iN PHOTOS: How two brothers in Enderby are keeping the classic Boler RV alive - InfoNews

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iN PHOTOS: How two brothers in Enderby are keeping the classic Boler RV alive

Owners and brothers Jason and Mike Jong.
May 29, 2019 - 7:00 AM

ENDERBY - On first glance, you'd be forgiven for thinking the Armadillo trailer was an old-school camper, with its curves as groovy as the era it appears to be from.

But the camper is not a reconditioned retro Boler trailer from the 1960s, it's a brand new rig produced right here in the North Okanagan.

"When you look at it people think it's the Boler, it's the Boler's grandchild... on steroids," Mike Jong said.

Mike is one half of Enderby firm Armadillo Trailer Manufacturing, a company he launched with his brother Jason Jong in 2015. They produced a number of prototypes in 2015 and started production in 2016. They're currently making four a month and have a six-month wait list.

If it looks like an overnight success it, Mike says it's far more complicated than that.

"We basically grew up in an RV shop," he said.

Old school looks, new school build.
Old school looks, new school build.

Their father Allan Jong spent almost 50 years in the RV world and both brothers had two decades of RV experience before launching Armadillo.

Mike also credits what he calls a "happy accident" as to how their trailers came about.

They are made from the same mould that made the classic Boler trailer and the L'il Bigfoot. Boler ran from 1968 to 1988, and through his contacts in the RV industry, Mike managed to purchase that original mould.

It means his trailers are "cut from the same cloth," he says. While anyone could have produced a similar mould, Mike says "these have their own following."

"[Armadillo trailers] has lineage to the Boler and the Lil' Bigfoot trailer," Mike said. "Kind of like a trailer from the past brought to the present."

The trailers have everything you need, including the kitchen sink.
The trailers have everything you need, including the kitchen sink.

Their passion for trailers is immensely clear. The brothers took everything they knew was wrong with the old trailers, addressed the issues and produced the Armadillo.

"It's got everything you need in it and nothing you don't," Mike said. "They've got the classic feel... they're fun, they're practical."

Coming in three models, the base, the comfort, and the comfort plus, the trailers are 13'6" long, 6'6" wide and have an inside ceiling height of 6'1". Constructed from fibreglass, the trailers can be towed by much smaller vehicles than a conventional RV.

And it may sound like a cliché but stepping inside, the trailers weirdly don't feel small. They sleep from three to five people, have fridges and stovetops and don't feel cramped.

A flexible and spacious interior.
A flexible and spacious interior.

Each trailer is custom built with buyers choosing everything from which colour they want their trailer, to the colour of the kitchen countertops. The cabinetry is all handcrafted at their facility and customers can choose from an array of features. From the practical hot water tanks, to the fun, outdoor speakers, and almost anything in between.

Unlike RVs, the campers don't have a bathroom - although a pull out toilet is an option. But Mike said the small size is what appeals to people. He puts it down to the tiny house movement, the price of gas and that less is more.

He sells to young families wanting to get out of tents, older couples who are retiring and want to downsize from an RV, "when they realize all they do is sleep in it" and everyone in between. And people are certainly attracted to the cool factor.

"When you're in a trailer like that, it's a conversation piece, people come from all over to talk," Mike said.

"They suit minimalists, those trying to be efficient... and can comfortably fit a family of four," Jason said.

Armadillo workshop.
Armadillo workshop.

With the price of an original Boler going from $5,000 to $15,000 and an Armadillo $25,000 to $35,000, the price difference isn't particularly dramatic for getting something brand new compared to decades old. While the base model will happily keep you warm and dry on those wet camping weekends, Mike said they've sold more deluxe models than they have basic models.

But outside of the practicalities what is it the brothers like so much about Armadillo Trailers and the old school design?

"It's what they represent," Jason said. "[The trailer] brings people together, most peoples happiest memories come from camping... all my favourite childhood memories come from camping."

For more information about Armadillo Trailers go here.

Part of the original Boler trailer mould.
Part of the original Boler trailer mould.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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