We call Phil Gallant, our head of Product Development, the Teva Van Man. Why? It’s a long story, which we decided to let him tell himself. (We couldn’t do it justice.):
How it started…
“I started at Teva in 2011, and I have a super long commute to the office (78 miles one way), which, depending on the time of year, can take anywhere from an hour to two hours. The 156-mile daily commute was killing me, and within a few months my back hurt so bad that at night I would have to lie on the floor for 30 minutes straight. I’m not the sedentary type, so something had to change.”
So get an apartment!
“I began looking into apartments so that I could spend one to two nights a week close to the office, but the prices in Santa Barbara are pretty crazy. Given my travel schedule (I go to Asia four times a year for two weeks each trip), paying for an apartment that I might sleep in eight nights a month didn’t make sense.”
Hmm, what’s plan B?
“At some point, conversation started about sleeping in the original Teva Van. The van had been sitting in the company parking lot along with a boat and some abandoned trailers for at least three years. I got the keys one day, opened it up and, besides being infested with ants and a few geckoes, it was in pretty good shape. The van was also equipped with the ‘Westfalia’ package and had a pop-top for camping.”
“I negotiated a purchase with the company and bought the van, got it registered and road-worthy and started camping close to the office a couple nights a week. Within five months, I had sunk $6,000 in repairs into the van and pretty much every time I drove it, something broke. You name it—it was a money pit. “
“A pro-triathlete friend of mine had a van that he used to travel to races in; it had been converted by Sportsmobile in Fresno, CA. Oddly enough, Sportsmobile started converting VW buses into camper vans in the 1960s, and I definitely did not want my expensive bike sitting outside the van at night while I slept inside. (Some people accuse me of having a bike addiction). So I visited the Sportsmobile factory when they were converting their first Nissan NV, a new full-size van launched for 2012. I worked with the guys to detail my van layout, eliminating the fridge, stove, and sink set-up and replacing it with a couple of floor-mounted Thule bike racks. I pulled the trigger soon after my visit, and I believe I was either the first or second Nissan Sportsmobile sale in the US.”
So what’s inside the Tevavan?
“It has a pop-up that sleeps one to two people. Down below is a couch that folds out into a bed sleeping one more. Two Thule bike racks mounted inside are positioned in a way, so there’s enough room to sleep on the couch/bed with two bikes mounted on the racks. The van includes a hanging closet for clothes, storage cabinets, a house battery that powers lights, smoke and C02 detectors.”
And we love that van…
“I can honestly say I’ve never had a vehicle that has attracted so much attention, and pretty much everywhere I go people want to look inside. On more than a few occasions I’ve caught people taking pictures or peeking in the windows. It’s been to Palm Springs, Lake Tahoe, and a trip with my son up the California coast. My next trip will be back to Sequoia National Park.”
…which is why we call it:
“Tevavan 2.0” and “The Loaf.”
If the van could talk, it would say…
“Why the hell don’t you take some time off work and take me on another adventure?!”