Rob McAlister is a product innovations business, with a particular focus on the great outdoors. But we’re more than simply an ideas hothouse. We think we have great millionaire-making ideas. But do you know what? I never yet met anyone who didn’t believe they too had a megabuck scheme. The difference is we have the knowledge and experience to take an idea and make it real, make it happen.

There are a number of reasons why we’re good at what we do. First of all, is the background and experience of the people who work here. It’s more than just their skills. It’s their attitude and our approach. While there’s real passion and belief in our ideas and products, it’s vital to have a healthy dose of hard-nosed realism too.

We know that 9 out of 10 ideas will not stand the test of commercial viability. We know that if we’re not rejecting all but one of them we’re heading for trouble. The 3 R’s are the most important factors to developing and launching a successful new product or service… they are Research, Research, Research.

Founded by Rob McAlister in 2005, originally based in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire we have since relocated to larger premises in Shildon, County Durham. Our offices are located at the same site as our almost 20,000 sq ft warehouse. We design and sell interesting new outdoor products to solve modern lifestyle problems. We sell to retailers. These are often the smaller independents but also larger retailers such as Argos, Halfords, Wayfair, Hammacher Schlemmer, Costco, Robert Dyas, The Range … but also direct to consumers mainly via our various e-commerce websites. Over the past 17 years, we have developed a number of products and brands including the Bike Cave, TidyTent, CampaCave, CultiCave, Buggy Brolly, Witch Umbrella, Heart Umbrella, Prop-a-Plant, Anka Point, HideyHood, HortiHood, PitchPal, BivvyBrolly and PINPOD. We also sell over 1000 different types of umbrellas.

What kind of company are we? Well, we’re a bit rough and ready. We don’t have posh offices. We don’t have a tidy desk policy. We don’t do “dress down Friday” – every day here is dress down day. We are highly focused on keeping things lean and mean. There’s a strong team ethic. Even though we’ve been around a while now, we still maintain the spirit and ethos of an entrepreneurial start-up! We care for our people and we believe in taking on apprentices. We also care for the environment – mainly because it saves money!

Since setting up in business all those years ago, we’ve learnt that it pays to be pragmatic. And so, over time we’ve diversified as opportunities have arisen. To survive the global banking crisis, Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic we’ve found that diversification has proved essential. And so we now operate with a number of different divisions. These include Umbrellas (Umbrella Heaven, Splash Innovations, Buggy Brolly); Outdoor and Garden (Cave Innovations) and Parcel Delivery Systems (PINPOD).