One couples experience with Overland Explorer

S2DM

Adventurer
http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/oca-bc.nsf/eng/h_ca02207.html

worth a try... as far as your experiences - i'm another "at least 2 sides of any story...then there's the truth". Not saying you didn't get screwed, but there's several issues in your narrative that make my brain hurty.
Wouldn't be worth it at this point, atleast to me. More $ and time.

I'm not sensitive, and this is a discussion, so if additional parts of my experience raise red flags to you, probably best to explain.

The truth is always somewhere in between. Very hard to explain a 26k flatbed. In terms of the rest of it, I got local quotes for 40-50 for the same work, and I'm sure they would have gone up a little. Then I had an additional 10 in purchases and changes etc. So 50-60. If everything hadn't broken, I wouldn't have been stoked but never would have complained to anyone either if I'd paid 50-60 for it all. So we were 35-45+k over a high side acceptable price.

Real issues here price increases with no warning prior to heading to a shop thats 4 days away. Then continued price increases after you arrived when the truck was in pieces. Then a complete lack of preparedness to handle US work on a customs side which created a few extra trips and $ that they have to account for. And then massive mechanical failures within the first year and no attempts to rectify or repair.
 

Cowpig

kodiak guy
Wouldn't be worth it at this point, atleast to me. More $ and time.

I'm not sensitive, and this is a discussion, so if additional parts of my experience raise red flags to you, probably best to explain.

The truth is always somewhere in between. Very hard to explain a 26k flatbed. In terms of the rest of it, I got local quotes for 40-50 for the same work, and I'm sure they would have gone up a little. Then I had an additional 10 in purchases and changes etc. So 50-60. If everything hadn't broken, I wouldn't have been stoked but never would have complained to anyone either if I'd paid 50-60 for it all. So we were 35-45+k over a high side acceptable price.

Real issues here price increases with no warning prior to heading to a shop thats 4 days away. Then continued price increases after you arrived when the truck was in pieces. Then a complete lack of preparedness to handle US work on a customs side which created a few extra trips and $ that they have to account for. And then massive mechanical failures within the first year and no attempts to rectify or repair.
well, actually this is (another) red flag to me ... but then $100k for a pile of failure would be 'worth it' to me to seek some reckoning with the company and, perhaps more importantly, do my best to ensure it wouldn't happen to anyone else. but that's me... I don't disagree there is a point where the limited time we have on the planet outweighs financial losses so if you can take that hit and move on good on ya' and keep enjoying the road and the trip! I don't really have much else to add, don't know the company and don't have the money to have a company 'build my build' - not sure what I'd have done if I did have that option, but generally a work order contract that specifies how change orders will be addressed with a 'not to exceed' clause would be nice things to have. voluntary compliance is preferable, but the option to enforce compliance can come in handy too.
 

OVRLND

Adventurer, Overland Certified OC0017
S2DM, thank you for bringing this up:
I commissioned LITE Industries to work on my Mitu Fuso ...
I saw your camper pod when I was in Red Deer ... very nice ...

Placeholder ...
 
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sg1

Adventurer
S2DM I can't comment on your experience because I don't know the facts and haven't heard the other party. By the looks of it a lot has gone wrong and I am sorry for you.
What I can contribute is my experience with Lite Industries/Overland Explorer. I bought their pop up camper and Marc and his team treated me professionally and fairly. The product meets my exspectations and they definitely stood by their product when some warranty work was done.
Stefan
 

HayStax

Member
I’m sure there are two sides to every story. I hope to contact OverEx regarding my planned build but I’d hate to hear this is a common occurrence.
 

damontlarsen

New member
S2DM,

I'm sorry to hear that the project hit many unexpected pitfalls and become so stressful. I have not had any work done by Lite Industries, but the only thing I can add is that when I went to tour their facility, I stopped by while driving from Alaska to the lower 48 and got there at the end of the day with little notice, and Mark still went out of his way to drop what he was doing, tour the entire facility with me for several hours, and stay well into the evening answering my questions and showing me his processes. I was thoroughly impressed with both Mark and his company.

