CHEK Upside: Victoria van conversion business seeing pandemic boom

CHEK Upside: Victoria van conversion business seeing pandemic boom
Cole Sorenson/CHEK News
WatchJulian Brooks and Jason Connor started Vantage Campervans alongside friend Mark Semrau, and have turned it into a pandemic success story.

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In an industrial complex off of Hillside Ave., sits a shop turning out custom homes on wheels.

Julian Brooks and Jason Connor are no strangers to working in tight spaces. Pre-pandemic, the pair outfitted cabinets on cruise ships. But with the vessels not returning anytime soon, the friends had to hatch a plan.

“It was a good time to adapt and use the skills we picked up doing the ship work and a lot of those skills transferred over perfectly well to doing vans,” says Brooks.

So with the help of Brooks’ friend Mark Semrau, who has a business background, Vantage Campervans was born. It wasn’t long before business started picking up.

“It’s been great, our first clients were just amazing,” said Semrau. “They just trusted us fully, gave us a new van and let us go to town on it and it just turned out amazing.”

From there, Connor added, it just took off.

“We just took those steps and we were fortunate enough to have clients right away,” he said.

The spike in sales is in part thanks to the van life experience that has exploded in popularity due to the pandemic.

“You know a lot of people are moving into them full time, you see it everywhere,” said Connor. “People just want to explore and feel the comforts of home.”

In their single bay shop, the entrepreneurs can create pretty much anything a customer asks for, from a full shower to a small kitchenette.

“We pride ourselves on being able to do whatever custom layouts and designs people can come up with ’cause everybody’s getting something different out of their van,” says Brooks.

As for what it’s like working together as a trio?

“It’s always interesting and I have to yell at these guys to clean up once in a while but we have a good time,” said Semrau, smiling.

For more information about Vantage Campervans, visit their website.

READ MORE: Pair to cycle 559 km on Vancouver Island non-stop to help support friend

Cole SorensonCole Sorenson

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