Canvas Replacements, a division of Camper and Recreation Inc., has made a success out of turning something old into something new.
As reported by Woodall’s Campground Management, the Loyal, Wis.-based firm is the leading supplier of replacement canvas for the popup camper sector. In fact, every brand and model is handled by the company back to the very earliest popup builders in addition to a full line of awnings, mattresses and cushions, as well as all the cleaning and care products to keep canvas campers looking their best and lasting longer.
“Our main business is being able to restore any popup camper of any age, primarily the tent and secondarily the lift system,” explained Bob Grambsch, general manager and son of founder Clyde Grambsch, who was inducted into the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind., in 2001.
The elder Grambsch, who had built his first commercial trailer for a family camping trip in 1957, founded the present company in 1973 after buying out a competing manufacturer. Grambsch was a charter member of the Recreational Vehicle Institute (RVI), forerunner of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), and a key leader in promoting the merger of the Mobile Home Manufacturers Association (MHMA) travel trailer division into RVI.
“A large part of the inventory was brand new canvases. That became the most important part of our inventory,” Bob Grambsch explained. “The old tents were the big sellers. We branched out to supply other replacements for other brands by buying surplus stock from other companies.”
In the 1980s, the company opened its own sewing shop to manufacture tents it couldn’t buy. The company also has been able to supply parts such as lift systems, awnings, canopies, etc.
Over the winter, Canvas Replacements acquired rights to build and sell the HECO style lift system, thus further broadening its product line.
Through the years, meanwhile, it has developed a dealer network consisting of RV dealers, tent and awning shops and campgrounds. “There are quite a few of our dealers who are campground owners,” explained Grambsch, noting that campground operators have a direct access to campers whose units may need repair. “This can be a nice profit center for them and a service to their guests.”
Other campgrounds, though not dealers, also routinely post notices on their bulletin boards announcing the services of Canvas Replacements.
Canvas Replacements has some competition in the marketplace, Grambsch concedes, “but I don’t think there is anybody who does this to the range we do.”
Pop-up campers have come a long way in terms of comfort and built-in technology, but for the most part the design has remained unchanged. Of course, it was only a matter of time until someone came up with something new and exciting and in this case, it could change how people look at their “home away from home,” according to Inventorspot.com. Calling the Mobile Mini House (shown in a computer rendering at left and below) a popup is slightly misleading, the website item concedes, as it expands outward rather than upward, but it’s interesting nonetheless.
Once parked, the Mobile Mini House unfolds, much like a Japanese Hand Fan, and covers a full 252 degrees. When opened, campers can live comfortably knowing you have a bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, office and living room at their disposal. The rooms are divided by a system of lightweight walls that slide along a pair of tracks laid into the floor. The individual components of each room are either folded to save space or stored somewhere that can be easily accessed during setup. Once fully extended and everything has been arranged, a membrane can be stretched over the entire thing to keep the bugs and weather on the outside. The idea is just that and has yet to be built.