“We’re the market leader in our own field, and the same is true of Mercedes-Benz,” declares Product Manager Joe Turnbull. “With all it says about quality, style and safety, the three-pointed star complements our own brand image in a way that no other van manufacturer’s badge could do.”
O’Neill Wetsuits operates from European headquarters in Midhurst, near Chichester, West Sussex, and enjoys a long-standing relationship with south coast Dealer Pentagon Commercials. It runs nine Vito models, all of which were recently given the same, striking new livery. They include the company’s latest three Vito Sport 116 CDI Dualiners – two Compacts and a Long-bodied variant.
The new arrivals are powered by punchy 163hp engines and ride on 17-inch, six-spoke alloy wheels, while chrome sidebars further enhance their appearance. As Dualiner models they have second rows of seats too, so each can carry up to five people in comfort and safety.
Also included on the fleet is a single Brabus-styled Vito Sport-X, which features a fire-breathing 224 hp V6 and is driven by O’Neill Wetsuits’ European Sales Manager Dee Caldwell. Other vehicles are assigned to the company’s sales representatives, marketeers, dive range and team managers, and to Joe Turnbull himself.
“The Vito Sport looks great and is very comfortable and well equipped,” he says. “It’s also a lot of fun to drive, more like a high-end car than a van. We’re not delivery drivers but sometimes carry samples, shop fixtures and the like, as well as colleagues when we attend events.
“Most of the time, however, these vehicles are chock-full of our own sports equipment. You have to be an enthusiast to work in this business – that’s why my Vito is always fully loaded with kite surfing and bike gear.”
The Vito fleet is maintained by factory-trained technicians at Pentagon’s Fareham headquarters, who fit only Mercedes-Benz GenuineParts. O’Neill Wetsuits takes out Mercedes-Benz Service Package contracts under which all routine maintenance costs are covered by a simple, affordable monthly payment.
“We’ve been relying on Pentagon to supply and service our vehicles for some 12 years now and the dealer provides a brilliant service,” adds Joe. “That’s particularly true of van sales executive James Walters – he’s a kite surfer like me, and really understands our business and requirements.
“Factor in the Vito’s economy, reliability, long service intervals and three-year, unlimited mileage manufacturer’s warranty, and you have a vehicle that appeals as much to the head as it does to the heart – it’s an unbeatable combination.”
The original Californian surf, dive, snow and lifestyle brand, O’Neill was founded in 1952 when a young man named Jack O’Neill took his unstoppable passion for surfing and used it to beat Mother Nature at her own game.
Pioneering the world’s first neoprene wetsuit, Jack had successfully found a way to extend his surf sessions in the bone-chilling breaks of Northern California. He opened up the garage doors to his first surf shop in Santa Cruz soon after.
While many things have changed since those humble beginnings, Jack’s initial vision of producing functional and innovative board riding products continues to lie at the core of everything the company does. Since the first ever neoprene wetsuit and surf leash, O’Neill’s spirit of innovation has and will always drive the company forwards.
Today, O’Neill can be found the world over. In touch with its rich heritage and the universal stoke of board riding culture, O’Neill will always be committed to progressing that evolution and growing its reputation as one of the world’s leading lifestyle brands.
Follow O’Neill on Twitter: @TEAMONEILL