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Padholdr was established in 2010 after the first iPad was launched. At the time of the iPad launch, current President Jim Benham owned another business that customized high end vehicles in Auburn, WA. Jim had been installing computers in vehicles since 2002, but even though the concept was cool, the usability of a windows based program on a touch screen just didn’t work very well. As soon as Steve Jobs announced the iPad, Jim knew that iPad’s in vehicles would be huge, and wanted to get involved.
Jim went to a friend and fellow successful business owner Vic Payment and spoke with him about his idea of creating an iPad holder that would bolt to the dash of your vehicle. Vic was very impressed, and was eager to help turn this idea into a reality. With a small investment from Vic Jim was able to purchase an iPad, and meet with a good friend and fellow business owner Andy Oberbillig to create some prototypes. Andy took one prototype and laser etched the name Padholdr into it, and said to Jim “check out your new company name”. Jim loved the name and eagerly bought the domain and started thinking of how he could create an ecommerce website. Padholdr was then born.
The first objective to building this new company was to figure out what would make Padholdr iPad holders different then the rest. “Our holders must work with a case” Jim said to Andy after the first couple prototypes were in his hands. “How can we make a holder that looks good, works with cases, and is easy to insert and remove the iPad from the holder” Jim said a few moments later. Andy replied with “Already done”. The Padholdr was designed so that the spacers that hold the front and the rear of the holder could be exchanged for different diameter and length spacers. Switching out the spacers would allow a variety of cases to work with the iPad, and of course no case at all. The last prototype that was made had much more elegant lines, and had a large enough opening in the back so you could access your radio controls when the iPad wasn’t in the holder. We now had an excellent mount, but what would it mount to?
On one late afternoon Jim sat down with some friends and brainstormed how he could mount the holder without damaging the dash. The thought of using velcro or a suction cup was just out of the picture, he would leave that for some overseas manufactures down the road to fail with. Jim made a phone call to a company he had done business with in the past and talked to them about manufacturing some brackets for the Padholdr. The brackets must bolt to the dash, and not damage the dash if the holder was to be removed. With just a few emails, and some samples Padholdr now had a way to mount the iPad holder to over 600 vehicles. Between the bracket and the holder needed to be a high strength arm that could adjust so that the viewing angle could be achieved from the Padholdr. After trying out a few arm manufactures Jim came up with a solution. The new arm was manufactured out of aluminum, and was fully adjustable on both ends. Padholdr now had a holder, a arm, and brackets for over 900 vehicles. “Were in business!’ Jim shouted out one late night after installing the Padholdr in his Range Rover.
The first really big customer was Amazon. Jim was close friends with a large distributor for Amazon, and after a meeting one day was in. Amazon to this day is a large part of Padholdr, and the relationship is just beginning. Amazon solely wasn’t going to make Padholdr big, and it took hours to create products on the site and actually get them up and running so Padholdr needed a website.
A company from Seattle created the first Padholdr site. The site included over 900 vehicles specific iPad dash kits, iPad wall mounts, and a table top iPad stand. Padholdr.com was now live, and selling pretty steady. “The Padholdr images were bad, like iPhone 3gs quality” said Jim. Not only the images were bad, but the site was non existent on any search engine. The customers were coming from word of mouth from forums. This was very cool to see how big of a reaction Padholdr was getting from bloggers around the world. With a poorly built site with no SEO, this was the only way we were selling holders. About a year after the site was launched jim spent some time finding a person that dealt with SEO that could help us improve our site. Jim met Brandon and Nicole at Followworks.com in Kitsap County. Brandon explained to Jim that to properly build SEO on a site, the site needs to support it. Brandon claimed that if Padholdr was going to be seen on search engines for years to come it needed to be built on a stronger platform, and SEO built in when it was created. Jim was very hesitant to do a full website revamp, but after some negotiating he decided to take Brandon up on his offer. After about 2 months of transforming Padholdr Brandon was excited to tell Jim that Padholdr was now on the top of the search for “ipad holder for car”. The website has went through many enhancements over 2011 and part of 2012 by adding a Blog, 1000′s of new products, and alot of SEO work. In early 2012 Jim spoke with Brandon and decided to take another huge step in getting Padholdr.com to the next level. The site you see today took nearly 3000 man hours in custom development, design and back-end optimization to upgrade over the last site. Jim actually started learning to build and design websites in 2010 and has put a lot of his own time into the site you see today. The new site now has a complete shopping cart with shipping options, over 10,000 items, and a complete revamp of images and overall look. Yes, 10,000 items in just 2 years.
With the success of Padholdr’s Vehicle Specific Mounts Jim decided to expand into other tablets, and more applications. Laying in bed one night Jim was using his iPad, but couldn’t get comfortable. He tried everything to prop the iPad at a good angle where he could read or surf the web but not have to hold the iPad up with one hand. Jim made a phone call to his friend Andy and put together some ideas on how to make a bed stand. After playing with some prototypes for a couple weeks, Padholdr launched tablet stands. Between the Padholdr In dash kits and the floor stands, companies were contacting Padholdr about a variety of other applications. At the CES show in 2012 Padholdr launched a new Commercial series Padholdr line. The commercial series is designed tough and is built for Police, Fire, Aid, and Fleet Vehicle Kits along with Lockable wall tablet mounts and stands. Padholdr has now teamed up with numerous Fortune 500 companies to create holders for a variety of applications. “Padholdr has some amazing Commercial Products coming soon” says Jim Benham.
Customer Service has always been something that Padholdr thrives from. Jim makes sure that all emails are responded too within minutes if possible. Each salesperson has an iPhone where the company emails are forwarded too, and are told to respond no matter what time it is. “The Ecommerce stores that subcontract their customer service and that don’t work with their customers to make them happy are going to fail. Plain and simple. People have options on the internet, and also have a strong voice that lasts forever on forums. The Ecommerce companies that surface to the top are customer service orientated, only sell good quality items, have easy to use websites, excellent images and reviews of products, and competitive pricing.” Padholdr understands all of these concepts and continues to grow a larger fan base daily because of so. Padholdr’s plans are to build the ultimate tablet accessory store that will be customer service orientated, and have a large variety of unique and well built products. Jim is highly involved with the company’s day to day operations and plans on responding to customer service emails as much as possible throughout his career at Padholdr.