you’re going to need to stay somewhere near pavement and civilization.
Even with our larger trailers, you can get a lot farther, and you’re not going to be concerned if you’re dragging a branch down the side of it [like you would be with a nice toy hauler].
NEXT PAGE: Stephani details pricing and dealer sales strategies