Summer of the RV: Dave & Matt Vans seeing exponential growth as more people interested in van life
Combination of coronavirus and marketing campaign bringing more people to company in Gypsum
Launched in January of 2019, Dave & Matt Vans has been on a mission to make van life accessible to everyone. Van lifers themselves, and longtime friends, Dave Ramsay and Matt Felser know the benefits of spending less by living in an RV and saving on rent, and living more by being free to live, work and play wherever they please.
Landing in Gypsum, the two now have 10 full-time staff (and looking for more) and are building quality, affordable camper vans out of Ram Promasters “with everything you need and nothing you don’t.”
“Live more, spend less” — one of the company’s mottos — is something people across the country are looking to do with the coronavirus putting a premium on financial security and quality of life opportunities.
“As COVID came through and a move toward mobile living, mobile lifestyle and mobile work, we were a brand people turned to to get on the road quickly and affordably,” Felser said.
The co-owners stayed current with coronavirus news early on and created a marketing campaign to reach people looking into the van life. In early March, the Dave & Matt Vans website was seeing about 600 unique visitors per week. Now, that number is over 6,000. The website’s Van Builder Application has seen over 50,000 visitors play around with mocking up their own van.
“It definitely forced us to pivot when it first started, but we have now come out and cannot be in a better position, in large part due to the changing landscape of COVID,” Felser added.
Dave & Matt Vans is set to get its 100th van on the road on July 31. The local company operating out of Gypsum produces 12 vans per month with one- to two-week build times. Almost two dozen orders have been booked for this summer, with the first available build slot toward the beginning of October.
“We had a cool niche in the market making vans more accessible to people,” Felser said. “We made them more affordable but still high quality.”
A full build starts at $19,500. In addition to building out the vans with the amenities needed for life in a van, the company can help source new or used vans as well. Felser has said they’ve seen Ram Promasters that were clearly contractor vans that “looked like a tiger was released on the inside” as well as brand new vans.
“What’s cool is after our build, it looks exactly the same on the inside,” Felser said. “As long as the engine and mechanics work, we can build it.”
Both Felser and Ramsay are valley transplants, but they deliberately chose launching their business here a year and a half ago. While business is on the rise, the co-owners are having challenges finding full-time employees with many seasonal workers coming and going. They are currently looking for build techs and management positions, “looking to make a career and grow with them,” Felser said.
“We want people with a background in hard work and building,” he said, adding that training is happily given.
Locals Clay and Kali Vansteel got their van in June — and are getting it professionally wrapped with logos from their own valley-made business, Sendy Sauce. Clay said he did some research and decided to stay local with the van build out — especially since it had one of the fastest turnaround times of any other. They will use the van for road trips, with the dogs, and to haul Sendy Sauce across the region.
“They were really friendly and easy to work with,” he said of Dave & Matt Vans.
This summer, Felser said a lot of the customers have been first-time van buyers “taking the chance on freedom.” Less than two years ago, Felser and Ramsay took a chance on freedom, and it’s starting to pay off.
“This is definitely home for me,” Felser said. “Our goal has always been to make it work in the Vail Valley.”
For more information about Dave & Matt Vans, visit http://www.dmvans.com. The company also has a van rental system, which is also gaining in popularity for those looking to test the waters of van life.