Over the past decade and a half, one of the best known camping rigs around eastern Australia has become the bus occupied by Colin and Natali Hopgood, but things are set to change. As the founders of the B.E.S.T Water Filters business, they have become widely known and popular faces.
“The B.E.S.T Water Filters business is a follow on from a family plumbing background,” explained Colin. “We started the business in 2000 and, in 2003, developed the particular filter that is the core of the business today. As a plumber, I was getting a high level of interest in water filters through customers and, after I began researching them, it just sort of grew as an interest.
“I was told that I was conceived in a caravan, so I’ve been around caravans and camping a long time,” Colin added. “I’ve always been involved with the two activities. I had my first caravan when I was about 17. I’d had tents when I was a younger teenager but figured I’d done my apprenticeship when I moved on to a set of wheels.”
The B.E.S.T. Water Filters business has continued to grow and what was once a business turning over about a hundred filters a week is now approaching double those figures.
“A lot of that growth has come out of wholesaling to shops,” Colin said. “We’ve never actually contacted a shop; they’ve all come to us as a result of customers asking them for the product.”
For many years, the Hopgoods travelled in a modified bus, but it was 11m long and weighed 11t, which made it difficult to get into some locations.
“The kids were missing out on a lot because we couldn’t get to some of the good spots,” Colin said, “and we recognised that the camper trailer industry is one of our biggest market sectors. I felt we had to become more involved...so we decided to move to a camper.”
In June, the Hopgoods picked up their new ModCon International camper.
“We selected the forward-fold design for the simplicity of setting it up: I can do it by myself or the girls can do it on their own. We went for ModCon after I’d followed the online forums for a while. The feedback for ModCon was only ever positive, especially for its after-sales service and approachability. We’re very happy with our choice.”
WHO ARE THEY?
Names: Colin and Natali Hopgood
Home: Gold Coast, Qld
Home on the road: 2016 ModCon International
Camper mods: Diesel heater, changed skirt to around the outside, Lagon internal table.
Tow vehicle: 2012 Nissan Pathfinder
Vehicle mods: Airbags in the rear suspension
Favourite destination: “Wonga Beach, above Port Douglas; or anywhere in the tropical north,” Colin said.
Scariest moment: “When we were camped up during a cyclone and a tree fell. We thought it was going to land on our old bus but it hit with the branches either side of the bus and we didn’t get a mark.”