How passion meets purpose in Colorado's great outdoors
Britton Purser's Vintage Overland is an outdoor rec success story
“Where Passion Meets Purpose. This is Your Place.” That’s the new slogan for doing business in Colorado. And there’s perhaps no other industry where this is quite as evident as outdoor recreation.
About seven years ago, Britton Purser, an avid motorcyclist from Grand Junction, crashed on one of his typical rides. The incident left Britton – not to mention his wife, Ami, and two young sons – longing for a hobby that would appeal to his adventurous side minus the high risk for broken bones.
A designer and builder by trade, Britton began doodling on what would become the cornerstone of Vintage Overland, a family-run business that crafts high-end, vintage-inspired teardrop trailers, light-weight enough to tow behind almost any car and into any terrain.
“Britton has a love for all things on wheels, so this was just the next step,” Ami says. “He said, ‘I’m building a trailer,’ and he did. Then he built a couple more, and people started asking for them.”
Today, the couple are full-time partners in the trailer-making business, and they’ve brought three employees on board, including Britton’s two brothers. The caravans are custom-made in a workshop behind the Purser’s home in Grand Junction. The limited space only allows them to craft two to three caravans at a time. In 2015, they completed 18 caravans. This year, they’ve hit the same quantity in eight months.
Clients come from all around the country – and the world. Publications from CompanyWeek and Outside magazine, to GQ and Playboy have listed their signature teardrop caravans as the ultimate big-boy toy for outdoor adventure. The Grand Junction Economic Partnership, a local economic development agency, are using the caravans in business recruitment campaigns as the poster child for local innovation and a success story in the makerspace. And just last week, the company was named one of two Grand Junction-based finalists (alongside Bonsai Design) for the 2016 Wright Awards, which celebrate Colorado companies who operate at the intersection of commerce and outdoor lifestyle.
The Pursers are now considering moving out of their backyard to meet the rapidly growing demand. They’ve got a vision to build a lifestyle brand and have already begun selling hats and hoodies with the Vintage Overland logo. Next up are several potential corporate partnerships that could add outdoor gear to their lineup and expand their reach into Europe.
“We want to expand but we don’t want to get out of control like a manufacturing assembly line,” Ami says. “We want to keep the design and craftsmanship one-of-a-kind.”
Their location has proved to work really well for their business. They have great proximity to their suppliers – 90 percent of the materials are sourced locally in Colorado’s Grand Valley – and most of their clients prefer to come pick up their purchases at the workshop, where they are within two hours of countless camp sites, parks and public lands to trial their new caravans. Not to mention, it satisfies the Purser’s personal desire to be surrounded by nature and family.
“In one sentence, my reason to live and work here (in Grand Junction) is to be close to family and keep our priorities straight,” Ami says.
The Purser’s story is far from unique in Colorado. As statistics go, more than 80 percent of Coloradoans hike, bike or in some way stay active outdoors on a regular basis. The outdoor recreation industry contributes nearly $1 billion in annual tax revenue and employs 350,000 in direct jobs (Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office). It’s big business, often brought to you by smaller outfits who started out simply taking a passion and giving it purpose.
(This sponsored content was provided by the Grand Junction Economic Partnership.)
Cilia Kohn is Marketing Director at the Grand Junction Economic Partnership, the official economic development agency for Mesa County and surrounding regions in Colorado’s Grand Valley, where the outdoor recreation employs 2,000 residents and contributes more than $300 million to the local economy. Visit www.grandvalleyco.com for more information.