01.02.2023

„I was the biggest caravan seller”

Nicu Oișdean – www.autorulote.ro

Please present yourself in a few words.

My name is Nicolae Oișdean, I was born in Mureș, Târnăveni, I went to highschool in Blaj, the university I attended in Bucharest. Caravan clients know me by a simpler name:mister Nicu.

How did you get into this business?

Approximatelyo there were some important economical hardships, I had some money blocked in a big Romanian company, which was rumored to be heading towards bankruptcy, or incapacity of payment. Since then, I proposed to myself , to be the first in a domain which was at its beginnings in Romania. That’s how I got into caravans. By now, I think we’ve sold around 600-650 caravans in Romania together in 16 years of activity.

Have you ever sold vehicles before? What inspired the caravan idea?

There were some weekends, spent with my family, when we’d go to Peștera Urșilor, around Bihor- Oradea. When we were heading back, there were many vans going the opposite direction, leaving the country, and we talked amongst us, from now on we’re going to begin a van business, and this was the beginning.

What was the first investment? What was the beginning?

It was a empty market, but a difficult one too. The first step we took was participating to a International Auto Exposition that took place in Bucharest, Băneasa. From there, it all started to flow. The business started in Sibiu, in 2002. I was the biggest caravan seller in Central and Eastern Europe. Why? Because Europe in 2007 and 2008 was already succumbing to the crisis, and Romanian not yet, that is one of the reasons of our success in the Romanian market.

Have you colaborated with foreign partners? What brands do you work with?

From the beginning we decided to be direct importers of a single brand. We began in 2002 with the brand Adria, which is manufactured in Slovenia. It was a brad that, at that time, we liked very much, but sadly today it is too expensive for the Romanian market. If we had a German brand, probably, we would have gotten further than this. In 2002-2008-2010 people didn’t know: Who? Where? And How?. Slovenia-where is Slovenia. Have I heard of it? I haven’t. Now people know a lot more. It was a little hard for us, but we managed to sell a few hundred pieces.

Are you working with Adria now, or have you expanded your portfolio with other brands?

We haven’t sold Adria in a few years, but we do have in our portfolio more than 20 European brands. We expanded selling brands starting from entry-level ones, and reaching 80-90-150 thousand €.

What are the differences between cheap caravand and luxurious ones?

What does entry-level mean? They all have interior equipment, what differs is its level, the interior design, the way, the place they are made. A salary in Hungary doesn’t compare to an Italian one, we’re talking factory salaries. An Italian one compared to one from Northern Germany. From here comes the big price difference that clients are surprised by: “Why? Why such a difference?”.

What is the sistem? Do you do orders, or do you have vans on stock?

These years we have orders that we send a year prior. The orders that exist now were placed a year ago, in june or july. Unfortunately, it is hard to say which is better. When Europe was in crisis, we had caravans at our discretion, a full list we could pick from.

If a client comes in and says: I want a van in a week. What do you say?

At the moment, it’s more difficult, you have to order a year in advance. It’s very hard to deliver in a week, exactly according to the client’s wishes. Of course, we have a product list that we show the client. “This is the list”, and we try to find the closest product to what they want.

How do you see the Romanian’s apetite for this kind of turism? Did they develop a passion for caravanning?

In the last years, after the end of the crisis in Europe and Romania, you could see a joy, an increase in demand, especially coming from families with children,and people who realise the advantages of having a caravan. A caravan brings the family together. We have clients that said “I can’t believe it, in this short period, my family bonded so much”, because they spend one week or two in the same small but comfortable space.

Do you take part in specialized fairs? Are there caravan fairs in Romania?

At the same time, these are people who, at the time of the revolution were 25. Add 25, you get people who are around 50, who had different living conditions, who managed to save up, who think about their future and the remaining years of retirement, and these caravans. In the last year, when there is an important event, we participate. We have participated in all the fairs from 2002 to 2007-2008, which was the last fair organized by The International Auto Exposition Bucharest, in Otopeni.This year, last year, and 5 years ago, it is an exposition specified in boats, but lately there is a special section for caravans and their accessories. To the external fairs we are visitors, every year, to the biggest exposition in Dusseldorf. Come autumn, we probably won’t go to Dusseldorf, but we will participate in all the other fairs in Germany, with new products, our products, which are made under our own brand.

In which country or part of Europe are the biggest sales? Which people love this kind of turism the most? Do you have a statistic?

In 2016, in Germany 40 thousand caravans got sold, and in Italy, 4 thousand. You can see the difference -we’re talking autovans, not detachable ones- a difference of economical power. Everyone likes this kind of turism, Italians, Englishmen, Germans. But the economical differences between Germans and Italians is what we were talking about.

How do you see the Romanian caravan market in the next few years? Do you forsee any evolution?

In Romania it grows annually with approximately 30%. What does a 30% increase mean to 50 caravans. Insignificant. 15. Let’s brag, we actually grew by 40%, out of 30 caravans, it means 12. It’s a major point of interest, but I don’t see a big revolution in sales, sincerely, with an experience of so many years behind me. I want to tell you, in Europe, in the last 4 years, due to the conflicts in the Middle East, due to the terrorist attacks, due to the fact that Europeans don’t visit the middle eastern countries anymore, it grew with 40%, extraordinary much in 3 years.

Name three brands: cheap, medium, and expensive.

An affordable caravan brand is Weinsberg, an entry-level one, very welcome on the European market. A medium level is Knaus, who as well is well liked. Another medium one is Hobby, and we like to say that the Mercedes of caravans is Tabbert, when we talk detachables. When we talk autovans, there are many worth mentioning. Starting with Rimor which is an entry-level, the next would be a very beautiful one, Sunlite, Laika is a high-level one, expensive. A medium brand is Chausson, a French brand. And when we get into the biggest integrated brand, Carthago, one of the biggest and most beautiful on the market. The most expensive are Hymer, which reach 150 thousand €. We’re talking B driving category ones especially, under 3.4 tones. Not the ones over, which are around 10-12 meters.

Can you make a comparison between the European and American markets?

I have to make a comparison: I think the Europeans are behind the Americans, because in my opinion they copied the Americans. The difference is that the Americans have a big country, so their caravans are big too. In Europe it’s impossible. Why? Because of the restrictions. 3.5 tones. The moment you enter town, there are extremely many conditions you have to meet.

What’s the best moment to order a van?

The best moment for an order is september-october. The moment after the family comes from their holiday. Because we saw, they came back, they saw a lot of what is happening in Europe, and at that moment they need to think. We don’t ask for much: 5 thousand € in advance, for starting the fabrication of the model they want. Otherwise, it is very difficult for us, and for the client. The later, the bigger the delay.

How long does it take between giving the advance and getting the van?

From the moment of giving the advance, it means around 4 months. The client needs to be prepared and order it as soon as they can, to get it in time for the summer holidays.

Can the client choose any layout?

The client, first of all, plays with the interior arrangement, which means the placement of the beds, the living room, the bathroom, the toilet. That’s what the client needs to decide. After they’ve decided, the layout, we can talk about the level of equipment, interior design, furnishings, upholstery, and the other accessories needed: AC, photovoltaic cells, antennas.

In Romania, do the campers have where to actually camp? Are there verified locations in our country?

Lately, it’s true, in Romania we have around 100 well known locations, verified by other European countries, so they can be integrated into different promotional sites.

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