Dave & Matt Vans
Describe your success story.
We have a unique and compelling story; two college friends who are very different in background and approach but share an extraordinary level of drive, passion, and creativity, rooted in and inspired by our own experiences with van life. Our partnership that began as friends and progressed to business partners is founded in mutual respect of the strengths each bring to the creation of Dave & Matt Vans that embody our goal of making van life accessible to everyone.
In 2017, I was teaching and coaching at the Vail Mountain School. In order to take full advantage of my summers off, I bought a used RAM Promaster cargo van and set out to build a camper van with the help of many friends and countless hours on YouTube. Working on a teacher’s budget, I was able to figure out exactly what was necessary for a camper van build while cutting away the expensive frills.
Through the process of building that first van I reconnected with Dave Ramsay, my old college friend, who after moving to New York City to work in finance made the decision to purchase a Class-B RV to live and work from the road. Together, we identified the need in the market for more affordable, higher quality camper vans and thus made the decision to start Dave & Matt Vans.
3 years, 30+ employees and 300+ vans later Dave & Matt Vans has become a standard in the industry producing the best bang-for-the-buck camper vans on Earth (or at least the United States as voted on by Expedition Portal in 2020). Beyond our manufacturing facility in Gypsum, CO we also do direct-to-consumer sales around the country and maintain a growing rental fleet of vans.
Why did you choose to do business in the Vail Valley?
I started teaching at the Vail Mountain School in the Fall of 2011 and quickly became enamored with the access to the outdoors, the overall quality of life, and most importantly, the close-knit community driven by a small school in a small valley. The first Dave & Matt Van was built by this strong community of talented friends, and it only seemed natural to grow the business in the valley. While the mountain location has certainly proved to have its challenges as the business has grown, the support of the community has been unwavering.
What are the advantages of doing business here?
The advantages of doing business in the Vail Valley include the access to the outdoors, the vibrant people and community, and the excitement of our customers to come from all over the country to pick-up their new Dave & Matt Van at our facility in Gypsum. Having the Eagle County Airport down the street from our headquarters allows our customers great access to come pick up a van for purchase or rent and have immediate access to the beautiful surroundings of our valley and beyond.
Are you involved in the community? If so, how?
Absolutely! While a lot of our reach is national (nearly 70% out-of-state) none of our success would be possible without the supportive community that we call home. As such, we support local as much as we can. We have supported local non-profits like SOS Outreach, The Cycle Effect, VVMTA, Ski and Snowboard Club Vail. as well as local events like the GoPro Mountain Games, Eagle Art Walk and the Western Colorado Outdoor Expo. Most recently we have been in talks with the towns of Eagle, Gypsum and Avon about how van life could be a potential solution to the current employee shortage and housing crisis.
How do you acquire and retain your staff? What do you look for when hiring?
We were extremely fortunate to be a business that saw a tremendous rise in demand throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and have grown our staff from 6 full-time employees to 28 full-time employees since early 2020. Throughout 2020 we were able to find incredibly talented people from around the valley and beyond that were laid off or furloughed due to the pandemic. I’d say the biggest thing we have done to acquire and retain our staff has been to seek individuals who attach to our mission of making van life accessible to everyone. This starts with a safe and inclusive workspace that encourages work-life balance. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, we push ourselves to run a business that pays more than a fair wage, that includes full benefits and a 401k plan to all of our employees, and provides a sustainable work environment for growth and success.
What advice would you give to someone entering our mountain economy?
Our tagline at Dave & Matt Vans is Live What You Love, and I think this perfectly captures the inspiration provided by our mountain community. The mountain economy won’t make running your business any easier, but it will hopefully drive you towards success because of the love we all have for this beautiful valley and the amazingly supportive community within it.
Learn more at: Dave & Matt Vans