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Barnsley family firm expands with new caravan and motorhome venture

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A Barnsley company which supplies the caravan and motorhomes industry has added another arm to its business.

Kustom Sport Ltd, based at Carlton, manufactures carpets for leisure vehicles and converts vans into luxury motorhomes. It has also been offering caravan and motorhome servicing for the last three years but has recently been named as an Approved Workshop, meaning it can now carry out repairs and servicing under the manufacturer’s warranty.

The new division is expected to increase the company’s £1.3 million turnover by ten per cent and result in the recruitment of at least two more employees.

Kustom Sport has been supported in its latest venture by specialists from business support organisation Enterprising Barnsley, which is run by Barnsley Council.

Managing director Gary Benson, who set up the company from a garage at home with the help of wife Jean, said: “Going for Approved Workshop status was a natural progression for us. For some time we have had customers asking if we can carry out repairs and services under warranty to save them going back to the dealers or travelling to an alternative Approved Workshop.

“At last we can say yes and hopefully this will make servicing and repairing caravans and campers much more convenient for the people of Barnsley.

“We’ve lost count of the number of people we’ve turned away in the past so we know there is demand for this. We’re hoping the servicing and repairs side of the business will increase turnover by at least ten per cent and before long I expect us to be in a position to take on at least two more members of staff to add to our team of 14.”

The Approved Workshop Scheme is a joint enterprise between the National Caravan Council, The Caravan Club and The Camping and Caravanning Club. To be accepted, workshops must meet high standards of competency and demonstrate that technicians are qualified to the required levels.

Kustom Sport’s workshop will be headed up by Gary’s son and co-director Andrew Benson who will be supported by a team of multi-skilled technicians.

A family business, Kustom Sport started manufacturing removable carpets for the leisure vehicle industry over 20 years ago and now supplies around 75 per cent of the UK’s client base. The company currently sells around 350 carpet sets each week to manufacturers such as Eldiss, Lunar, Bailey, Coachman and Autosleeper.

It also supplies hundreds of other mats and trays including a safety tray which Gary designed and patented himself.

In 2011, the firm started converting VW T5 Transporters into one-off luxury campervans, equipping the vehicles with features such as LED lighting, flat-screen TVs, Italian leather seats and drinks cabinets. The vehicles are sold to private buyers from around the country for up to £30,000 each and typically sell within a couple of days of being listed online.

The company also has an on-site shop, stocking everything from cutlery and plates to satellite dishes and awnings.

In the last two years, the business has seen solid growth and this year the firm is on target to achieve a turnover of £1.3 million.

Business coaches from Enterprising Barnsley have worked with Kustom Sport for several years and have recently provided support with marketing and financial planning. 

Gary said: “Enterprising Barnsley have helped us with pretty much everything we have done in the past few years, so much so that we feel we have almost worked in partnership with them. We have had a lot of mentoring from Angela Pedley. She calls in to see us, discusses our plans and helps if there if anything we’re unsure about.”

Previous achievements include ISO accreditation 9001 in quality management and assurance and 14001 in environmental management, with all but five per cent of waste from the site being recycled.

Angela Pedley, Enterprising Barnsley’s business development manager, said: “It’s great to see Kustom Sport named as an Approved Workshop. The company is an excellent example of one which diversifies to meet the needs of customers and I’m sure that its willingness to adapt is what has made it such a success story.”

Enterprising Barnsley is supported financially by the European Union and has attracted £3,015,276 investment from the European Regional Development Fund as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development, through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme. 

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Gary Benson of Kustom Sport with a customised van

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