Meet the KEA Dealers Across Australia
Experts & Passionate About the RV lifestyle
Buying a campervan or motorhome is a serious investment and, as a buyer, you want to deal with people who are not only experts in these types of RVs, but are passionate about the lifestyle.
Our KEA dealers help to get you on your own journey. We’re not just motorhome dealers, we’re the real deal.
Mark Roche, Dealer Principal with Queensland RV on the sunny Sunshine Coast, has been involved in his family’s business since it started 30 years ago.
He and his team specialise in second-hand motorhomes and here he chats about the business and the customers he serves.
Tell Us a Bit About Queensland RV.
We got started back in 1984 so we have been in it for over 30 years now. It’s a family business. My father Tony started it and now myself and my twin brother Colin run it. We first started with commercial vehicles and then branched into motorhomes not long after when we traded our very first motorhome and discovered that it was something we would like to get into.
Were Motorhomes Popular in the 198s?
Oh yes, right up until 2007 when the GFC happened. Of course now things have changed with steady share markets and things like that. The price point has come down — we concentrate on selling used motorhomes these days which is why we joined with THL. We started with them in March 2019. Before that we were selling new motorhomes from many different brands.
Why Did You Think Motorhomes Would Be a Good Fit for You?
Our business is located on the Sunshine Coast, and the demographic is retirees and we are right in amongst clientele who buy them.
What Sort of Customers Do you Mainly Have?
Semi-retired or retired. Some are still working part-time but mostly over 55.
At the moment people are downsizing which is why we find the campervans seem to be quite popular. In fact, the age group that are buying campervans at the moment are full retirees, so 65-plus. I think it has a lot to do with how manoeuvrable they are. As we get a bit older we probably lose a bit of confidence driving a large motorhome around and parking. But still the travelling bug never leaves you, so they will downsize into a smaller one.
How Do You Find the Right Vehicle for Each Customer?
It’s purely focusing on listening to the customer and finding out what their intention of touring is. If they are looking to only to spend up to a month away or a week here or there, well the campervan generally suits that style.
Whereas if they are touring for a few months or going around Australia then we would recommend a motorhome where you can carry more weight and have a lot more storage space.
Do Most People Want a Toilet and Shower?
It’s a must. We do still sell the little campervans but at the moment we are selling the Crafter and the Sprinter-based models which are 23ft long and not a small campervan, but more manoeuvreable and not as big and bulky. Models like the Nomad and 2+1.
What’s Your Advice to First-time Buyers?
Concentrating on the floorplan is essential. The motor is important but if you don’t get the floorplan right, you will seriously hate it. So getting on to a company which understands and has sold to a lot of first-time buyers and can suggest a few floorplans is invaluable.
If customers are really unsure, we recommend they go and hire a motorhome for a week just to see if the lifestyle what they really want to do. Whether it’s a privately-owned used motorhome with lower kilometers or a higher-kilometre ex-rental motorhome, it is generally the floorplan that wins the customer over.
KEA’s Vehicles are Ex-rentals, What Do you Think are Their Strong Points?
The selling points is the build quality. KEA is renowned and has been in the industry for quite a while now so confidence in the brand is always there. Every KEA comes with a two-year warranty from us — that’s included. We don’t ask the customer to pay for that. We offer the mechanical warranty just to give the customer peace of mind if the kays are starting to creep into their ‘why I should’ or ‘why I shouldn’t’ mentality.
We have found the KEA models are very attractive to first-time buyers.
And the Price is a Selling Point too?
Absolutely. At the moment the used market seems to be a price-driven market. So having the THL product at a good price point most certainly raises eyebrows. If they can save up to $10,000 on a like-for-like used or privately owned vehicle, they will certainly find it inviting enough to give us a deposit.
Do you Travel Much Yourself?
We will grab a week here or there and that is not enough time to go on a tour. We have always camped and enjoyed that lifestyle, that’s for sure. Yeppoon is a lovely getaway where you can relax or get right into it if you like. Anywhere where there is a beach is for me!
Do you Have Any Bucket-list Destinations?
I would love to visit Western Australia, I have never been out west. Over the many years we have talked to customers it sounds absolutely wonderful out there. You can travel for a whole day and not see anybody.
And that’s what motorhomes are about — it’s about being outside as well as it is nice and comfortable and you have your amenities inside.
Do you Give Customers Travel Advice?
What we tell people is you can certainly plan your trip but the more regimented it is, the more you are stuck to that schedule. So every now and then it is always a good idea to turn left and go!
