It was a "sketch in the sand on Stradbroke island" that kicked started 5 x Camper Trailer of the Year award winner, Patriot Camper's, journey to success. I got to speak with Justin Monesalvo, the brain trust behind the outfit, at the Patriot Camper showroom on the Gold Coast. A dedicated Aussie-adventure-seeking-family-man, Justin has genuinely been able to turn his passion of the outdoors into arguably one of Australia's best RV manufacturing businesses.
See the full transcript below:
Justin! How're you doing?
Good mate, how're you going?
Hey, winner of the Camper Trailer of the year awards for the past five years straight, what's been the deciding factor?
Justin: Innovation. Innovation behind everything we do. We constantly keep improving on our products, we've taken the X1 five years ago, we brought something brand new to the market, and we've re-invented the wheel every year. I think that's the reason why we've been so successful.
Sounds good. Hey the rumours have it the Patriots can make it to the cape, more affectionately known as "the place camper trailers go to die", what's the craziest place you've taken the Patriot.
Justin: Crazies place I've taken the Patriot would have to be Moab in Utah. We took it over there (to) some places which even the Americans said there's no way you can take a camper trailer in there. Went over a place called "Hell's revenge", 200-300m sheer drops at the back, cliff faces... It was epic.
Wow, and that's all in the Patriot games?
Proudest moment in your career so far?
Justin: Proudest moment? Rolling the black truck into open SEMA. That's by far been the stand out moment. A company from Australia, Australian manufacturing, all the Australian brands behind us, and we opened SEMA. Red carpet, police escorts, down the Las Vegas strip, that's something I'll never forget.
You've started producing the Mega Tourer. What kick started that initiative?
Justin: The Mega Tourer was, again, it was something else... It's actually just sitting outside here, you might see it through the window. The Mega Tourer was one of those things again, look we built the black truck, we built my first 79, and we really wanted to take it to the next level. I rallied the whole Australian off-road industry, everybody who ever supported us, and had this crazy idea to build a truck like Australia has never built before, and everyone got behind me and we did it.
Sounds fantastic. What's your best PR stunt?
Justin: Nothing really stands out to be honest with you. I think "PR" is a bit of a funny word for me because we've developed a bit of a talent here at Patriot campers, which, well I never thought I had it. I think our "PR stunts" has been keeping it real, and that's what we've done all the way.
My next question was 'your marketing strategy, in my opinion, is one of the tightest in the industry' and I've guess you've kind of answered that.
Yeah, and look what we've done, is we've just kept doing what we do, what my family does, what the boys here do. Everyone here who works at Patriot Campers is, you know Matt our US agent says it, "ride or die". We show the public through our marketing strategy, how we operate and it's all real, it's stuff that we do you know.
Favourite piece of kit you've developed?
Justin: Still the X1
Favourite piece of kit someone else has produced?
Haha there's gotta be something!
Justin: There's actually a lot, I'm just thinking about the one I want to plug to be honest with you. Look I would have to say that there's a little company one-man-band up in Brisbane, Outback Customs. He does some really brilliant work. A guy that I actually met for the first time only a few weeks ago, and I don't know him from a bar of soap. One-man-band does all of his cuttings, design, fabrication himself and he builds some pretty cool stuff.
Look you've taken the Patriot Games to the US which we've discussed. What would you saying was your coolest stunt over there?
The coolest stunt was definitely taking the three camper trailers down Hell's Revenge. Hell's Gate, sorry, was the track. That was a moment that was just insane. If you watch that episode of Patriot Games, I think it's episode 7, you'll see what I'm talking about.
Justin, I know you're busy, but do you have any parting advice for newcomers into the industry?
Justin: From a marketing perspective? Or a manufacturing perspective?
Justin: From a manufacturing perspective, I think it's "keep it Australian made". Keep as much made in Australia as you possibly can because that's where the quality will come from. Build gear that only you would use, don't build gear that you think the market wants, or the gear you are told you need to build. Build what you would want because you'd be surprised how many other people think the same. From a marketing perspective, just keep it real. People are interested in the reality style of what goes on behind a business like Patriot Campers, and look it's worked for us. So that'd be my advice.
Fantastic, look thanks mate, it's always good to catch up with you and good luck with your next venture.
Justin: Awesome! Thank you very much!