Because of its innovative ideas, Colapz is now well and truly on caravanners’ radar. And with good reason.
I know that whenever I see something it has launched, I always think, “That’s so simple, it’s brilliant!”
Intrigued by their ideas (and the fact that they continue to launch new products, when my addled brain would have stalled long ago!), I recently visited MD David Fannin at the firm’s Nottingham warehouse, to gain an insight into the history and development of Colapz.
David studied Product Design at Loughborough University, and after graduation, worked for a couple of well-known companies. However, by his own admission, he knew he wanted to be more involved in the subject he had studied.
In 2005, together with business partner Shaun Moore, David founded Sorcit, a company developing products for other firms. These were very diverse, ranging from gardening to pet to baby items, but at that stage, did not include camping.
Today, Sorcit concentrates on the development of a range of biodegradable products, such as cups, bags and so on.
On a trip to the Far East, David discovered a material that was not only extremely durable, but could also be folded or even screwed up without causing damage.
As a result, the firm made a 200-litre water butt fror the gardening industry, which won several awards. The name Colapz was registered in 2011.
An initial batch of 500 water butts was produced. Although the idea was very well received, they sadly didn’t sell too well, possibly owing to the price tag.
David and Shaun soon came up with the idea of a collapsible watering can (still aimed at the gardening world), which sold for £25 to £30, and from there, things really took off.
German firm Tchibo ordered 35,000 watering cans, and that was soon filled by Gardena, a Canadian company, marketing them under its own brand.
In 2015, David and Shaun appeared in the BBC1 series Dragon’s Den, having one of the programme’s extended slots, where small businesses are given the opportunity to show their products in detail to a panel of potential investors, looking for financial backing from one of them.
Despite their strong showing, Colapz didn’t find favour with the Dragons. But following on from their appearance on the programme, several companies involved in the camping and caravanning industry contacted them, to say that they’d seen the show, liked the products and wanted to sell them.
As a result, Colapz attended the October 2015 Motorhome and Caravan Show at the NEC, to “test the water” with the collapsible watering can. And based on that one item, the response was hugely positive.
After using several different distributors for the products, which didn’t really work out for them, and after consultation with end users at the 2018 NEC show, Colapz decided to sell the items directly to the public.
It was also at about this time that the firm launched its extendable waste pipe system for caravans.
Now, rather than having to manage several metres of coiled-up, convoluted waste pipe (great fun to wrestle with – speaking from experience!), caravanners can use the Colapz system, consisting of four (or eight, depending on which kit you buy) 50cm sections of pipe, which extend to 100cm and then slot together to construct a waste pipe up to four (or eight) metres long. You can buy extra sections, too.
The system is, of course, intended for use on service pitches. And it seems Colapz has thought of everything – the kit is also provided with a brush for cleaning inside the pipes, which has a chain on it, so you can easily pull the brush right through the entire section of pipe. Clever stuff!
Colapz products are made in the Far East to a high standard, and David tells me he is very happy with the quality. These manufacturers are also the only source of the high-quality collapsible material.
Colapz now offers a wide range of products aimed at the camping and caravanning market, with designs being updated if necessary following customer feedback.
In February 2019, Pennine Leisure Supplies expressed an interest in wholesaling Colapz products, and now also supplies a sister firm in the Netherlands, selling to the rest of Europe.
These days, though, it’s not only Europe that has access to Colapz products – they are also available in the US, via Amazon.
And those clever ideas just keep coming. For motorhomes, Colapz makes an adaptable flexi-waste-pipe adaptor. This will attach to just about any motorhome waste outlet, and then the extendable waste pipe system attaches to that.
There’s also a specially made two-into-one waste water attachment for caravans.
I admitted to David that I was using a homemade affair, made up from domestic pipe couplings and caravan waste pipe, at which he laughed and said, “I bet it keeps coming off, too, doesn’t it? Yes, but how did he guess?
New for the 2020 season was a neat tap connector for filling fresh-water containers. How many times have you struggled to keep an attachment on the site’s tap (even if you can get one on), only to be drenched when it flies off?
The Colapz solution is so simple – it simply hangs over the tap. And of course, it wouldn’t be a Colapz product if it didn’t extend as well.
David tells me that the ethos of Colapz is “Focus on quality and provide solutions to issues.”
Owning a number of the firm’s products myself, I wholeheartedly believe this to be true, because not only is the quality of these items excellent, but Colapz always seems to come up with some clever solutions.
For example, you can get supports that hammer into the ground for the water pipe system, so you create a gentle slope to aid draining. And last but not least, everything comes with its own tidy storage bag.
Are you looking for some inspiration for the type of item to take on tour with you? Then be sure to take a look at our guide to the best caravan gadgets, where we share our top picks.
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Colapz offers a wide range of products aimed at the camping and caravanning market, with designs being updated if necessary following customer feedback