I was a pilot based out of Fairbanks for a few years, and flew for a company that owned a gold mine as well as a large machine shop, and in addition to a few other enterprises. A few summers ago, they got a contract to rebuild a large piece of equipment for a local construction company, and due to the large amount of growth the company faced that summer, the experienced machinists that would have normally worked on a project such as that were all called out to work on projects of higher priority, and left that rebuild project to two apprentices. That project ended up in very similar circumstances to what your experience was like, which was extremely frustrating for the customer. It took almost a year longer than promised, and at a final cost of several times over the original bid, and also with such subpar quality of work that the owners ended up just taking it back in nearly the same condition as when they dropped it off, just with different problems this time. It was an embarrassment to that company, and part of the reason why the machine shop portion of that company was shut down. It was a very unfortunate case where a multitude of issues all came together in a perfect storm- such as that the company couldn't hire quality work in time, since trying to find talented labor in the custom fabrication and machining industry is not easy, as well as the the owners being so caught up in the much larger dilemmas faced that they were unable to dedicate any reasonable time to that project. But, with that being said, as tragic as it all was, the company was not setting out to be unethical and to take advantage of customers. I don't know any of the facts from your situation other than what you have shared, but I've been a very long time lurker of this forum so I have actually followed your build from the very beginning, and I have also followed Mark's builds as well since before his first composite camper ever become a thread. I started following him back when he built a camper off of a F-700 with a cummins swap and a camper he built out of aluminum. I've been impressed with both your skills and ingenuity (For example, back when you had to start making your own panels and they turned out flawlessly), and also Mark's talent as well. It's unfortunate that the collaboration of two such talented people has resulted in this, but I hope it's not the final chapter in these stories, and that a resolution will be found.
 

S2DM

Adventurer
Thank you for your thoughtful reply. Mark is a talented guy, and as I mentioned previously, I’ve been impressed with some of what they’ve built. I’ll also say that he was better than most of his guys at most things in that shop, which usually isn’t the case. Generally the boss can’t do the lineman’s job to save their life.

It is a shame, until things reached their boiling point, I enjoyed the collaboration and think I brought ideas to their shop that will show up in future builds and I certainly learned things from them that became part of how I approached the rebuild and redesign.

That said, I’ve heard from enough people to know that the pricing issues and communication piece, atleast as it pertains to their custom items, isn’t an isolated occurrence. And that they’ve had other failure issues like mine that didn’t get remedied.

Hopefully discussing it publicly will result in some changed practices.

S2DM,

I'm sorry to hear that the project hit many unexpected pitfalls and become so stressful. I have not had any work done by Lite Industries, but the only thing I can add is that when I went to tour their facility, I stopped by while driving from Alaska to the lower 48 and got there at the end of the day with little notice, and Mark still went out of his way to drop what he was doing, tour the entire facility with me for several hours, and stay well into the evening answering my questions and showing me his processes. I was thoroughly impressed with both Mark and his company.

I was a pilot based out of Fairbanks for a few years, and flew for a company that owned a gold mine as well as a large machine shop, and in addition to a few other enterprises. A few summers ago, they got a contract to rebuild a large piece of equipment for a local construction company, and due to the large amount of growth the company faced that summer, the experienced machinists that would have normally worked on a project such as that were all called out to work on projects of higher priority, and left that rebuild project to two apprentices. That project ended up in very similar circumstances to what your experience was like, which was extremely frustrating for the customer. It took almost a year longer than promised, and at a final cost of several times over the original bid, and also with such subpar quality of work that the owners ended up just taking it back in nearly the same condition as when they dropped it off, just with different problems this time. It was an embarrassment to that company, and part of the reason why the machine shop portion of that company was shut down. It was a very unfortunate case where a multitude of issues all came together in a perfect storm- such as that the company couldn't hire quality work in time, since trying to find talented labor in the custom fabrication and machining industry is not easy, as well as the the owners being so caught up in the much larger dilemmas faced that they were unable to dedicate any reasonable time to that project. But, with that being said, as tragic as it all was, the company was not setting out to be unethical and to take advantage of customers. I don't know any of the facts from your situation other than what you have shared, but I've been a very long time lurker of this forum so I have actually followed your build from the very beginning, and I have also followed Mark's builds as well since before his first composite camper ever become a thread. I started following him back when he built a camper off of a F-700 with a cummins swap and a camper he built out of aluminum. I've been impressed with both your skills and ingenuity (For example, back when you had to start making your own panels and they turned out flawlessly), and also Mark's talent as well. It's unfortunate that the collaboration of two such talented people has resulted in this, but I hope it's not the final chapter in these stories, and that a resolution will be found.
 
