Ray and Madison from Canada have specialized in customized solar and electrical installations for caravans and camper vans, and since April 2008 have been developing so-called off-grid solutions for travellers. What is unique about their business is the fact that they themselves are touring the country and live and work in their van. “We have spent a good part of our marriage in our self-converted Mercedes-Benz Sprinter”, says Madison. Living and working on the road – is it even possible to combine the two? “We have everything we need in order to feel good in our van and arrange the space we have according to our specific requirements”, assures Madison. This includes a custom-made solar system so that the batteries in the vehicle are always charged, as well as cross-country tires, two light barriers and a fully personalised interior equipment with desktop computer, toilet and water system.
The concept of “Ray Outfitted” is quite simple: In their Sprinter, Ray and Madison travel across Canada and equip the DIY campers of their customers individually as required and as their customers’ budgets permit. “We like to take an empty van and convert it for a customer so that he or she can hit the road quickly”, says Madison. Originally, they had determined a fixed route and advertised it on social media and their own website. Now that they have a better understanding of the needs and requirements of the market, they pursue a more orderly approach and establish themselves in a particular region for an extended period of time. The short-term rental of workshop and retail premises allows them to carry out large projects independently of the weather conditions. And everybody has the opportunity to obtain online information on further plans and route updating.
Ray and Madison complement each other perfectly on various levels. With over 15 years of experience in the automotive and the shipping industry, Ray is capable of manufacturing, repairing and upgrading almost anything. He is a certified car mechanic and has spent a good part of his life working on vehicles and engines of all kinds. He has even constructed racing cars. Madison, on the other hand, is responsible for the commercial and administrative part of the business. Together they offer an enormous range of services: from pure project consultancy through local construction and installation services to community support.
What distinguishes “Ray Outfitted” is their wide variety of individualisation options. The company’s motto is: Get to know your customer and his goals first. “A camper van owner who wants to modify his or her vehicle will have a different experience with us than a do-it-yourselfer who needs assistance in realizing certain projects; and for a customer with an empty vehicle or no vehicle at all, who is looking for a partner or an outfitter for the camper van of his dreams, it will be different again”, Madison explains. The fact that the couple mostly visit their customers is a comfort appreciated by many people, as the alternative often is turning to specialist shops which are far away. In this way, Ray and Madison have managed to get about a lot and see and experience a great deal. But the most important experiences for them were the conversion of their own camper, which took them only 36 days, and their own journey – 35,000 kilometres across two countries with temperatures of minus 25 up to plus 45 degrees Celsius. Up until now, they have travelled 70,000 kilometres, met with dozens of travellers on the road and on the internet, and completed a training with different manufacturers and professional installers.
The greatest benefit of living in a vehicle is mobility.
Living on the roads of Canada – that sounds rather inspiring. However, a “nomadic business” holds challenges – on top of those that a new company is always faced with. But Ray and Madison are sure that nothing in life that is really worthwhile is simply handed to you on a silver platter. “It is a pleasure to work hard for this dream and for our customers’ dreams. A part of what we offer our customers is to make the setbacks, which inevitably occur during the conversion of a camper van, less difficult and time-consuming for them.” Before founding “Ray Outfitted”, the couple had saved money for a period of two years and generated additional revenue with backup-plans. “The greatest benefit of living in a vehicle is mobility”, says Madison. Personal networking is more powerful and does a lot more than an e-mail. If you look at a map and trace the route that “Ray Outfitted” completed in the last six months, this seems rather illogical as they left out the main attractions. But the couple chose this route deliberately and intentionally. “We love to explore and enjoy the wonders of the natural world, but where necessary, our customers and the business are our main priority. For us, the decision is easy – ‘Ray Outfitted’ is our dream. This clarity is something that we are grateful for in our careers.”
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.