Update: How We Grew Revenue To $120K/Year And Plan To Offer ROAMERICA Licensing This Fall

Gretchen Bayless and Taylor Hood
from Hood River, Oregon, USA
started January 2016
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Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.

Hello again - We are Taylor Hood and Gretchen Bayless, founders of ROAMERICA. A family-owned, campervan rental business out of Hood River, Oregon, that specializes in adventure vehicles, including 4wd campervans.

ROAMERICA offers campervan rentals for the ultimate road trip. Located just east of Portland, OR, we rent 4wd campervans with five seat belts, two beds, fridge, sink, stove, heat, solar, and plenty of storage for your gear.

All are car seat friendly too! The fleet comes fully stocked with everything you need to camp off the grid (camp chairs, table, full kitchen set up, bedding, Rumpls, headlamps, etc.). See the whole list here!

In year 3 of business, we quit our day jobs and started working in ROAMERICA full time! We continue to put the majority of rental income back into the business so we can continue to offer new high-quality campervans built by Axis Vehicle Outfitters.

Off-grid camping at its finest!

Tell us about what you’ve been up to. Has the business been growing?

In 2021, with the recent increase in crime in the Portland metro area and an increase in rental tax for our customers, we decided to make a bold move and move our business to our hometown of Hood River, Oregon; just 45 minutes east of Portland.

We weren’t sure how customers would feel about the additional commute but we felt it was the best choice to keep our customers, employees, and fleet safe. Hood River is at the heart of the Columbia River Gorge; you just can’t go wrong starting your vacation in such a breathtaking landscape.

We’ve added two new 4wd Ford Transits, built by our sister company Axis Vehicle Outfitters, and have become a discount and rewards partner with AAA Oregon/Idaho where our customers can now save on their rental if they are a AAA member.

Family-friendly 4wd rigs make getting away easy!

We continue to strive to provide the best experience for our customers. We have just partnered with HydroFlask and their Outdoor Kitchen line of goods. Their plates, silverware, and mugs are high quality and they are a trusted brand for our customers.

We are excited to have their kitchenware in our vans!


HydroFlask Outdoor Kitchen Mugs keep your beverages hot or cold, your choice!

We weren’t sure how moving to Hood River would be long-term for the business but we’ve already seen a handful of return customers this amazing year. We believe that if we continue to build a product and brand our customers can trust and enjoy; we will continue to grow and expand organically.

It’s okay to have big dreams and strive for them to come true but it’s also necessary to make progress, one step at a time.

There is a lot of ‘quick growth for your business’ products and services out there. While they may work for some, here at ROAMERICA we believe that our hard work, brand authenticity, and customer service will serve as a long-term business model. We’re not looking to make a quick buck. We are looking to build a community, set the standard, and make lifelong friendships and partners.

Here at ROAMERICA, we’ll even decorate your van for that special occasion!

Our biggest news of the year (which we haven’t even announced yet) is that we are in the final stages of offering to license of the ROAMERICA trademark! This will allow folks like you and me to take advantage of the great brand ROAMERICA has built and start your own ROAMERICA Outpost! How exciting, right! We plan to launch fall of 2022; with our new Outposts going into their first rental season spring of 2023. If you’re interested in learning more; contact us here!

These 4wd campervans are meant for off-grid camping and dirt roads!

What have been your biggest challenges in the last year?

Over the last few years, we’ve been trying to keep up with demand. However, this is a great problem to have for a business when you are constantly turning customers away. Eventually, they may stop inquiring about a rental.

We never wanted to be in this position, but the reality is that traveling and camping by van is a great way to experience the outdoors and people are starting to take note. No way around it! We’ve always planned to offer multiple locations and/or franchising opportunities. However, as I am sure you can guess, these two things present many obstacles in themselves and huge amounts of cost.

If you don’t have success in your business, ask yourself if you have consistency. So no matter how you define success, if you’re consistent every day, growth will come.

Over the last two years, we’ve had to come to peace with the fact that we don’t have enough rental vans for everyone each season and we aren’t in the position to develop a franchising opportunity at this time. We have to be okay with where our business is today and the potential for the future.

Here at ROAMERICA, we’ve spent a lot of time playing out all the different scenarios and then breaking them down to what is a realistic goal to accomplish. It’s okay to have big dreams and strive for them to come true but it’s also necessary to make progress, one step at a time.

Another big hurdle we hope to overcome this year is to hire a manager to oversee our licensing program. So, if you know anyone;) reach out!

What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?

One of the biggest lessons we have learned this year as business owners are that it is okay to just be where you are. Be present, embrace challenges, embrace opportunity but be mindful of your priorities.

Taylor and I have two little kids; 2yrs and 4yrs old. We love them dearly, they are so much fun and we started ROAMERICA so that we could build something our kids would enjoy being around and be proud of as they got older.

Welcome to entrepreneurship! This is not about quick glory and wealth. This is about playing the long game.

Having kids has brought on new knowledge and tips for traveling but it has also brought on more challenges. We have realized that if our kids come to work with us some days; it’s okay. It’s typically a really fun day for our customers.

Our girls love showing the vans and giving tips to other kids on where to put their books, toys, etc:) We love camping as a family and at the end of the day, showing our customers the love we have for family and the outdoors only inspires them to have a great trip.


Check out our highlight reel here!

Our daughter, Piper, showing off the rental van Delta!

What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?

Oh man, this is where we get excited! We plan to offer ROAMERICA licensing in the fall of 2022! Folks interested in starting their own rental van business don’t have to start from scratch. They can license the ROAMERICA trademark and have the brand and marketing to catapult their business.

Starting a business is not for the faint of heart and it takes a lot of dedication, time, and perseverance. By offering folks the license of the ROAMERICA name and our knowledge as business owners, they will have a faster road to success!

In the next 5 years, we hope to have ROAMERICA Outposts across the country and to have developed a community of business owners to share knowledge, tips, advice, and even one-way rentals!

We will continue to have our headquarters in Hood River, Oregon, and provide job opportunities to our local community. Contact us to learn more about opening your own ROAMERICA Outpost!

What’s the best thing you read in the last year?

Simon Sinek: Start With Why
An in-depth perspective of why people do the things they do. Why do we run a business? Why do we want customers? Why do employees want to work here? Why do employees not want to work here? It’s a mindset shift from not looking at what the goals need to be but why you’re doing what you’re doing. The best leaders ask, ‘Why?’.

Michael Gerber: The E-myth Revisited
This book breaks down the myth of entrepreneurship and describes why acting like a big business if you’re not is the right path to being successful. Modeling your business after a franchise is the best way to move forward as an entrepreneur; whether you want to franchise or not.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?

Welcome to entrepreneurship! This is not about quick glory and wealth. This is about playing the long game. Our philosophy is; to simplify. Play the long game. Do what you can right now and keep refining.

If you don’t have success in your business, ask yourself if you have consistency. So no matter how you define success, if you’re consistent every day, growth will come.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!

Gretchen Bayless and Taylor Hood, Founder of ROAMERICA

ROAMERICA has provided an update on their business!

Almost 3 years ago, we followed up with ROAMERICA to see how they've been doing since we published this article.

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