Mobile office by day, stealthy hotel room by night, Guy Dalphond’s Northern Lite is an essential tool for his consulting business. It’s also a social seeking party machine.
One of our all-time favorite business authors is Seth Godin. Among his many celebrated concepts is the idea of offering a “Free Prize Inside”, a free product benefit that directly appeals to the end consumer. We all know this classic marketing ploy from the cheap toys food companies would stuff into kids cereal boxes throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s.
The “Free Prize Inside” concept occurred to me when we were working the Springfield RV Show last month. In our attempt to explain the many benefits of truck camping, we would mention the incredible rallies and jamborees and how much fun they are. We would talk about how easy it is to pull into a service station, restaurant, or main street shopping area. We would go on and on mercilessly about how much more relaxed truck camping can be because we’re only about the size of a UPS truck and can go anywhere a pickup truck can go.
None of these qualities can be seen when you look at a truck camper at a RV show. You can’t “see” how amazing our truck camping community is when you’re looking at a truck camper. You can’t “see” the relaxed freedom of the truck camping lifestyle. These “Free Prizes” are something you only get when you buy the camper. But unlike the cheap toys I always found at the bottom of my Captain Crunch box, these “free prizes” are amazing.
Speaking of amazing, Guy Dalphond may be the most enthusiastic truck camper we’ve ever met. As a French Canadian, Guy learned to speak English so he could better understand and engage our truck camping community. Long before he knew about our “free prizes” he bought a truck and camper and jumped into the lifestyle. We met Guy at the 2010 Mid Atlantic soon after he had bought his Northern Lite. He was as excited as a kid digging into a box of Lucky Charms for a secret decoder ring.
Above: Guy in a friend’s roadster. He joked that he almost traded for his camper.
TCM: How did you get into camping and truck camping?
Guy: I have been camping for a long time. In fact, my parents first introduced me to camping under a tent. Later we upgraded to a trailer. I had such memorable experiences camping with my parents and that really helped my interest for camping.
Later on I traveled by bicycle in Canada and New England. Even then I would practice bicycle camping. Following that, I traded in pedals for a motor, and continued my travels on motorcycle, but still I was camping. From motorcycle, I transferred to a sailboat, which is a similar environment to a RV.
My family grew and two children filled our everyday life. So it was a return to camping under a tent. From the tent, we migrated to a fifth wheel in order to accommodate our growing kids. We then spent many summers in Quebec and discovered, once again, the states of Maine, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Florida.
The children still came with us on camping trips, but not as often. Then we adjusted our traveling to be more flexible as we visited friends, boondocked, and also used our RV as an office. After analyzing different options we decided on a truck camper.
TCM: Tell us about using your truck camper as an office.
Guy: My work forces me to travel frequently throughout Quebec, all year long, whatever the season. We already had a fifth wheel and our truck. We decided to buy a truck camper first and foremost as an office on wheels. Before buying it, I met with truck camper owners who really praised the benefits of owning a truck camper. Then we acquired the truck camper. Two years later we sold our fifth wheel. From then on, the truck camper has had two purposes, work and leisure.
Above: Guy’s Northern Lite parked in regular parking spaces or parallel parked on the side of the road.
TCM: How did the truck camper replace the fifth wheel as your RV of choice?
Guy: Our truck camper is always ready and it takes only a few minutes to leave for a short trip. We can go places that were impossible of access with the fifth wheel. We can easily visit our friends and family members and park in their driveways. We can also simply park in a regular parking space.
On some occasions, we have used our camper as a secondary house when a member of the family was ill. Furthermore, the truck camper is easier to drive for both my spouse and myself. Upkeep is also easier and we spend more time camping than washing or maintaining the camper.
As an mobile office, there are also many advantages to the truck camper. I live in my mobile office, so I can manage my time more efficiently with my travels and I avoid traffic jams. I can sleep and eat in the same place, and spend more time with my customers instead of being on the road. All my customers are impressed by the comfort of my truck camper.
