A COMPANY manufacturing camper vans is taking the name of Huddersfield on the road.
Shepley-based Wellhouse Leisure Ltd has been catapulted into the export market following a two-year project to build camper vans for Hyundai UK.
Managing director David Elliott described the process as “a rollercoaster ride” which culminated in the company gaining European Type Approval for its vehicles.
In May this year, Hyundai UK agreed that the camper could carry the words “Hyundai approved” – meaning Wellhouse Leisure could now sell the campers via the UK dealer network.
This year, Wellhouse Leisure has built about 80 Hyundai and 70 Japanese vehicles. In 2013, the firm expects to build 50 to 200 vehicles alone for Hyundai UK.
Said Mr Elliott: “We already have the dealer network set up and will start with around 12 dealers across the UK and Northern Ireland. This really will propel us into the bottom of the mass manufacturers’ league rather than the top of the small converters. It really is ground-breaking stuff.”
A meeting with Alan Rushforth, vice-president of Hyundai Motor Europe, at a car launch in Spain led to Mr Elliott travelling to Hyundai Europe’s German base to make a 15-minute presentation and demonstrate the camper van to product marketing manager from Belgium, Sweden, Holland, Spain, Germany and Switzerland.
He supplied Wellhouse-built camper vans for further evaluation and visited Hyundai operations in Spain, Switzerland and Belgium.
The company has completed its first export orders to Sweden and New Zealand. Hyundai in Sweden and Ireland each want 25 vehicles for 2013. Wellhouse is also in talks with Hyundai New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, all of which want to try out the vehicle.
Said Mr Elliott: “We have spent over £125,000 on the Hyundai project, which for a company our size is an enormous risk. However, in the financial quarter to May, 2012, we had our best ever quarter – just selling direct from Wellhouse. When the vehicles go into the Hyundai dealers, this will go up. So although it’s been a risk, it’s been worth it.”
As part of efforts to diversity, the company is also carrying out conversions on used Hyundai base vehicles and has built up a network of 14 UK agents. It has also increased its wholesale parts sales while reducing overheads and introducing more efficient manufacturing methods.
The company is also backing apprenticeships. Said Mr Elliott: “We have three new apprentices and we are working with Shelley College and Kirklees College on courses that will benefit other local companies as well as ourselves.”