Something special happens when a community of overland travelers get together. A sense of adventure and camaraderie, an appreciation for one another’s pursuit of wanderlust and all the unique ways people go about it. Earlier this month, the Southern California Four Wheel Campers owners group came together at Ocotillo Wells in the Anza Borrego State Park. There were over 40 Four Wheel Campers mounted on the back of an impressive variety of vehicles, brought together with young families, retired couples, and solo vagabonds. It was a mix of full-time travelers, those with a relaxed, extended schedule, or people stealing away from their day-to-day for a weekend of exploration. The only agenda was to relax, eat, connect with old friends, meet new ones, and share stories.
Dan and Stan from the Four Wheel Campers factory attended and supported everyone’s enthusiasm. They hosted breakfast and dinner each day of the event and were on hand to talk shop and answer questions. They also brought along their new AEV Dodge Ram with a black Hawk camper, a really impressive combination.
The Four Wheel Campers’ staff provided everyone with a great update on the company. Having purchased the company two years ago, the new owners have invested heavily and implemented changes for efficiency and elaborated the product offering. They offer five camper models, 19 different floor plans, and a variety of custom options and accessories, for a total offering of 436 different configurations. Their efforts have taken one of the premier pop-up, slide-in camper products on the market and pushed it into a lead position. Recent developments include:
- FWC joined with Sacramento State University to develop a 5S training program aimed at improving the manufacturing process.
- The 5S training program covered 30 hours of onsite learning by 22 staff members.
- They now run manufacturing on a CNC machine for efficiency and consistency.
- They have a trim machine for edging, rather than the old method of using a rubber mallet.
- Tasks have been automated when possible while also preserving and expanding jobs.
- The team went from one engineer to four.
- All 436 camper configuration options have been entered into CAD, a task that took three people two years to complete.
- Upholstery options have increased from 6 to 14.
- New exterior aluminum siding colors have been introduced including: red, black, khaki, metallic gray, non-metallic gray, and silver.
- The owner’s manual has been digitized, hosted online, and expanded from 16 to over 100 pages.
- Answers to the most common questions have been addressed via troubleshooting videos that are available online.
- Factory service now offers installation of flatbed trays and suspension upgrades with springs and airbags.
- They can also do repairs and replacements on older unit roofs and liners.
In addition to exploring the local area, attendees were treated to having Bob Wholers on hand, thanks to Four Wheel Campers. Bob is the owner and lead trainer at the Off-Road Safety Academy and author of Raising Your 4WD Vehicle Off Road & In-Field Tire Repair and Live Longer to Wander, Basic Survival for Vehicle-Supported Adventures. He also has a Four Wheel Camper mounted to a new 2018 Dodge Power Wagon which he uses as his travel and training vehicle. Bob provided the group with two training classes centered around tire repair and getting unstuck. With his intensity level, teaching style, and seemingly endless knowledge, Bob was able to take some of the often overlooked basics and give them just enough seriousness to get everyone’s attention while keeping the class lighthearted and fun so that everyone was learning and not just listening. His hands-on approach even had a few of the attendees removing tires from the wheels of their own trucks.
Four Wheel Campers will be holding another customer appreciation event in Northern California. More information can be found on their website, fourwh.com. One of the best parts of the event was the opportunity to see all of the different combinations of trucks and campers. We’re looking forward to next time.