Couple set up campervan conversion business Sugoi Campers in Fareham after inspirational roadtrip

WHEN John and Emma Ward set off on a road trip across southeast Asia, they had little idea it would be the start of a new chapter in their lives - and the birth of a campervan business.

Saturday, 15th May 2021, 3:07 pm

The journey in February 2020 to reconnect John’s mother Sye with her relatives saw the family travelling over 100 miles across Singapore and Malaysia in a Nissan Elgrand.

Already keen caravanners, John and Emma realised it would be possible to convert the well-appointed Japanese vehicle into a luxury camper.

They returned to England, bought one for themselves, and the seed of their new venture, Sugoi Campers was sown.

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John and Emma Ward in front of their fleet of converted campervans at Sugoi Campers in Fareham. Pictured: John Ward, Emma Ward. Picture: Mike Cooter (130521)

The company in West Street, Fareham, specialises in campervan conversions and hire.

‘We decided to combine the van with our long-standing love of camping and caravanning and convert it into our very own adventure on wheels,’ said Emma.

‘John’s first job was in the automotive industry refitting vehicles, so it was only a matter of time before we finally took the plunge and started converting vans as a business.’

The couple had both been working for a Hampshire-based telecoms company for over 10 years when John took redundancy from his logistics manager role in September.

Emma and John Ward in the workshop of Sugoi Campers in Fareham.

‘John had already been talking about making a change, so he saw this as the chance to start turning our camper conversion dream into a reality and Sugoi Campers was born.

‘Sugoi is Japanese for “awestruck”, which we hope reflects the quality of what we offer – and also the fact that we were inspired by John’s mother and her Asian heritage.’

John began importing Japanese vehicles into Southampton and used borrowed space to convert them.

‘We hadn’t planned on getting a unit,’ said Emma

‘But we soon realised we couldn’t work from the docks and when one came up in Fareham, we went for it.'

Not a couple to do things by halves, Emma joined John after taking redundancy in March this year.

‘We are in this as a family,’ she said.

Their children Hollie, 25, Oscar, 19, and Abbie, 11, even their rescue dog, Callie, have all pitched in.

Sugoi Campers has a fleet of 16 vehicles so far, with three for hire and the rest for sale. They also offer bespoke conversion packages for customers bringing their own vans to the unit.

With campervan holidays offering the opportunity for families to be self-contained, Emma and John have seen demand soar.

Emma said: ‘People are looking at holidays in a different way because of Covid. In a campervan you can be very self-contained.

‘There is no limit on where you can take our campers. It’s so exciting for us.’

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