Meet the founders of Storyteller Overland (2023)

In the April cover of Birmingham Lifestyle Magazine, three of Storyteller Overland's founders (Jeffrey Hunter, Lee Conn and Andrew Cooley) share how they created Storyteller and how their philosophy has shaped the company to this day.

Read the full article below!

Introduction: How Storyteller Overland built a thriving community of adventurers

Article by Denise K James

Originally published onBirmingham lifestyle

For Americans, the trip is undeniably iconic. It weaves a stronger fabric between family, close friends, college buddies and just about anyone who is ready for an unknown adventure. A few years ago, three Birmingham residents realized they shared a belief in the power of adventure – as well as many other beliefs about what life and fulfillment should be like. Today, Jeffrey Hunter, Lee Conn and Andrew Cooley are the co-founders of Storyteller Overland, an RV company known for building sustainable communities.Based here in Birmingham, but with happy dealers and campers from coast to coast, Storyteller is more than an elite adventure vehicle - it's a philosophy that life should be lived.

Storyteller CEO Jeffrey Hunter has been in the specialty vehicle business for over a decade. While their partnership to date has certainly been successful, it has always felt like something was missing. In his opinion, success is not just about profit. It's about creating meaning and purpose. "The business I was working for at the time was focused on the luxury clientele - but as interesting and nice as it was, it wasn't satisfying," he says. "It lacked the sense of community and core values ​​that storytellers now inspire and that inspire me personally."

Jeffrey first met Lee Conn, the company's COO, when Lee became Jeffrey's customer when he purchased a custom Sprinter truck. It didn't take long for the two to get along and start exchanging ideas. "Jeffrey and I became fast friends. We have a lot in common in how we treat others, how we think about business and our general outlook on life," says Lee.

The two later met Andrew Cooley and decided he would make a good third partner for their fledgling business. One day, they invited Andrew to Moe's BBQ in Birmingham's Lakeview area and interviewed him - and luckily their hunch was right. "When I first met [Lee and Jeffrey], Lee asked me 21 questions and finally said, 'I like this guy,'" Andrew recalls with a laugh. "That's when Jeffrey told me about his vision."

That vision, according to the three founders, was not only to create a custom trailer that exceeded expectations, but also to tap into and expand the network of people who share a love of the open road. They knew happy travelers were meeting, talking and making memories along the way - and had been for years. The narrator's mission would be to publicize the network's existence and generate goodwill in the United States.

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Meet the founders of Storyteller Overland (1)

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Andrew, the company's CRO, knows this network firsthand. As Head of Sales, he's on the road at least two-thirds of the year to make sure Narrator's business partners are happy and support the shared mission. When Jeffrey and Lee asked to be the third partner, they knew it was in part due to his dedication to customer service and ability to drive sales—but it was his alignment with their vision that really sealed the deal. "The crazy thing is that I've had all these ideas in my head since I was 20 years old and Lee and Jeffrey believed in me to make them happen," says Andrew. "It's the first time in my life that I feel like I'm surrounded by people who can take an idea and bring it to market in the best possible way."

The Storyteller Overland hit the market (or let's say hit the road, let's say hit the road) with two prototypes in early 2019: one based on the Mercedes Benz Sprinter and the other based on the Ford Transit. The three founders agreed to focus on RVs instead of motorhomes. “The trucking community was underserved by unmet needs and we felt we could focus our time, talent and creativity and find solutions for them,” says Jeffrey.

The new company was introduced at the Salt Lake City RVX, a conference sponsored by the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association. Things moved quickly after the premiere, just like in the previous months. Jeffrey, Lee and Andrew unknowingly adapted their new product to the COVID-19 pandemic. People not only needed trucks, they also craved fresh air, community, and outdoor activities.

"I think there's been a shift in people wanting those experiences," Lee muses. “Our original vision was to create a community of commuters and lifeguards and gather them around the vehicle itself as a platform for their outdoor lifestyle. Our customers are doers, not observers. They load up their vehicles with fishing rods, bikes, boats, camping gear – they go out and do it!”

