What would drive a couple ambitious teenagers from a manicured Atlanta suburb to disappear into the woods, or out to open waters, for days at a time—to scale mountains and hunt and fish, to push their limits physically and embrace the outdoors?
“You can learn a lot about problem-solving from being outside,” Henry says slowly, pausing for reflection.
Spencer adds, without a hint of sarcasm, “Failure really is not an option when you’re climbing, for instance.”
And I can already tell their company isn’t just another Instagram money-grab.
Henry continues, “I feel like everyone should spend some time in the woods because you have to learn the art of improvising.”
Spencer is nodding.
“When you don’t have a lot of options, and you have to rely on yourself, your creativity and your determination is what gets the job done," he adds.
"You gotta have grit,” Henry concludes, matter-of-factly.
And I believe him.
What's In A Name?
In an era of hyper-targeted advertising and pillowy Pinterest advice, their words pierce right through the social media stupor. And quickly, their company's name begins to make sense.
A Rugged Road isn’t something to be scared of (unless the only car you’ve ever driven is a luxury sedan).
It’s something to be embraced. Being described as rugged means weathered, well-worn, capable, battle-tested, dependable.
Henry and Spencer set out to build a brand that delivered affordable products that reflected that moniker.
Henry was a rambunctious kid who turned into a capable outdoorsman with a penchant for numbers. Balancing his prowess with a bow or fly rod with his spreadsheet savvy, manipulating pivot tables, Henry is equally comfortable knee-deep in a duck blind or crawling through data.
True story: Henry's first entrepreneurial effort was a subscription email newsletter aimed at teaching high school students how to trade stocks.
Spencer is the youngest of 4 boys and took to the outdoors immediately. Whether jet skiing the Chattahoochee River from GA to the coast of FL or scaling a mountain just to camp on a cliff in the freezing cold, Spencer is always looking for the best gear and the next adventure.
True story: Spencer found himself waking up at 4 am many mornings throughout high school, to fulfill orders for the short-lived, 6-figure t-shirt business he and his older brothers co-founded.
After witnessing a demonstration of a proprietary spray coating developed for the Pentagon to coat cement barriers, making them blast resistant, Henry knew there had to be further applications, and reached out to Spencer.
In 2016, the best friends decided to start a company. A full 2+ years later, while still in school, they emerged having invented a whole new method of manufacturing coolers.
While selling pullovers and basic sportsman apparel supported their initial R&D, Henry and Spencer put themselves in a position to shake up an entire product category.
The Rugged Road Cooler has comparable cooling and durability ratings as its pricey, roto-molded peers, but checks in at an astonishing 1/3rd of the weight.
This breakthrough in cooling technology should be music to the ears of everyone from soccer moms and casual campers to serious outdoorsmen and women everywhere.
Sometimes all it takes to create something amazing and get people outdoors is a little grit. Henry and Spencer stayed the course with a can-do attitude and aim to keep creating break-through products.