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Meet David Sodemann and Brett Ellenson of Boho Camper Vans in Tempe

Today we’d like to introduce you to David Sodemann and Brett Ellenson.

David and Brett, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
We were inspired by a trip to Maui where we rented a van to explore the island. Once we got back to Arizona, we noticed no van rental services existed, so we decided to start our own.

Our first build “Stevie” started in May 2018 and left with its first renter in June. Once we realized there was a demand for this type of experience, we built our second van “Joplin” which joined the fleet in a few months later. Since then, we’ve continued to release rental vehicles, our latest a repurposed wheelchair van.

After getting great feedback from our rentals, we saw a demand from renters who wanted to buy their own. This inspired us to start selling turn key vans for sale, and we’ve since built vans for clients all over the world including Sacramento, Boston, London UK, Buffalo and locally in Phoenix.

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?
Since the business concept is fairly fresh, it’s been a challenge in building our own business “roadmap” whereas there haven’t been many others to learn from.

Obtaining commercial fleet insurance on custom-built vans was a headache, as most insurance companies didn’t want to even have the conversation.

Also, finding high-quality used vans for the right price can be time-consuming. Over time, we’ve been lucky to establish partnerships with local dealers who provide awesome vehicles to our standards.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Boho Camper Vans – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
Boho Camper vans is Arizona’s first locally owned camper van company specializing in both rentals and for-sale conversions. Our mission is to bring the experience back to the road.

In the age of Uber/Lyft and other rideshare platforms, people are focusing too much on the destination and not the journey. Life is about the journey – and Boho provides this through beautifully designed vans, functional design and even a complete field guide on places to stop and explore.

People take to our brand because of our low carbon footprint, sustainable energy mission, and minimal, yet beautiful aesthetic. Our business is built on adaptive reuse, which allows us to keep our prices affordable – something foreign in the van community.

We are most proud of being a catalyst for life-changing experiences for both our renters and buyers. Often our clients share that living a minimalist lifestyle (even for a few nights) has changed their perspective on what is important in life. People return from a Boho trip with fresh eyes, it’s a fantastic feeling.

How would you describe the type of kid you were growing up?
Both of us actually attended high school together in Waukesha, Wisconsin. At the time, we were nothing more than acquaintances, though we randomly connected at parties where we found out we shared a birthday.

Brett had grown up obsessed with the mechanical world – building and racing his own vehicles for various race teams while realizing school and higher education was more of a hindrance to his goals than a solution. He was technical, hands-on and advanced in his career quickly, often leap-frogging to positions over others twice his age. Brett eventually moved to Arizona to open a new branch in electrical machining sales – and excelled for years.

David was pretty much the opposite of Brett. He was always focused on school, often switching his major and university to extend his scholastic knowledge, only to grow tired and bored of his trajectory and to take up a new field of study. His family jokes that when David finally finished his undergrad in Landscape Architecture & Marketing (7 years later) he should have been a doctor or a lawyer. Yet, upon graduating college he became involved in first the liquor industry, then gambling/gaming, and finally the cannabis industry before launching Boho.

David and Brett’s mutual love of the outdoors and exploring Arizona was what ended up being the glue to begin the business together. After both ending up in Arizona and leaning on each other’s skillsets, it was a natural fit.

Pricing:

  • Rental rates vary depending on season, but average $159 a night plus insurance, cleaning, and tax.
  • Boho builds for sale starting at $35,000 which includes the van and build-out.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Amber Kissner (two photos of David/Brett), Justin Wade Orton (all other photos)

Getting in touch: VoyagePhoenix is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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