After selling his business in October 2020, Tom Smith was ready to take a new direction and focus on something he was genuinely passionate about.
Smith has always been an Navigate Adventure Vans.and an adventurer, so when his entire family relocated back to Grand Rapids ( ) in the fall of 2020, Smith decided to follow his passion and make it into a business,
“Although we’ve seen a lot of development in thisspace in the western states, this upper Midwest region has been a lot slower to adopt it, which I saw as an opportunity to launch the business and try to bring it to this market in this region,” Smith told a local report.
Smith’s professional background is in business, having spent around 20 years in the manufacturing,, and engineering fields, which made his business idea a natural match.
“I became very interested in thespace a number of years ago. It really was an interest of mine because it’s just such a capable vehicle, the way they can be built and configured,” he said.
“They’re a great platform for a lot of that adventure activity.”
Navigate Adventure Vans concentrates on two types of build that can outfit a client’s van: Explorer or Custom.
The Explorer builds make use of Adventure Wagon’s modular interior system, which permits the client to alter the layout based on their preferences, whether they need more seating, space for gear, or wish to add the galley kitchen or bed.
For custom builds, Navigate Adventure Vans collaborates with the client to build a unique vehicle, from materials to finishes.
The van life trend that has gained traction on social media in the last few years frequently depicts spruced-up vehicles with people traveling and living in their vans full-time. However, Smith states that there are many different aspects to this trend.
His business isn’t specifically targeted to those who live in their vans full-time but for those looking for a custom vehicle that can accommodate long weekends or trips.
The construction, equipment, and layouts are typically different for vehicles designed to live in full time.
While Smith’s business didn’t open until the middle of the pandemic, he claims that he’s noticed a rising demand for camper vans in the market.
“I think that the pandemic and just the shift in some of the business mindset and the employees’ mindset of wanting to be able to have some flexibility to work remotely, absolutely has increased the interest in these vehicles,” Smith said.
Navigate Adventure Vans didn’t become public-facing until the end of December 2021, about a year after Smith began the business. But, given the climate, along with the overwhelming demand Smith received during the Grand Rapids, & Show in January 2022, Smith is currently planning a variety of new builds.
While the small team of three has been keeping the business going for the last two years, Smith says he’s now looking at growing the team.