May '19

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rv-pro.com May 2019 • RV PRO • 59 Route 71, which runs from Cleveland, through Columbus and Cincinnati and on to Louisville, Ky. "We even had shirts made that call us 'That place off of 71,'" Gifford jokes. Full Custom: Past, Present and Future Creative Mobile Interiors now employs 25 full-time employees, working on projects as diverse as Sprinter van camper conversions to limos, marketing trailers and even mil- lion-dollar-plus Class A motorhomes. "If I were to describe what we do, I'd say we do what the mass market doesn't do. Our consistency is in the inconsistency," says Gifford. "Every build we do is a one-off. We might do 12 to 15 Sprinter or van conversions a year, between one and four full-size coaches a year, and probably 15 to 20 trailers and retrofits. We're not vehicle or shell specific – we can work on anything that comes in the door." That diversity of projects aligns well with the company's original vision, says Gifford. "Custom Coach Co., which basically started the conversion industry back in the 1930s and 1940s, started right here in Columbus," he says. "That company started from a gentleman selling bars of soap out of a converted bus, who then started creating custom coaches for other purposes. Many of us, including our original owner, Owen, got our start at Custom Coach. That creativity is very much a part of our own DNA as a company." After Owen's sudden passing, that creativity lived on in the team he had built. "Even through the tragedy of losing our owner and the tough years that followed, we've remained a really tightknit group," says Gifford. "Owen built a core group of employees and nearly everyone has stood by us through these challenges. Of our 25 employees, 18 or 19 have been with us more than 10 years. "Owen instilled in me the values and vision of the company and I have a lot of respect for that man." So much respect, Gifford says, that he's taken on the responsibility of leading the company, which wasn't necessarily part of his planned career trajectory. "I had no vision, personally, that I would run this place at some point," he says. "I was super happy with what I was doing." Regardless, he has risen to the challenge. "As a company, we've been absolutely flying. I'm certainly not deeply experienced at this level but it's working and rolling and I got to build ReRun," he says with a laugh. "Has it been intimidating to step into that responsibility? 100 percent. I say that without hesitation. I'm a designer and sales guy – not a business guy or numbers guy. So, we built the team to support us in those areas. What we undoubtedly have is the ability and the vision to do special things." That respect and vision – and more than a fair bit of pure enthusiasm – is what continues to guide Gifford and the rest of the team at Creative Mobile Interiors as it launches into the future. "We just flat out love what we do. Since I was a little kid I just loved anything on wheels," says Gifford, who studied industrial design at Columbus College of Art and Design. "Our customers share that love for this work, too. So, I don't really come to work, I come to play, and that comes through in my interactions with the customers. I come to life when I talk about what can be done on these projects. "I suppose that enthusiasm usually means their bill goes up some, but they appreciate the excitement that we have about what we're doing," he adds, again with a laugh. The one thing he won't talk about, at least not just yet? SEMA 2020 and his next big project vehicle. "We've been thinking a lot about how we're going to top ReRun, and that's going to be a challenge," Gifford says. "But we've been thinking a lot about that and we have some big ideas. "But for now, it's still all about ReRun. I love that thing."

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