New Indiana KOA Owners Park Veterans
The specter of a recession didn’t deter Ryan and Ann Marie Crismore from plunging ahead in their multi-million dollar investment in a new campground in northeastern Indiana.
The Crismores, 30-year veterans of mobile home park management in their hometown of Bluffton, Ind., plan to open the new Bluffton/Fort Wayne KOA campground in mid-April.
“We’d love to have it ready now,” Ann Marie told Woodall’s Campground Management this week. She and her husband worked an RV show at the Memorial Coliseum in nearby Fort Wayne earlier in the winter and found “a lot of interest” in their new campground.
The campground is located 25 miles from Fort Wayne, a city of 200,000, and near the Ouabache State Park, which always is turning away campers, and the Little Turtle State Recreational Area.
The new KOA will open with 64 sites but will add another 60 by late summer, she estimated.
The campground sits in a 30-acre wooded setting on the west side of the town of 12,000. Most of the sites are pull-through and have full hookups. The campground has city water and sewer and also features five Conestoga-made camping cabins, a swimming pool and a fishing pond.
The Crismores opted to venture in the realm of RV park ownership after the owner of the 300-lot mobile home park they managed decided to sell his park.
“We decided to didn’t want to break in a new owner so we ventured out on our own,” Ann Marie said. “It was time for a change. We’re still in the same business but now the people go home.”
“A lot of people from the mobile home park wanted to come over and live in our new RV park. I said, ‘Buy a camper and come see us.’”
Ryan Crismore did a lot of research over the past year and the couple concluded affiliation with Kampgrounds of America would be their best choice, she said. “It seemed to be a good call.”
“We checked with different franchisees. KOA seems to be a good fit. The support they offered us was excellent and has been excellent ever since,” she said.
The new KOA will be a true family operation with several of the Crismores’ children, in-laws and grandchildren helping out in various facets of the operation. Their youngest daughter, Almissa Crismore, will be the co-manager.
Ann Marie Crismore noted that, while their lender concedes the Crismores’ campground is “a unique business,” they have a good working relationship with the bank, which is essential in these economic times.