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Buckle-Up in Back of Truck

January 12, 1986|DENISE GELLENE

Hang-gliding enthusiast Steven A. Fry had tired of bouncing around in the back of a pickup truck while a friend drove over rugged mountain terrain to favorite launching spots. So one day two years ago, using a broken glider, he fashioned a hammock-like seat that nestled in the back of the pickup and held him comfortably steady.

Soon, a business took wing.

Fry's Orange-based Fryford Corp. sold $350,000 worth of the seats last year and is looking for a tenfold increase in 1986 because the device, called a 2nd Seat, is currently featured in the J. C. Penney catalogue and is becoming more widely available through a loose network of 100 distributors across the United States and Canada.

The removable seat, which sells for about $200, consists of a rectangle of quilted nylon fabric with steel bars at two ends and seat belts fastened to the sides. The bars are attached to the frame inside the truck bed to form a sort of reclining seat. The 2nd Seat can accommodate two passengers, but is too large to safely accommodate children under 8.

The product is manufactured in Taiwan, rather than Southern California. "It cost as much to make it here as we charge for it," Fry says, adding that he sold the product at no profit through last July to help establish a market for it.

After mortgaging his home and investing more than $250,000 in the venture, Fry said he is looking for an investment partner and has hired McIntyre & McConvey, an Orange County investment firm, to help him find one.

Fry, a 32-year-old former professional photographer, said his business is getting at least a psychological boost from recently enacted laws in 17 states, including California, that require automobile passengers to wear seat belts. In fact, the California law doesn't require seat belts in the back of pickups, said Steve Kohler, spokesman for the California Highway Patrol.

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