Though the annual Open House Week event is mostly about the big guys making noise by showing off new innovations, one of the industry’s little guys is hoping to do a little chirping of its own at this year’s event.
Cricket Trailers of Houston, Texas, will be displaying among other small dealers on the northwest corner of County Road 6 and County Road 17 during the Sept. 16-18 event.
Cricket’s vehicles don’t really fit any RV niche. They might best be described as a cross between a teardrop trailer, a pop-up trailer and a toolbox with a little bit of NASA ingenuity thrown in for good measure.
The trailers were born in 2012, the brainchild of Garrett Finney, a former architect and designer with NASA who worked on the International Space Station.
“I invented the Cricket as kind of the un-RV in some ways,” he said. “The RV industry makes a lot of houses on wheels, and a lot of people don’t want that, but they definitely want to camp comfortably and securely. … I think there are more and more slightly aging middle-aged people like myself who don’t want to sleep on the ground anymore, but take some satisfaction in going and getting grimy and gritty for a weekend or a week. Even though we supply a shower, it’s sort of about getting dirty. It’s not about going to a national park and watching TV.”
At Open House Week, Cricket will be displaying both its standard Cricket V-Berth and the Cricket Sport. Both are about 15 feet in length and have a dry unloaded weight of 1,460 pounds, but V-Berth features a bed that can be tucked out of the way and the Sport has more of a fold-away futon for a bed.
The Cricket Firefly. Click image to enlarge.
In addition, Cricket will be introducing its Firefly product, which is built as a truck camper, but is designed so that it can be bolted onto a utility trailer if the owner desires more mobility.
“We call it a toolbox you can sleep in,” said Cricket President Amitav Misra. “It’s very rugged for campers as well as professional field applications where you can haul your gear and you can sleep in it and get your work done.”
The utilitarian nature of the Cricket products seems to run counter to the trends in the RV industry of trying to make products that are more like home. But Cricket has seen solid growth during its brief history.
A Cricket trailer. Click image to enlarge.
The company started with a single dealer, Princess Craft RV in Round Rock, Texas. It is now up to seven, having added two in California and one each in Oregon, Colorado, Iowa and Michigan. The trip to Open House Week is geared at adding more dealers in strategic locations beyond the western half of the country, where the bulk of the trailers are currently sold.
The company is small, but is no secret among camping enthusiasts thanks to early exposure through “Extreme RVs” on Travel Channel and articles in Dwell magazine, Outside magazine and the New York Times. Social media sites Facebook and Pinterest also have been a boost.
“The growth has been customer driven,” Misra said. “We were getting calls from people all over the country and the first question they ask is, ‘Where can I see one?’ We didn’t have a big enough footprint to meet all that demand.”
Cricket has boosted its production at its Houston facility to about 20 trailers a month in an effort to keep up with demand, but is actively seeking more space to add even more production. Both Misra and Finney indicated they would like a building large enough to double or even triple production.
Finney said his company isn’t the typical RV manufacturer, but he admires the way the industry has reached its target market and provided products that are selling well. Now he’s hoping to tap in to some of the success the industry is seeing and perhaps even expand the RV market during Open House Week.
“We want to meet people and forge relationships, particularly in the Midwest and East Coast,” he said of target locations for Cricket dealers. “We’re ready to really hit it. We’ve gone from a storefront to getting more industrial about this. As people in manufacturing say, now it just comes to improvement and choosing the leaping moment. We see Open House as a really big opportunity to meet more people and refine our image of what the RV industry is.”