Lake Mac business blazing new trails on 4WD camping scene
Five years ago, Ben Souter was living in a shed in Redhead, making ends meet as a carpenter fitting out caravans.
The makeshift sleeping quarters are long gone, but that same shed is now home to Souter’s burgeoning offroad camper-trailer company BRS Offroad … along with the giant shed next door, and the one in front of that.
The company is one of the few in Australia to design, fabricate and assemble off-road camper-trailers all in the one place, meaning each rolls off the assembly line a unique and custom-made piece of off-road hardware.
The success of that decision to keep everything in-house was recognised earlier this year when the Sherpa, one of BRS Offroad’s two models, was named Camper Trailer Australia’s 2019 Camper Trailer of the Year.
“The benefit of doing everything right here is we can change instantly,” Souter says.
“We’ve been able to evolve and make each one an improvement on the one before.”
Even better, the company has just struck a deal with a major US investor to establish a manufacturing hub in South Carolina, with plans to distribute the Sherpa and its big brother the Pursuit throughout the States.
Not bad for a 32-year-old ‘chippy’ who recognised a gap in the market a few years ago and took a punt to exploit it.
Souter’s company currently employs 10 people – mostly specialised tradies who each performs a specific role in the creation of each camper-trailer.
Each takes about two weeks to complete from start to finish, but Souter plans to increase output … and double his workforce … within the next two years.
“Demand definitely outweighs our capabilities at the moment,” Souter says.
“We’re booked back to August 2020 already.”
Souter says Lake Macquarie was the ideal location for his business: “The big benefit is there are a lot of trades around here,” he says.
“It’s quite easy to find good metal fabricators, and because we’re on the coast there are fibreglassers as well.
“And I think we’re at a point where it’s not too big – it’s perfectly easy to get around and get what you need.
“But it’s also big enough to get all those things right here.”