Kimberley Kampers Enters Liquidation

Article by · July 26, 2018 ·

Two weeks ago I travelled through outback New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia with the owner of Kimberley Kampers and some of the brand’s dealers and staff. It was an incredible two weeks in which we shared great times around campsites, on top of sand dunes, in outback pubs and even on the side of the road fixing shredded tyres. In the talk and behaviour of everyone, there was an air of excitement and passion, for here was a company that was doing everything it could to make itself better and put behind it the problems of the last 12 months, problems which included significant staff reductions and a round of voluntary liquidation.

Yesterday, Kimberley Kampers entered liquidation. This morning, the company director confirmed it for me. All of Kimberley Kampers’ staff have been told they’re no longer employed, and there are security guards at the gates of the premises preventing anything, or anyone, going in or out. What this means for customers or those owed money by the company is yet to be seen – we’ve contacted the firm appointed to liquidate the company, but haven’t had a response.

No one, it seems, has lost more than Kimberley’s owner, Todd Cannock, who invested into the business about two years ago and has been the one bankrolling the operation since its voluntary receivership in December last year, which also saw the resignation of former director Bruce Loxton. Todd, who I have known since before he invested in Kimberley, and who I consider a friend, told me he’s invested millions into the business just this year alone, but couldn’t see it turning around. From my perspective, it hasn’t been for lack of trying – rarely have I seen someone so passionate about a product or a brand, and in the last six months alone there have been significant updates and upgrades to all of the products. kimberley kampers in dust

Staff there are understandably disappointed. All of them, according to Ron Borton, who’d been with the company just a few months shy of 22 years, could see the improvements in the quality and production of the KK products. Ron, who was on the trip to the outback I mentioned earlier, told me he thought the business was just on the tipping point – everything had been put in place to see its success. “I think it was a silly decision, if you ask me,” he tells me of the closure. All of the staff, he says, had felt more positive after the dramas surrounding the voluntary liquidation and were very welcoming of more stringent quality control and improved products.

This is a significant blow to the community in Ballina, of which Kimberley employed around 65 to 70 people, and the the manufacture of Aussie caravans and camper trailers. As we find out more, we’ll continue to provide updates.

Kimberley has always built high-tech campers and caravans – is this a sign that campers should be kept simple, using older building techniques? Comment below.

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About Brendan Batty

ROAM's fearless editor, Brendan's most often found searching for the next best campsite, or fixing his caravan so it will make it to just one more.

28 Comments

  • comment-avatar

    Pete

    They had the best camper trailers going around for so many years but for some reason changed focus onto the top line off road caravan market. Sad for all the workers who have lost there jobs.

  • comment-avatar

    Shane

    Yet another aussie brand gone such a shame

  • comment-avatar

    Disappointed

    I’m a Kimberly Kamper owner – 10 years old and still about the best you can find. Hard for me to know exactly what’s behind this but I suspect suspect a focus on ever more expensive products has contributed. The Kruiser and the Unimog Kruiser? dones one really need split system Aircon in a camper trailer? If your average model is well north of 100k and the market is flooded sub 20k imports, what might happen next?

  • comment-avatar

    Steve

    I’ve had a Kruiser on order for 9 months which I was initially expecting back in May. I’m relieved to have not paid the big installment expected just prior to production which I was expecting any day, but disappointed nonetheless. I visited the factory in March and found the staff friendly and feeling positive and was reassured about an ever growing order book, so I’d be surprised if they were battling to compete with lower priced products. However I got a feeling that there was something going on that they did not want to talk about, which probably had something to do with the growing delivery delays. If something stops you getting your products out the factory, you are not going to get enough cash in the door and after a time something’s got to give. However, I think their product is great and most people I’ve spoken to agree, so I hope that the assets are not chopped up and sold off, but that someone (brave) picks things up and tries to bring Kimberley back.

  • comment-avatar

    Vickie

    There were a lot more problems with the products & behaviours then a lot were aware off, this is still ongoing issue.

