Business profile: Campro in Nelson

By: Peta Stavelli

Business profile: Campro in Nelson Business profile: Campro in Nelson
Business profile: Campro in Nelson Business profile: Campro in Nelson
Business profile: Campro in Nelson Business profile: Campro in Nelson
Business profile: Campro in Nelson Business profile: Campro in Nelson

Peta Stavelli drops in to Campro in Nelson, to talk to the founder of a small company with revolutionary ideas for compact vehicle design.

Andrew Litchfield was 25 when, in 2002, he began working as a joiner with a small fibre-glassing firm concentrating on making fibreglass high tops. When the company owner decided to move on, Andrew took a leap of faith, taking over the business from him.

Initially the business was operating from a 12m x 12m shed. Trade was brisk and the space they were working from soon doubled in size. After a few short years that expanded space was almost outgrown and, with high hopes for his rapidly growing bus conversion business, more space needed. The decision was made to build a purpose-built facility to allow more projects to be worked on at the same time.

That decision made, we built a new 600 square metre workshop. Six months later it became apparent the backside would drop out of the bus conversions sector of New Zealand’s RV industry; the once-thriving business was now a victim of the new emissions regulations which had a dire effect on bus imports. Soon after the import regulations took effect, the flood of European imports into New Zealand began.

"We cut back and battled on," Andrew recalls. "We fast-tracked a concept that had been floating around in the back of my mind."

This was the creation of a compact motorhome range using a van shell to fill a niche market; customers that required a ‘motorhome with a difference’, boasting revolutionary features new to the New Zealand RV market.

The Revolution had begun.

"We still did the occasional bus conversion, but we really had to dig in while this other development was evolving. We targeted all forms of repairs, modifications and accessory installation, along with forming and growing a rapport with all the insurance companies.

"We got through these difficult times though, while many others nationwide were closing doors."

Now five years have passed since Campro began turning out their own bespoke vehicles. With a steady stream of enquiries, the company has their 37th order for the Revolution underway.

"We’ve been doing it in earnest for five years now and our vehicles are spread all over the country."

Andrew says it was never intended that theirs would be the cheapest ‘vans around: "We have chosen hand-crafted over production line."

Campro _2

Andrew is full of praise for his staff, all of whom have been with the company more than nine years.

"They have formed a good loyal base with a wide range of skills to carry out the necessary joinery, electrical, plumbing and engineering required.

"Along with this we enjoy great outwork support locally to take care of gas, heavier engineering, panel and paint, upholstery and floor covering as needed."

What they do is turn out a premium, bespoke vehicle so loved by their owners that they have become a mobile billboard for the Revolution brand.

"We have a standard spec list and layout options sheet to work from, using the Fiat Ducato and Mercedes Sprinter bases. With this we offer several van and engine sizes, a range of décor choices and different spec finishes, customised to individual needs. The result is a motorhome with a difference," he says.

One thing proven in the 37 builds under their collective belts, is that the Campro team has found around three layouts to be the most workable.

"A lot of things we have continued to do from the beginning. In some way we feel as if we had the jackpot when we started out."

From the first ‘van sold – to a customer who is still using it as his main place of residence – we have maintained a close contact with our clients, receiving great feedback while on their travel.

"The Revolution is without doubt a very popular design with a growing number of followers.
"Our clients are quite a disparate bunch. But I think they are all very proud of their vehicle."

While Andrew runs day-to-day operations (along with foreman Terry in the production side of the business), his wife Kylie looks after the administration.

Apart from building the bespoke vehicle’s the company is kept busy doing general repairs.

"I think I could confidently say that we are regarded as Top of the South’s key RV service provider that can cover and cater to all related needs – satellite, solar panels, awnings and more. We welcome anyone travelling through the Nelson region to call in and see what we’re up to."

Campro intends to stick to its knitting, turning out quality bespoke vehicles and related services for happy recipients in an ever-developing industry.

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