BOULDER, Colo. — Campervan businesses are booming in Colorado and owners believe the pandemic is playing a role in more orders for luxury custom builds.
9NEWS spoke to two local campervan conversion companies about the demand they have seen for their products over the last year – through a pandemic.
Brian Crider is a co-founder of Boulder Campervans. Eric Miller is a co-founder of TOURIG in Golden.
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Editor's note: Some of the responses have been edited for clarity and length.
What did business look like pre-pandemic?
Crider: Probably about 16 builds a year we would get out of the shop. Now, we are doing about 30 in both of our locations. Things have most certainly felt like they have, you know, doubled for us in a sense. My crew has doubled. My shop space has tripled. Everything seems pedal to the medal as soon as this pandemic started, honestly.
Miller: At the time pre-pandemic, we were at about 40 vans, 35 to 40 vans, a year. Now, our business model plays into this. This year, we will put out about 75 high-end units, one to two a week going out the door. I see that doubling again in 2022. I do. I see that going to 130 to 150 next year going out the door.
How much has the pandemic played a role in the increase in orders?
Crider: I think it played a big role. I do. A lot of other businesses may have hurt and it almost felt weird that we were thriving through it and, literally, it was tough to even keep up. The circumstances were difficult to say why we were getting an increase in business, but it definitely was in play a big part in the why we needed more space, why we needed more people. I would say 40% of our new businesses.
Miller: The pandemic will probably be 30 to 40% of that...The pandemic again has helped put a spike in our business. We need to assure that is sustainable long term and we are being cautious on that.
Why do you think there is higher demand for luxury campervans?
Crider: What COVID did was just awaken everybody to the idea that this is a possibility. I don’t think people knew that people like us existed. People are more aware of how they can travel and being excited to get outdoors again. People are feeling free. How do we get out? How do we travel? And again, I think everybody is awake to the idea now.
Miller: People now understand that this gives them freedom that maybe didn’t feel like they had before. Working remotely, you no longer have to go into an office with a lot of people. So, why not take your family, go out in the desert? Your backyard can be wherever we can park it.
How do these builds work?
At Boulder Campervans, the duration of an average custom campervan build is two to three months depending on customizations. The team begins by preparing the chassis to be a full four-season, off-grid unit. Each element in the build is handcrafted and installed. The team can put a shower, bathroom, kitchen and bed inside, among other things. Crider said builds cost customers $100,000 to $150,000.
At TOURIG, a design consultant will walk a customer through the design process and help come up with a build. A full conversion requires about six to 12 weeks, depending on the build. The company purchases vehicles from Ford and Mercedes. Customers can bring them brand new vans as well. The company's lowest level build, the Xtreme Utility Van, starts at $89,000. That price is based on a $50,000 Ford Transit 148 mid-roof van.
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