Replicaps - Manhole Covers
The Replicaps manhole cover is manufactured from cast iron by a domestic foundry using the identical process and materials as those of functional manhole covers, but with less than half the thickness to reduce weight and facilitate wall mounting.
RepliCaps, Inc. was officially launched in early 2012, but the inspiration was established ten years earlier in the form of a Christmas gift, thanks to the Town of Vail, Colorado and the mother of one of our founders.
It all started with Vail’s distinctive manhole covers. Their unique design created sufficient incentive for highly motivated (and most likely inebriated) memento seekers to ply the 300-pound discs from the street and haul them home as prized touchstones to memorialize their visit to Colorado. Predictably, the resultant gaping holes in the street created a serious public safety hazard to both pedestrians and vehicles -- Vail’s solution was to produce replica manhole covers which were first offered for sale to the public in 2002.
The Vail replica product, although not heavily promoted by the town, sold reasonably well -- including the aforementioned Christmas gift purchase which was shipped to Florida in 2002. Over the last 10 years, Paul’s manhole cover has been conspicuously displayed in a prominent family room location where its presence, and the legend behind it, has generated a great deal of genuine curiosity and stimulating conversation. When Fritz first saw this unique object, he too was intrigued, and his ever-increasing fascination stimulated a series of conversations that resulted in us ultimately developing a formal business plan that launched the company. The rest of the story, you could say, is now history.
Early on we determined that in addition to well-known ski resorts, the collegiate market was especially well-suited for our products. The first hurdle was meeting with both the Collegiate Licensing Company and the Licensing Resource Group -- the two preeminent collegiate licensing agencies in the world which collectively represent almost 400 leading universities. After completing the requisite submission processes, both applications were approved which granted RepliCaps the opportunity to seek individual trademark licenses with each of their respective client institutions. This was a critical first step in our mid-term objective of partnering with hundreds of colleges and universities.
Equally important was our selection of the Deeter Foundry of Lincoln, NE as our exclusive manhole cover manufacturing partner. Deeter is a subsidiary of Neenah Enterprises which was founded in 1872, and is one of oldest, most well-respected foundry operations in the world. They are known throughout the industry for their seasoned, time-tested commitment to quality engineering and manufacturing. For wall-mounted RepliCaps applications we located another domestic supplier, Lynn Cove Foundry & Forge of Charleston, SC, which manufactures shutter pintles -- meaning pins or bolts that are typically inserted into gudgeons which are used as part of a pivot or hinge. These high-quality galvanized steel pintles provide the strength necessary to safely secure RepliCaps to walls or other vertical surfaces.
Before formally launching our initial sales effort, we recently completed the implementation of NetSuite, the world's most widely-deployed, cloud-based Enterprise Resource Planning solution. Used by over 12,000 businesses, NetSuite delivers fully integrated Accounting, Supply Chain & Inventory Management, Customer Relationship Management, Order & Billing, Shipping & Fulfillment, Financial Analytics & Reporting, and E-Commerce capabilities to automate and streamline our operations to the greatest extent possible.
Having assembled all the necessary business components, we took delivery of the first few designs in October 2012. To augment our web presence, RepliCaps are displayed with local area merchants who will gladly process orders on behalf of our customers. All sales orders are processed and drop shipped via FedEx the same business day they’re received by our warehouse operation in Kansas City.
We fully expect that you’ll be extraordinarily pleased with your RepliCaps purchase, and offer a limited “no questions asked” return option that allows for a refund of the original purchase price less a modest restocking fee if not completely satisfied. While we believe that our replica manhole covers present a highly unique opportunity to express your personal interest in a favorite ski resort, seaside destination, sports team, college or commemorative event, we welcome your feedback for new product suggestions.
One final note - the phrase "manhole" -- even though some people today want to change it for gender-sensitivity reasons -- was first used to describe the access holes between the decks of old, all-male, sailing ships. Certainly a much classier pedigree than sewers…
Fritz Waldorf & Paul Danner
Founders - Replicaps