When Ford Motor Company announced the release date of their all-new, all-electric F-150 Lightning, DiamondBack quickly got in line. Not because we failed to see the likely inconveniences and pitfalls of an electric pickup, but because we couldn’t ignore our own curiosity and optimism.
Curiosity and optimism, after all, were big factors in DiamondBack’s launch and later successes. Those traits led Matt Chverchko, one of our founders, to secure his gear with a pile of metal he bent and shaped into a bed cover of his own. Rather than accept that the market had figured it all out, Matt kept working with complete confidence that he could and would build something better.
Eventually, he did. Then the real work began. He and co-founder, Ethan Wendle, took their pitch across and around the United States, doing their best to convince other pickup owners that the only bed cover on earth worth a damn was made in an old Pennsylvania cigar factory. They were mostly met with skepticism, not just from would-be customers, but from friends and friendly competitors. DiamondBack’s founders earned reputations for being good, hard-working kids, who refused to accept the hard and fast realities of the world around them. Maybe those realities weren’t so hard and fast.
When we launched in 2003, hand building a load-bearing, aluminum tonneau cover, welded by American welders, shipped to the driveway of our customers…well, it all seemed a bit crazy. Not just to the skeptics, but often to us, too. That didn’t matter. Our curiosity and optimism got the best of us, and our founders were steadfast in their belief that they weren’t alone in their desire for a truck cover that could make more things possible.
Early on, among a chorus of “NOs”, an occasional pickup owner would get a twinkle in their eye when they met Ethan and Matt. They also saw the potential, and they had dealt with all the same headaches over wet or stolen gear. In enough numbers to keep our young company afloat, those guys let their curiosity and optimism get the best of them, and they took a stab at a $2,000 product they’d have to receive and install themselves, made by a company they had never heard of.
And that’s when the team at DiamondBack developed a deep appreciation and admiration for early adopters. To just a handful of guys, putting an ATV atop a tonneau cover made perfect sense. They lit up at the thought of the new places they’d go, the gear they’d be able to take along. Their optimism let us know we were onto something, to keep going. And those guys didn’t just buy a cover and load up their quads, they showed each and every one of their friends how and why it worked, and the skepticism dwindled with each demo.
Direct to consumer sales went the same way. To the old guard, there’s a way to order truck accessories and the internet ain’t it. But to the curious, the optimistic, it seemed like something that could work. If and when it did, a world of options would open up. Those early few who gave DiamondBack a chance didn’t just order a cover and schedule an install. They were excited to roll up their sleeves to tackle something new, they smiled with pride when they were finished putting their DiamondBack on, and in many cases, they went on to become our friends.
Why did we become friends? Because we share the same undying sense of adventure, and curiosity for what lies ahead. Our partners share it, too. So do all the field producers, photographers, marketers, and every grinder behind the scenes of the outdoor and auto industries.
That undying sense of adventure is why we bought a Ford F-150 Lightning. Sure, it may not work, but we’re willing to take a shot because of all that we don’t know. There’s a ton of upside in an electric pickup, and just like the first DiamondBack covers, we believe any potential wrinkles will be smoothed out.
Those friends…that’s how we’re going to put it to the test. As the lucky guy who works with DiamondBack’s partners, I’m taking our F-150 Lightning on a tour (tours, actually) of the United States, and I’ll be visiting with old and new friends along the way. The truck will cover a lot of highway miles, but will also be climbing mountains in Colorado, and towing boats in California. The bed and Frunk (go ahead, it’s fun to say) are packed with Pelican cases and duffel bags full of gear. The cabin will be occupied by my wife, Rebekah, and son, Oliver. That’s right, I’m taking my family along. Most of our partners chose their line of work because they wanted more time for the people and things they love. It’s a family business, and the road is infinitely more fun with my family along. It’s also more adventurous, and we’re an adventure-loving family, and long-haul road trip veterans.
We plan on putting this truck through the grinder, and we’ve built it up just enough for the excursions in store: A 2" leveling kit by ReadyLift, 17" Turbomac wheels from Fifteen52, 34" Toyo Open Country AT3s, and a DiamondBack HD, cause this truck is bound for adventure and we’re not sure what’s around the next turn.