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Grassland

Well-known member
This is most unfortunate to read>

As a Canadian, i can't generally afford the 30% on the dollar hit to go to the USA to purchase things. I've been surprised to find things manufactured in Canada to be honest. But it hurts to hear such a story about how the business worked in your circumstance.
While it is generally true that most things in Canada cost far more than 30% more than the same thing in the USA, (was quoted $800 CAD for shocks i got for $250 USD) quoting 10k for something that ended up being 26k and not to spec is a bit much.
I run a small business, and I've had to eat money on the odd job where I either missed something critical on the quote, or didn't properly cover myself with agreed upon contractual obligations (like when other sub trades are months behind, delaying my job etc). I've the experience to generally avoid taking on jobs beyond my ability to take on. It almost seems as if they got more work then they could handle and kept saying yes to more, and then lost key personnel or trained personnel, and got so deep into the job they couldn't afford to eat the loss and apologize for wasting your time/money.
 

Lwing

Member
Thanks for posting , those overruns would break most people's finances. I believe Lite industries normally deals with industry with deep pockets. And wealthy Americans.
 

HowardH

Adventurer
Maybe it's just a new years resolution or perhaps my comments, upon reflection, came out different then I intended. Whatever the reason; I have chosen to delete much of them and leave only the following.

As an Overland Explorer customer I feel qualified to offer the following comments. My job was on time, on budget and they were so dialed in with customs paperwork and it went so smooth it worried me. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. My job was also a custom job. A 12 foot detachable cab over camper with their flatbed. My mounting brackets, I believe, are the same as the ones that failed on Scott’s. They are holding up just fine after 20,000 plus miles including over 6,000 miles rattling over the back roads of BC, Yukon, NWT and AK last summer. My tool boxes/cabinets under the bed are holding up despite being always full – and are staying dry. The unforeseen issues that cropped up due to my design requests were promptly and fairly handled by Overland Explorer and I. The 3-4 little warranty issues that cropped up where promptly and swiftly taken care of. With one small exception, I have yet to find anything on my camper that is not well designed, well thought out and well made.

I have experienced first hand how important getting things right is to Overland Explorer. I would not hesitate to recommend them. The way they treated me has earned them that.
 
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S2DM

Adventurer
Reply to HH, Part 1

You are entitled to your opinion Howard, but I'm disappointed you decided a heated reply like this was the right way to proceed, particularly given you have no first hand knowledge of the events you are leveling allegations about. Also, as you mentioned, I've answered quite a few questions along the way from you, including agreeing to let you visit us at our ranch to see the camper first hand, at your request, when you were starting your build planning. We've had quite a few people ask to come see it in person, and we always say yes and spent time on it despite having no financial interest at play. That said, its no small thing to open your home to a stranger and share your project. It leaves me questioning your motives when I've been nothing but generous with you.

