Park Consultant Shifts Life’s Gears
Former RV park operator and veteran campground consultant John Imler is currently turning his attention toward a higher power – that being his religious roots – and that quiet transition has prompted him to author a book chronicling his spiritual rebirth.
That’s right. After years in the trenches of the RV park and campground business, Imler at 75 has penned a book titled It’s Never Too Late recounting 45 years in his life from his days in divinity school through his business career to a moment in 2008 when he decided to return to his religious roots.
He considers it “the story of a prodigal pastor who wandered from his faith and became an agnostic, almost never reading the Bible or praying for 45 years.”
“In the Christian life, it is not how one starts the race that is the most important, but rather how one finishes,” says Imler, who until recently had written a regular column for Woodall’s Campground Management. “I have found that God will go to great lengths to bring those who start the race to a successful finish.”
Born in the midst of the Depression and raised in a Christian Indiana home, Imler was in his third year of ministerial studies at the Fort Wayne Bible College (now Taylor University Fort Wayne) in Fort Wayne, Ind., when circumstances and opportunity took him into the role of a pastor of a startup church at the age of 20.
After serving as a pastor at a second church, he founded a non-denominational congregation in 1957 and served as its pastor until 1961. Then, Imler says, he began to waver in his faith due to various experiences, which led to a growing animosity toward all religion and to his becoming a professed agnostic.
Not one to be half-hearted about anything, Imler plunged into the business world and achieved success in both small and large corporations before venturing into business for himself in the RV park arena. The way he tells it, it was September of 1971 when he, wife Ruth and their three children moved from Indiana to California, where they had purchased a 20-acre closed feedlot in Dunnigan, Calif. The real estate flyer said: "Raise Your Beef Cattle Here!"
But the Imlers had a different idea involving outdoor recreation rather than raising livestock. So, they opened their own park – Campers Inn – in May of 1974 and in 1975 attended as members the very first state convention of the California Travel Parks Association (CTPA). While the Imlers added Dunnigan Mobile Home Park in 1978, John later served as president of CTPA (now CalARVC) and as a board member of the National Campground Owners Association (NCOA), subsequently renamed the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC). He also was on the board of regents of the National School of RV Park & Campground Management.
Although the Imlers sold their RV and mobile home parks in 1985, they remained active in the industry. Imler authored five books dealing with the RV park industry, including The RV Park Business and Designing RV Parks & Resorts for the 21st Century.
Triggered by the thoughts of a business client and those he’d read in a book by author Lee Strobel, Imler in 2008 again felt the need “to spread the word of God’s love and forgiveness” and to encourage believers to “seek a closer walk with God.”
Today, the Imlers, married 55 years, have two children (one passed away), six grandchildren and two great-grandsons and make their home in Citrus Heights, Calif.
Meanwhile, you can learn more about John Imler by purchasing his book at selected book stores or by contacting Pleasant Word, a division of WinePress Publishing, Enumclaw, Wash., at faithrescued.com and WinePressBooks.com or by calling (877) 421-7323. John, at the same time, maintains a weekly blog at johnimler.authorweblog.com.