    1. Pick up 25/6/15, 3rd day after pickup, Whole electrical system froze, had to disconnect main battery cable to reset as instructed via phone by factory after finally getting hold of them
    2. Incorrect spare tyre fitted
    3. Tap over outside kitchen wrong shape, water runs on backing of sink
    4. Leak in wardrobe
    5. Cutlery draw not clicking closed
    6. Antenna not working.
    7. Towel rail, crookedly fitted and fell off. (Extremely small screws).
    8. Hinge in wardrobe came off, fixed ourselves
    9. Design fault, Draw not having partitioned area for sink, smashed crockery, not appropriate suggestion given, to keep things away from that area, difficult being a full off road van, rectified ourselves at own cost with aluminium cut & bent to size then riveted
    10. Design fault, Rivets protruding to inside draws, would damage interior items, purchased covers ourselves
    11. Nuts protruding in cupboards, to long & no covers
    12. Holes in lining of cupboards, not there when first viewed, believe after antennae wired up, one with exposed wiring (still not professional repaired x2)
    13. Screws protruding through ensuite top cupboards
    14. No aluminium cover over electrical wiring in ensuite
    15. Drinking water pump excessively loud
    16. Recycle pump excessively loud
    17. Speaker wiring lying lose in cupboards, hard to use as storage
    18. Light wiring unprotected in cupboard, hard to use as storage
    19. Faulty vents
    20. Wiring under bed to long and not secured properly, wiring being squashed
    21. Damage to chassis, drivers side
    Only some repairs had been carried out in Cairns, parts not sent up, more emailing & calls, finally delivered to Cairns Dealer 30/10/15 to send to Caboolture Dealer, did not deliver to Caboolture dealer till 7/11/15, unbeknown to us dealer towed down
    22. Majority of manuals for components missing
    23. Tank levels showing incorrectly, had enter incorrect settings for model
    24. External light not dimmer as advertised on brochure, never been inclusion
    25. No remote for stereo as advertised on brochure
    26. Scratches in bench top
    27. Glue dripped over microwave, marked in bottom, tape not removed (not replaced)
    28. Lot of trial & error with gluing of wiring & lighting through out
    29. Batteries – deep discharged 3 times when received
    30. Wiring drivers side in wardrobe under matting asked to be checked, mess of rubbish & wiring, electrocution & fire concerns, passenger side, build scraps
    31. Main switch on touch screen does not work, so no way to shut down power, discovered after fire that had not even been connected
    32. Not charging via car
    33. Shower damage, patched before plus cracks and stains
    34. Ensuite flooring, screw broken through flooring plus glue & chips
    35. Already patched hole in top cupboard above kitchen
    36. Diesel cooktop no longer working
    37. Fan under kitchen bench no longer working
    38. Blind started fraying
    39. Majority of draws and cupboards have no rubber protectors, caused rubbing
    40. Under bed draws stiff to close, don’t click closed
    41. Not sufficient lighting for outside kitchen and when door opened outside light not much use
    42. Dimmable light over table inside flickers
    43. Ensuite door track, screws flogged out and not holding plus dirt coming in
    44. Water switch tap area not sealed properly, very high intake of dirt, taps different setup to KK manual
    45. Outside kitchen wiring are not sealed properly, very high intake of dirt to kitchen area of which also then enters van through gap under seat on side
    46. Apple TV not working through stereo, works ok through tv/dvd
