VW camper van is the driving force behind Sowerby Bridge business

Dave Fawcett and Nick Smith of Diary Rooms
Dave Fawcett and Nick Smith of Diary Rooms

A refurbished VW camper van is proving the driving force behind Sowerby Bridge firm Diary Rooms.

The company, which is a social enterprise that supports the Happy Days homeless charity, uses the vehicle as a video room to attract people to contribute to surveys or studies for organisations seeking opinions from the public, customers or colleagues.

It is owned by directors Nick Smith and Dave Fawcett and based at The Wharf in Sowerby Bridge.

Nick, who reckons it cost sround £40,000 to establish the business, said: “It’s been going for a little while but it’s not really been pushed.

“It was part of a company called The Mill Group where Dave was a director and he took the camper van bit with him.

“I was made redundant after 26 years at JLA in Ripponden and Dave asked me to come on board, so I put up £25,000 into the business and we officially relaunched it in April.

“The biggest challenge is getting to speak to the right people.

“We’ve worked with about six clients so far and every one of them has been delighted with what we’ve done and the effect the camper van has had on what they’re trying to do.

“The product itself is great but a lot of our business has been around the Birmingham area because of word of mouth, which has taken us from a client in the NHS to the council and a housing association.”

The company employs one other permanent member of staff and some part-time staff during filming.

“Previously clients will have booked a hotel room and invited people in to listen to what they had to say,” Nick added.

“But with that you’re speaking to the same people because they’re people you’ve spoken to before who are interested in taking part.

“But we can get different people into our environment, people who wouldn’t normally get involved because we’re going to them and going out into the general public.

“We see it going into different market places but we want to make sure we’re speaking to the right people.

“We want to book the van up first and foremost. We’ve just spent two days filming a conference at John Moores University in Liverpool where we filmed professors and academics talking about what courses were on offer there.

“We were also asked by Dudley Council to help support an eight-day roadshow around the borough as the council were interested in understanding public opinion on the current state of their housing stock, the general area they live in and where the residents would wish to see investment the future.

“We’re taking whatever work we can get but we know the camper van gives us something to offer that no other company can. It’s unique and there’s no competition.

“That gives us the way of getting into other different customers.”