Meet the founders of Storyteller Overland (2)

Nick, Mal and their dog Charlie
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Colorado couple Malorie and Nicholas Vuong are proof of that. Before owning their Storyteller Overland, the couple regularly traveled in a custom-built Sprinter van — which, Malorie explains, was better suited for shorter trips. Then, a few years ago, while the Vuongs were on a light road trip in the Southeast, they realized they wanted something different. “We were in Charleston at 9 p.m. along the waterfront, and we washed dishes and sweated,” recalls Nicholas. "Mal even asked if we could go to a hotel!"

The couple already knew they were planning longer trips and had heard clamor for the Storytellers. "Everyone said the quality was great and they had nice designs," says Nicholas. "We knew we needed something with more power and energy and found the Storyteller to offer a really powerful battery system."

As you read this Nicholas, Malorie and their first generation Goldendoodle - "It really sheds, so we always use gas station vacuums!" - complete a life-changing gap year, happily spent in their Narrative Vehicle. Not only do they have everything they need in the van - from a stowable indoor shower when not in use, to a large bed and induction hobs - but their trusty storyteller keeps all the accessories ready for their active lives. “We love our van because we can store our mountain bikes and toys outside,” says Malorie.

What's more, Malorie and Nicholas agree that the unique community surrounding storytelling trucks isn't just a myth—they're regularly witnessed and valuable, both for friendships on the road and for solving problems. “We've met a lot of people on our trip who live in the van, either full-time or on short trips, and everyone does it differently,” comments Nicholas.

Meet the founders of Storyteller Overland (3)

The people at headquarters, from the production team to the three founders, feel as united as the network of storytellers. Take the sales force for example: a happy (as well as dedicated and focused) bunch with quirky nicknames like "Captain Morgan" and "Hot Sauce". Andrew claims this makes his team much more memorable to busy traders and salespeople - and brings a significant element of fun to every day for everyone involved.

“We want to be where people and relationships matter,” emphasizes Andrew. “When I visit dealerships as potential partners, the most important thing is the seniority of the employees. We are one of the most successful family owned retailers in the country. All the owners look you in the eye and shake your hand."

With Storyteller gaining incredible momentum since its launch a few years ago, it looks like there are many more stories on the horizon. By the way, these stories are sure to come from travelers of all kinds – from digital nomads to travel nurses. newlyweds and retirees.

“The common thread of the Storytellers Network is not a specific demographic,” says Lee. "He is an adventurous and youthful spirit. These people have a twinkle in their eyes, no matter how old they are."

“Now, if you ask me about our job, it's about finding ways to put the puzzle together for a complete customer journey – how we can add value and inspire our customers in nature,” adds Jeffrey.“We wanted Storyteller to feel authentic, spread joy and invite people to explore a more adventurous life. And we made big promises to ourselves about what we would release into the world – something creative and innovative, something that would inspire people to be the hero of their own story.”

"We wanted Storyteller to feel authentic, spread joy and invite people to explore a more adventurous life."

-Jeffrey Hunter, CEO

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Meet the founders of Storyteller Overland (4)

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Who is the owner of Storyteller Overland? ›

Jeffrey Hunter - Founder / CEO / Chief Brand Officer - Storyteller Overland, LLC | LinkedIn.

When was Storyteller Overland founded? ›

Storyteller Overland started in 2018 when seven founding members came together with a goal to change the RV industry. One of those founders was Brent Lang, VP of Design in the Technology, Engineering and Design department.

What is the revenue of Storyteller Overland? ›

Storyteller Overland's revenue is $6.2 Million What is Storyteller Overland's SIC code? Storyteller Overland's SIC: 56,565 What is Storyteller Overland's NAICS code?

Where are storyteller vans made? ›

Explore Endlessly. Tell Better Stories.” – That's the ethos behind each MODE adventure van rolling out of the Storyteller Overland factory in Alabama. Storyteller Overland headquarters is located at 109 W Park Dr, Birmingham, AL 35211.


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