Visit Mark and the team at Queensland RV at 248 Nicklin Way, Warana, 4575, Sunshine Coast, Queensland
Ph: (07) 5493 4699
Rob McMahon, owner of Megamart RV Sales in Pakenham just outside Melbourne, is a ‘been there, done that’ kind of traveller who has sold the KEA brand for nearly 15 years.
We had a chat with him about his business, his favourite KEA model and the kinds of customers he has seen over the years.
How did Megamart RV Sales Begin?
I’ve been in the motor vehicle business for 36 years and in 2000 started Berwick Commercials which re-sold ex-government 4WD and commercial vehicles. We shifted focus to Kea’s 4WD and leisure vehicles in 2005.
Why did you Decide to Branch Out and Start to Sell Motorhomes?
Having travelled Australia extensively over many years, I thought it was a good idea to do combine work and pleasure. It’s a great area to work in, and it was an extension of what we were doing at the time.
Also, not a lot of people were doing it back then, or at least it was a limited market, and at that stage a little bit ahead of its time. Motorhomes and campers were starting to kick off in the early 2000s.
You’re the One of the Biggest Dealers in Victoria — How did you Know Demand Was Rising?
We could see a demand for it and KEA was a great supply chain of different vehicle types. Once we started dealing with the campers and motorhomes specifically they attracted their own clientele and it grew from there.
How Many People are in Your Team?
We have eight people who work across sales, administration and marketing. All of our service is outsourced so we are still a small family-run business.
What Kinds of People Buy Motorhomes and Why?
A lot of people are on a journey in life and looking for the next experience or going through a life change — maybe a partner has passed away or they are trying to do something they have wanted to do all their lives and they are retiring.
We get a lot of families too doing the so-called ‘lap of Australia’.
Has That Changed Over the Years?
It’s all really similar. But 25 percent of our customers are now single females — a really gutsy segment of the community that these girls are, later in life, packing up and getting in a motorhome and going.
They are great to deal with and they normally have a pretty big story to tell. They are packing up and leaving and having a life change. It’s no different to a sea change or a tree change. It’s a motorhome change.
Best Part About Selling Motorhomes?
We do get to meet a lot of people that have a fascinating story to tell — why are you packing up and doing this? Motorhome owners travel for a long, long time whereas with caravan people it is generally a holiday thing.
For a lot of people a motorhome is their new home — they are giving up the bricks and mortar are hitting the road and seeing where it takes them.
How do you Help People to Find the Right Vehicle?
With a few direct questions — what’s your budget, how many beds do you need and how many people are travelling. You can narrow it down very quickly and present what we have that suits. We walk them through the design and see if we can get them to cast aside their preconceptions and show them what you can do with a limited amount of space.
What Kinds of Budgets do Buyers Have, in Your Experience?
The new buyer is the retired-cashed up type looking to spend $150,000 to $200,000 or more — they won’t blink because it’s a lot less than what they got for their apartment or house they just sold. There are people in the middle range which is really popular, and then you have the folks who are sub $50,000. We therefore cater to all buyers and budgets.
KEA Motorhomes are Ex-rental Models, What are Their Major Selling Points?
KEA motorhomes are a far more affordable niche than what else is available on the market. They are up to five years old usually, mid-kilometres with cosmetic bumps, bruises and scratches but they are half price. They are well looked after — they have to be.
The build quality is so good that everything holds together really well. The rental fleet will show up any faults really quickly — they are tried and tested. The on-fleet service and maintenance is second to none. And they are family-friendly and hold their resale value.
Are Customers Worried About Buying a Secondhand Model?
Coming from the rental market may initially diminish the appeal of the vehicles in the customer’s eyes but we walk them through how well they are serviced and maintained.
Plus customers are not often aware that the vehicles have an onboard computer system called Telematics that controls how the vehicles are driven — this includes a speed limiter. People who rent the vehicles are not being reckless and doing ‘doughnuts’ in them — they are cruising along and enjoying the countryside.
What’s Your Favourite KEA Model?
We have a fleet of a four-berth VW Crafter-based model called the Beach. They are around $60,000 to $65,000 and have a fantastic layout. It is a well-priced, economical motorhome that can do everything that a motorhome priced up to $100,000 can do. They are one of our best buys.
Do you Have any Favourite Travel Spots?
Yes and they are all secret! As soon as it goes on Instagram it is ruined. I do walk the walk and talk the talk — I have been there, got bogged there and done that. It’s a great conversation piece bringing the campfire to the dealership but it is pretty hard to find a place out there now that you can have to yourself. You wouldn’t want to let it go.
