K-State’s Technology Development Institute helps Topeka company ship unique products internationally
MANHATTAN — Kansas State University’s Technology Development Institute in the Carl R. Ice College of Engineering has partnered with PlainsCraft to support international shipping for a unique product: covered wagons for glamping.
PlainsCraft is a manufacturing company based in Topeka that began producing products for the glamping, or glamorous camping, industry in 2018. The company placed wagons across the U.S. and received inquiries from international customers wanting to offer the covered wagons to their customer bases as well; however, since the wagons are large, shipping costs and handling fees presented a major hurdle.
Dennis Steinman, founder of PlainsCraft, reached out to the Technology Development Institute, or TDI, to address this challenge. TDI helped PlainsCraft submit applications to the Kansas Department of Commerce Proof of Concept program and the GO Topeka Proof of Concept committee for resources to begin developing a kit to sell the glamping wagons internationally.
Once both grants had been approved, TDI worked closely with the PlainsCraft team to update the model of the existing wagons and the parts used to construct them. Once the model had been updated, the institute evaluated the maximum amount of assembly that could be completed while still being able to package two wagons inside of a 40-foot container, which would allow for cost-effective shipping to any location in the world.
The kits were completed and recently launched at the Glamping Show Americas 2024 in Aurora, Colorado.
“We are extremely pleased to have a resource like TDI here in Kansas to help support our growth and expansion,” Steinman said. “Additionally, the support we received from both the Kansas Department of Commerce and GO Topeka makes us proud to be representing Kansas both across the country and around the world with our products.”
This project was completed in support of the goals of the K-State 105 initiative, Kansas State University’s answer to the call for a comprehensive economic growth and advancement solution for Kansas. The initiative leverages the statewide K-State Research and Extension network to deliver the full breadth of the university’s collective knowledge and solution-driven innovation to every Kansan, right where they live and work. Additionally, K-State 105 forges the connections and partnerships that create access to additional expertise within other state institutions and agencies, nonprofits and corporations — all part of an effort to build additional capacities and strengths in each of the 105 counties in the state.
“We have an excellent network of resources here in Kansas to help support entrepreneurs creating new products and technologies,” said Bret Lanz, commercialization director for TDI. “I encourage anyone who is attempting to develop a solution for their business to get in contact with us and determine how we can leverage that network to help them grow.”
The K-State Technology Development Institute, a U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration University Center, provides a broad range of engineering and business development services to both private industry and university researchers to advance the commercial readiness of new products or technologies.