1998 During a weekend camp and after a few beers, I had an epiphany! The 1st person at camp would put a Flag so the rest of the group could find camp. It was a pain in the Butt..... using Paint Poles, Bungy Cord & Zip Ties. There had to be a better way to hold a flag pole in two places far apart without getting on a ladder (especially after a few drinks). Climbing the RV ladder is hazardous at any time but try it while holding a 22 ft flagpole and more dangerous when the wind kicks ups, then add alcohol in the mix.
When I was a kid, I remembered my GI Joe doll could hold guns and stuff without closing his fists? I soon realized that I could form a complete circle from the vertical view but still grasp a pole without closing my fist.
Next I made a few prototypes. With my new contraption we easily put-up a flagpole so our RV friends could find us! I made a few prototypes for our friends, and Christine convinced me to patent the idea. It took many years and lots of dollars.
In 2004 we tooled up in China and started selling out of our garage. Our vacations from corporate life were traveling all over the US doing RV shows. There were many shows where we sold nothing. In 2008 Christine quit her corporate job to run FlagPole Buddy from home/garage. In 2010 we tried out for Shark Tank a couple of times but only making it to the 3rd round of interviews. Our big break came in 2011 at an RV Show in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Christine was doing the show Hershey PA, when a man in plain clothes came by and saw her demonstrating the Flagpole Buddy. He said, "I want this in my stores!" He didn't have a Business Card, so he wrote his info on a blank receipt (photo). Christine called me, told me the story. I was very skeptical, we've had lots of people say they can do great things with our little product. I looked him up online, the man was the CEO of Camping World (CW), Marcus Lemonis.
I quickly sent the product to CW. After a few weeks, I called the CW buyer, she told me that they are not taking on new products and consolidating their supplier base, so “try again next year!"
I wrote a nice email to Marcus, politely explaining his store's response, then thanked him for liking our product and trying to get us into his store. The very next day, we got a call from the buyer, she placed an order to fill their 100 plus stores. Marcus Lemonis, is now the star of NBC's "The Profit" television reality show.
Camping World and our excellent customer service had put us "on the map". In 2013 we moved out of our garage. In 2015 I quit my corporate job to work FlagPole Buddy with Christine.
We thank Marcus, CW, customers, the friends that we have made on this journey and look forward to the new customers and friends in the years to come.
Dave & Christine