Manitoba, Canada. As cold as the winters can be here, the summer months are just as warm. It’s high season right now. Wherever you look, holidaymakers are on their way in their motorhomes and set off to extensive lakes or densely wooded national parks, which entice people to linger in the Canadian province. In fact, many of these motorhomes have rolled off the production line in the small town of Winkler to the south. The family business Triple E has been based here since 1965; today it is known under the name of the subsidiary Leisure Travel Vans, which passionately manufactures camper vans based on the Sprinter.
The name “Triple E” is derived from the surnames of the three company founders, all of whom begin with an “E”: P.W. Enns and his two sons-in-law Philipp Ens and Pete Elias. Originally Enns ran a sanitary and heating construction company in Winkler. During a volunteer assignment in Indiana, he realized the potential of caravans and mobile homes in Canada. Together with his sons-in-law, he then designed the first caravan called “Compact”, of which they produced 97 in 1966. And the plant mechanic was absolutely right in his assessment: “A real travel hype had just broken out in Canada. Families suddenly felt the need to travel across their own country to explore even more. After presenting their products at Montreal Expo in 1967, they tripled their production and added numerous models to their range.”
Today the company employs around 400 people and offers eight different types of motorhomes, six of which are based on the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 3500. We asked why the company opted for this model: “The Sprinter fits the needs of our customers in North America and Canada very well. It offers a lot of space in the interior for the conversion, drives well and consumes very little fuel,” explains Mike Elias, Marketing Manager of the parent company Triple E Canada Ltd.
If you take a look inside the van, you get the impression of a hotel suite on wheels instead of a practical travel option. Chic, hand-made wooden furniture, white leather upholstery and chrome elements adorn the interior.
If you want to take a closer look at the vans and their equipment, you can visit the company’s own YouTube channel, which has become famous through the charisma of sales manager Dean Corrigal. “Dean becoming a YouTube celebrity in Canada was more a coincidence,” Mike begins to tell. “We had just constructed a new bed that we wanted to present it to the public as quickly and easily as possible. So we grabbed someone from the sales department and filmed them with a cheap video camera that was lying around.” With his enthusiastic and honest way of introducing the new vehicle features, Dean captured people’s imagination right away, which is why he is still the company’s YouTube face today.
And he’s not the only one who is enthusiastically involved. The whole company sees itself as a big family, united by the enthusiasm for its work. One could now reply that every company writes such a sentence on its figurehead. In the case of Leisure Travel Vans, this idea becomes more vivid when you take a look at the turbulent history of the company. The entire company building was set on fire by an accident in March 1972, which cost one of the managers his life. The immense damage meant the end of the company, which cost 75 employees their job. Then everything turned out differently. The team arranged a meeting with the management and offered their free assistance in rebuilding the company. The good will and conviction of these former employees still shape the company’s philosophy today.
If you look for the hashtag “#vanlife” on Instagram, you will get a multitude of examples that individual trips with a camper van are still very much in vogue. How will the camper van market develop in the future? “The demand for motorhomes and caravans will continue to rise in the next few years,” Mike suspects. One development that the company has already noticed, however, is a change in the perspective of its North American and Canadian customers: “People are beginning to think more about how many things they really need on a trip and tend to use more compact vehicles with less luggage. Maybe we’ll learn a thing or two from our friends on the other side of the Atlantic.”
The shown conversions were carried out by independent third parties. The suppliers and conversions were not checked by Mercedes-Benz. In this respect, these illustrations do not represent an assessment of the supplier and/or conversions by Mercedes-Benz.