Once the work day finishes, I can take time to visit and discover the surroundings or meet friends living in the area where I am located.
Between work and vacations, I use my truck camper twelve months a year. Living in a truck camper is not a big challenge if you are made for this lifestyle. I just love it. I am into my own things. I listen to my music. I cook meals to my taste. I would say that I am a very happy camper. Honestly, it is not difficult because my truck camper is more than a RV or a mobile office, it’s a way of life.
Above: Guy stayed at a friend’s place for a week and still had his truck to travel around the area.
TCM: Tell us about the transition from the fifth wheel to the truck camper. Were there any problems in moving to a camper with less space and storage?
Guy: The transition from a fifth wheel to a truck camper was easy because the truck camper corresponds more to our needs now. The truck camper has a queen size bed, a toilet, a shower, a furnace, a refrigerator, and other amenities. Therefore, I have the same basic items as we had in our fifth wheel. Again, the advantage is that the camper takes less time to maintain and we are able to spend more time outside.
TCM: What brought you to Northern Lite?
Guy: I looked at several truck campers. Some were really interesting, but the decision was rather easy. Having already had a sailboat, I was immediately allured by the fiberglass clam shell construction of Northern Lite. Moreover, I did not want a slide out because I often need to park my RV in downtown areas such as Montreal or Quebec. I also wanted to be able to have easy access to my truck camper at anytime without having to open a slide out.
Northern Lite truck campers had the characteristics I sought including four season insulation and light weight. The winter in Quebec is demanding for a RV and I wanted to use my truck camper when temperatures go under -5 F.
Above: The first day when Guy’s truck and camper met.
TCM: How did you choose your Northern Lite?
Guy: I picked up an exchange on an internet forum in Quebec where someone referred to truck campers and Northern Lite. I contacted and met the author of the post, Mario. He invited me to see his Northern Lite and told me about the advantages of a truck camper.
I later wrote an email to various Northern Lite dealers in the United States and Canada. Charlie’s Garage in North Carolina called me back and asked me questions about the payload capacity of my truck and other information. I was already going to Myrtle Beach on business and stopped by their dealership.
On my return to Quebec, I went on the internet and discovered Truck Camper Magazine. I found an archive of very interesting information, so I subscribed. When you are new in a field, it is interesting to obtain objective information and read the articles about other truck camper owners. From there, the sequence of beautiful meetings continued. It is important for me to say that I really appreciated the mutual aid and collaboration from the truck camper community.
After discovering Truck Camper Magazine, I decided to write Gordon to obtain various information. To my surprise, he answered me back and gave me all the information I needed. In particular, he told me about the rallies. I then heard about the Mid-Atlantic Truck Camper Rally which is held every April in Virginia.
I thus decided to go to buy my truck camper in April and take this occasion to go to the Mid-Atlantic Truck Camper Rally. Once I got to the rally, I met Ron and Michele who took care in accommodating me and was impressed by the reception I received. At first I thought that it must be only passing. Well it was not. This is when I met Anne and Joe and Mike and Cathie who invited me to supper. It was a good start! During the supper I met several members of North East Truck Camping Jamboree. Wow, even more good times and more extraordinary reception.
Although satisfied with my truck camper, I can say that the people I met during the course of my travels contributed to make me appreciate my truck camper even more.
Above: Don, Pat, and Guy at a North-East Truck Camping Rally.
I also met Jayne and Rob, Jim and Cathy, Paula and Jerry, Kim and Bruce, and my neighbors, Don and Pat. The people I’ve met through the rallies were more than enough for me to fall in love with the truck camping lifestyle. All that was left was for me to complete my learning of English.
Above: Here are Guy’s English teachers.
TCM: How did you go about learning to speak English?
Guy: I have been taking English courses in Quebec for a little more than two years. Now I can sit down around a fire and understand what people say and listen to all the adventures of my friends.
