Nevada company unveils $285,000 ultimate camping truck


SPARKS — Outside, a 1987 custom Toyota Sunrader camper parked in front of the building marks the TruckHouse headquarters.

Inside, business partners Nico Monforte, 26, and Matt Linder, 29, have spent thousands of hours designing and building a prototype for the company’s signature vehicle— the BCT, an “ultimate adventure rig” that pays homage to the RV parked out front.

TruckHouse unveiled the BCT — the company declined to reveal the meaning behind the initials — earlier this month.

Despite the vehicle’s $285,000 sticker price, the company has already taken its first order and is set to begin production. It takes about 2,000 hours to complete each vehicle.

Other people have also expressed interest in becoming BCT owners.

The first production vehicle should be completed by midsummer, said Monforte and Linder, who explained how the buyer and his family might use the truck to camp any season, anywhere.

The truck might best be described as a small, luxury house atop a Toyota Tacoma. Its 4×4 capability will help occupants explore in ways bigger RVs aren’t able to.

The BCT, which sleeps four people, features a dinette, cooktop, refrigerator, sink, toilet, and skylight. Upgrades include a heated floor and TV.

Lifelong outdoorsmen, Monforte, who has an engineering background, and Linder, who has mechanical experience, concede that the truck is pricey. But they point to the quality of materials and the precision and time it takes to complete each vehicle.

“This rig is not for everybody,” Monforte said. “We’re stoked to see people outside camping, whether it’s an old beat-up Subaru with an air mattress or a $1.7 million…adventure rig.”

“There’s a wide, wide variety of ways that can get you on the trail, and we support that. Whatever gets you out there, we think that’s awesome,” he said.

Monforte and Linder met about six years ago while working at a water skiing school in Lake Tahoe. Monforte was an instructor and Linder, who grew up working in his father’s shipyard in California, was a marine mechanic.

They clicked over their passion for the outdoors. A couple of years later, Linder showed Monforte a project he had just completed, the Toyota Sunrader.

Though its outer shell was showing its age, the inside was modern and spacious. It had a dinette, bed, kitchen area, plenty of storage and a heated floor.

It was unlike anything Monforte had seen, and he fell in love with the vehicle. “He’s like, ‘Man, we gotta build another one of those,” Linder said.

But Linder said he wasn’t interested in customizing another older vehicle.

Later, when Monforte was an MBA student at UNR, a professor challenged their students to pick a passion they could follow through the rest of their lives, Monforte said.

Thinking back to the camper project, Monforte asked Linder if he could write a business plan for a hypothetical updated version of the Sunrader.

He entered the project in the Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition at UNR’s College of Business.

To his surprise, it kept advancing, eventually winning the $50,000 prize in April 2019.

Eventually, Monforte and Linder decided to go all in on TruckHouse, quitting their day jobs.

A third partner, an expert in marketing, later joined the team, and TruckHouse recently added two more people. The company has plans to bring on more employees as the company grows.

Twelve-hour days — half-days as Monforte describes them — are typical at TruckHouse.

Monforte and Linder have spent countless hours in front of the computer, designing and later putting together the prototype.

With automotive showcases canceled due to the pandemic, the company had to settle for a digital unveiling of the BCT. But they can’t wait for people to see it in person.

Its live debut is planned for late August at an expo in Colorado.

Monforte and Linder credit their upbringing for their passion for business. Their fathers, both entrepreneurs, have been huge influences.

Linder, a resident of Truckee, Calif., near the Nevada border, has worked summers at his father’s shipyard in Sausalito, Calif., in the Bay Area, since he was a boy.

He worked on “big, big, big boats,” from repainting to swapping engines. As he grew older, he worked with more skilled craftsmen, learning a little bit about a number of trades, he said.

He used those skills to build the Sunrader, which took him over two years to complete. He incorporated materials used on boats to make it more durable, he said.

As a boy, Monforte remembers watching his father get home from his job as a fire department captain and then go to work at his painting contracting business.

If their business takes off, Monforte and Linder don’t expect to stop working, though they plan on using their own trucks when time permits.

Linder remembers when the prototype for the BCT started coming together.

“It was a good feeling,” he said. “Nico and I looked at it for like an hour. I don’t think we said anything. Honestly, we just walked around and around, and, you know, checking every little thing.”

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