“This team has an immense sense of pride, as they build and craft with their hands.”
BORN FOR THIS
The land of food trucks, Mt. Hood skiers, hipsters, and a heavy dose of “weird.”
But it’s also the home of makers…
A few blocks off the beautiful Willamette River, which courses its way through downtown Portland, sits the bustling garage of Benchmark Vehicles, one of the premiere custom adventure van builders in the United States.
The giant garage acts as a canvas for the steady stir of industrial saws, power drills, and a local radio station pumping out rock tunes from a sawdust-covered speaker in the corner.
Far beyond stock build-outs and run-of-the-mill modifications, the philosophy at Benchmark Vehicles is simple…
They are here to make their clients’ dreams into reality.
Every single adventure van build-out they oversee is completely customized to the liking, preferences, options, and visions of the client.
Recently featured in the New York Times, Benchmark prides themselves on being able to build the ultimate escape vessel; they want to truly build an escape for those who are seeking it.
Benchmark Vehicles owner & founder, Leland Gilmore, has built the company from the ground up, but has also worked hard to surround himself with top-tier craftsmen who can execute with precision and truly bring the clients’ ideas and visions to life.
It’s all on the table.
Ranging from rugged roof racks, to timeless Pendleton wool ceiling overlays, to exhaust snorkels, the customization options are as vast as the nearby Mt. Hood National Forest.
IT TAKES A TEAM
Each of the shop’s employees bring a valuable set of skills to the table, but they also have the opportunity to develop and grow beyond their current set.
Many of the builders drifted into this specific line of work from other trades, like auto body shops, electrical, or custom cabinetry and woodworking.
They have found a place of work that fuses together various trades in a compelling way.
Not to mention, there are some pretty unique (and downright fun!) things you get to do as a builder in this world of customization.
Every time a completed van rolls out of the garage for the last time, driven off by the happy owner, it’s evident that the van is the culmination of the full team’s collective effort and attention to detail.
Watching the Benchmark team work (and observing the masterful products they create) will communicate one thing above all else…
This team has an immense sense of pride, as they build and craft these custom builds with their hands.
They don’t merely want to finish the work…
They want to ace it.
One of the other keys to the shop’s success is the fact that they are supervised with a watchful eye by the ever-present, four-legged … er, shop floor managers…
King George and Oakley.
They keep the morale high and the shop running like a well-oiled machine.
And the occasional belly rub and neck scratch doesn’t hurt, either.
WATCH: Click play, to see Benchmark’s craftsmanship in action, as a premiere custom van builder.
THE DRIVE FOR EXCELLENCE
As with any job site, workshop, or garage, safety is always consistently the foremost priority, but not far behind that is the expectation and desire for producing vans of unrelenting quality.
It starts with ensuring that the shop uses top-tier workwear & gear that will stand up to the rigors of daily use in a shop, but also remain versatile enough to grab a drink or bite to eat after work, and still feel comfortable.
For this, they’ve been wearing and benefiting from some hardworking pieces from the HH Workwear line.
EXPLORE SOME OF THE WORKWEAR PIECES TRUSTED BY BENCHMARK:
And of course, the power tools, hand tools, shop equipment, and building materials are all of premiere stock, which eliminates a world of worry.
Each of the team members knows that creating a frustration-free work environment and a frustration-free experience for the customers is a big deal.
With Leland infusing a foundational passion for excellence into the very floorboards of the company, the entire project journey from ideation and consultation, all the way to completion and satisfaction, is about the customer.
To truly “build someone’s escape”, it is counterproductive to create more points of stress and a frustrating experience for the customer, along the way.
The escape shouldn’t only start when you drive the van out of the garage and take it on your first roadtrip or camping adventure.
It starts when you first meet Leland and this hardworking team of craftsmen.
In today’s world, with the speed at which most of us live our lives, it is crucial to prioritize intentional time to slow down.
Hard work, exertion, and effort can be an extremely rewarding aspect of life, no doubt.
But so can rest. So can recovery. So can escape.
The Benchmark team knows the meaning of “Work hard, play hard,” and ultimately, they want to work hard on their van projects so that their clients can play hard.
The balance of drilling holes and building campfires is a beautiful thing.
All Images by Andy Cochrane. Video by Adam Wells.
To keep up with Leland and the Benchmark Vehicles story, you can follow them here:
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