    47. Antennae for Wi-Fi unsure if working, portable one works better
    48. Chipped laminate
    49. Awning braces, where bent
    50. Dust boot on shocker fell down, we taped up
    51. Dust in entering fantastic fan over shower, not sealing properly
    52. Midgee door screen not wide enough at bottom
    53. Frozen Solar input counter on screen, had been instructed would need update for Philippi screen and never happened, nor full electrical check & testing at Factory as requested
    Collected at our own expense 2/12/15 picked up after being delayed.. Not all completed to standard or some at all, not happy, but had to return to Cairns
    54. Electrical battery, alarms triggering within battery & Philippi screen ongoing for 3mths, from mid-January, not in use, sitting in yard, relayed by phone & email testing to do multiply testing, multiply times over 3mths, one battery finally deemed faulty, replaced within second hand battery, March 2016, as stated none in stock, never replaced.
    55. Lights randomly turning on & off
    56. Even after replacement battery, ongoing electrical issues, alarms triggering, once again, multiply phone & email instructions to change settings, move processing chips, never instructed to take to Cairns KK only asked what direction heading
    57. Solar input low, car input low, alarms still triggering. Instructed when arrive to take to Darwin Auto Electricians to have relay fitted to remedy issue, after pickup, Relay did not remedy issues, same electrical issues, more setting changes via phone
    58. DVD component failed in TV/DVD combo
    59. 7/716- Fire broke out 100km from Geraldton in enclosed battery box wiring of which is contained in the tunnel boot whilst driving, difficultly in extinguishing, inhaled smoke, then instructed via phone had to climb in and disconnect main battery cable on side of road as my reignite, no isolation switch, oh this was over the top of where the fire started. So having to place self at risk.
    60. Collected 22/7/16, Geraldton Auto electrician only installed battery box sent from KK factory. No other components replaced. No full electrical wiring check performed as we requested of KK. Auto electrician unable to perform the associated computer updates required.
    61. Then had to take to KK dealer in Perth-430klm away, not the authorized repairer, booked in Tuesday 26/7/16- replaced & work performed-cmt shunt, replaced Philippi screen, not just updated as stated, grey water tank sensor, portable solar MPPT controller (not main one), strip light in tunnel boot, bolts for battery box, awning winder, digital TV aerial splitter in tunnel boot, new canvas bag with annex-awning poles (as burnt), TV-dvd combo, No other work of which we raised. Stated electrically checked, person who checked was the salesman with only background knowledge in mechanical. Collected 29/7/16. Under duress (our home)
    62. No battery replacement (even one owed) or MPPT controller, other Electrical components, Inverter/Charger etc (all subjected to fire, heat, extinguisher foam)
    63. Water tank volumes not entered correctly again
    64. 1/8/16- once again same electrical issues, alarms triggered, batteries clicking & flashing, system unsynchronized
    65. 2/8/16-Manufacturer owner arrives at Caravan Park, we believe to discuss refund as we requested, informs need to go through Dealer, installs isolator switch, rewires relay, informs solar hasn’t been working correctly from purchase.
    66. Owner leaves, still leaving one faulty battery, per their battery guide
    67. Next day, Inverter/Charger froze on, unable to have 240v usage, Dealer employer arrives, isolator switch didn’t work, needs to disconnect main battery lead to reset van electrics.

