"Bliss stands for happiness. And that's what we’re here for."
Bliss Mobil is an innovative and technologically driven Dutch company, founded in 2012. Inspired by the owners’ wealth of personal travel adventures and experiences, they design and produce "go anywhere" expedition vehicles. Approximately 50 employees work at the Breda location. I speak with Marleen Hoex, co-founder and CEO of Bliss Mobil. Marleen: "My husband and I started this company eleven years ago. Our ambition was to make a high-quality product. And we saw that there was a huge opportunity in this market. At that time, we had the time and space to seize that opportunity. In the meantime, we have grown into a large company, an international player in expedition vehicles."
Video: Marleen Ho...
Video: Marleen Hoex talks about Bliss Mobil
In this video, Marleen Hoex, CEO of Bliss Mobil, talks about her company, the bond with the city of Breda and international entrepreneurship.
How did Bliss Mobil start?
The story begins in 2004 when we decided to take our babies on a sailing trip around the world. In two years, we completed that goal, and we learned an incredible amount about completely independent travel, and about being self-reliant in the most extreme circumstances. We learned about the importance of being able to do repairs yourself and the value of extensive back-up systems. This experience has been crucial to the concept of Bliss Mobil.
After two years I had seen enough water and then we said to each other: "We can take one more beautiful trip before the kids have to go to school." So we had an expedition truck built. The construction took a long time and was expensive. A year and a half later, the truck was ready and we drove from the Netherlands to South Africa. We have travelled through 28 countries for more than a year. That was the ultimate freedom for us.
And what happened next?
Going through Africa was one-in-a-lifetime trip, despite the many problems and repairs the expedition truck needed along the way. From our experiences on the boat, we recognized that nothing beats a standardized and proven concept, and knew that we could do better. We also carefully examined yacht building, which had long worked with detailed models, backup systems, extensive documentation, and support. Armed with this research, combined with the experience of our tailor-made truck, we started engineering.
The first year and a half were devoted purely to development and that remains a key activity of our company. We have seven people devoted to product development.
You work with a standardized concept?
That’s right. And within that concept, we have now delivered about 200 trucks. We offer our customers various sizes and layouts, but there is nothing custom-made in terms of the technical infrastructure. Concerning customer-specific requirements, we always check whether the customization outweighs the costs and time we must spend on it. We also look at whether it complements our standard. If we don't see any added value, we won't do it, which is unusual.
Who are your customers?
The great thing is that we often sit “across from ourselves". Our clients are like us, both in terms of age and being entrepreneurial types with a dream or, even better, with a plan. There are many people who dream of world travel, our customers plan. You have customers with experience, who have traveled with a boat or camper, for example. Then we recognize a lot in each other's stories. We also have customers who want to start traveling. They place their confidence in us, based on our personal experiences and the reputation we have built in the market.
Our clientele is international, from Alaska to South Africa, from China to Australia. We prioritize customer satisfaction and our communication and support are set up accordingly. We currently have about 200 customers worldwide, who, in turn, are our ambassadors for new sales. It is a "niche market". In addition to being a large-ticket purchase, it is about the confidence that you can go on extreme trips safely, without having to worry about the right support.
We continue to develop in the sense of new techniques and the optimization of materials. Annually we add new models and innovative accessories, we now owe our reputation to "being ahead of the market". The contact with our customers is extremely important, and they are a very valuable source for further innovations. However, again, we will always look at whether new ideas fit into our standard concept. They must be functional, above all. You will not find golden faucets in our trucks.
What is your team like here?
We have very closely connected team. Only one document lies, literally and figuratively, between design and production. We find such short lines of communication essential. In both disciplines there is an invaluable amount of experience and free exchange between the two is vital to be able to innovate effectively. For example, if something does not “work” then it is part of our culture that this can be directly stated, without politics or hierarchy. Our team of skilled and committed employees is the success of our company. We are very proud of them, and they form the basis for our innovative capacity. We are therefore always looking for enthusiastic professionals to strengthen our team.
What does Bliss stand for?
Bliss stands for happiness. And that's what we’re here for. In addition to delivering a beautiful, technically advanced product, we fulfil dreams. People buy a Bliss Mobil to make beautiful trips worldwide. We are proud to be at the heart of many happy moments.