In its almost two decades of existence, SylvanSport in Brevard has proven itself one of the most innovative and intriguing corners of the outdoor gear and recreational camping industries.
And sitting in her office one afternoon, SylvanSport digital content specialist Katlyn Mobley can’t help but look out the window at the nearby mountains—ready to be tamed by any and all who venture into the endless forests.
“Right outside, there’s a bike path behind our factory that leads directly into Pisgah National Forest. I can ride my bike out there on my lunch break and then come back to the office,” Mobley marveled. “And there are very few places like Western North Carolina, where you have these mountains and you can venture into the forest whenever you want. It’s not just a weekend getaway, but an everyday part of your life.”
SylvanSport specializes in easy-to-use, affordable, and versatile trailers for camping, kayaking, or travel, as well as several accessories. Their “GO” and “VAST” brands are aimed at folks who prefer a minimalist approach to bringing their gear along for unforgettable excursions into the great outdoors.
“Our customer is usually someone who has an electric or hybrid car, or a vehicle with a light towing capacity,” Mobley said. “So, they want a trailer that’s light enough to haul bikes, kayaks, or paddleboards. They also want something spacious, but not filled with all these amenities that make you feel like you’re just bringing your house with you and not actually camping.”
Formed in 2004, the company launched its first “GO” models in 2008. Those initial trailers have exploded in popularity across the country. And yet, through all of its growth and development, SylvanSport has remained steadfast in its personal mission to remain deeply rooted in Brevard and Transylvania County.
“Our founder, Tom Dempsey, says he ‘could’ve put the company anywhere,’ but he chose Brevard based on where he wanted to be and where he wanted to live,” Mobley said. “And as we’ve continued to grow and expand, we’ve partnered with the Transylvania Economic Alliance to build our new location in Brevard so that we could keep these jobs in the community.”
With 24 employees working in all aspects of the business, SylvanSport constructs hundreds of trailers by hand each year. Recently, those numbers have skyrocketed thanks to more and more people choosing to spend their free time outside and “away from it all.”
“Right now? This is nothing like we’ve experienced before. Our factory is buzzing every day—we already have about 160 trailers on backorder,” Mobley said. “By the end of , we’re on track to build over 600 trailers. And with that, we’re also trying to do more direct-to-consumer sales and service to enhance this network that connects the customer to the factory itself.”
And you’d be hard-pressed to find any negative reviews of SylvanSport products. Each item is just that cherished and enjoyed in real time. For those who work in the company, each day off is another opportunity to hook up a state-of-the-art trailer in the parking lot and test it for themselves in the depths of Mother Nature.
“We had a virtual demonstration recently and a customer said, ‘I’m so excited to buy your product.’ For me, I don’t think I’ve ever said that about any product I’ve gotten from a certain company,” Mobley laughed. “But, for us here at SylvanSport, it’s easy to market and sell our products because we stand behind them. Personally, we all love the products, which makes it easy to convey that excitement to our customers.”
This post is adapted from our annual Welcome to Western North Carolina magazine. Click here to read more online, or click here to request your free copy.