5 Questions with Noke Van Co.
Started by Justin and Keri vanBlaricom and Josh Yerton, Noke Van Co. is a new, local business that specializes in building custom camper vans for those who love to travel, enjoy the outdoors, and “have a heart for adventure.” We’re super excited for this new business in our region and wanted them to give us all the deets on Noke Van Co. Check out our Five Questions with them below!
What’s the story behind your name?
It really started because we had this vision for what we wanted our company to be. We LOVE Roanoke and want to see more people experience the beauty of the Blue Ridge. We also want to build a company that drives tourism and economic development in the Roanoke Valley, so “Noke” (and the star in our logo) felt really essential. We plugged “Van” in there for obvious reasons (that’s what we build). Then, we added “Co” for company, but more than that because we really love all the different pieces it signifies: company means the condition of being with others, especially in a way that provides friendship and enjoyment—we want our lives to reflect that and our clients to experience it. We are also dedicated to COllaborating with the city and other outdoor small businesses to grow the community and bring folks to the Valley for adventure. Lastly, the vanlife outdoor community is extremely congregational. We love the “Co.”–living to share the adventure is what it’s all about!
So many reasons! Practically, vans are easy to drive and maintain. But that’s just part of it. It really started with the vanBlaricoms living tiny in an RV for 15 months during COVID. Justin is the son of an architect and interior designer and couldn’t help but see all the ways an RV could
be improved or better built. So they did just that, and renovated the camper while living in it! That experience birthed an idea—what if we could build a company here in Roanoke that combined tiny living, a love for getting outside, a passion for travel, and a heart for adventure? After sharing the vision with Josh (a craftsman and former engineer) and doing a bunch of research (the vanlife rabbit hole is DEEP!), we found there were very few van outfitters east of the Mississippi and none in Virginia. That, along with the growing market for Class B campers (i.e., vans), we just kept getting more excited about the idea, and Noke Van Co. was born!
We see #VanLife all over Instagram—if a person was interested in finding out more or even getting a Noke Van, what’s the first step?
You can check out our website (www.nokevanco.com) and get in touch with us! There’s a bunch of helpful information and links on our site, plus a place to shoot us an email or a call. We also love to show people around our shop and company Noke Van, which you can come check out in the Roanoke Industrial Center.
What’s your favorite thing about the outdoor community in the Valley?
The people! What’s been so encouraging about this start-up is the people we’ve been able to meet and the community that seems to naturally spring up around a love for the outdoors and a heart for adventure. The vanlife community (around the world) is so amazing and open – they’re so ready to share their experiences, ideas, and expertise. We’ve already made a million connections with a whole range of folks who have just wanted to pour gas on our fire. From friends and other business owners to the City of Roanoke Economic Development folks and local suppliers–everybody has been so encouraging and helpful. It’s been awesome!
When you aren’t building vans, what are you doing?
Mostly chasing kids! We have seven great kids between the two families, and all of them love to be on the go. Outside of that, you can usually find Josh tackling some woodworking or home-improvement projects, or meeting people in coffee shops (he’s a pastor at his other job). Justin does some freelance business consulting and is really involved in the current cohort of Leadership Roanoke Valley. Justin and Keri are also working on developing a coffee shop in the old Caretaker’s Cabin (Blackwell House) at Fishburn Park.