In my mind, this type of reply is a problem on expo in general, and a large part of my decreased interest in posting details on my build. Its a discussion forum. I'm starting a discussion about my experience with Overland Explorer. If you have doubts about the veracity of my experience, theres a calm way to express that. I'm happy you are happy with your camper from them, I truly am. As I stated in the original post, and in subsequent posts I've seen quality products come from them, have acquaintances who have their products that are happy, I thought their prototype was great. Also fully stated, my experience wasn't meant to be a global condemnation of their work. That said, we had a very different experience than yours, and a rather costly one.

I tried to make peace with what happened for quite some time before sharing our story. I've also spoken to and messaged with a handful of other folks who had experiences similar to ours. The value of a forum like this isn't to be a fanboy to the builders out there, but to discuss what's available, pros/cons, share experiences etc. If I wanted to smear OE, I would go about it differently. My wife is a rather skilled and celebrated litigation attorney, so, if we wanted to sue, get nasty etc, it would have been far easier for us than most. I also purposely posted this in "other custom expedition campers" forum because its not their main place of business and really would only target individuals seeking custom work like I did.
 

S2DM

Adventurer
Reply to HH, Part 2

I would like to point out a few things

1) I'm not in the industry and don't have plans to be. A few people have asked to license our design, but I've always just shared our plans and ideas gratis, including with you. We briefly considered patenting our third wall lift mechanism but decided not to because we thought it was a good design and a patent would prevent others from doing the same.

For reference, here's an article from New Atlas about our rig, their choice for best in show from Expo West. Clearly stated, we were in the showcase vehicle area. This is for self builders and we had to declare we had no plans to build professionally as part of that selection by Expo as a showcase rig. Would be a poor choice on my part if I had plans to build professionally later to lie to the expo staff about it.

https://newatlas.com/overland-expo-2018-big-motorhomes/54816/

We do have a bunch of industry friends because we've been around this for some time now. Any of them that know me would earnestly tell you we have no plans to build. I'm currently in the midst of building a 40' downeast lobster style boat with a full solar array and some other novel systems . I take on something I'm interested in and work like crazy until I'm satisfied with it, then move on to the next project. I built this expedition vehicle in my driveway, 99% of the hours into it are my own. I had help with the TIG welding and the electrical layout and thats about it. Not how you'd start a business doing this and a camper every 5 years wouldn't be a very profitable venture :)

Its also worth asking yourself If I'm not selling these, If Im capable of building something on my own in a driveway that atleast one publication called best in show, and the financial hit of this wasn't crippling for me, and you've personally had a somewhat long personal interaction of me generously sharing ideas of mine with you, I've acknowledged I have no plans to sue, and this post is costing me time and causing me to take heat from guys like yourself, what motivation would I have other than feeling like its the right thing to do. Trust me, other than realizing I wasn't going to be able to move past this until I'd put it out there, this post benefits me not at all.

2) I didn't say they'd ripped us for 120k. As stated, I think we ended up paying 35-45k over a high side valuation. I could have lived with that begrudgingly if the products had worked and design criteria and agreed upon weights had been met. When things started failing prematurely, I shared our experience. I have no knowledge of your financial situation, but I find it interesting that several commenters have stated my lack of willingness to sue over 35-45k and parts failing is an indices that something is amiss in my telling of events. As mentioned, my partner is a litigator. In addition to the emotional costs and time lost in going after something like this in court, I know exactly how much it would cost me to prove my case, and, it just wasn't worth it. Part of my reason for posting was to encourage people to get written contracts with to not exceed clauses. I had a handshake deal with Mark and price quotes over email, which is my fault. Its another reason I chose not pursue this. While it is a binding contract, it just gets messier. My case would also be hard to prove unless I had gone about everything from the start of the problems with an eye towards an eventual lawsuit, which I didn't do. Copious photos etc. Even with a free in house legal team, and a very strong case, I think its rare you come out money ahead in these types of disputes.