My English is not perfect and I still have much work to do, but the members of the North East Truck Camping Jamboree are understanding and have helped me learn a second language. This is super because I like the folk music songs, Nascar, and American history. To be able to read and speak English enables me to discover another universe.
TCM: How do you use your camper as a mobile office?
Guy: I work as a quality consultant for manufacturing companies, service companies, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. The quality evaluations last from five to seven days during which time I need to be on site with the customer.
Before my arrival, I survey the customer to get their reaction to the idea of my arrival in a RV. So far I’ve always had the blessing of my customers to use my truck camper. I often setting down at a local campsite or parking lot for a few days, or stay directly at the customer’s place.
Sometimes I must wait a one day or two between customer visits. As most customers are far from my home, I take the between time to work in my camper to prepare for meetings or to prepare different documents. In the evening, I visit the area, go to the movies, or simply take walks.
Above: Guy uses his camper as a mobile office and camps in all kinds of weather.
TCM: You chose a Northern Lite partially because you wanted to be able to camp in cold weather. How has that worked out so far?
Guy: The Northern Lite is very comfortable, even under minus five degrees Fahrenheit. It is necessary to manage and monitor the battery and propane levels when running the heat in such cold conditions. When I can, I use a portable propane heater to maintain the temperature at 68 degrees Fahrenheit. I also added a special insulator under the mattress in order to isolate the bed. The exterior camper locks have been the biggest challenge in the cold. They remain functional, but tend to freeze. Finally, the truck camper is washed and waxed twice during the winter to protect it.
It is quite a pleasure to look out at a snowstorm from the interior of the RV, while having a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. Sometimes I have to go out and remove a little snow, but what a pleasure to return to a warm camper once the job is finished.
Above: Guy and Angela White, Editor of Truck Camper Magazine, at the 2010 Mid-Atlantic Truck Camper Rally.
TCM: We met you at the Mid-Atlantic Truck Camper Rally and saw you at the Carlisle North-East Truck Camping Jamboree last year. What do you think of the truck camper rallies and jamborees?
Guy: The truck camper rallies and jamborees are extraordinary. They are an occasion to meet interesting people, to speak about truck camping, to eat well, to have a good time, and visit the East Coast. I will return to Mid-Atlantic Truck Camper Rally this year and also take part in rallies held by North-East Truck Camping Jamboree.
The rallies and jamborees are more than events. They are large gatherings of good friends who get together to have a good time. People share news and feed their passion of truck camping. The North-East Truck Camping Jamboree organizes rallies in different places including Salem, Carlisle, Gettysburg, Freeport, Milton and other interesting places. I also benefit from visiting friends who I have met at the rallies and jamborees and camping on their premises.
Above: Guy’s rig parked in a friend’s driveway.
TCM: Is there anything I haven’t asked you that you’d like to add to your interview?
Guy: I would like to say thank you to all the people who helped me to discover truck camping. Gordon and Angela, Chuck, Mike and Cathie, Anne and Joe, Pat and Don, Kim and Bruce, Jim and Cathy, Jay and Rob, Geraldine, Paula and Gerry and the many others that I befriended at the truck camper rallies and jamborees. In particular, I want to thank Mario who was the first person who led me to discover the truck camping universe.
Beyond truck camping, there are women and men who work extremely hard in order to promote truck campers or organize rallies and jamborees. Thank you to all.
|GUY DALPHOND’S TRUCK CAMPER RIG|
|Truck: 2007 Dodge Ram 2500 HD, single rear wheel, short bed, 4×4, diesel|
|Camper:2010 Northern Lite 8-11 Queen Classic Special Edition|
|Tie-downs and Turnbuckles: Torklift|
|Suspension Enhancements: Firestone Airbags, one more leaf spring|
|Gear: For winter, I added autonomous heating not using the battery, a fan to improve air circulation and a generator|