While I was walking around I came across the Dub Box, a trailer that looks like the old VW bus. Being the curious person that I am, I started talking with Heather, the driving force behind the trailer. I found her story fascinating. Here's our interview:
You started Dub Box 4 years ago. Can you tell me a bit more about how that came about?
I was working in the steel business as a manufactures rep and broker selling high alloy pipe and tubing to the power generation and refinery fabricators and end users. The economy and imports were creating a challenge in the Americas. The international travel schedule was brutal. I was burned out.
I saw a version of Dub Box in England and fell in love. I wanted to make Dub Box a business in the USA and Canada and transition out of steel manufacturing. I felt there was a huge demand as well as a lack of product that catered to lightweight, low emissions (meaning not requiring a gas guzzling truck to tow), quick get-away campers in the market place. Especially a lack of options for those of us that couldn’t afford an Airstream but wanted something more modern and slightly larger than the teardrops. In addition, the tiny house movement and all things retro in demand, Dub Box was a perfect fit for the USA and Canadian markets. I spent one year developing the mold set, the chassis design and sourcing vendors to make the Dub Box road sound and competitive in the USA. The result is a iron-clad fibreglass body on a solid galvanized chassis with a 3500 lb flex torsion axle.
Why did you start Dub Box?
At first glance it made me smile and sit back and breathe. I was immediately transcended to a camping weekend. I felt there were other people, families and couples like myself that would jump at the opportunity to get a way from the grind and go off-grid for the weekend or more in the easiest way possible without a huge expense. After doing extensive research i found a gap in the trailer market somewhere between Airstream and teardrop campers.
And why the VW bus design?
The vintage VW vibe has a way about it that sparks great memories and engages a human connection with others through shared stories. The vintage VW continues to grow in popularity but that wasn’t the reason for the creation of the design. I wasn’t trying to start a trend with the Dub Box design, nor was I trying to capitalize on the “vintage” movement, it was just great timing and felt right to start the business.
Did you have any previous RV experience?
I have manufacturing experience but not RV experience. I love the process of making and designing something from beginning to end. Manufacturing is in my blood. I will always be here.
How did you design the Dub Box?
I purchased a “plug” from England as mentioned above thinking it would jump start the business process, but it did not. I ended up investing 9 months reworking the plug to make the fibreglass molds to produce a body. As for the current design, which has drastically evolved from 2012 when the plug was reworked, we’ve made and continue to make any floor plan design changes are based on actually using the Dub Box in the wild and listening to our buyers. Owners have the feedback you need if you’re willing to listen. Our owners are valuable in the evolution of our products as they know what they want, what works and doesn’t work on the road.
What were some of the design decisions you made?
The major decision I made was not to follow the RV business’ lack of imagination for interior design. I find the RV business has failed to evolve with regard to interior design. The fabrics and hard surfaces (flooring, cabinets, walls) are dated, dark and drab. Let’s face it, the woman is making the decision, or is a big part of the decision, but the interiors are not attracting her. I just don’t see the appeal of fabrics and finishes the RV business continues to use. We do not follow any RV styles. I make design decisions based on modern textiles, lighting and most of all comfort.
What were some of the funny (in retrospect) mistakes you made in the process?
When I started the business the learning curve was pretty steep. I didn’t even know the difference between the axle and the chassis so i shudder to think how silly I must have sounded going out for estimates. Things like that I look back on and laugh and say ….”WHAT was I thinking?!?!” I guess I just get an idea and I go for it.
Who buys the Dub Box?
Our buyers are couples (no kids), couples with 1 child, retired couples, single people. Our buyers typically drive a 6 cylinder vehicle. Our buyer wants something lightweight and easy to operate. Our buyers are drawn to our finish work and overall integrity of the trailer.
Where do you go from here?
Some would say bigger. Go big or go home, right??!! We are launching a smaller Dub Box called “Dinky” Dub in the spring of 2016. A lower price point and even lighter weight camper for the buyer wanting the Dub Box experience but can’t afford, tow, or store a full size Dub Box. It has the same great workmanship and pizazz of the full size Dub Box, just 25% shorter.
Why Dub Box?
[Heather didn't quite say DUH, but I could hear her thinking it.]
VDUB is a nickname for the V DOUBle U's of old.
For more information, including options and pricing, visit the Dub Box website.