Thursday, October 13, 2016

Why We Sell Just the Shell

Sarah here, fondly known as Queen of the shop. Well really that’s a title I gave myself and the shop crew just rolls their eyes at me when I use it. Give me some credit—I work in a fumy composite shop with all guys—I had to do something to add a little more glitz to my day life.

Back on point, in talking about Bahn Camper Works selling just the shell, we are also telling the story of how this wild journey of making truck campers started. Right after Ryan and I had our first child, Ryan started searching for some type of adventure vehicle that would allow us to drive to the coast for at least the day, provide a space for our son to nap, and give us some shelter if it started pouring rain as it often does in Oregon. We quickly ruled out a trailer because we wanted the option of easier parking. Ryan studied the sprinter van options, but we also needed our adventure vehicle to take us up to Mt Hood in the winter and 4-wheel drive van options are limited and not as robust as a truck’s. A van also meant having a whole separate vehicle to maintain with a finite life span. Inevitably the van would start having mechanical problems or die and all the money we put into the interior would be wasted. That simple thought immediately brought us to a truck camper—a camper we could invest in with a truck we could trade in when it started falling apart. And best yet, we could take the camper off at the end of the day and have our truck back for the workweek.  It was settled, we were in the market for a truck camper.

Many a night, Ryan sat at his computer scrounging the Internet for the best camper and I’d hear him say, “I wish one of these companies would sell just the shell because I’m going to rip out all the heavy particle board cabinets, low-grade components, and get rid of these huge bathrooms anyways.” Or I’d hear, “I don’t like any of our options—they are all too heavy and have seams that leak. We will pay $40K for a camper that will start rotting in 3-5 years. And I’ll have to spend so much time maintaining those seams to prevent the inevitable leaks.” These comments would always be followed up with, “If only someone made a one-piece composite shell I could buy and then build out the interior with what we needed.” I should have seen the red flags. I should have known that with my husband’s expertise in composites and engineering and irrational behavior to build everything himself that he would start designing and constructing his own custom camper.  

If only a company had just sold a slide-in truck camper shell, I wouldn’t be sitting in a composite shop and having arguments with my husband over who has less work to do and should have to go get the boys from school. Rather I’d be at home complaining every night that in order to see my husband, I’d have to be in the garage watching him build bunkbeds and cabinets for our new camper. I can’t win.  

In all seriousness, I’m thrilled Ryan and I took the biggest risks of our lives by starting a company dedicated to reinventing the truck camper and giving do-it-yourselfers the option to buy just the shell.  We truly have brought to the market a camper you can invest in—a seamless shell that weighs only 700 pounds that will last for generations. No other company on the market makes a hard-sided camper shell as light and as high quality as ours.

Come visit our shop in Hood River, OR. I’m sure you will witness either our Chief Craftsman, Chris Erickson building the nicest and lightest veneer cabinets, Chris Boyle with Hood Built perfecting our production line, Ryan on the computer designing the next greatest interior for a client, or me, the Queen sitting on her throne oddly wearing fingerless gloves because my hands are always cold even on 90 degree days, crunching numbers, and driving the crew crazy about wearing their safety glasses and masks.

Happy Bahn Camper Days!


YouTube Channel coming soon!

Build the Camper of Your Dreams, Truck Camper Shells, Custom Campers, Do-It-Yourself Campers, One-Piece Shells, Reinventing the Truck Camper

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