Roanoke-based Camper Company to Unveil First Camper at 2022 Roanoke GO Outside Festival

overland-style, small camper parked in the grass with a dog laying in front of it

Wombat Camper, a local business that manufactures small, overland-style campers, will unveil its first camper at the festival that brought their business to Roanoke: the Roanoke GO Outside Festival.

Wombat campers are made in Roanoke, VA, and come fully equipped for any camping excursion, on or off the road. Similar to a teardrop camper, the product is compact. What makes Wombat Camper unique is the degree of capability in maneuvering a wide variety of terrain combined with simplicity to transport when going on camping excursions. It will make its debut on Friday, October 14, at the Roanoke GO Outside Festival in Elmwood Park where attendees can tour the camper, talk with the manufacturers, and even purchase one of their own.

Avid travelers themselves, Wombat Camper owners Julie and Brad Meilak were looking for a camping vehicle that fit their lifestyle. After failing to find one on the market, they decided to design and build their own. “We love to travel,” Julie said of the inspiration to start this business. “We have traveled pretty much by any means possible, but for us, traveling by camper seemed to combine flexibility and comfort the best. So, we decided to take our ideas and experience and use them to design a camper that both looked good and had all the functionality to take us wherever we wanted to go.”

Two men working on the frame of a camper

In deciding where to make their home base, the Meilaks wanted a small city with proximity to outdoor recreational opportunities like hiking, camping, and mountain biking. After travelling to Roanoke from Pennsylvania to attend the annual GO Outside Festival, the Meilaks agreed this was the perfect place to start and grow their business. “We love how Roanoke connects with the outdoors in and around the city with mountain bike trails, the Greenway, Explore Park, and, of course, GO Fest,” Julie said of the decision.

Pete Eshelman, director of outdoor branding with the Roanoke Regional Partnership and founder of GO Fest, met the Meilaks in 2018 when the company exhibited at GO Fest. “The Meilaks contacted me asking for a place to park their prototype overnight and I said why not in the middle of the festival” says Eshelman. “GO Fest is a fantastic celebration of our region’s outdoor culture and brand. The event attracts outdoor businesses, entrepreneurs, enthusiasts and has proven to be a space for innovation. Wombat Camper is a perfect illustration of the forward momentum that can come from a celebration of authentic brand identity.” 

White man and woman smiling at the camera with a small camper trailer behind them

The Roanoke Regional Partnership and the City of Roanoke assisted the couple in finding a space in the region for Wombat Camper to call home. Partnership staff also made connections with service providers. “Having the opportunity to meet the Meilaks and assist them in establishing Wombat Camper as new members of the region’s growing outdoor business industry was truly a pleasure,” said John Hull, executive director of the Roanoke Regional Partnership. “Wombat Camper is an excellent example of how the Roanoke Region is a magnet for talent capable of supporting business ventures of all sizes and stages of development.”

The Meilaks have spent countless hours over the past few years designing and prototyping their flagship camper, and while they did not plan for it, unveiling their first completed camper at the event that brought them to town could not be more fitting. “We are so happy to finally bring it to market and show it to the people attending GO Fest. We hope it is something that people will be proud to say, ‘That’s made in Roanoke!’”

Two men in a warehouse putting together the frame of a small camper trailer

For media inquiries, please contact Pete Eshelman, Roanoke Regional Partnership director of outdoor branding, at 540-392-6989 or or contact Julie Meilak, Wombat Camper co-owner, at 267-218-4234 or

Investor Spotlight: Gentry Locke

Investor spotlightWith more than 70 lawyers practicing across a range of disciplines from offices in Roanoke, Lynchburg, and Richmond, Gentry Locke helps companies, institutions, organizations, and individuals meet their legal and business challenges. We handle legal matters ranging from complex litigation and white-collar criminal investigations, to more commercial transactions and equipment disputes.

How is the Roanoke Region important to your business?

The economic growth and vitality of the entire region is critical to the continued success of all businesses and residents.

Why has your company invested in the Roanoke Regional Partnership?

Gentry Lock supports our region and is a proud investor in expanding the region’s growth and success.

Company information:

  • Management Committee: Monica Monday, Matt Broughton, Bill Gust, Brett Marston, Greg Habeeb, and Mike Finney, General Counsel, and Guy Harbert.
  • 540-983-9372
  • Follow Gentry Locke on social media: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn

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Interested in becoming an investor? Click here to learn more.


Creating a pipeline for career success in the region.

Hats off to all the students graduating from higher-education institutions, especially the 43,000 within 60 miles of the Roanoke Region! They say it takes a village to raise a child, especially to the point of graduating college. The same adage applies to our region. This “village” works together toward greater economic prosperity by producing top-tier talent, recognizing educational and economic needs, and attracting and supporting business and talent.

Talent Pipeline for Business Investment

Our region graduates 43,000 students annually. Did you know that the 25 institutions in the region produce one graduate for every 25 people each year? In fact, the Roanoke Region has the most favorable graduation ratio among peer cities, producing more graduates per-capita than Raleigh-Durham, Boston, Atlanta, and Palo Alto (Source: Emsi/Burning Glass). That is a pool of 43,000 educated, qualified candidates for the regional work force. For current and prospective businesses considering expanding or relocating, that means the Roanoke Region has a dedicated pipeline of talent in our backyard.

Evolving Institutions that Adapt to Regional Needs

The Roanoke Region is fortunate to have many higher-education institutions that are poised to grow and adapt with employer and workforce needs. Healthcare is the largest sector in the region, and institutions that are leaders in the area recognized a need and reacted by forging strong educational partnerships. Carilion hospitals joined forces with Virginia Tech and Radford University to offer more healthcare-degree programs and certifications in Roanoke. Recently, Virginia Western Community College (VWCC) created a new biotechnology degree program. With the rise in healthcare-related jobs in the region, VWCC saw an opportunity to keep students in the region with a new degree option and to help supply the local demand for qualified talent in the field. This coincides with the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC, “one of the nation’s fastest-growing academic biomedical research enterprises and a destination for world-class researchers.”

Continued Support for Employers and Work Force

While a high-paying job and a healthy business climate are certainly the basis of choosing this region, the local workforce and employers have resources available to support their needs. Get2KnowNoke, the Partnership’s talent-attraction arm, is a valuable resource for talent and businesses. Professionals can join the Roanoke Regional Partnership Network to make connections, network, and attend professional development events such as the Experience Conference. Get2KnowNoke also hosts an internship program that takes fledgling professionals under its wing and provides networking and recreation opportunities to help them meet people and get comfortable in the region. And an exciting benefit that is in the works is a new Employer Toolkit to help businesses recruit and retain top-tier talent.

Now that they have walked across the stage, it is time for these graduates to trade their caps and gowns for a steady paycheck. Through strategic planning and partnerships, the Roanoke Region is in an advantageous position to provide the jobs, support, and livability that high-quality candidates require.