My first contact with Derick was back in December of 2022.  I was in the market for a roof rack for my soft top Bronco and had been for a while.  I received my Bronco in January of 2022.  I originally wanted a hard top, because I planned on putting a rack on top for storing cargo for our overlanding trips.  We prefer not to pull an overlanding trailer.  At least at that time we didn’t. There were plenty of racks to choose from if you have the hard top.  However, I settled for the soft top in order to get my Bronco quicker.  So, the search began for me to find a good rack designed for a soft top.

In late November 2022 I found out about this Raket Designs rack specifically designed for the soft top. And this is when my relationship with Derick started.  In December I got on his website and got the phone number to call and find out how to order one of these.  To my great surprise when I called Derick answered.  So right off the bat I knew the character of this man and his company.  He talked to me for a long time about the rack and the system he had designed.  At that time he was still in the pre-order stage with the racks and the racks were to be available for shipment in February of 2023.  So, I ordered one.

I spoke with him a few more times before I received my rack.  He called to let me know there would be a delay because they decided to make a few changes to make the rack even better.  He didn’t feel comfortable sending it out without making these changes.  I was in total agreement with this of course.  Just another example of the character in my book.  I am very happy with my rack and am proud to say I am honored to be able to have interviewed Derick for E3 Offroad.

My partner with TrailHunterUSA (Brent Berryman) and I asked some questions of Derick and it turned out to be a fun laid back interview, and I think you’re really going to enjoy hearing about the man and the company.  Here we go:

Our first question for Derick was just for him to tell us something about himself.

Derick was born in the Philippines.  His grandmother worked for Imelda Marcos.  She was her secretary. (Imelda Marcos was a Filipino politician that served as the First Lady of the Philippines from 1965 to 1986.  Her husband Ferdinand Marcos was the 10th president)

So, Derick (with a laugh) said he feels like he has been in politics his whole life.

Derick is currently a vice-president for a large marketing firm. He has an entrepreneur mindset and has been an entrepreneur most of his life. He has been involved with many ventures in his life from a volleyball combine to recruit kids for college to a nightclub.

He lives in Utah and is a big fan of football.

Our next question for Derick was if he had a favorite vehicle in his life, and what was his first vehicle.

His first vehicle was a Mazda B2200 with a manual transmission.  He blew up the transmission after one month of purchasing the vehicle.  He joked that he grew up in Vegas and thought he was a racer.

For the question of his favorite vehicle he responded he had a straight 6 1990 Jeep that he loved, but he thinks that the Bronco he has now may be his favorite of all his vehicles.  He has a 2021 4 door soft top Bronco with a manual transmission.

Our next question for Derick was for him to share how or why he came up with the idea for this rack system he designed?

He responded that he, like many other new Bronco owners at the time (like me) gave up the hard top option for the soft top.  He had a buddy that had a Dodge Ram fully decked out for overlanding, and he wanted to set up his Bronco similarly.  So his quest for finding a rack for the Bronco started.  He commented that none out on the market fit what he was looking for he said “everything I looked at had you married to the roof rack”.  Meaning, there was no easy solution for removing the rack in order to use your soft top.

After this and spending a few months on the Bronco forums, he knew there was definitely a need and a desire from Bronco owners.  His entrepreneur mindset then kicked in.  He was on a vacation with family and friends when he announced his idea with them.  His father-in-law is a retired mechanical engineer of 40 years, so they started kicking around some ideas for how to make a light-weight, removable rack system work.

It was here that Brent asked a great question for Derick.  Brent “If you had gotten the hard top like you originally wanted, would you have even thought about developing a rack system for your Bronco?”.  Derick’s answer, after a laugh, was no probably not.

So, my mind went crazy here, if Derick had gotten a hard top.  I probably wouldn’t have one now.  I never would have met him and we wouldn’t be having this conversation/interview here today together.  Crazy.

On with the questions.  Okay, you have a problem and now have the solution to the problem.  You have no background in this industry.  What was the process of finding the people you needed to get this up and going?

He said the biggest pain was finding a good fabricator.  He said that his first fabricator were good people but they had no background in the automotive industry.  He said they had no concept of the importance of following the roofline, aerodynamics, or the need to make it look like it belonged on the vehicle.

The whole process is patented to protect the product, and this made it difficult during the design.  He gives big props to Sam Hunt at Armadillo Designs for helping out with this process.  Derick called him “the man behind the mirror”.  He wasn’t out front, but was huge with the input and design process and is a very talented engineer.

Through much trial and error, they found a good team in Texas (Texas Fabco), which is the fabrication company for the rack system.  And from there the team put it all together.

He commented that he has a great group now.  He pointed out that there is no “Big Corporations” or “Big Money” backing it.  They all are working together to make this happen.  It is evident that he is very proud of his team and very humbled by their commitment and dedication to this rack system.

And I’ll add Derick is still the customer service for this company.  He is the one that answers the phone when you call.  This is a big thing for him.  He wants to help everyone he can.  An example he shared with us and a testament to his character and dedication.  He had a customer who ordered one of his racks that is to ship at the end of this month.  This customer called and let Derick know he was really hoping to get it sooner because he was taking a 2 week vacation with his family and needed it desperately for his cargo.  Derick takes his rack off his personal vehicle and gives it to this customer.  Who does that??  Derick does.

Next question we have for Derick is; What makes your rack different?

The rack is modular.  It isn’t one piece.  The rack is considered free floating.  In a normal rack system for a hard top, there are brackets that attach to the hard top to support the weight of the rack and contents.  With the Raket Roof Rack it is attached to the body of the Bronco on all four points.

The rack itself is removable and reversible.  One side is a basket for carrying cargo, and the other side is a flat panel system for carrying a roof top tent.  It is lightweight and easy to remove, so you are not losing your ability to use your soft top.  The sliding system for the removal of the rack was designed by Austin Brakin (owner of Brakin Machine).  It is a High Density Polymer (HDPE) sliding system.  It allows for an easy slide system, and no metal to metal contact which eliminates the rattle and rust that might occur.

The front assembly works as a light bar mount.  It’s predrilled to receive a 42” light bar.  The rear tower assembly is extremely sturdy.  The rear tower is a molle panel which can hold accessories like traction boards, fuel and water packs.  It is compatible with all Bronco models including the Raptor.

Note: If you watch my youtube channel, you know that this rack is put together well.  I’ve got a video showing me banging the rack system so hard it jarred my bronco around.  The accident completely broke my water pack off the rear assembly, but did no damage to the rack system.

Derick, what about future products?

Raket Designs has another product due to release in August of 2023 for which preorders will be taken starting July15.  He announced this in the interview which you can see on our YouTube channel @TrailHunterUSA.  It is an extension to the rack which Derick is calling the Bak Rak.  It will attach to the current rack tower in the rear and allows someone the option of removing the center rack and opening their soft top and still having a rack for cargo.  You will be able to purchase this with just the rear tower if this is something that better fits your needs.  And, if in the future, you decide you want the full rack, then all you will need to do is order the front mount and rack.

Brent and I had a great time with Derick in this interview.  It was a laid back, have fun, campfire type talk.  Derick is a fun, energetic person to be around.  He has a love for what he does and for this product.  His biggest enjoyment from this is seeing Bronco owners excited about getting the rack that they need to fulfill their own desires.  The happy faces bring him joy.  I am one of those happy faces.

~ Eric

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