White van being reinvented in Barnsley

25 June 2012

The white works van is being reinvented as a super-stylish home on wheels by a Barnsley company. 

Kustom Sport Ltd, at Carlton, converts VW T5 Transporters into one-off luxury campervans - kitting each one out with fixtures like Italian leather seats, pop-up flat-screen TV, mood lighting and a drinks cabinet.  

Since embarking on the enterprise last year - a new addition to its long-term business making caravan carpets - the firm has sold a dozen vans to private buyers around the country for up to £30,000 each.

Specialists from business support organisation Enterprising Barnsley are helping the company to further develop the venture.

Managing director Gary Benson said:  “The concept really captures people’s imaginations and we get great feedback when we take our vans to festivals and shows for enthusiasts.   

“The vans can come with or without elevating roofs and can sleep up to four and we offer all sorts of luxury touches inside; embellished dashboard, central heating, fridge, hot and cold water. We also build special detachable ‘pods’ to make it possible to move the cooking equipment outside when the weather’s nice.    

“We pride ourselves on the quality of our workmanship so customers get vans converted to a really high, safe, standard, but that’s not all. We design to unique needs and construct to any level if customers partly want to do do-it-themselves.  We’re making one van in to a surf bus with a rack on top for surf boards!” 

The vans, which have 1.9 turbo and larger engines, are a year to three years-old and chosen for their low mileage and service history. They also have a makeover on the outside to include features like special graphics, front and side bars, alloy wheels and rear wheel carriers.

Gary launched Kustom Sport 20 years ago from a garage at home with the help of wife Jean. Initially, the business produced drop-in carpets for manufacturers of touring caravan and motorhomes. Over the years, the range grew and, in 2005, the firm moved to its current premises at Wharncliffe Business Park, Carlton. 

The company now makes up to 400 removable carpet sets each week, plus hundreds of other mats and trays, and supplies major names like Elddis, Lunar, Bailey, Coachman and Autosleeper.

However, just over a year ago, Kustom Sport saw orders drop around 40 per cent as the recession prompted caravan and campervan owners to replace their holiday homes less often.

Gary, along with sons Andrew and Matthew who are both involved in the business, decided to broaden what the company offers.

A total of £200,000 was spent on upgrading facilities to include a new workshop for campervan conversions and a caravan servicing and repairs service. An accessories shop was also opened on-site.

Gary said:  “I’d always built campers as a hobby so it seemed a natural activity for us to go with. It’s definitely been a good decision.  Three staff we had to lay off when things were tough have now been taken back on and we have 13 employees again.”
Enterprising Barnsley business coaches are helping the company to safeguard existing jobs and create new ones.

Achievements include ISO accreditation 9001 and 14001, in quality management and assurance and environmental management respectively, with all but five per cent of waste from the site being recycled.

Coaches are now assisting with Kustom Sport’s bid to secure finance for further expansion of the vehicle conversion side.
The Enterprising Barnsley programme is supported financially by the European Union. The project has attracted £2,259,511 investment into Barnsley from the European Regional Development Fund as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development, through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme.

For more information about Kustom Sport, visit www.kustomsport.co.uk or call 01226 203347.

Media contact for Kustom Sport is Gary Benson on 01226 203347.

Additional media contacts: Deborah Wain on 07903 466228 or at deborah@katebettsmedia.co.uk or Kate Betts on 01226 766900 or 07792 764891 or at kate@katebettsmedia.co.uk

The Enterprising Barnsley programme is a partnership between Barnsley Development Agency (BDA) and Barnsley Business and Innovation Centre (BBIC). For more information about Enterprising Barnsley go to www.enterprisingbarnsley.co.uk or contact Martin Beasley on 01226 772648 or at martinbeasley@barnsley.gov.uk


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