TL; DR: Pelican is a global manufacturer of high-end protective cases for electronics and sensitive gear. Originally created for the SCUBA industry, Pelican now caters to a much larger market, selling coolers, emergency lighting, and laptop cases, among many other durable housing units. Of particular interest to IT professionals are its server rack products designed for maximum hardware protection against disasters. We recently sat down with Pelican CEO Lyndon Faulkner, who told us how the company continues its mission to deliver high-end products that safeguard our most prized possessions.
Several years ago, prominent Marine Ecologist Dr. Michael Townsend was on a trip across New Zealand’s west coast — a region infamous for its harsh swells and often unpredictable weather conditions. As fate would have it, a minor accident caused the scientist to lose his Pelican briefcase containing his phone, several important papers, and other gear to the sea. Michael knew the case was advertised as rugged and waterproof, but after several days of imagining his possessions floating around Kaipara Harbour, he eventually gave up hope.
A month after the incident, a beachgoer noticed a strange, barnacle-encrusted object that had washed up on the shore. Eager to investigate, he brushed off a thick layer of dirt and debris, revealing a logo of two birds flying against the sun. It was Michael’s Pelican case that had been missing for more than four weeks.
Upon having it returned to him, Michael opened the weather-worn case to discover that its contents, including his smartphone, were completely unharmed. All of the important data that was thought to be lost was easily recovered thanks to the rugged case.
As a result, Michael and his colleagues became lifelong believers in Pelican’s durability, taking its products to some of Earth’s most extreme environments, including Antarctica’s harsh tundra.
“When you look at the nature in which our products are needed for protection, they could be life-saving,” said Pelican CEO Lyndon Faulkner. “Our duty is to continue making products with that quality in mind.”
Trusted by professionals around the globe and across multiple industries, Pelican products are designed to protect everything from sensitive scientific equipment to server racks. For example, hardware protection is essential for datacenters, especially those powered by traditional HDDs (hard disk drives). Although HDDs remain a popular choice for RAID configurations, they are especially prone to mechanical failure due to heat, moisture, and shock damage. By comparison, SSDs (solid state drives) have fewer moving parts but are still highly susceptible to damage from the elements.
Luckily, Pelican offers specialized rack mounts that range from heavy-duty and impact-resistant to lightweight and space-saving. These cases are used in datacenters around the world to keep websites, databases, and clouds running no matter what.
From a California Garage to Global Expansion
Pelican’s wide range of products is the result of over 40 years of expansion. In 1976, Dave Parker and his wife Arline founded Pelican directly out of their garage. Growing up in coastal California, Dave was a long-time SCUBA diving enthusiast who realized the need for leak-proof gear such as cases and flashlights.
“It was a very unique idea within the diving market, and it quickly caught on and escalated beyond it,” Lyndon said. “Right from day one, he built a reputation for making only grade-A products.”
Over the next few decades, the Parkers would obtain numerous patents for products, including the Pelican Float — a lightweight buoy system — and the Pelican SabreLite, the submersible LED flashlight that soon became its flagship product. Eventually, the Pelican brand became synonymous with high-end multipurpose storage cases.
Since 2004, Pelican has operated under the private equity firm Behrman Capital and has experienced significant growth since. 2008 saw the creation of Pelican Australia, one of several new global expansions, as well as the acquisition of Hardigg Industries, Pelican’s largest competitor.
In the years that followed, Pelican would release a broader range of products, including luggage, temperature-controlled containers, and cases for mobile devices. Today, Pelican is one of the largest manufacturers of protective cases and continues to diversify its inventory every year.
Safeguarding the Valuable Goods of Professionals and Consumers
Pelican cases come in a variety of sizes and designs to fit both the personal and professional needs of customers. With shock-proof and watertight cases, Pelican brings peace of mind to people around the world, especially those who travel for leisure or commute for work.
Aside from containers and cases, Pelican products run the gamut between coolers and flashlights to safety equipment and buoys. With such a broad market, Pelican is able to protect everything from personal property to professional equipment. In some industries, such as law enforcement and pharmaceuticals, products like remote area lighting and biothermal storage cases ensure the safety of officers, doctors, civilians, and patients alike.
“It’s about protecting all that you value,” Lyndon said. “That’s the mantra that we go by.”
Pelican manufactures server rack enclosures for the IT market, as well as protective cases for on-the-go devices, including smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Pelican’s larger cases can be customized by size and foam shape, ensuring a snug fit and shock protection for notebooks, external HDDs, and other computing equipment.
At the same time, smartphones and tablets have moved beyond strictly personal use and are an important asset for remote IT workers, making protective cases all the more essential. Meanwhile, Pelican’s server rack mounts are used to protect many of those very servers being remotely accessed. Rack mounts are also employed in harsh environments such as military zones.
“They’re using servers out in the field now to store audio information and coordinate supplies,” Lyndon said. “All of that is done using sophisticated equipment, and it all needs to be protected.”
Specialized Designs that Ensure Protection and Longevity
While Pelican’s larger cases offer impressive storage versatility, its smaller, specialized cases are designed for more lightweight protection. Despite their smaller size, these cases incorporate the same design principles and build qualities found in Pelican’s larger cases.
“You don’t want a bulky case for tablets, iPhones, and Samsung devices — you want a more streamlined case that still protects them if they’re dropped or even submerged,” Lyndon said. “Pelican’s DNA is still kept within that group, but it operates at an unbelievably fast clock speed.”
Because smartphone and tablet covers are a sizeable and ever-changing market, these products are handled by a separate design team.
“When you look at the consumer electronics space, a product’s shelf life could be as small as two years,” Lyndon said. “We have a completely dedicated team that keeps abreast of what’s coming out and makes sure to use Pelican’s DNA within the designs.”
Cases are available for popular releases, like Samsung Galaxy phones and iPads, as well as less common products like LG phones. While mobile devices are constantly rendered obsolete by successive models, Pelican cases ensure their physical longevity far beyond manufacturer and consumer expectations.
The Road Ahead: A Continued Commitment to Protect What Matters Most
Since 1976, Pelican has been in a constant state of expansion, adding new products to its catalog and gaining worldwide recognition. Among its earliest expansions was the Peli Products family, launched in 1997 as Pelican’s European branch. More recently, Pelican has opened sales offices in distant markets, including Israel, South Korea, and South Africa.
With its industry-defining durability, Pelican is trusted by government agencies and law enforcement to protect state-of-the-art equipment and help ensure the safety of citizens. Within the IT world, Pelican’s cases and server rack mounts protect precious data that hospitals and financial institutions rely on. In our personal lives, Pelican cases keep our valuables secure and our travel supplies in working condition.
“If you buy something that you really want to protect, buy a Pelican case,” Lyndon said. “No matter the situation, Pelican protects what matters most.”