Grandville, Michigan-based Eggcamper Inc. operates in a niche market, manufacturing camping trailers with a unique design, as the name suggests, have a distinct eggshell look.
In a market flooded with mass-produced products, the majority from the Center of the RV Universe—Elkhart County (Indiana)—owner Jim Palmer would rather build his products in West Michigan and fly under the radar.
“(Other RV manufacturers have) a different mission. Theirs are a lot less expensive and they produce higher volumes,” Palmer recently told MiBiz.
“Ours is unique. When people see mine in the parking lot, they come and have a look.”
Calling himself an “industrial artist” and having spent more than 30 years manufacturing fixtures for the automotive salvage market, Palmer utilizes an alternative method for making his RVs.
“(Eggcamper is) an artistic endeavor. I create artistic stuff,” said Palmer, who also builds and flies airplanes from kits.
“That is the reason people buy my campers, even though they are more expensive than the ‘stick and staple’ trailers they buy out of Elkhart. My product is significantly different in design and function.”
Palmer said he pays little attention to the industry trends and prefers to continue manufacturing his Eggcamper for clientele looking for something different.
Continuing with his non-conventional streak, Palmer said he didn’t want to put his company in Indiana. Instead, Palmer owns an 18,000-square-foot warehouse and manufacturing facility that sits on three industrial acres. All Eggcamper assembly takes place at the facility.
Eggcampers are handmade from nine molded lightweight composites — the entire camper weighs less than 2,000 pounds — and thus is easy to tow, Palmer said.
Palmer said the entire exterior is intentionally painted an eggshell white color, which obviously helps give the product its name, but also makes it simple to clean and easier to keep cool.
Palmer based his design for the Eggcamper off many of the newer designs for highly efficient airplanes and boats which are also made from similar kinds of molded composites.
Eggcamper sources many of its parts from the RV cluster in Indiana, but all of the assembly is done at the company’s facility. Palmer has four part-time employees, all “senior-types” who work with him as orders come in, he said.
The company makes all of its campers to order, keeping a limited number of shells on hand and working when orders come in and there are campers to assemble, he said.
Fully loaded versions of the Eggcamper sell for around $20,000 and include a sleeping area and kitchenette with sink, oven, and microwave, as well as a standup shower. The composite construction means the trailer stays dry on the inside, but more importantly, there’s no worry of rotting, Palmer told MiBiz.
The company also offers a smaller Teardropp trailer that’s based on a shape that was popular in the 1930s and is manufactured using a similar process. The model sells for about $12,000.
Despite Eggcamper’s small size in the market, Palmer said customers looking for alternatives to the mass-produced recreational vehicles and campers have taken notice of his products. Retired engineers have become good target customers because they recognize the precision of the company’s work in the products and appreciate their lightweight composite construction, Palmer said.
More than 90 percent of the company’s customers are 60 years old or older, he added.
Without any formal sales, distribution, or marketing channels, Eggcamper relies on potential customers to find the company on their own or through word of mouth, Palmer said. Some customers have come from Indiana, Vermont, and Arizona to Grandville to take a firsthand look at the Eggcamper.
“People will find me on the Internet, read about me, and how I do business, and send money or come for a visit to look,” Palmer said.
“They come (to Grandville) and pick them up.”
Length: 17 feet
Width: 88 inches
Interior height: 6 feet 7 inches
Weight: 1900 pounds before options
Address: 3055 Division SW, Grandville, MI 49418
Phone: (616) 437-9255
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