It’s no secret that we COLLECTIVELY appreciate quality, authenticity and style. That coveted trifecta has been harnessed at the Salt Lake City-born business Camper ReParadise. Look beyond the kitschy name, and you’ll find what we think is the perfect blend of class, creativity, and romance. Who can resist a vintage trailer, born in the 1960’s, that has since morphed into a shiny, mid-century modern charmer to float wistfully behind your rig to a nearby lake or all the way to the Burn? Who?
There’s been a [somewhat] recent resurgence of vintage trailers in Utah and all around the country, which we think is fabulous. And it makes finding this low-profile warehouse filled with talented builders, engineers, and designers a welcome sight. Especially when you’re trying to spruce up your old outfit and get it out on the open road. The brainchild behind ReParadise, Brandon Zinninger, has spent much of his life crisscrossing the globe, not unlike the trailers into which he happily breathes new life. Detroit-born, he has vivid memories of his family moving into fixer-upper after fixer-upper. The entire clan would take part in the renovation of each home, just in time to move out and find another. His father also had a pension for tinkering with old cars. The math isn’t hard...it’s really no wonder at all that Zinninger is now busy infusing sometimes-completely-dilapidated aluminum shells with his resources and style.
In the interest of at least partial disclosure, this writer is not only a lover of Airstreams, but an owner and content client of Zinninger’s. He helped get my 1965 Globetrotter up to snuff for visitors--and he did it with a creative and budget-conscious approach. More recently, he answered my questions as he tinkered in his often hyper-organized shop:
You’re clearly in your element here. This must be interesting work for you. Yes. Every Airstream and vintage camper is different. There is always something to overcome--it’s never the same. The layouts are unique from model to model and year to year. Different things need to be overcome, fabricated, etc.
What exactly is it that you love about this work? I love the creative process and pushing myself. If you have your own business, you’re not allowed to sit still...I always need to be creating. Also, just getting to know our customers and to work closely with them on what they want is exciting, and it’s rewarding to see them loving the final product. Most every time, renovating a vintage trailer is a lifelong dream for people, so the emotional reaction is awesome.
But, you don’t just work on Airstreams...No. We have Westwoods, LJ’s, Shastas, Boles Aeros--basically anything built before 1970. We don’t work on newer trailers or really anything with a motor in it. Although, we would make an exception if it is an ultra rare or vintage RV.
You’re a pretty organized fella by the looks of your shop. Tell me about that: Being organized is about being as efficient as you can be. For me, that comes from understanding the process of getting things done. If you start in an organized state, you can get things done better and faster. I train my employees to work this way, as well.
Tell me about some of the custom features you have created for your clients: We have used pressed-glass doors and lights, slide-out features, and custom-riveted interior walls. But, we’re currently working on a mobile-office rebuild of a 1968 Safari that will truly showcase our technical ability. The layout will provide two professional spaces, and a conference room. A large capacity solar panel will power two computers with dual HD monitors, a large-screen plasma TV, and a Bluetooth connected high-fidelity sound system. It’ll be a truly inspiring workspace, ideal for traveling professionals and film production in remote locales.
What are some of the high end design products you have used [or want to use] on these remodels? The pressed glass is one of 3Form’s Infinite Glass offerings. It’s rewarding to work with and use organics--in this case thatch and bamboo rings to disperse light and provide privacy. It really balances the travel trailer’s interior and exterior experience. We also just acquired the equipment for expanding-foam insulation, which will be applied to the office for excellent thermal and sound regulation. When it comes to electronics, we prefer high-end products. For example, the office will feature a custom, Bluetooth-connected sound system that includes component speakers from Infinity, a hidden Rockford Fosgate sub, and Kenwood amps, which will provide clean sound that foregoes archaic automotive decks, in favor of a wirelessly controlled connection from Bluetooth-enabled devices like tablets, phones, and computers.
Why are old trailers [maybe Airstreams in particular] so special? What do you think they signify? People are definitely emotionally drawn to what they signify: adventure, freedom, simplicity, and in some cases, romance. The older trailers have personality, and can make people wistful for a time in the past...a time well before email, Facebook and five-thousand square foot homes.
What is your relationship like with your customers? Our customers often become our friends--we work together on coming up with solutions and designs that positively impact their lives. We’re a casual and friendly bunch here, and we host regular happy hours on Wednesdays where we get to hang out and catch up with our friends/clients. Many of our clients send photos of their adventures with their trailers, and those emails are priceless. We’re also adventurers and outdoor addicts, so we walk the walk, taking many of our toys (like bikes, climbing gear, etc.) to remote locations in our vintage trailers.
Is there a project that makes you particularly proud? Or do you sincerely love them all? Any project that’s being used is something we love to see, but it’s hard to pinpoint just one as the favorite. It’s like asking a parent which child is number one.
Do you own a trailer? Tell us about your dream trailer. Currently there’s a 70s Shasta used for escaping from the shop, and a 60s Alaskan Camper on an F250 that’s used for transport. The dream unit would be a streamlined RV like a Western Flyer Brook Stevens from the 40s.
What’s next for Camper Reparadise? Interest is growing, so naturally we see ourselves growing, too. That may mean a larger space in the near future. We love what we do, and we plan to keep doing it in SLC.
Camper Reparadise | 1135 West 300 South | 404.279.2967