Passion steers the way to successful venture
Surf Coast couple Sam and Jesse Jeffrey epitomise the dream of turning a shared passion into a thriving small business venture.
The husband-and-wife duo has combined a love of travelling the open roads with their formal skills in carpentry (Jesse) and commerce (Sam), to create Built For Advanture – a Torquay-based business specialising in quality custom camper van conversions.
The couple, who met 15 years ago, travelled around Australia in a self-built roof top camper trailer and 4WD combination for six months in the early days of their relationship and the travel bug well and truly bit.
Numerous trips to the US and Europe followed but it was a move to the Surf Coast that prompted them to build their first home on wheels.
“Our son was six-months-old when we did our first roadtrip and we really liked the freedom of it and, being parents, having everything you need right there with you in the campervan was a dream,” Sam recalls.
“We just loved it, we just loved being on the road and exploring.”
Jesse, who was working as a skydiving instructor at the time, says they got so many questions about their conversion of a Renault Master van that they quickly realised there was business opportunity going begging.
“It started as side project,” Jesse explains. “We thought we would build a couple – one for ourselves and one to rent and see if that was worthwhile.
“That’s how it started, it was never going to be a business straight away.
“But the building for other people happened a lot quicker than we anticipated.”
“It started with friends wanting stuff done and it just snowballed,” Sam adds.
Once the couple had dipped their toe in, they quickly realised it was time to dive in and give it their best shot.
In April 2019 Built For Advanture was born and it has been rolling on quite nicely ever since.
The pandemic increased inquiry ten-fold as people looked for travel options closer to home, as well as something that could accommodate extras such as a home office, meeting table, bike storage, or shower.
A new chapter began in October last year when they moved into their own factory space in the West Coast Business Park behind Bunnings.
Sam calls the move a “total gamechanger” for the business which has grown to the point of bringing on two employees.
“This is really our baby so having staff that we trust is so important. The first carpenter we put on, Jesse actually did his apprenticeship with him so he has known him half his lifetime,” Sam says.
“Part of our business philosophy is also that we really want to have work-life balance and for our employees to have that too.”
As part of that commitment the couple allows employees to choose their own workdays and what time they start work, as well as taking time for lunch at home with family or to do school pick-ups.
“We want them to have that flexibility that is really important to us, as well. We probably talk it more than we are good at living it ourselves because as business owners that separation isn’t very easy,” Sam says, with a laugh.
They admit customising a van is meticulous work and everything is done to the absolute highest standard.
“You are in a small space and everything is by the half a millimetre – it’s literally the nth degree,” Sam says.
“It is very different to normal carpentry – everything takes 10 times longer because you are pulling things apart and doing thing three times to get it exactly right,” Jesse adds.
“Working in a such a small space it is very particular.”
Jesse says a broad range of people are attracted to vanlife – from 20-year-olds through to grey nomads, and everyone in between.
“There isn’t one type of person who comes to us – everyone wants to travel and everyone has their own way of travelling,” Jesse says.
“We are trying to provide something for everyone and we want to hear what you want to do when you travel, how are you going to use the van and what you don’t need.”
When choosing a van to convert, the couple says there is no ideal choice but it is important to choose a vehicle you are comfortable driving.
Then consider where you are going to take it and how you are going to use it.
They will certainly help steer you through the journey to your ideal set-up.
Although the demands of the business might see the couple spending less time on the road now themselves, they do hope to sneak away for a week-long adventure in January with their son, five-year-old Bodhi, their new addition who is due in three months, and their adorable kelpie Del (pictured below).
In the meantime, they relish being tagged in their customers’ Instagram posts and living vicariously through them – knowing they have helped to bring that memory-making dream to life.
“It’s fantastic to see and it is why we started this venture in the first place,” Jesse says with a smile.
Built For Advanture has two projects on the go at any one time and they are presently booked up until May for full builds but can fit smaller projects in between.
To discover more go to the Built For Advanture website, follow along on Instagram @builtforadvanture or visit the factory at 1/6 Sawmills Way, Torquay.