I spoke with Donny McCall the other night. He's the guy who invented Invis-A-Rack, the fold away pick up truck rack he invented after his wife gave him some guff about going out on the town in a truck with permanent work racks affixed to the top. I can identify with that sentiment; when I was “courting” my wife, I'd often pick her up in my work van, loaded to the gills with equipment with racks and ladders on top. She never outright hassled me about it, but we did take her car out on the town – a lot.
Donny McCall was on the Shark Tank a few weeks ago, before I began writing for this site, so I never had the opportunity to do a write-up. He's probably most famous in Shark Tank circles as “the guy who made Robert Herjavec cry.” Herjavec identified with Donny's concern about the demise of manufacturing here in the USA because Robert's dad worked in a factory for years to make a better life for his family. Robert got a little verklempt when recalling his dad, but he still didn't invest. Donny McCall remarked that he had thought about saying “what if they'd closed your dad's factory, what then?” He never did say that, but he thought it and still wonders if he said it, would the outcome have changed.
The reason the Sharks didn't do a deal is Donny was steadfast about keeping all manufacturing for his Invisirack in the USA. The Sharks thought outsourcing manufacturing to China would lower unit costs and increase profitability. While this is probably true, Donny felt a responsibility to keep not only his local workers, but those in the manufacturing facilities he orders components from, employed. Way to go Donny!
Even though he didn't get funded, he's another example of the Power of the Shark Tank. His website traffic shot up over 5000% after the show aired, but it never crashed. He saw a similar surge after appearing on the nationally broadcast Fox and Friends TV show. There was one order from a guy in Wisconsin as the segment was broadcast and Donny has since sold out of his first run of products. All the money made from the sale of that inventory has been put back into purchasing more inventory. Donny says as this next batch sells, it will “put us in the black.”
Invisirack sells on the website and in specialty canoe and truck shops throughout the USA. Donny had hoped to be pitching to Jeff Foxworthy, who didn't return to the show this season. He knew his pitch would be an uphill battle, since Invisirack is an admittedly niche product without mass appeal. But he did want to stick to his guns about keeping production in the USA. He believes this stance won him a “lot of fans, but not necessarily sales.”
Donny McCall claims to have been an inventor, or at least a wanna-be inventor since he was a kid. He said he had an idea for a cooler that plugs into a vehicle's cigarette lighter, much like the Coleman PowerChill Thermoelectric Cooler (40-Quart),
when he was about 12; his friends scoffed at the idea (little did they know). He's also got another invention “in the works,” but he's keeping it quiet for now.
Donny McCall is still a big fan of the show. He's purchased a Clean Bottle, since he does a lot of running. He also liked the Chord Buddy pitch. He says the one product he's seen on the show that didn't get funded that he personally would have funded was the Caddyswag golf bag cooler. Donny thinks the “country club crowd” wasn't the best market for this product, “it's more of a public course product.” Even though Donny thinks some of the sharks may tend to lean more toward “the country club crowd” in their outlook, he says what you see on TV is what you get when it comes to the Sharks. He's “not sure if the sharks are the best judges for products out of their realm.” Other than being featured on Mark Cuban‘s Facebook page, Donny has had no contact with any of the Sharks since the show taped.
Over all, Donny McCall believes he was treated fairly by the Sharks and he's glad he kept his manufacturing in the USA. A lot of his fans are too.
Enjoy the video of the Invis-A-Rack .