After a bumpy first year in business, Freespirit Recreation is hitting its stride, said Tim Daiker, general manager.
The firm, based in a light industrial space on Plateau Drive, in Bend, makes and sells lightweight, tow-behind, tent-topped camping trailers. It makes three models: the Journey XL, the Journey XL off-road and the smaller Spitfire XT Motorcycle Tent Trailer, which is made of aluminum and scheduled for release in June, Daiker said.
“It’s double powder coated, a real tough, durable vehicle,” Daiker said, referring to the Journey models. “It stands the test of time.”
The chassis portion of the Journey camp trailer is built of 14-gauge steel at CLS Fabrication; the tires are purchased through Discount Tire, and optional color schemes are available as vinyl wrap-arounds from Driving Force Graphics & Sign Co., all in Bend.
“The tent unit is the only part that we have that’s imported,” Daiker said. “In some ways, we built the trailer around the tent we wanted on top of it.”
The four-season tent folds out and sets up in seven minutes and sleeps four on a memory foam mattress 2½ inches thick. The trailer, which comes with a rechargeable power source, has 43 cubic feet of storage space and three lockable doors. The trailers are equipped with Timbren axle-less suspension systems.
“It makes for an unbelievably smooth ride on and off the road,” he said.
Ben Mitchell, chief operating officer at CLS Fabrication, said the trailer is coated with a zinc primer before it’s powder coated, which increases its resistance to corrosion. He said the 14-gauge steel used for the chassis is just the right thickness to combine sturdiness with fuel economy.
“The whole thing, in the end, is so light anyway,” Mitchell said. “It wouldn’t make any sense to go any thinner.”
Company employees assemble the units at the facility on Plateau Drive, installing 200 stainless steel nuts and bolts in each one. The basic unit costs about $6,000.
The firm started out with an emphasis on dealership sales but is branching into direct sales through trade shows and at the Bend headquarters, Daiker said. The trailers didn’t get to the dealerships until mid-summer last year, so sales were slow. That changed with an increased presence at trade shows and through social media marketing, he said.
Freespirit Recreation is also making inroads into a potentially huge market: Army and Navy bases around the country that rent recreational equipment to military members. Daiker said Fort Irwin, the Army training center in Southern California, has already placed an order.
“Our product is approved to sell through the (military) outdoor rec program,” he said. “At this time, we just have to go base by base and put individual deals together.”
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Q: Where do you see the business in five years?
A: Tim Daiker: Gosh, we’re hoping to be, from a sales perspective, to be at a million (dollars) for every year; we’d like to get to $5 million a year in sales.
Q: Who is interested in a camp trailer?
A: It’s really for people that, families that only have cars, but we’re also finding older customers that are nearing retirement, if not retired, are loving this product. There’s a certain purity to tent camping, so this still retains that purity, but now you’re comfortable, and you have a mattress.