After 3 days of travel, meeting new friends and seeing the sites, we arrived at our destination; Overland Expo West 2019! With all the expos we have attended, we have become “creatures of habit” and have a set routine the day we load into the show… Being as we got into Flagstaff a day early, the routine was little different, but the weather was really great, if you took the wind away! That morning we only had to pack up camp and drive the 25 minutes to Flagstaff. We know of a car wash that we use every year, do a Sam’s run for fuel and grab a few staples (beer). Then it was time to head to the fairgrounds and start the setup for the show.
Getting into our display was a breeze! With only a small amount of people there ahead of us, there was no waiting in tremendous lines this year! We did have some minor confusion with the event staff on where the “trailer parking” was, though. We planned to leave our large stock trailer in a parking area and only have the show trailer in the display. After a nice tour from the event staff through the camping area, we stumbled upon Anthony who graciously informed us that we were in the incorrect area and he would show us where the trailer was to be parked. We had never had time to tour the fairground’s camping area, so it wasn’t a complete waste of the drive! Rory dropped the stock trailer in its location, and we made our way back to our display to finish setting up for the show. It was nice to have the extra day to leisurely set things up, but with the windy conditions, we only got our campers set level and parked the show trailer in the best spot. We had people talking to us all day, but were still able to stage everything and get a game plan for the next day!
Thursday morning it was nice to sleep in! You would think that with traveling, even for work, I would get to do more of this, however… Rory is an early riser so he is usually up and making noise outside by 6 or 7 am, and when we are in transit, he’s knocking on my door by 7 to see if I am ready to tear down camp ☹ Not at the show though! I got a day to sleep in and not worry about getting out of bed until I wanted to! Rory had gone on a walk through the camping area and beyond. When he got back, it was a quick breakfast, then we started work on finishing the display. As we worked, we were visited by previous customers who were volunteering at the expo and it was great to catch up with them about their own travels.
While speaking to our customer Tom, who purchased our display BunduTop that featured a 170-watt roof solar and annex that was at Overland Expo East 2018 (aka Woodstock overland), he mentioned the smell of smoke nearby. Talk about spontaneous combustion! I had placed a box of 12v USB fans next to my truck before they were set out; it seems I placed it just so, that the sun’s reflection off my chrome tire rim generated enough heat to start the box on fire! Luckily with some quick thinking by Rory and a bottle of water we were able to put the flames out before it got too extreme. Once the box was flame free, we learned our lesson and promptly moved it from its location to a shady spot under the truck.
Thursday, we watched fellow vendors load into their display areas and loaned out a few tools to the neighbors. It was sunny and warm, but it was still very windy. We set everything up except for our amazing multi-sided awnings. We made the decision to wait until the first day of the show to open them. We always have what people deem as “quite an impressive display”, and we did not disappoint this year. Using the Expo to debut our new South African based products that are great for the Off-road market including: BunduTec’s shower “Cube”, the Quick En-Suite, and Quick Pitch’s new TraxTab and TraxClamp. We also had our display of ZAMP solar with their new 90-watt slim portable unit. It was a perfect weekend for solar purchases, and they sold like hot cakes!
We found out that carrying the BunduTop Roof Top Tent out of the trailer, then up onto the display stands was much harder with only two of us! The past few years Rory’s wife, Ginny, and their daughter, Kristyn, were along to help! But after a couple attempts, I managed to lift my side up just high enough to slide it on. We were able to move things around while continuing to chat with the others loading into the Expo. Then we made our stop to “headquarters” for our show badges, and to drop off the raffle bags for the Change The World Fund. We put together headlamps, knife sets, double hammocks, reusable hand warmers and gift cards to round out our raffle bags. We also donated a tabletop stainless steel gas grill. I had made fun of the hats the staff were wearing as we drove into the event, but with all the sunshine and my redheaded fair skin, Rory suggested that wearing a sun hat might be a good idea, reminding me of my awesome sunburn last year. It just so happened the Expo were selling some!
Returning to our display with my new sun hat, we were greeted by our newest customers, Ray & Cheryl. They had drove to Iowa from Texas a couple weeks before the show to pick up a custom BunduVry Hardwall unit. After spending a couple days in the Waterloo area, they headed out to the show via Yellowstone National Park. Their camper was parked in the mass campground, out by the horse stables, and they mentioned they had a few
minor things come up on their first adventure.
They are such a nice couple with a great sense of humor. We enjoyed hearing about their trip as we walked with them to the camping area. This is the first time I have walked to the camp area and I was surprised at how far out it was from the actual show venue. Rory and I now understand why so many overlanders bring a bike to get around on. I think we’ll start doing so for future Expos! As we walked and chatted, we took in all the amazing rigs set up for camping and the said hello to all the dogs. We missed our own pups. I was also pleasantly surprised at how many Bundutec products were in the camping area! I stopped to speak to a customer with a BunduTop mounted to an M4 trailer. He had got the last tent in stock before our next container arrived, and was able to get it mounted just before the show. His wife and young son were along too. They absolutely love the tent and how it fits in with all their other off-road gear. He even let me snag a couple of photos then shared a storage system inside his Jeep. Cheryl was ecstatic to see this and was going to send Ray back to look at it to integrate inside their own Jeep. Rory got all their camper issues solved while I sat and chatted. We went our separate ways at supper, where they walked back to the food area, while we were going to make dinner ourselves.