Future Travel Plans?
We are lining up to do the Canning Stock Route and that is 4WD. I’d also love to do the coast of Western Australia again — I reckon it won’t have changed much since the 1980s! And we would do that in a motorhome. Anywhere there are no flies would be good!
Visit Rob and the team at Megamart RV Sales at Lot 20, Car Megamart, 28 Commercial Drive, Pakenham, Victoria.
Ph: (03) 5941 4199
Meet Greg Pinner from KB Campers in Perth, WA.
How long have you been in the RV game?
About 12 years now, and I have been with KB Campers for that time. I had been working with Purely Commercials as a buyer for the commercial yard where KB Campers was also based. I have been in sales since I left school. When Gino, owner of the KB Campers, offered me a job selling campers, I thought it was a great opportunity and I have never looked back. I have been surfing since I can remember. I had a Commodore Wagon and I used to drive down south with my mates and sleep out of the wagon and go surfing. The campers offer a similar lifestyle and are more comfortable!
What do you like about selling RVs?
I love the great quality product we sell from THL - they have really good layouts and quality vehicles like the Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagens and Toyotas. They are easy to sell in that they are top-of-the-line mechanically. The people we interact with are more laid back. You are selling something that people are excited about - it’s not a necessity, it’s something for enjoyment. So I’m in the lifestyle game. They treat you differently because you are helping them into something, rather than trying to ‘sell’ them something.
What's your favourite RV?
My favourite RV is the KEA Nomad. The layout with the front swivel seats to a three-person dinette allows you to leave the queen bed made-up in back, making it offer what a larger motorhome does, minus the size. Plus it has amazing fuel economy. Because it is just me and my wife and little boy, that size is ideal for us.
Who are your customers?
People from all walks of life. The demographic is usually 40-plus. Some of the smaller Hi-Ace vans are for younger people, but usually here in Perth and WA it is older people, those close to retirement, or who are retired. We have customers from CEOs to labourers. Some customers have been doing it all their life, and we get a lot of people from caravans who now want to go to a motorhome because they are easier than towing. Some people have never done anything like this, and some have travelled overseas all their lives and they want to start looking at Australia.
Do you have repeat customers?
Yes I do. Some trade in for a different layout or model or they want a later model. We have had some who sell theirs privately and then they miss it and want to come back and buy another one. We get a lot of referrals, too. It’s a good part of our business. We really thank our customers and give them a fuel voucher if they refer someone to us. If they need help down the line, with parts or advice or need a service in other parts of the country, we have contacts through THL to be able to guide them in the right direction to trusted repairers.
What is your favourite camper itinerary?
I love jumping into a motorhome with my wife and son heading down to the South West Coast of WA to enjoy the best beaches and wineries in Australia! I have some top surf spots around the Gracetown area.
Do you have a favourite holiday park?
Reflections Holiday Park in Seal Rocks, NSW. We were in Byron Bay for the Splendour in the Grass music festival in 2009 and we were driving a motorhome back through NSW, saw a sign for Seal Rocks and decided to turn off. It was just a magical drive down a winding forrested road that opened up to two beautiful bays and a lighthouse - it was really magical. The park is near Treachery Bay, where there is some really good surf.
Your top tip for motorhome buyers?
A lot of people who we sell to wish they had done it ages ago. If you are thinking about it, we always say just try it and at least rent one. If you love it, you can come and buy what you’d rented through us. Life’s short and we think you should just get out there. If you have it, then you will use it. With a motorhome or campervan you aren’t restricted as you are when you stay in a hotel. You can get up one day and you might travel 100km down the road, but because you have everything with you, you can stay where you end up. It’s the freedom that they offer.
Introducing Peter Heffernan, owner of Wallaby Motorhomes in Sydney, who chats to us today about about all things motorhomes.
He and his team specialise in motorhomes and here he chats about the business and the customers he serves.
How long have you been in business?
I have been in business for 25 years previously selling light commercial vehicles but wholly in motorhomes for 22 years once we started our arrangement with THL. We had a business before and dabbled with campervans and motorhomes but then into a relationship with THL. We are the longest partner with THL.
What are some of the changes you've seen?