    Current Defect Listing
    (Some carry over from previous non-repair or unprofessional repair)

    1. Deregistered 19/1/17 due to non-rectification of defect by manufacturer, 30 day defect notice placed by Qld Dept. of Transport 15/12/16, wrong descriptive on vin, (K being used, Folding Caravan, the previous smaller folding model prior to full size) clearance lights not working (after fire), refused to repair at dealers, informed not needed for roadworthy. Is required.
    2. Breach legislative law for wiring of caravan, non-segregation of 240v & 12v wiring, plus other electrical hazardous issues- have reports from Qualified Electrician & Auto Electrician, the reports for electrical checks supplied with van & by manufacturer only relate to 12v & solar input, not full electrical check or safety check (as requested on numerous occasions also due to continually electrical issues from purchase, electrical fire being one, incompatible components also used.
    3. Defective battery replaced with second hand in March 16, told would be replaced in Perth, did not, even after fire.
    4. A second defective battery from after fire, not replaced, even though all batteries and components should have been replaced after fire, did not. Still defective to date, per own literature.
    5. Inferred new, rush to get ready, first show (broadly online advertising as new), paid all new price – Information found = first built, damaged, unfinished, used as factory promotional unit prior to leaving factory to dealer, 6mths with dealer used as demo unit at multiply shows
    6. Lights just randomly turning on & off
    7. Incorrect model name on compliance plate
    8. No gas plate fitted as indicated on submitted registration papers as so, breach of registration.
    9. No contract given
    10. Breached our privacy & all other Kimberley owners
    11. Breach of Warranty laws 2012- non-inclusion in manufacturer’s warranty of: “Our goods come with guarantees that cannot be excluded under the Australian Consumer Law. You are entitled to a replacement or refund for a major failure and compensation for any other reasonably foreseeable loss or damage. You are also entitled to have the goods repaired or replaced if the goods fail to be of acceptable quality and the failure does not amount to a major failure.
    12. No price deduction for manual step
    13. Paid full price for Air Conditioner twice, not upgraded price
    14. No aluminium cover over electrical wiring in ensuite (as stated would)
    15. Drinking water pump excessively loud
    16. Toilet recycle pump excessively loud and water pours out under van when switched on
    17. Toilet indicator lights not working
    18. Shower door randomly falling off numerous times, lucky hasn’t smashed
    19. First KK manual not indicative of this model nor second
    20. Holes in lining of cupboards from previous, repaired twice, not professionally to standard
    21. Midges Screen door from previous, unprofessionally repaired (velcro just sewn on sides & coming apart
    22. Blind nonprofessional repaired from previous fraying now has cut & glue
    23. 1 fantastic van not working correctly
    24. Water leaks to interior ensuite cupboards from number plate, no sealant
    25. Drinking water gauge stuck on 84%, emptied, refilled numerous times
    26. General water & grey water gauge also randomly get struck
    27. Speaker wiring lying lose in cupboards, not protected
    28. Lighting wiring loose in cupboard, not protected
    29. Moved water intake to inside tunnel boot without enquiring, unprofessionally fitting, 4 joiners used, tunnel boot flooded twice, Darwin replaced joiners only. Resulted in staining on internal lining of van
    30. Unprofessional work of cover up on original water inlets on exterior
    31. Faulty vents
    32. Water intake not working correctly, slow intake
    33. Diesel hot water has become noisy
    34. Annexe design faulty, hooks into toilet door, door broke.
    35. One window out of alignment with others, struts in different position
    36. Solar panel half lifted off, now internal leaks and corrosion
    37. All screws for latches in windows rusted
    38. Unipod leaks via latches
    39. Rusted components in unipod
    40. Light in unipod not working
    41. Not covered by insurance for any issues that arise for due to breaches of wiring & manufacturer faults

    Any Kimberley owners who do have a gas plate fitted as of 2012 gas laws numbering changed to codes, so if you have a gas plate from this time and it has a number 2 on it (the word code maybe scratched out as well) 2 indicates you have a gas fridge.
    http://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/ftw/Tradespeople/Gasfitters/Gas_compliance_requirements.page

    Have all relevant Photos, Emails, documents and Reports

    • comment-avatar

      Herbie

      FFS Vicki, I get it that you have problems with your camper, but the focus of this story is that the company is being liquidated and there’s at least 65 workers in Regional NSW who have lost their jobs. No doubt there’s also a lot of suppliers who will lose money too. Have a thought for them rather than focusing on yourself.

      • comment-avatar

        Captain Obvious

        Who do you think created all those issues she had?? the tooth fairy – or the workers?

      • comment-avatar

        Vickie

        Hi Herbie
        I do feel for the workers, as I totally understand how they must be feeling, all there hard work, trust & believe in the company shattered, their dreams of there future in doubt, they fortunately will find other work in the near future & not have to endure many years of stress, loss of many years of hard work earnings gone & their future forever changed, but at least I do have the sympathy for them of which is not returned as many were aware of this van & many others. A company that sold a defective van that caught fire & could have cost life, destroyed all dreams, hopes & ignored consumer rights & had no moral or human decency. So i am a much more decent person then many others within this company.

        • comment-avatar

          Julie

          Have a 2009 model Kimberley Karavan and love it no problems at all.

