Adventure Van Maker Remote Vans Shifts into High Gear – RVBusiness – Breaking RV Industry News

COO Daryn Hillhouse, left, and CEO Tony Alexander

The past few months have been a whirlwind of activity for Remote Vans, a Cincinnati-based Class B adventure van manufacturer.

In January, the company started up production in its new 30,000-square-foot facility (a former steel manufacturing plant) that allows the business to run a true assembly line operation capable of accommodating up to 20 vans at a time, with dedicated spaces for carpentry, upholstery, metalwork and soft goods, plus a spray booth. The RV manufacturer also has staffed up, now employing about 30 people, with plans to add another 20 or so before the end of the year.

Those developments track with Remote Vans’ decision in 2023 to obtain RV Industry Association certification for its Class B vans and its plans to roll out new 2024 models, along with a dealer network, in the coming weeks.

“We’re pretty excited about it,” Remote Vans CEO Tony Alexander said of both the progress the company has already made, as well its aggressive growth strategy moving forward. He said the business anticipates manufacturing about 150 to 250 Class B’s this year—and that if the demand for its products is strong it has the potential to expand and increase production.

“The great thing about this facility is that it comes with attractive land adjacent to it, so this 30,000-square-foot facility could become over double that, size-wise,” he said. “We’ve already started to pencil in where do we grow in the industry and what would that expansion look like? We’re already planning for it in the next 12 months or so.”

Operating Within a Niche of a Niche Market

Some might question whether the RV market needs yet another Class B manufacturer given how many companies already compete in the segment, which notched less than 12,000 shipments in 2023—and which was down about 30 percent from 2022, according to RVIA data.

However, Alexander gently rebuffed that assumption.

“To your point about the Class B market being crowded, I would say that’s true when it comes to DIYers or small shops producing one or two units at a time, but when you look at premium Class B makers that are RVIA certified and that are distributed through dealers, things really start to pair down,” he said. “There are only a few companies that I would consider peers to the type of product we’re building. So, I feel like there’s enough of a dealer network out there that we can all have our own footprint in the marketplace.”

Alexander said Remote Vans competes within a niche segment within the larger Class B category. Namely, adventure vans that are designed to be taken off-road and off-grid while still offering a premium luxury experience.

“We build our vans around three core brand competencies, which are: power, comfort and connectivity,” he said. Toward that end, Alexander noted that all Remote Vans come standard with Starlink high-speed internet and a massive power bank that offers the opportunity for extended camping.

The Remote Vans team

All three Remote Van models—Friday, Oasis and Aegis—are built on the premium Mercedes Sprinter chassis. Remote Vans COO Daryn Hillhouse said even the Friday Series “base” model comes well equipped with the same creature comforts and features found on its more expensive sister products. Those features include the first fully integrated Espar hydronic water and air heating system; a proprietary recirculating and collapsible shower system; an all-new power system offering 60 percent more battery storage; and a new, compact, efficient 48-volt A/C system.

“We’ve got the most efficient air conditioner on the market that we’re launching with our 2024 series that you can run for days thanks to our massive power bank,” he said.

Hillhouse said the company’s Oasis and Aegis products will represent a step up from the Friday, thanks in part to their fully adjustable premium suspension kits, long-range fuel tanks and additional solar power.

Even with all of the premium features found in Remote Vans, Hillhouse said, “Our pricing is very much similar to our competitors. The base model starts at $205,000 and then we’ll go up from there—but we don’t go too high.”

‘A Fresh Perspective’ on the Class B Van

While Remote Vans is making a splash in the RV market now, it’s not brand new. The company has been building Class B’s on a factory-direct basis in Cincinnati since 2021—and that experience has served the business well, according to Hillhouse and Alexander.

The two co-founders have entrepreneurial backgrounds and previous experience camping in Class B models, which they say proved beneficial when they decided to create a brand-new RV manufacturer from the ground up. Instead of following existing van market trends, they said they started by envisioning what features they would most want in a Class B and then figuring out how to make it a reality.

“We came with a fresh perspective, which I think served us well,” Alexander said.

“For right or wrong, we didn’t have the institutional way of thinking about things that drove our decision-making process,” Hillhouse added. “So, for example, we went out and made our own shower pan. We designed our own freshwater tank that would best fit our needs. In retrospect, it sounds kind of crazy, but I think we are in a better spot today because almost everything in our vans was designed and fabricated in our own factory or by a local vendor who does some of our metalwork.”

With the experience the company has gained, Alexander and Hillhouse said Remote Vans is now ready to share its products with the market via the dealer channel. The initial rollout will include a handful of dealers with locations across the country.

Assuming the company’s products find a place in the market like company co-founders expect they will, Alexander said he could see the company doubling its production output in the next year or two—but at the same time he said he doesn’t foresee the company growing to “gigantic size.”

“I could see us getting to that 400 to 500 unit mark and staying around there. We want to be like the Aston Martin of Class B products rather than the Toyota,” he said. “I’d rather make 500 amazing RVs that have a one-year waiting list because everyone loves them so much rather than simply growing for the sake of growth.”