By Ashley Reyes
The SEMA Truck & Off-Road Alliance (TORA) named TailHand as this week’s member spotlight company. Get to know their story in SEMA’s interview with company co-founder Suzie Ruhs below:
SEMA: Tell us the story of your company. How did your company start?
Suzie Ruhs: My husband (Michael) and I own 32 acres of property in Northern Wisconsin and frequently work from the tailgate of our pickup truck when we’re there. Michael was working alone one weekend, attempting to cut trees into smaller pieces from the tailgate using a chainsaw.
Of course, everything slipped and the chainsaw made a beeline for his leg. Luckily, his jeans were the only casualty but he came home that evening determined to find a product he could attach to the tailgate that would allow him to work safely by himself.
When he was unable to find anything on the market, we started brainstorming ideas for this product. When COVID put us all into lockdown, we decided this was the time to make TailHand a reality. We brought together a talented team and, 18 months later, launched TailHand!
SEMA: What was your company’s breakthrough moment?
SR: Being announced as a top 15 semifinalist in SEMA's 2021 Launch Pad competition was a huge breakthrough moment for us. Being named a semifinalist was immense validation for us and told us we had a solution that doesn’t exist out there currently. The TailHand team knew we had something really special, but SEMA confirmed that 100%.
SEMA: Tell us about your business now and projects you are working on.
SR: We’re definitely in our startup period and awareness is one of our biggest priorities. We continue to develop really strong relationships with our manufacturing partners in the United States and are working diligently with them to ensure the product we sell is reliable, safe, efficient and tough. In addition, our team is busy developing even more accessories that will allow our customers to use their TailHand for work and play, since we know our customers use their pickups in all aspects of their lives, just like we do.
SEMA: Tell us about a product that you are proud of.
SR: We're really proud of the entire TailHand system, but in particular, we believe the patent-pending locking key feature on many of our accessories is really special. This design provides a level of stability necessary for precision work and allows our customers to rely on TailHand for the professional quality of work they demand.
SEMA: What advice do you have for young professionals contemplating a career in the automotive aftermarket?
SR: Even though the automotive aftermarket industry is jam-packed with amazing products and seasoned professionals, there is room for new ideas and innovations. Don’t be afraid to believe in an idea you have and surround yourself with people who share your same vision.
Fill out a TORA-member spotlight form to highlight how you or your company are contributing to the truck and off-road specialty-equipment industry. Selected candidates are eligible to be featured on TORA’s social media, SEMA News and future TORA member updates.