Field Van in Fresno replaced former Sportsmobile West July 1 after owner Johnny Feld went his own way with the company. A one-year non-compete clause kept Feld from bringing the Field Van name to the south Fresno industrial building it had previously occupied. Photos by Edward Smith
Written by Edward Smith
After a yearlong hiatus, a local business is back to outfitting vans for off-road and other utility uses, but under a different name and with a new sales plan.
Field Van in Fresno replaced former Sportsmobile West July 1 after owner Johnny Feld went his own way with the company. A one-year non-compete clause kept Feld from bringing the Field Van name to the south Fresno industrial building.
Now, Feld has 80 employees installing cabinetry, camper tops, bunk beds and four-wheel drive capability into all types of vans.
Feld says he is incorporating a new sales strategy into selling the off-road autos. Instead of offering fully customizable options, Feld said nine stock floor plans will cover the needs for 90% of his customers. It will allow the company to turn out vans faster. Fully custom options are still available.
“We’ve done thousands of these vans — we know what works,” Feld said.
Even with the yearlong break, demand was strong and Feld says order-fulfillment is around 18 months. He has a waitlist of 165 customers. In the transition, time was spent fulfilling previous orders. And throughout the pandemic, demand only increased with people wanting to go outdoors and socially distance.
The off-road utility vans out of Fresno can be seen across the country and as far as Australia and the Middle East. Under the Sportsmobile name, 18 vans had been custom-fitted as search-and-rescue vehicles for Qatar. Following the explosion in Lebanon in 2020, they were sent to aid in the disaster recovery.
At the consumer end, Feld said people still want campers. Self-driving technology and adaptive cruise control is beginning to become popular with the vehicles. And while drivers will still be hands-on when taking their vans off-road, Feld said it is still nice to be able to let automation take over for the journey to your destination.
The business relocated to Fresno from San Diego in 1990, and operated in a couple locations before coming to a facility off Central Avenue near Highway 99.