      • comment-avatar

        Sharyn

        Really Herbie.!!!
        I can’t believe you said that. I find Vickie’s story very distressing.
        Vickie has a valid and very real complaint. They took a serious amount of her money and this has had a huge negative impact on her life. Her holiday of a lifetime, something that I am sure took years of planning and was filled with dreams has been shattered.
        Vickie, I really hope that you are compensated and you can go forward living your dreams.

  • comment-avatar

    Ari

    They have been having all sorts of customer service issues for the past two years and things had clearly taken a different direction once the new owners took over from Bruce. Through out both periods of time there has been only one person there that has excelled at keeping hope alive for me as a United States customer and has endured many conversations walking me through stuff on the karavan. Thats Ollie Rohn. If you are out there sending out resumes and need first hand recommendation from someone who has leaned on you for years for your above and beyond excellent service please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. You guys made a great product nothing makes me sadder than to read this news.

  • comment-avatar

    The product became too far removed from what people buying a camper trailer actually want – too many electronics and gizmo rubbish that also made it too expensive. They were in caravan territory but trying to appeal to off-grid campers. Patriot and Drifta market the lifestyle so well too with their videos and social media posts – the Kimberley website was a joke with heaps of boring technical books about suspension designs etc. As for the caravans they made and that ridiculous Unimog product that would cost a heap to design and engineer and then sell a few at the most. It’s not just cheap Chinese imports killing these companies, enough people still want good Australian made product and will pay for it – it’s poor management and not reading the market correctly that has finished Kimberley off.

  • comment-avatar

    It’s clear that camping is moving away from camper trailers towards caravans. People don’t want to crap in the bush any more, particularly women. Kimberley tried to follow that trend. In hindsight, big mistake. They should have kept with their original philosophy of building the world’s best truly off-road campers. I suspected things were going off the rails when they started offering aircon and video screens for campers. Anyway, I still have one of the best off-road camper trailers ever built.

  • comment-avatar

    Mark Burnham

    I called SV Partners concerning a repair to my 2012 Kamper and I am still waiting for a response. All it would take is a phone call to advise whether I should contact my insurance company and find another company to manufacture a new pullout sink draw. Very disappointed in Liquidators.

    • comment-avatar

      Julian Smith

      Mark, I believe you will join a long list of unsecured creditors, as the warranties etc will now be null and void with a liquidation pending. The liquidators are just that, not salespeople, not customer service, nor company directors, just appointed agents to wind things up and get the best end result for all concerned, which 1st and foremost will be secured creditors and staff entitlements.

  • comment-avatar

    Geoff Dobbin

    Long term owner of Kamper (2001-2005) and Karavan (2009-2012) found product to be suited to potential use……investigated upgrade of Karavan to original 2 Wheel Kruiser and put off by all the bells and whistles which seem to overlay complicate what clients required……sold Karavan and changed to Legend18’6 Groundbreaker Off road caravan……my opinion as others have said the company was heading the wrong way with higher priced Lower volume factory production of products not wanted by the general client base…..sad to see workers laid off but bad management has to take blame……Bruce Loxton had many good ideas but were just a bit to fancy for the average punter

  • comment-avatar

    Derick Gattegno

    I have a 2016 Eco Suite KK. It has been clear to me since I met Bruce Loxton that the Company has been poorly managed with no customer focus at all. Instead of ensuring they manufacture a well sorted and reliable Karavan/Kamper they have decided to bluff their way thru by installing bling. It seems the staff have not been given the training and direction that is essential in a complex manufacturing is nvironemnt. The staff have suffered as a result of the existing and past management. I just hope a consortium can be pulled together that can take over the business, rationalise it and build it back to what it can be. It has a unique product offering in a market full of ordinary. It deserves to succeed.

  • comment-avatar

    Helsy

    We are saddened to hear of KK closure and for all the workers loosing their jobs!
    Such a shame for this Australian product coming to an end!
    We have a 2014 KK Platinum Camper trailer and love it.
    I’m left wondering what if we need spare parts for some reason in the future?

  • comment-avatar

    P & A Booth

    A real shame – When we purchased our KK in 2011 it was considered the best off road available and has not disappointed us. Service and repair has been dealt with efficiently and effectively by dealers when needed. Thank you and hope to see someone re-visiting the manufacture in future.