It was a beautiful evening to cook supper on the Tumbo Tusk Skottle! We had just sat down and turned on the TV when we heard someone that must have been looking for our display. An event staff member said “BundutecUSA, right here, it looks like!” ….. about 30 seconds later there was a single knock on the door followed by it being opened and an older gentleman exclaiming “I am here to buy a tent!”. Even though it was late in the evening, we never turn down an opportunity for a sale! So, we spent the better part of an hour getting to know Richard and his wife. He was a retired bush pilot who spent many years in Alaska and had directed the Alaskan Wing Civil Air Patrols, while his wife sold real estate prior to retirement. They settled into AZ, and even though he is close to eighty, Richard enjoys getting out in the back country. After doing research on tents in the market, he fell in love with
the BunduTop and knew it was the tent he had to have.
He said he will be using it on elk hunting trips and for photography. He knows of a watering hole that is frequented by mountain lions and wants to use his BunduTop to capture a few shots of them as the come down to drink! They drove up to the show just to order his tent and have us ship it to Sierra Expeditions, who will be setting up his SUV for all his off-road needs. We could have chatted longer, but with it starting to get chilly, Richard turned his attention to his wife, and wanted to “get her out of the cold”. They were a very sweet couple, and it was awesome to hear of his bush plain adventures, as well as his wife’s tale of showing homes in AK in the middle of the night while there was still daylight out.
After finishing supper and cleaning, it was back to the Wild for the night. I pulled out my laptop to enter the order into my system and catch up on emails. The show had increased the Wi-Fi coverage this year and it was great to have adequate broadband with the help of the added boost of our amplifier. Having a card reader that works the way it is intended will make for a great show! Being able to process purchases right in our display without having to travel to the media tent for a decent signal will be great!
Friday morning, opening day of the Expo, Rory and I were each up and out of the campers early to prep for the start of the show. We wiped down the exterior of campers, tidied up the interiors, and deployed the awnings and shower enclosures. The show took off like a rocket and we had a very busy day. With the wind beginning to gust over 30 mph, we took down the BunduEl on Rory’s camper around 2:00 but left the BunduHalf on my rig deployed since it was a bit more protected from the wind, facing the opposite direction. Our full wraparound, a 2.95 BunduAwn on the show trailer was out of the wind too and, as always, held up like a champ throughout the duration of the show. The word spread quickly about the introduction of the Quick Pitch products we were debuting, and people were buying out what we had on hand quickly! At the end of the day, we had to make the long walk to the stock trailer to grab more TraxTabs and Quick En Suites to replace the ones sold from the display.
We met up with one customer from California who was there to strap a BunduTop onto his Excursion with a FrontRunner rack. He took advantage of our great Pre-Expo sale on the tents and was eager to get camping with it. Then we met a second customer for a field install of a 2.45 BunduAwn. This was our first “bush” install of an awning, and were lucky enough to have a flatbed trailer parked next to our enclosed trailer that we used as a platform to easily reach the customer’s Jeep.
With both on-site installs, it was another late night for us and was well after 8pm by the time we made it back to camp. Rory and I were both so tired upon returning, we decided to skip out of any evening show activities going on. We fired up the Tembo Tusk again for a delicious ribeye steak with fried potatoes and onions dinner, and then both retired to our campers for the evening. I did a bit more work on my laptop, but didn’t make it too long before the pillows called my name.Saturday was another busy day at the show, and with the growing word of mouth being spread about the Quick Pitch products now affordable by a US dealer, Rory made a total of 6 trips to the stock trailer for product replenishment. We were sold out of the Quick En Suites by noon with additional orders still being taken to be shipped out when we returned.
We were visited a few times by our amazing friends at Truck Camper Adventure. We always love catching up with editor, Mike, and his wife Karen. They are avid truck camper people that know what it’s like to live full time in one. They were so happy to see the new products and wanted to feature them in his next Top Gear of the 2019 Overland Expo West article.
It was another long evening in the display. Since we stay static in our own display campers, we never truly stop working. We spent time with customers after hours every night, including some time with our rep from Zamp Solar, who had a booth in the vender area and directed interested customers our way for 80 and 120 watt portable suitcase panels we had on sale for the Expo. So many people took advantage of the special pricing that we sold all but one 80-watt panel!
Rory spent a good portion of the evening with a couple from OR inside the displayed WILD unit. At the end of the day, they decided to purchase it and are planning to pick it up the first part of July!
Sunday, the weather had turned. It was windy again, it started raining, then came a sudden drop in temperature. This year, we decided to stay for the big venders “thank you “ BBQ after the show and camp Sunday night so we could meet up with some customers Monday before we headed out of town. The show ended at 3:00 and we got things packed up to go home. Pulling the show trailer ahead helped with getting the display BunduTop back into the trailer. Rory had run out of LP, so we made a drive to the local Wal-Mart for an exchange. On the way back to the fairgrounds, we had a girl pull up next to us, holding up her phone. I thought it was weird, but she ended up following our truck all the way back to the fairgrounds. She rolled her window down to say she had seen our ball mount fall out of the receiver as we pulled onto the highway from Wal Mart! I guess Rory had borrowed the pin to hold the Easy Step fold down camper step we were showing and forgot all about it when he slid the extension into the truck. When we headed back to that intersection to find it, we found it had already been picked up by a person who knew what it was! Rory then drove back to Wal Mart to buy another ball mount and wrench to get us back on the road.
The BBQ wasn’t exactly what we expected, but the food tasted great and was welcomed because I was starving! I think the attendance was low because so many decided to leave early due to the rapid weather change. They were expecting several inches of snow that night and into Monday morning. We saw a few familiar faces at the BBQ and after getting a full stomach, I headed back to our display to attempt to connect with the customers who spoke of meeting with us on Monday after the show. One wanted to grab an awning for his rig and another wanted to grab one of our RTT’s that were on sale. I tried calling, leaving messages and texts, but after an hour with zero responses, we made the decision to hook up to the trailers and hit the road ourselves to try to beat the forecasted snowfall predicted for Flagstaff.