Hobus is Dries Van Gils, born in 1986, traveling since 2004 and building vans since 2010. He is passionate about vehicles, technics, woodworking, traveling and surfing. He runs his own company where he does van conversions, big and small and basically everything you would need to update your van. His love and passion for travel and helping people realise their dreams reflects in everything Hobus does. He is a good friend of ours and he build our first house on wheels called “Heron”.
What was the motivation behind starting Hobus?
There was not just one motivator that led me to start Hobus, it was more like a path leading me there slowly but surely. After years of random jobs which did not really do it for me, I ran into a dead end. It might be a cliché, but I wanted to do something that I’m not only good at, but also love to do. That was, and is, building campervans. Combine that with the praise I received from friends and family about my builds, I just had to give it a go!
photograph by alwayshungry
How did you get into the conversions of Vans?
I guess it all started at a very young age. As a baby I learned how to crawl with a matchbox car in each hand and my first word as a child was ‘car’. Being a toddler wanting a car with curtains, it might have been written in the stars.
By the time I got my driver’s license, years before ‘vanlife’ was a thing, I got my hands on an old Volkswagen T4. I chucked a mattress in the back and had the summer of my life. Driving from festival to festival and from country to country. By the end of that summer I knew I would be doing this for a long time. When the warm weather was over, I emptied the van and started my first conversion. When it was nearly finished, I emptied it again. I could do better, so I started all over again. That van was my travel companion for many years. Fun fact: Betsie, that’s her name, is still in use and happily traveling around with its current owner. After Betsie, many more vans came and went. Each time I finished a build, I wanted to start all over again, eventually leading up to building vans professionally.
What are the keys to success for doing a conversion?
For me professionally, the key is to get to know my customers. Get inside their head. Ask questions, listen, feel and go on until I know exactly what my customer wants. For DIY’ers, the key must be patience. Because building a van takes a lot of time, especially when you have limited experience.
How is Hobus trying to contribute to a more sustainable lifestyle?
First of all, I’m trying to get rid of all those terrible chemical toilets. Please, people, leave the chemical toilets behind and go for a composting toilet. That being said, I think sustainability goes hand in hand with quality. Therefore I aim to deliver high quality builds that will last a very long time.
What is your most memorable camping spot?
Having spent 1000+ nights camping and tramping with a van, it’s hard to choose. Camping on a deserted little beach underneath palm trees on the Mediterranean coastline in Spain for over a week, building an extensive camp and eating self-caught fish does tick all the boxes, doesn’t it?
If you could convert anything into a living space, what would you do?
As long as it has wheels, I’m good. If it has wheels that can go virtually anywhere, I’m a happy camper. The new Mercedes Sprinter 4×4 is high on the list.
Lastly, what can people expect from Hobus in the future?
In the near future Hobus will be relocating to a new workshop. Not bigger, just better. In the long run you can expect Hobus to stay small and humble. The personal approach towards customers and projects I am so proud of will be the baseline in the future, just as it is today.