Kansas Profile – Now That’s Rural: Alan and Carol VanNahmen, RollBedder
Dec. 2, 2020
By Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
“I need to reach the stuff in the back of my truck. If only I could get to it better.” That statement could have served as the inspiration for this new innovative product which uses rollers to help truck owners access the material in their truck beds.
Alan and Carol VanNahmen are the owners of this entrepreneurial company which produces this new product for truck beds. It’s called RollBedder.
Alan grew up on a farm in southwest Kansas, attended Dodge City Community College and then Kansas State. He embarked on a career with Deere and Company which would take him across the United States and around the world – literally. Alan led initiatives for Deere and Company in France and China, for example. He later worked for a German company named Claas and at a research facility in Indiana before leaving corporate life.
Alan was also an inventor and entrepreneur. He served as a consultant on various projects such as the bi-rotor combine and the ARRO head harvesting system. As we have previously profiled, he founded the Farm Buddy company to help individual farmers advance their product ideas into corporate commercialization.
Growing up on the farm, Alan was frequently hauling things in pickup trucks. He designed side storage boxes along the side walls of the truck bed so as to carry tools and other supplies.
When he and his wife started a family, his truck took on additional uses. With two growing sons, the truck carried camping and sports equipment. But when hauling supplies in the bed of his pickup truck, he encountered the same problem that I do: From the back end of the truck bed, it is hard to reach the things that slid to the front end of the truck bed.
“Everybody has a challenge hauling their cargo,” Alan said. “Stuff slides to the front and you can’t retrieve it,” he said.
Alan designed a simple and ingenious solution. He invented the RollBedder system on which he has a patent pending. It consists of a set of rollers on a miniature dolly which are placed down inside the grooves in a pickup truck bed floor, with a false floor or bedliner over the top. Then that temporary floor panel can easily be rolled in or out of the bed, making it possible to access the items sitting on it.
In August 2019, Alan founded RollBedder LLC. The business is based in Manhattan where Alan and his wife Carol live today. The name reflects the fact that the rollers enable better access to the truck bed. Alan pointed out several advantages of the RollBedder kit system.
“This requires no tools, no drilling, and no modifications of the truck bed,” Alan said. “It is a DIY self-installed rolling cargo system and is transferrable between vehicles.”
Alan also created the truck bed flooring panels called Bi-Liners. These are the plyboard sheets that rest on the rollers. They are coated with polyethylene on the underside and carpet on the top. That keeps things from sliding or rattling around.
“I usually put a heavy toolbox or something on the front of the Bi-Liner so it can support several hundred pounds on the back as it rolls in and out,” Alan said. “The RollBedder system allows easy access to cargo, tools, groceries, or whatever it might be.”
“It’s great for farmers, contractors, tailgaters or people making deliveries, and we’ve sure seen a lot of that this year,” he said. Orders have come from across the country and as far away as Canada.
Alan had seen the need for this type of product firsthand, growing up on the farm near the rural community of Spearville, population 773 people. Now, that’s rural.
For more information or to order, go to www.rollbedder.com.“I need the stuff in the bed of my truck. If only I could get to it better.” Those types of statements reflect the need for this type of product. We commend Alan and Carol VanNahmen for making a difference with entrepreneurship and inventiveness. They’ve come up with a better idea. Now, they can let it roll.
Audio and text files of Kansas Profiles are available at http://www.kansasprofile.com. For more information about the Huck Boyd Institute, interested persons can visit http://www.huckboydinstitute.org.
The mission of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development is to enhance rural development by helping rural people help themselves. The Kansas Profile radio series and columns are produced with assistance from the K-State Research and Extension Department of Communications News Media Services unit. A photo of Ron Wilson is available at http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/news/sty/RonWilson.htm. Audio and text files of Kansas Profiles are available at http://www.kansasprofile.com. For more information about the Huck Boyd Institute, interested persons can visit http://www.huckboydinstitute.org.