Marketplace: Escapod’s trailers tailor to the outdoor enthusiast
The first time Chris Hudak caught a glimpse of a teardrop trailer, he told himself, “I’m going to make one of those.”
To the surprise of Jen Hudak, his girlfriend at the time, he did. Then they took the trailer on the road, and they could not ignore the amount of stares and questions they received. At that time, the couple realized they had stumbled across a great business idea.
The Hudaks launched Escapod in 2015. They manufacture insulated teardrop trailers, which are complete with a roof rack, awning, queen-sized bed, stove, countertop and plenty of storage.
The couple met while doing what they both love to do — recreate outdoors. They were mountain biking in Moab when Jen ran into Chris on the trail. They started dating soon after.
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In 2014, Chris moved from San Francisco, where he was working in the restaurant industry, to Utah so he could be with Jen. She had been living in Utah for the previous 14 years as she pursued a career in professional skiing.
While living in Utah and exploring the outdoors every chance they had, Chris started building the first trailer so they could make the most of their weekend adventures. He bought the tools and got to work in a one-car garage. Six months later, he showed Jen and they took it for a ride.
“At the end of it I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this thing is actually structurally sound,’” she said.
She had learned throughout the process not only of Chris’s perseverance, but his skills in carpentry and welding. Chris, who is a self-proclaimed tinkerer, took skills he learned in his youth while building his own car and added onto them as needed.
Once the trailer was completed, Chris and Jen towed it along on their mountain biking trips. Soon, fellow bikers started asking where they could purchase one for themselves.
The Hudaks realized creating and selling trailers was a possible business. Tired of working to achieve someone else’s dream, they decided to launch a business of their own. They started to build the trailers from the ground up out of a two-car garage in Park City.
Chris called an old friend from college, Chris Eckel, to create a logo and improve the design of the trailer. Jen leveraged her own skills in marketing to position the brand and tell the story of Escapod on social media.
In 2016, Chris constructed a trailer to replace the original and serve as a model as they launched the brand. Their first customer could not wait to get their hands on one, so the Hudaks sold them theirs.
From there, Jen said business has not slowed, and the couple has had a hard time keeping a trailer for themselves.
After moving into a location in Wanship, they continued to crank out trailers as fast as they could while keeping it a side project to their primary jobs. When asked to build a rental fleet for a business in Moab, they worked 17 hours a day, seven days a week to finish the project in time. That was when Chris started seriously considering pursuing Escapod full time.
Finally, in January of this year, Chris made the switch and Eckel, who was working in New York City, moved to Utah to be his full-time business partner.
“In just two short years, it has come so far,” Jen said.
The business continues to grow, and they are booked out for custom-builds until April. Jen said with all the work, it can be hard to remember and celebrate their wins, but they pause when they can to reflect on their growth.
Currently, Chris and Eckel said they are proud of the 2019 model, which is updated to include a cabinet door that doubles as a removable table and another that doubles as a cutting board. With every model, they said they are learning.
They expect to keep evolving with time, expanding their own rental fleet and, in the next couple of years, growing out of their space to find another location in Wanship.
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After a ski season cut short by the coronavirus pandemic, action will soon return to Park City’s mountains.