Spotlight on... Jerba Campers
Jerba Campers is a top-notch brand that’s been building VW campervans since 2005.
We spoke to company Director, Simon Poole, to find out more…
1 When did Jerba Campers start out?
My other half, Cath, and I bought our first campervan (VW T2) in Canada in the mid 1990s, which we lived in for a couple of months as we adventured from Vancouver to Montreal. In 2000, we also spent four months exploring New Zealand and Australia with our three young children in a hired campervan. We soon learnt what’s important in terms of layout and design and, after ten years of owning and hiring campervans around the world, felt that we could do better. Sometimes we wondered if the people who did the designs had ever spent a day or night in a campervan! In 2005 we took the step, and Jerba Campervans was formed.
2 What sets Jerba Campers apart from the crowd?
Our aim has always been to bring new and practical ideas to the UK campervan market. We’ve always owned VW campers, which we use both for family holidays and as our everyday transport, so we specialise in VW Transporter conversions and are proud to be a VW Registered Body Builder – a status limited to a handful of UK converters, and which requires full Type Approval and ISO 9001 accreditation. Through a formal contract we deal directly with VW Commercial Vehicles in relation to technical queries and product development. We also have NCC (National Caravan Council) Approval – a scheme that examines the living elements of a campervan and ensures that the conversion meets all relevant British Standards and European regulations.
3 How has the brand evolved over the years?
Although we started out as every other small converter does, our focus from day one was to aim for the highest quality. It has underpinned everything we have achieved over the past 15 years, and we have continually invested profits back into the business – a strategy that has allowed us to ensure steady and continual growth. This approach has enabled us to develop a brand image associated with a top-of-the-range product, and the vast majority of our business is generated through customer word of mouth.
4 How would you sum up the company’s ethos and values?
Jerba is 100% employee owned as, in 2017, we transferred all of the company shares into a trust of which all employees are beneficiaries. With employees at the heart of the business, focus is given to maximising customer satisfaction and driving production efficiency – two critical factors in business success. With employees as business owners, we ensure a very high level of customer service and offer an ethical business model that is unique in the UK campervan market. This approach underpins our commitment to fairness and honesty. Customers and employees are at the heart of everything we do – if you look after both, then the business will continue to grow and flourish.
5 What do you think makes a great campervan conversion?
We’ve been active campervanners for over 20 years so we understand what’s important. Our layouts are based on what really works and are not full of gizmos and gadgets – in our designs, practicality definitely wins over bling! We are firm believers in building campervans that will stand the test of time, so our conversions are practical and are constructed from very high-quality components, and built by skilled people with an eye for detail.
6 What distinguishing features does Jerba Campers offer?
Our elevating roof is a unique product that can’t be bought elsewhere, as we don’t sell to other converters. We know that replacing and/or repairing damaged roof canvases has, for decades, been a frequent problem for campervan owners. Our unique design allows an owner to completely remove the whole roof canvas themselves within a few minutes and without any technical knowledge or training – saving owners a costly trip to a converter company. If you have your own van and are looking to just have an elevating roof fitted, that’s a service we also offer.
7 Have you got any exciting new developments in the pipeline?
Yes, we’ve got a few things up our sleeve, but nothing that we’re going to reveal details on at the moment! There have been some key aspects of a typical campervan conversion that haven’t improved in years, so we’re working hard on a couple of key new products and ideas.
8 What advice would you give to someone thinking about buying a campervan?
Don’t be easily wooed by glitzy lights, alloy wheels and fancy paintwork, as these things will seem inconsequential if you discover that the inside of the roof canvas runs with condensation, the leisure battery lasts no more than a day and your storage space is full of internal water tanks, gas bottles and batteries. Lie on the bed and see whether you can open the fridge and cupboards, and think about where you can store bedding and other bulky items. Ask the converter for official certification to show that their conversion meets road safety testing, too.
9 What’s the most unusual question you’ve ever been asked by a customer?
A campervan is a very personal home away from home and so the little things can make a big difference. As we cut and build furniture individually for every single campervan we produce, we don’t just assemble bought-in kits, so we’re able to make design changes to fit around a customer’s treasured items. We’re frequently adapting designs to enable people to store favourite plastic boxes, walking boots, wine bottles…. but probably the most bizarre adaptation we’ve done was to accommodate an ancient Porta Potti!
10 What’s the best campervan trip you’ve personally undertaken?
That’s a tough one but, in the UK, it was probably to the Western Isles of Scotland in the summer heatwave of 2003. We spent three weeks in July with our then very young children in Uist, Harris and Lewis. Every day, the temperature was in the low 20s, the sun shone and the beaches and roads were empty – this was many years before the NC500 attracted campervans in their droves to the far northern Scottish regions – we had such a wonderful time.
The latest innovations from Jerba Campers
The Jerba Campers roof
We’ve never been happy just to accept conversion products that are widely available on the market and are always looking at new ideas and solutions to poorly performing products. A good example of this is our elevating roof for the VW T5, T6 and T6.1, which features a removable canvas.
It’s a unique product designed and manufactured by us that we don’t sell to any other converter. After many years of fitting elevating roofs manufactured by German suppliers, our frustration with poor service, variable quality and a lack of design improvements led us to invest in designing and manufacturing our own product.
We focused on using far higher-quality parts, on solving common areas of poor performance through bad design and on providing new creative ideas, such as an easily removable roof canvas.
Other key features of the roof include a 100% cotton breathable Ventile canvas that is wind and watertight but avoids condensation, fully taped sealed stitching (as found on Gore-Tex-style jackets and outdoor tents) to avoid leaking seams, fully opening zipped canvas with zips made by world-leading manufacturer, YKK, a beech slatted lightweight roof bed, heavy duty stainless-steel hinges that won’t buckle in strong winds, and a roof rack load of up to 100kg.
The Jerba VW T6.1 campervan range
Tiree Price from £48,575
SWB, classic side kitchen layout with a RIB rock ‘n’ roll-style travel bench/double bed
Cromarty Price from £50,275
Same layout as the Tiree but in LWB, allowing for an extra-wide bed and travel seats for five
Taransay Price from £50,275
SWB, has two rear travel seats that convert to single beds, and a rear kitchen
Sanna Price from £51,475
LWB version of the Taransay, with the addition of a built-in screened toilet at the back
Jura Price from £52,075
Like the Sanna but with a VW factory-fitted solid high-top roof rather than a pop-top, and the option of a double bed