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Inspiring Conversations with Bradley Piersons of California Custom Vans

Today we’d like to introduce you to Bradley Piersons.

Hi Bradley, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
It all started with the age old quest to wake up at the beach. While working nights at a bar, I began to find it increasingly frustrating to leave work and drive right past my favorite surf spot, only to wake up a few hours later to return to said spot for my daily ritual. While I enjoyed my job, my wit, heavy pours and endless stream of compliments did not afford me the amount of tips required to walk out of my front door and onto the sand. Unless, of course, that sand was in the desert. Not great for surfing. So, I decided that I would trade in my beat up SUV for a small van that would allow me to drive straight to the beach after work, sleep in the back and wake up to surf my favorite spot. I was saving time, gas money, and having a little adventure a few times a week. No beachfront estate necessary. After a couple of months, the trickle of comments like “can I buy this off you” or “you should do this for a living” had turned into an overflowing bucket of requests. I put my van up for sale and not more than a week later, my very first customer flew down from Sacramento, handed me a check and headed off into the sunset. Just kidding. She drove straight into rush hour traffic. Great time to get to know your new van, right? That was it. I quit my job, bought another van and never looked back. As cliché as it sounds, it seemed as though my calling had found me. My varied life experiences ranging from designer to auto detailer, from fabricating skateparks to fashioning expansive low voltage systems and everything in between had acutely prepared me for just this. I absolutely loved building my first van. Perhaps more than using it. Now I get to experience that joy every day.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I’d have to say that my biggest challenge is being a one man shop. I take pride in personally answering every email and so much of my enjoyment comes from hand making each and every piece of my projects. But, there are only so many hours in a day and a fair amount of the pieces I build are far too heavy for one person to handle safely. So while being personally involved in every aspect of my work is a point of pride, it’s also a point of pulled muscles and lack of sleep.

As you know, we’re big fans of California Custom Vans. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
California Custom Vans is a dedicated custom shop. Every single van is built from scratch to each customer’s specifications. No stock cabinetry from Lowe’s, no pre-fab kitchens, no predetermined templates from the interwebs. 100% custom built from floor to ceiling meaning that every detail of every van is carefully considered and created with just one customer in mind.

Any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general?
While I don’t have a one on one mentor, per say, I do have the honor of having a handful of intelligent, caring and experienced people in my life to guide me along the way. Whether it’s calling my brother for wiring advice, getting business guidance from my buddy Dan or, simply talking my lifelong friend, Jen’s, ear off between clear coats, I have an amazing network of support that has helped me through almost every aspect of my work.

So, I would say, take the help from anywhere you can get it. While there likely isn’t one person who can answer all of your questions and guide you down the path you dream of, there are plenty of people in your life with specific areas of expertise that you might find relate to your goals. Listen to those that love you and take everything with a grain of salt. And, just like candy, don’t take advice from strangers off the street.

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Image Credits
Jeannine Rublee, Lauren Hensgens, Kallen Schneider, Me!

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