Probably the inclusions. Now it is pretty standard to have things like solar panels. They had showers and toilets before, but they are a lot more refined now. The vehicles are lighter and nicer to drive and on better chassis and then there’s fuel efficiency. Previously you had very heavy vehicles on a truck chassis whereas now a lot of them are built on Mercedes and they are very easy to drive, very car-like. That’s the biggest transition. And everything THL does is car licence of course.
Do you only sell thl models?
Absolutely - always have. We have remained true to the brand because of the original handshake agreement that we had. It was a gentleman’s agreement that we would sell them and they would rent them – we have never rented a motorhome even though we’ve had plenty of opportunities to do so. THL has its own rental outlets so we just refer them on.
Do you get people who have rented wanting to buy?
Yes, we do get a bit of that. A lot of people are unsure and so once they have rented one they realise it isn’t daunting. They are a big-looking vehicle, and that’s another thing that has evolved – they are all automatic transmissions whereas previously a lot were manuals. Just the ease of operation is amazing.
Do you sell new and ex-rentals?
Yes, but we have mainly ex-rentals. And we have models which are only nine to 12 months old and still covered under factory manufacturer’s warranty.
Tell us about the Wallaby Moniker?
All our models are rebranded as a Wallaby – it’s a brand that I came up with about 18 years ago. The main reason for that is when you see a Wallaby you know that it is privately owned. The Wallaby has always been a sales brand. We see vehicles we sold 18 years ago which are still branded – it’s basically a moving billboard for us.
Do customers want to customise their ex-rental?
The stigma has gone from ex-rentals and people see them now as a very well maintained and serviceable item. They seem to be more durable, especially the Maui and Kea product. They are built tougher and people recognise that. And they represent incredible value for money. We get a lot of people who have bought another motorhome and they come in and look at ours and are seriously depressed because of what they have paid elsewhere. We are basically a factory outlet. Our motorhomes come straight from the source and there is no middleman and we have a steady supply all the time.
Do you have a favourite RV?
Not really because the models change. I do prefer a bigger vehicle. If it is just myself and my wife going away we would still take a six-berth because you get more room. So probably one of the bigger vehicles on a Mercedes chassis. That’s the comfort zone.
How have your customers changed over the years?
A big change is people getting out of caravans. They hadn’t embraced motorhomes because there wasn’t a big supply of used models in Australia, not like there is today. People don’t always like the hitching process, the fuel consumption when towing and the fact that they need to spend $100,000 on a tow vehicle. And then you add on $80,000 for a caravan, and they think, well we could buy a motorhome for $60,000 or $70,000. Now we also see families buying them. The beauty of these units is that they retain their value. We have people who bought their motorhomes three years ago and they get their money back. It’s amazing.
Do you often have repeat customers?
Yes, and we are starting to see more of that as well. We have customers who bought something 10 - 15 years ago and they are very loyal to the brand and have had a good run out their motorhome and want a newer model. We get a lot of business through referrals and word of mouth.
What about warranty on your vehicles?
From the start, we put a three-year warranty on our vehicles and that is included in the price. Everywhere else is an extra – it’s not with us. That’s why as part of our branding we call ourselves ‘The Home of the Three-Year Warranty’. We outsource the servicing aspect of the business.
What tips do you give first-time buyers about motorhomes?
My sales guys are governed by what customers want. They will ask questions and if they have no understanding at all then my team will go through and explain to them the ins and outs of motorhome and things like free camping. It is really conditional on what experience people have had. Some have had caravans or motorhomes before, but if they are new to it then we suggest to them that they start taking it away of a weekend and get used to it, and then go further afield.
Do you get calls from customers on the road?
Absolutely. The other day we had one from a couple who called us to say they had no power. They had gone to a caravan park and plugged it in and nothing worked. One of my sales guys said ‘can you walk out of the motorhome and follow the lead, and where the lead is plugged in, turn it on!’ He hadn’t turned it on! So we use our experience with calls like that. The guy just burst out laughing and said ‘so sorry!’ They might feel embarrassed but we have heard it all before.
What is it about motorhoming that makes an attractive travel lifestyle?
It’s the fact that you are almost like a turtle – you take your house with you. You have your car, your kitchen and accommodation. You unpack once and you are in your own bed. So you are not getting used to a mattress in a hotel every night. And if you are going to have a drink you just park it somewhere and stay the night.
Have you travelled a lot?
A friend of ours years ago nicknamed us ‘the turtles’. We did a lot of travelling with our three children and we did quite a few trips in holidays across different parts of Australia. They love it – they are some of their fondest memories. We would love to take six to 12 months and take our time travelling around Australia, not rushing. That’s a dream.