The Converter of the Year Award goes to a firm founded 13 years ago in the heart of the Welsh valleys.

Co-directors Gareth Edwards and Colin Smith set up Vantastec to provide a “one-stop-shop for all things vans and van conversions”. The company operates from a 28,000ft2 facility in Ystrad Mynach, Caerphilly, where it employs a team of 50 office and engineering staff and has recently expanded into additional premises nearby to cope with growing demand.

From polyshielded crew and panel vans and refrigerated vehicles to dog-carrying conversions, coffee shop vans and bespoke designs, Vantastec aims to make sure its customers get the perfect vehicle for their needs.

But Vantastec is happy to admit fridge vans are its “bread and butter” as they are the conversions it started out making over a decade ago. The company claims it can produce fridge conversions for all shapes and sizes of LCVs and offers optional extras such as curtains, meat hooks and overnight standby control.

Vantastec designs its dog cage conversions with both its customers and their pets’ requirements in mind.

“We tailor the cages to ensure comfort, functionality and flexibility for family members of all shapes and sizes,” the company says.

Throughout the process the engineers liaise with the customers to make sure the cage conforms to their precise specifications. Vantastec prides itself on having the flexibility and skill to produce a huge variety of cages but, like its crew and panel stock vans, all come fitted with a polyshield lining that is fully jet-washable to make cleaning easy.

Vantastec is the exclusive vehicle provider for the pet care and dog-walking service Animals at Home.

Mobile coffee shops are an increasingly common site in town centres and at events and, following the success of its mobile catering conversions, Vantastec has launched its own mobile coffee franchise, Coffee Blue. All of its coffee van conversions are fitted with a refrigerated storage area with shelving for food and drinks, a washbasin, hand-washing facilities, and a fire extinguisher that can be reached via the side doors.

The rear of the coffee vans feature a tailgate that opens to reveal the service space lit by blue LED lighting. This houses a stainless steel coffee machine and grinder, a pair of cup storage dispensers, a pull-out serving bar, coffee grind knock box, the till, additional refrigerated storage space and a holding oven.

As well as its core conversions, Vantastec also takes on niche, bespoke assignments. Examples include camper vans replete with a kitchenette containing a hob and a sink, sleeping areas, a mini fridge and storage space; the iDropped It mobile laptop and phone repair van, which houses a workbench, storage, and plug sockets; and a conversion of an Iveco Daily for mobile entertainment business Gaming Squad, which features four HD TVs, four stations for consoles and games, aircon, mood lighting and surround seating for up to 16 people.

Highly Commended: CPD Bodies

In 2019 our Highly Commended converter CPD Bodies, which is based in Teeside in northeast England, converted more than 3,000 chassis with 30% of these being bespoke builds.

Chassis come to CPD either bare from the manufacturer or with an old body from a previous converter, and CPD builds every piece from the ground up, priding itself on being able to tackle any assignment on a 3.5t chassis.

Also in 2019 the firm built a new 6,000ft2 workshop and has taken over an existing building of almost 12,000ft2, taking its total number of workshops to eight.

This year also saw CPD enter the expanding welfare van sector, converting panel vans into all-in-one roadside break rooms with kitchens and bathrooms.

Finally, CPD has now completed its 20,000th build since opening 10 years ago. In this time turnover has grown from £200,000 to £10m.

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