Between the 2019 and 2020 REDARC Camper Trailer of the Year competitions, ownership of Jawa Camper Trailers changed hands. And yet, despite the inevitable challenges of handover, the brand’s entered hybrid again succeeded in being crowned the best in its category.
This second success can only be seen as a testament to the blood, sweat and tears poured into the business by the friendly faces of new owners John and Karen, who we met in the Gold Coast late last year.
After searching for the right opportunity since August 2018, the pair did not hesitate in acquiring the camper trailer business for a February 2019 handover, John says.
“I simply love the product,” he says. “I have a mechanical background and really rate how well put together it is. When the Jawa Trax 12 won last year, I then had the assurance that other people thought it was as good as I did.”
The husband and wife duo, originally from Sackville in the Hawkesbury area north-west of Sydney, have also achieved a lifelong ambition by moving to the Sunshine Coast. Now, they are not only working together, but doing so in an industry that matters to them.
“We’ve always been avid campers,” Karen says. “We’ve had a big property in the Hunter Valley for 30 years and we decided not to build on it. Instead, ourselves, our friends and wider family head there regularly for camping. We don’t want to travel and live in a house.”
Their own lifestyle is not the only thing John and Karen are shaking up. They have made some fundamental changes to the business and the product.
“We’ve upgraded the suspension by putting in DriveTech Enduro shock absorbers,” John says. “We’ve made front-to-back gas plumbing standard, our TV packs now run a second outlet so you can mount in various locations, our awnings now cover the fridge slide.”
On the Sirocco itself they added the big box on the back for the generator, made drawers for underbed storage, options of actuators, and added a full security door. They are also planning on incorporating the unique pantry design of the Sirocco into their other models.
“We’ve brought in turnkey packages,” Karen says. “We are also trying to get back to a broader range of people. We now have a camper trailer, called the Intruder, for younger families. It’s bright burnt orange in colour and sells for under 20k with all options.”
One of the most pleasant surprises is the inherent positivity of the customer base, John says. During his previous work of over 30 years on automotive transmissions, those consulting him often had issues they were obliged to fix. Now, John is enjoying the sense of excitement with which customers approach the business.
That excitement is something John and Karen aim for their product to live up to and exceed.
Accordingly, they say there is: “No stopping. We’ll keep developing, always, so we have the best product we possibly can.”
While they plan to expand “up north and down south”, the pair also plan for the business to “keep that family touch”. Their daughter Emma and her husband Scott have moved up to the Sunshine Coast too and are now working with them as an indispensable part of the team.