Paradise had some trouble a few years back. In 2017 the doors were shut and the gates locked as creditors chased unpaid bills. It was a tough period with the family owned business seeing great success in the prior 15 years of operation. However, within 60 days of the closure, the gates reopened and production restarted under the guidance of Shannon Burford and a group of investors.
Since reopening, Burford has streamlined and consolidated production to seven ranges and around 50 full-body motorhomes plus a sprinkling of converted vans and custom builds per year. This might be down a bit on the preadministration volume which peaked at about 70 units but with controlled costs the company is better positioned for growth, Burford tells us.
With the main office and sales yard backing onto the factory, it is well positioned to offer prospective buyers a full experience of what goes into each model. We were lucky enough to get a guided tour from the fibreglass moulding centre to the paint shop, router room and all manufacturing areas. It is a slick operation with well-defined zones for each stage of the build and clear build sheets to control each build. The paper-trail for each build starts in the sales office and ends up in the warranty department to allow the team quick access to the components used and the people involved in the build. This allows the warranty team to quickly answer questions from customers and to trace any possible issues with supplied parts like water heaters. These processes and the company's attitude towards its 50 strong workforce has seen it seamlessly transition to RVMAP accreditation.
One of the major focuses of Burford and the team at Paradise has been to gain RVMAP accreditation. For those not in the know, RVMAP is a voluntary accreditation that involves up to 250 checks done twice annually on a range of quality controls, a code of ethics and a practice guideline. The program is maintained by the Caravan Industry Association of Australia and is popular with progressive and successful brands. Although not a substitute for a comprehensive warranty, it is in my opinion, a reliable indication of a company focused on its people and process.
In February the team handed over the 700th Paradise built. It was another of the popular Independence range, a Platinum with twin slide-outs. Resplendent with gold touches, we only managed a quick look as it was getting its final details before owners Ian and Judi Downes collected it during a company-wide celebration. All the stops were rolled out with current and prospective customers mixing with the factory and administration staff to celebrate the major milestone.
MORE BUT BETTER
Iquizzed Burford on what was next and besides his obvious passion to keep getting better at what paradise already does, he showed more than just a passing interest in the safety tech popular in passenger cars but yet to really make a splash in commercial vehicles like the Iveco 72C210 that underpins a lot of the larger motorhomes. Paradise has always had a focus on safety, the design of the body structures in all models a clear example of their efforts, but what of things like emergency automatic braking? Like myself, Burford welcomes the prospect. What of hybrid drive trains? That excites him, particularly for the possibility of being able to tap into an automotive sized battery bank. To be able to run all of the motorhomes' appliances would be a big step to a properly gas-less motorhome, another positive safety step.