LACK of summer sunshine has failed to deter hardy holidaymakers – and a local company is reaping the benefits.
Wellhouse Leisure Conversions, based at Shepley and employing 12 staff, is in big demand for its custom-built camper vans.
The firm, launched five years ago by director David Elliott, has gained a national reputation. It is now building 120 vans a year and has annual sales totalling more than £2m. It has even exported vehicles to New Zealand.
Mr Elliott, who has worked in the industry all his life, said: “At a time when manufacturing is dying out, we have never been so busy.
“With the fuel price hike, you would have thought that anyone selling any type of vehicle would not be doing so well.
“However, we sell smaller vehicles that people can use every day, so we are finding more and more people getting rid of their car and buying a smaller camper van.”
Wellhouse Leisure offers a range of conversions based on Toyota, Nissan, Honda and Mazda/Ford vehicles.
They prove popular with people of all ages – from pensioners using their camper for a quiet weekend at the seaside to “twenty-something” executives using it as a mobile “base” for surfing and canoeing trips.
Said Mr Elliott: “The people we sell to have something to get up for at the weekend. Probably 25% of them want a roof rack for their canoe or surf board and another 25% want a tow bar to pull something recreational, like a boat.”
The vans are fitted to include fridges, hobs and sinks, work surfaces and cupboards. Customers have a choice of wood finish, upholstery and curtain fabrics.
There are also accessories, including bike racks, awnings, CD systems, TVs and solar panels.
The company has been based at Sovereign Business Park on Barnsley Road for three years – but is shortly to transfer some operations to a mill site at Shelley, providing more space for its teams of fitters, mechanics and valeting staff.
The showroom will remain at Shepley.
Wellhouse Leisure has also been working with the government’s Manufacturing Advisory Service and Business Link Yorkshire to hone its manufacturing system and is pursuing quality standard ISO 9001.
Mr Elliott said: “We have the ability to be flexible. We have switched to smaller-engined vehicles to meet demand and to take advantage of trends such as the likely extension of London’s low-emission zone to other towns and cities.
“Our other big advantage is that we have customers we class as good friends.
“Many of our customers are fulfilling a dream by acquiring a camper van and they want us to make the dream come true. We are not just selling them a lump of metal.”