Adam Gaskins is the inventor of the Ice Anchor, a line of cooler racks designed to safely and securely attach a cooler to any Jeep Wrangler. JCF asked Gaskins where he got the idea for the Ice Anchor and what’s next for his successful startup.
Adam, where are you from and how did you become an inventor?
I was born and raised in Starke, Fla., where I still live. My parents own and operate a garbage company. Working in the family business, there was a lot learn. We did everything ourselves. That is where I learned how to weld and fix things, which would eventually lead me into the fabrication industry.
When did you get into off-roading?
I grew up in the country around Jeeps and 4x4s. During my high school years, I helped my dad restore a 1986 Scrambler, which he still owns today. Now, 25 years later, we are in the process of restoring the Jeep for the second time. But after a few years working in the family business, I decided to venture out on my own. I started working doing steel fabrication all while getting married and starting a family of my own at the age of 23.
Was it difficult to break into that industry?
After working a few different metal fabrication jobs out of town, I finally landed a fabrication job with a new local company. I became the head metal fabrication guy and learned a lot of new techniques and different ways to do things.
We were approached by a company that wanted trackless trolley cars. Little did I know that project would become a lifetime career. After building multiple trolley cars, the company I was working for decided they were not interested in building them any longer. The owner of the trolley company asked me if I would build them myself. Being young and ambitious, I of course took them up on this offer.
Having the means to fabricate pretty much whatever we wanted allowed me to be able to develop the first Ice Anchor. The two-door Jeep’s downfall is lack of interior space — especially when you have extra riders, including kids and dogs. I had to figure out how to take my favorite cooler with me without taking up space. Being from Florida, with the type of terrain we are accustomed to, I always run with oversized tires. I’ve never been a fan of having the spare tire hanging on the back of the Jeep. I decided I should utilize this space for something out of the norm but useful.
How secure is the Ice Anchor?
That was my first concern. After a few days of brainstorming and a few wasted materials, I was finally able to figure it out. The first Ice Anchor was designed around a 45-quart Yeti cooler. I decided to go with this size and brand for a couple of different reasons: A smaller cooler just didn’t seem worth the effort, and anything larger became a weight problem and could complicate approach and departure angles.
The Yeti cooler also has slots under the lid that allowed me to run a stainless steel bracket through the bottom of the rack and secure the cooler with a padlock. After a hard day’s work, we had our first Ice Anchor mounted to the back of my 1997 TJ with the cooler locked in place. At this point, I was just excited with the way it came out and that I now had a place for my cooler. I had no intentions of doing anything beyond that.
When did you realize it could be a viable product?
The first weekend. I put it on for a small, local event and it generated a lot of interest. People wanted to know where I got it. Those who knew me didn’t have to ask. But they all said the same thing: I would be crazy not to patent the idea and take it to market.
What was your first step?
I had to figure out how hard it would be to produce them on a larger level. Fortunately, there is a sheet metal shop in a neighboring town. I was able to work with their engineer to take Ice Anchor to the next level of production. They laser-cut and bend the components and we fit, weld and finish it. We then ship them raw or send them off to be powder-coated, depending on the customer’s selection.
Are you doing any marketing?
We started marketing Ice Anchor in mid-2017. I have made a lot of connections just by attending events. I have always owned Jeeps but had never been a part of Jeep clubs. So after beating some bushes and hitting up Jeep dealers and shop owners, I was able to introduce my product and they gave me a lot of advice on where to promote it.
My first Jeep event where we set up as a vendor was in October of 2017 at Jeeptoberfest in Ocala, Fla. The feedback was amazing and let me know I was headed in the right direction. The next event I attended was Krawl’n for the Fallen at the Jeep Ranch in Wildwood. I made my first few sales there and was approached by another cooler company, Eco Outfitters. They were interested in an Ice Anchor that would fit their coolers; at the time, we still only made them for Yetis.
By that point, we already had multiple inquiries about other cooler brands. This was the perfect opportunity because the Eco brand offers a very nice cooler for a more economical price. I saw this as a great opportunity to not only build another rack but set myself up as a cooler dealer so I could offer package deals.
So I spent the winter of 2017 and the spring of 2018 developing three other cooler racks, adding the Eco coolers as well as Gator Box and RTIC models to our product line. We were able to meet our production goals in time to make it to Jeep Beach as a vendor.
What’s next for Ice Anchor?
We will continue to attend the three events I mentioned as well as others. We will have several racks on hand, and we will sell them for $50 below the online cost. We will also offer that discount at our shop location. We are also developing some attachments that can be added to the Ice Anchors. We hope to have them available by next summer, and we will continue to develop racks for other popular cooler brands.
Nuts and Bolts
Adam Gaskins is the inventor of the Ice Anchor series of cooler racks. Ice Anchors are designed to:
• Fit a range of coolers made by Yeti, Gator Box, Eco Outfitters and RTIC.
• Safely and securely attach to the rear end of JK, TJ and YJ Wranglers.
• Offer superior quality for an affordable price.