  • comment-avatar

    Saddened to hear the story, as a long time supplier to KK ( from the earliest days of the company) , we are will be glad to help any KK customer with tent frame and tent pole requirements or replacements: http://www.supex.com.au

  • comment-avatar

    Scott

    Certainly is a sad ‘apparent’ end to a local manufacturer. I have been a sub contractor to KK for over 13 years.

    Back in the early days Greg and Ian Canon owned the business and produced only Camper trailers. They were rock solid, well known and trusted.

    Most businesses look at ways to grow and move forward and when Loxton purchased the business he pushed hard for improvements and to some extent ‘gimmicks’.

    The introduction of the karavan was, I believe, the beginning of the end for KK. In the early days I heard so many reports of returns of these and staff were quite frustrated with the continual push to build upon this product. As you may have read above there are a lot of dissatisfied customers when it comes to the karavans.

    Not so the camper trailer (except for maybe a few with complaints regarding ‘video screens’ and ‘air conditioners!!!!!’.

    The original Kimberly Kamper is an awesome camper trailer and if only the management had stuck to their knitting and focused on perhaps building exports of just this product, maybe we would have a different result today.

    Customer focus is paramount in any business and it appears this too let KK down.

    I simply cannot believe that the Kimberly Kamper is dead. It’s just too good. Hopefully someone can sort through the rubble and resurrect the Kimberly Kamper.

    • comment-avatar

      Derick Gattegno

      Hi Scott I would really appreciate having a quick conversation with you to learn about the early days of KK is it possible for you to make email contact with me? I would appreciate it derick

  • comment-avatar

    Richard

    ^^^^ Agree 100% with Scotts comments above… I purchased a new Ltd Edition KK kamper in 2005, was the best on the market at that time for my intended use, and it performed to expectations time and time again.
    Excellent, well thought out and well built.
    Unfortunately I too think the karavan was the start of the end- Bruce seemed hellbent on adding technology and gimmicks.
    Shouldve just stuck to making camper trailers, would still be top of the bunch today.
    Sad to see them go, hopefully someone can pick up the pieces and get back to that core business of a quality product.

  • comment-avatar

    Gav

    All vans are built down to a price now and all Aussie manufacturers are guilty of similar stories to Vickies unfortunately. An all too common and sad story for items that cost a small fortune. I’ll stick with my 1971 Viscount – all original, second owner from new, still does everything I need it to. 😉

  • comment-avatar

    Mark

    I’m also sorry to see this iconic brand go
    Cheaper imports although rubbish at first are getting better and I agree that camper trailers are losing ground at the expensive end to hybrids
    I’ve got a complete campsite exodus 14 hybrid our 4th rig and after having a pioneer camper trailer a Jako wind up and a off road caravan for me the hybrid is the perfect compromise maybe KK could resurrect building these the karavan for me was interesting engineering but way to complicated and too fussy to set up
    Cheers
    Mark

  • comment-avatar

    J. Lee

    Love my 2017 Karavan EcoSuite. So comfortable, well built, functional, easy to tow & reliable in difficult conditions. The ‘bling’ was generally optional at the time of purchase.
    The past months needed a stabilising focus period of excellence in production & service quality, together with cashflow strategies eg. model consolidation, not model & build number expansions, IMHO.

  • comment-avatar

    I had just purchased a second hand 2015 T3 and was extremely excited to get the unit.
    I too had a few issues, but persevered, to fix the issues, some were from new!
    I did send numerous emails for advise, and was willing to pay, unfortunately very little given, from Manufacturer, poor Adam was so under pressure to perform miracles, he must have been heartbroken when the business closed.
    Firstly I hope everyone finds work, and secondly I hope someone, like Adam takes up the reins, to support us out here that need assistance to fix up the design issues, my main issues is it is massively overweight on the tow ball weight, doesn’t matter what I have done.
    If anyone can assist out there please advise.
    I feel very selfish in asking but I don’t want to be left with a unit I am unable to legally use.


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