3) We have redone our camper several times, its part of who I am. The major rebuild was deciding to ditch the Mog which required serious re-tooling. It might be hard to fathom, but anyone who has had a Mog can understand why that came to be :) And then another rebuild of the subframe and locker, as well as the outdoor kitchen after our experience with OE. There was also an interior seating fix after we used it for a while and realized the original design wasn't great on my part. I'm fortunate that my time is largely my own and finances don't come into play on something like this, so, I chose to fix it until I was happy with it. I haven't touched it in months now that its largely done. I think if you'd built your own, there would likely have been several iterations. Its true that I'm a critical putz by nature and probably would have found more to my disliking about the final product over time, but the issues here are ones anyone would have been dissatisfied with.

4) The parts that failed were designed and built by OE. I didn't design the mechanical parts they built. My design criteria were design criteria. I designed the outdoor kitchen in sketchup with dimensions taken off my stove etc. I didnt design the lift. I showed them concept drawings of how I wanted everything to work, but didnt design the flatbed, the mounts or any of that. And thats probably the portion of your reply that raises the most questions as to your motivation for me and disappoints me the most. It sure reads like someone who has discussed it with Mark. Maybe that isn't a valid take, but it was my first thought upon reading your reply. Yeah, I'm a doc, I've built a bunch, I have a bunch of engineering background from 20 some odd years ago. It isn't a fair logical leap to assert that I made them build the mechanicals the way I wanted then griped when they didn't work. I straight up said it had been quite some time since I had done things in this vein, and I chose to go to OE because at the time I didn't feel comfortable doing it myself. It seems unlikely I'd hire someone like Mark to do this for me, then somehow force him to build things in a way he didnt think would work, then blame him for it. Also, not really Marks style and I'm sure you know him well enough to know that. Mark does what he wants, even when he's supposed to be doing what you want. Its part of whats made things work for him, but it also means he only does things his way and its pretty unlikely a doctor from California is going to convince him to do something different.

5) This isn't meant to be a knock on your rig, so please don't take it that way, but they are built for different purposes. Implying that your mounting system is still working fine means my story is inaccurate isn't really fair. Your rig if fairly long, tall and wide, and you are running duallies with a relatively low articulation suspension and smaller tires. More of a fireroad, light off roading rig than one designed for remote baja. Your rig is great for what you've used it for, but I wouldnt even consider taking it through most parts of the seven sisters in Baja for many reasons. Again, not a knock, you clearly stated in your thread what you were looking for and I think you made a great choice. As you'll recall, you asked me several questions about my suspension and my tire and wheel package and I said based on my experience getting mine to work right and on your desired use, I didn't think it was worth doing what I did. With that said, I was very clear that I wanted my rig to be very offroad capable in my discussions with OE, so the mounts and bed had to be designed to handle that. My outdoor kitchen would have failed no matter what, but I don't think my mounts and bed likely wouldn't have been an issue on my rig if I used it in the conditions you've used yours in. But the dynamic loads entering someplace like Punta Cono one our first trip very quickly caused their mounts to fail immediately whereas my new set up doesn't even flinch. The difference being that its way overbuilt, mechanically and adhesive attached, and stress tested on solidworks. I'm not going to go into the failures over again, but they were very under-engineered and the attachment adhesive surfaces under prepped for the rigs stated purpose.

Howard, you've always seemed to me a thoughtful guy and I've enjoyed our conversations and shared experiences along the way. I'm bummed you chose to address my thread in this manner, but, I'm not going to take it personally, and I wish you well.
 
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IdaSHO

IDACAMPER
Sucks no matter how you look at it, and I feel for ya.
I have followed your build from the beginning, and its a shame for everyone involved that things progressed the way they did.

At the end of the day, EVERY business has had and will have jobs that go south, and for Howard to openly assume foul play on the part of Scott based upon his singular experience is nothing short of slander.
These types of builds are 100% custom, 1-off units. There is no comparing them.

Just like every review of every product and/or business that exists for public display, the reader should read it all with a large grain of salt.
Nobody is perfect, nor is any business, so problems are bound to arise. Its how they are handled that matters.

I openly encourage people to take that viewpoint on matters like this, as opposed to choosing a side..

That's my .10
 
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