With an increase in staycations in the UK this year due to the COVID pandemic, caravanning has become more popular than ever, creating a strong demand for these vehicles and their parts. So ATF Professional took the opportunity to speak to the owner of KTG Caravans and Campers (KTG), Karl Pearce, about his salvage business and how it has been affected by the current situation.
In the beginning
Based in Newcastle-Under-Lyme, Staffordshire, the business began in August 2010. Karl is ex-Royal Navy and was medically discharged. He went from job to job, and then he approached the Prince’s Trust for the young start-up business course. After completing the course, he received a loan to start the business.
Karl began by dismantling caravans to sell for parts and accessories and, over time, the business has grown successfully. He now works alongside claims and insurance companies to whom he offers a collection, storage and disposal service. KTG pays a percentage of the pre-accident value, depending on the categorisation applied, and also does repairs on behalf of some of the insurers.
KTG has progressed as a business and is currently in the process of having a claims management system built so that updates to claims can be made by both insurance companies and themselves online, making it a less time-consuming part of the process.
Caravans have always been a part of Karl’s life right from birth, and it seems that the majority of his family growing up had either a caravan or campervan. Karl and his partner are also caravanners, so the business is not just a job, it’s more than this; it’s what he lives and breathes – it’s a way of life. He is passionate about it.
What is the dismantling process?
When a caravan, campervan or motorhome comes into the yard; it is inspected. The main factor to consider is damp as this can be a killer for caravans and coach-built motorhomes. First, a damp test is conducted, then its value has to be considered – is it worth more in its entirety? How much will it cost to repair? Is it worth repairing? If it’s worth more in parts, it will go straight into the warehouse where it is stripped right down to the shell (the shell goes off to metal recyclers to be crushed). They are left with all parts, everything from windows to cushions and wheels to axles.
There is no depollution process with a caravan other than if any Calor gas bottles are remaining. But KTG is fortunate to have a company just down the road who recycles these, so it doesn’t keep any gas on site.
For campervans and motorhomes, the depollution process is not conducted by them; after they have taken all the habitation parts away from these vehicles, the rest of the vehicle is dismantled by a company they work alongside, called Hamptons Scrap Metal Dealers. The latter dismantle the engines and remove any fluids. KTG purely focuses on removing the habitation parts of the vehicles.
Categorisation – is it the same for caravans?
The salvage CoP categorisation is the same as other vehicles. The process is similar; the claims assessor will assess it depending on the damage, for example, if a caravan has been damaged by being driven through a narrow exit (as sometimes the driver doesn’t realise the caravan is wider than the car it’s being towed by), it would be classed as a CAT N (non-structural). A CAT S is categorised if, for example, there is damage by a fallen tree which has knocked the structure of the caravan/motorhome/campervan. Flood damage is always categorised as a CAT B and, finally, for CAT A, if there has been a fire and there is virtually nothing left to salvage.
What is your relationship with insurance companies?
KTG can provide collections nationwide and in Europe. It has the facility to store caravans whilst claims are ongoing and can arrange for repairs to be done on behalf of the insurer using an AWS engineer, or arrange for the disposal of the caravan. KTG has an agreed percentage of the Pre Accident Value (PAV) of what is paid for the salvage.
What are the biggest challenges?
As with many vehicle dismantlers, illegal operators seem to be the frustrating aspect of the industry. Karl gave one such example of operations taking place near to his business, where work is being done in residential driveways. One, in particular, is stripping caravans on some land next to the home and parts are being sold through social media. They have no licences and therefore, unlikely to offer any warranty. They take the money, and the deal is done without any aftercare service. This puts people off buying second-hand parts because of the way these operators make their cash. In contrast, Karl’s business, as a legitimate operator, offers a minimum of three months warranty on everything they sell. All parts are tried and tested. KTG is fully licensed to do what it does. Karl said:
“It is frustrating that we are fully licensed, we pay our fees, and do the courses required, while the illegal operators seem to do as they please with very little being done about it.”
So how do you sell parts?
Although KTG has a small eBay shop, the demand from customers coming to them directly means there is no time to list items online. Most sales for vehicles, parts and accessories are conducted directly at KTG. Every part can be supplied, from windows, cookers, beds, and air-con units, literally everything required in a mobile home.
“We sell decent caravans, campervans and motorhomes – anything which is not resaleable will be dismantled for parts.”
With regards to the current situation of COVID, the staycation would have been seen as a more viable option than travelling overseas, how has this affected business?
Karl told us that there has been a huge increase in sales, with an increase of around 25-30% in caravan sales and parts sales. As far as the salvage side goes, they have been salvaging more, and it seems that many people have been updating caravans or upgrading to a newer vehicle.
Due to the high demand from consumers at this time, KTG has been struggling with its supply and stock is low. They need more caravans, motorhomes, campervans and parts, and will happily take stock from vehicle dismantlers who do not deal with these particular vehicles.
As an industry-leading caravan salvage agent, KTG is a fully licensed company and its service extends throughout the whole of the UK and Europe by offering a collection service using its recovery vehicles.
If you would like to find out more about KTG Caravans and Campers, contact Karl on 01782 636306 or visit its website at www.ktgcaravansandcampers.com