Today we’d like to introduce you to Mike Vardi.
Mike, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Our family loves to travel, taking long road trips to both natural and urban destinations. We often found accommodations in more remote areas leaving us longing for home’s fresh linens and comfortable beds, but when we tried an RV rental, we realized those vehicles were mostly build to park, not drive the distances we were covering – with the limited miles allowed, horrible fuel efficiency and limited view to everyone but the driver, it wasn’t a good alternative.
I started developing the idea of rigging up a minivan into a small an efficient camping van a few years ago, as there were no options available on the RV market. I eventually developed a configuration that is modular, easy to use and maximizes space, comfort and privacy. We tested it on a few private trips and wherever we stopped to camp we had people approaching us asking where they can get a similar setup.
Encouraged by the interest from fellow campers and our own satisfaction with the performance of the rig, I opened a company with funds from my 401K, and started renting out minivans equipped with “camping kit” setup. Starting with one minivan two years ago and now running seven, my business caters to the budget travelers and young-at-heart, serving customers from New Zealand to Russia who come to enjoy the spectacular Western USA vastness.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
One of our bigger challenges was to design and refine the camping kit to fit inside a minivan. With limited resources and no advanced manufacturing means, it took seven generations of kits to get to a design that provided the right balance between features and space.
Another challenge we are still working on is to find the right operations configuration – we are now too big to work from my garage but not big enough to afford a commercial space close enough to the airport. We are also continuously working to find the best service providers to help maintain our fleet and equipment.
Mechanical issues that occur during trips require a lot of attention, patience, and sometimes and emergency trip to meet with the renter and resolve the issue.
Last but not least, we are working hard to break through in the digital channels and establish presence and credibility on the web…
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Aiyre Pacific – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
We provide a niche solution to budget travel that is outdoors oriented, but is also suitable for urban camping (where allowed). We rent minivans converted to “Camper Vans” (aka “mini-RVs”) that are unique in their set up and versatility, and provide the mobility and comfort allowing up to four travelers to spend weeks on the road and explore the west coast.
The goal of this operation is to provide exceptional value not just to our travelers, but also to our team members, service providers and demonstrate this can all be done in a sustainable way.
I am proud to say we were carbon-neutral by definition from day one, and we chose to offset all carbon emissions from our cars from the trip earnings, instead of throwing the ball to our customers to “donate” when they book. To run a sustainable business operation is not a luxury – it is a global necessity and a moral obligation – and is now achievable at reasonable effort, as this business is aiming to demonstrate.
The other aspect of sustainability I’m proud to support is adequate payment to our team members. While we are too small to have full time employees just yet, we work with independent partners and pay over twice the minimum wage. We also allow great flexibility in hours so our team members can fit the work into their schedule.
We have earned 5-star ratings on over 200 trips by now, and we are very focused on keeping up the level of quality and customer service as we grow.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I hope to grow this business within a couple of years to multiple locations on the west coast, and continue to delight customers with exceptional value and service. I further hope to see this mode of travel take root in the USA, as it is much more sensible than snailing around in a big RV…
More importantly, I’m working on a business model that will be based on multiple local operators, each managing a few Camper Vans. This is intended to be a truly ground-level business opportunity, with minimum or no investment required to enter – other than the investment of time and effort in delivering quality work (for a good pay).
It will be a proud moment for me to see this business become a multi-million dollar, fully sustainable, 5-star-rated economic pillar of multiple local communities!
- Trips over 30 days: $57-$74 per day, depending on season
- Trips 8 to 30 days: $61-$80 per day, depending on season
- Trips 7 days or less: $69-$90 per day, depending on season
- Address: 8639 Lincoln Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90045
- Website: www.aiyrepacific.com
- Phone: 855-727-1968
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org