Boreas Campers is in the midst of a strategic relocation to support long-term growth. The company's new facility in Pueblo will have about 17,000 square feet of manufacturing space, up from about 10,000 square feet in its previosu space in Arvada.
Reichel anticipates being able to work on six campers at a time, four of the company's "bread and butter" model, the XT, and two of its forthcoming EOS-12 campers, which feature more interior space and cutting-edge components -- like an advanced Garmin automated control center.
The XT starts at $34,890 and the EOS-12 starts at $74,990. Both come fully ready for Colorado-sized off-road adventures, thanks to the rugged features like the Cruisemaster suspension that Boreas imports from Australia. However, buyers can add more features like rooftop tents, additional solar panels, and batteries.
Reichel has a checklist of reasons for choosing Pueblo over other places. "We quickly found out that Denver is getting more expensive," he says. "COVID and manufacturing explosion drove pricing even higher."
For the company to stay in metro Denver, the company would have to move to far eastern Aurora "where farmland meets new warehouse construction," he says. "While we certainly like having the infrastructure of Denver and the hiring pool that Denver offers as an outdoor company, we didn't want to be all the way out there and be potentially an hour away."
Reichel notes that the company did deep dive into available economic development programs across the state before making the decision. "We looked at Loveland and Greeley and Fort Collins, the Springs -- and Grand Junction did have a pretty good program -- Montrose we looked at," he says. "At the end of the day, Pueblo and their economic development program beat those guys hands down."
Reichel also sees a good hiring pool of people in the city of 170,000, and that Pueblo also has additional infrastructure in the form of metal shops and other suppliers.
Pueblo also made sense because its transportation corridors are more reliable and accessible for customers and materials than locations to the west. Shipping is more expensive for materials coming from the Midwest, where many RV parts are made, and outbound shipping could be impacted by unanticipated I-70 closures, as seen in the crippling mudslides of 2021, which further added to supply chain woes that originated with COVID-19.
It's also easier for customers from strong sales growth areas like Texas and New Mexico to drive to Pueblo to pick up their completed trailers. Likewise, it's easier for Boreas' distributors, XGRID Campers in Las Vegas and Outbound Offroad in Raleigh, N.C., to reach. Reichel explains that roughly 50 percent of sales are direct to consumers, with the rest coming from the distributors.
The move into the expanded space will allow the company to increase sales and meet demand more rapidly. Currently, Boreas Campers has a roughly six-month wait time for its campers, which Reichel acknowledges can lead to some lost sales.
With the new space, it plans to produce roughly 150 campers in 2022, and more in subsequent years. "In the building that we're moving into, we're probably going to max out at about 220 campers a year," Reichel says. He anticipates the company will reach that production capacity towards the end of the five year lease. "That's when, when we need to look for more real estate."
Of course, the company still needs to complete the move and get operational at the new facility. "We're hoping to be fully operational in the first week of April."
One thing that will help with getting back to operations pretty rapidly is that about 50 percent of Boreas Campers' employees are making the 120-mile move to Pueblo as well. "We're, we're excited . . . that many people are willing to follow us down there and stick with the company. We offered some incentives, of course, for them to come with us," Reichel explains.
The company will rapidly fill the positions it lost and add even more employees, according to Reichel. "Pretty much immediately we'll ramp up into that kind of low 20s. By early 2023 we're going to be looking at about 30 to 32 employees."
The new positions will span a number of skill sets, he says. "Some of our production staff won't be going, so we'll need to replace and hire on the production side of things for those positions. Then we'll need to replace some of our engineering team, as they're not all coming with us. Then we're adding some key roles in terms of a plant manager and additional engineering right out of the gate."
Existing employees will help train the new employees: "We have seasoned people across all of our departments, whether it's welding, electrical assembly, that are all coming with us. So there will be training for the new hires that we need to replace, but we're glad that we have kind of that baked-in knowledge that's coming with us as well."
New engineers are needed to produce the EOS-12 camper. "It's a new product, so it's still gonna require a fair amount of attention from the engineering team, the production team, and plant managers as we bring that and ramp that up to full steam," Reichel explains.
For the foreseeable future, Boreas Campers will focus on those two models as supply catches up with demand. Right now, it takes about six months to get a Boreas Camper. That doesn't mean they're not thinking about expanding the catalog.
"We've got some things kind of on paper in terms of new products for the future," says Reichel. "But we're probably two to three years out before we would launch another product. Right now we're really focusing on the new space, efficient production, and some additional vertical integration.
Challenges: Moving, hiring, and getting up to capacity are the immediate challenges, according to Reichel. "On a longer term, it's just scaling the business, that's always tricky. I've stayed away from investors and partners and things like that, and I want to continue that."
Opportunities: "I put us kind of towards the top of the pecking order in terms of specs and quality and price point against the majority of our competitors," Reichel says. "I think with the new facility and the expansion and the capabilities that that's going to give us is that we're going to be able to kind of break away from the noise of the industry."
Reichel adds that the company is also staying ahead of the competition by introducing new features to the U.S. teardrop trailer market, like the Cruisemaster suspension and the Garmin control center, with the EOS-12. "We're a little bit more formidable with a multi-model line.
Needs: "An improved supply chain would make everyone's life a little easier," Reichel quips. "As we continue to expand our most important thing is going to be the team that we grow around us."