Meet the Makers

Meet the  Makers

I'm writing this on Small Business Saturday, but every day is Small Business Day for us. We're Matthew and Sarah this is how we came to found Thunderbolt Adventure Supply.

Matthew & Sarah at Mount Rainier in 1994.

It all started when we met in high school. I know, crazy right? But it's true, we were high school sweethearts. We both headed off to college at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where Matthew studied Industrial Design and Sarah studied Natural Resource Conservation. In the course of his studies, Matthew toured what would eventually become the Rivian Manufacturing Plant. Sarah went on a lot of hikes in the woods. This photo was taken at Mount Rainier on a trip we took while we were in college.

After graduation, we moved to San Francisco looking for adventure and found it! Sarah worked for conservation oriented nonprofits including the Sierra Club and campaigned for a plethora of environmental causes. She also was the founding Executive Director of a small progressive nonprofit, was an account manager for a small tech company, and worked on nation-wide voter registration efforts. Today she manages Thunderbolt Marketing and Communication and manages San Francisco's high school mountain bike team.

Matthew covered in mud after mountain biking

After arriving in San Francisco, Matthew designed products, museums, and store interiors and fixtures. He started his own furniture design and manufacturing business and began regularly traveling to Shanghai. He took the experience he gained running his own business and applied it to multiple established furniture companies including Restoration Hardware where he directed their contract business. Most recently he was Vice President of Global Real Estate Design at Salesforce where he oversaw the design and buildout of spaces all over the world. Matthew has always been a fan of type two fun as you can see from the smile on his face after a few muddy laps of mountain biking near Redding, CA.

We put our reservation in for our R1T in March of 2019 after learning that the trucks would be manufactured in Normal. Sarah's parents met as college students in Normal, and we liked that they were going to revive the former Mitsubishi plant Matthew had toured back in school. We were especially excited about the adventure aspects of the truck. Our kids race mountain bikes and we spend a fair amount of time camping out. For a few years, Matthew was the main cook for the team. We thought the kitchen would be perfect those events.

first generation camp kitchen at Rivian holiday meetup

We took delivery our truck Mother's Day weekend 2022 with a promise that the kitchen would arrive soon. We waited and waited, and like many were disappointed when Rivian pulled it from the gear store. But, Matthew loves a challenge, so he set about designing his own version. After templating the gear tunnel opening with cardboard, creating a model out of Ren Foam, and making sure the geometry worked, he made a working prototype out of scrap plywood from his workshop. We thought it was pretty cool, but had no idea what anyone else would think about it. So, we took it to a Bay Area Rivian Club's Holiday meetup and used it to serve hot cocoa to the crowd. People loved it, so we started to investigate how to manufacture the kitchens to sell.

We launched the company this spring and delivered our first unit at the beginning of August. It's truly a family business. Our daughter sewed prototype bags, our son is often put to work cleaning the shop, and occasionally using power tools. We've discovered Rivian enthusiasts are a sort of family of their own, and we've loved meeting folks at various events. We've gotten to feel like we know some of you who had your kitchen shipped from the photos of your adventures. And we've discovered that Rivian folks are often looking for an excuse for a roadtrip as evidenced by their willingness to drive to San Francisco from as far as Seattle and San Diego to pick up their Thunderbolt Adventure Kitchens!

We can't wait to meet you too!
Sarah, Matthew, Ellie & Henry

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