Who's Who in the Park Model and Cabin Business
Read this and related stories in the February issue of Woodall's Campground Management.
Company: Athens Park Homes
Location: Athens, Texas
Background: Athens Park Homes was founded in late 2004 by a group of investors led by Phil Surles, the former COO of Champion Homes. Surles has run the company ever since, and built it into one of the largest producers of park models in the country.
Best Selling Units: Athens sees the strongest demand for its cabin-style units. But its designs are changing in response to consumer and campground operator demand. “They want the cabin look, but they don’t like solid wood on the inside,” said Dick Grymonprez, Athens vice president of sales and marketing.
He said that women often prefer not to have so much wood inside the units. “I would say about 90% of what we’re building now is half texture, half wood. This way, the ladies can do some wallpapering and the guys can have their wood accents and trim.”
Grymonprez also sees a continuing preference for fiber cement siding by James Hardie, which can be stained to look like wood, but is much more durable and requires less maintenance.
“When we first started building our cabins in 2005, we built cedar or log-sided units. That was all we offered. But I bet right now we only do one or two cedar or log-sided cabins a month. The rest are stained. This is mainly because of the maintenance. I think Hardilap siding has taken off everywhere in the United States now. It’s fire-proof. It’s rodent-proof, and it holds paint much longer than a wood product or trim. You get double the longevity of the paint.”
Market Focus: Athens has a diversified business base, supplying campgrounds rental units while also providing consumers with a variety of different park model styles for use as vacation cottages as well as campground rental units.
Contact Info: Dick Grymonprez, vice president of sales and marketing; (903) 677-0108; fax (903) 677-0118; email@example.com; www.athensparkhomes.com
Company: Canterbury RV
Location: Goshen, Ind.
Background: Canterbury RV builds both 8-foot and 12-foot-wide park models on 8-inch I beam frames.
Best Selling Products: “Our best selling unit is our 12-wide loft unit: the Canterbury Classic,” said Tyler Steele, Canterbury RV’s vice president. The company has also introduced a new custom series called the Canterbury Select. “We give you 400 square feet. The rest is up to you, from start to finish,” he said.
Market Focus: Canterbury RV has traditionally produced park models for the retail market. But the company sees additional market opportunities in the campground business. “We’re looking at doing more rentals,” Steele said. “More and more campgrounds are realizing the benefits of having park models versus transient sites.”
Contact Info: Tyler Steele, vice president; (574) 534-0034; fax (574) 534-4342; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.canterburyrv.com
Company: Cavco Industries Inc.
Location: Phoenix, Ariz.
Background: Cavco helped ignite the park model boom in Arizona in the 1990s and, with the help of additional manufacturing plants in Seguin, Texas and Rocky Mount, Va., has since grown to become a major supplier of park models to consumers and campground operators in much of the country. Cavco’s cabin-style park models have become particularly popular with campgrounds that use them as rental units, including parks affiliated with Kampgrounds of America (KOA).
Best Selling Units: The most popular model for consumers is the Catalina series, which features tape and textured walls with rounded corners throughout as well as tape and textured plant shelves and soffits, bay windows and hardwood cabinet doors. “Our most popular cabins are side entrance cabins,” said Tim Gage, vice president of Cavco’s Specialty Division.
Market Focus: While Cavco initially provided winter cottages for snowbirds who wanted to winter in the Sunbelt, the company has since diversified its business base and is now a leading provider of rental cabins for campgrounds across the country, including Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) as well as state, national and county parks. “Right now, about 30% to 35% of our business is campground rental business,” Gage said.
Contact Info: Tyler Maddux; (800) 622-8260; fax (602) 484-7010; email@example.com; www.cavcoparkhomes.com
Company: Chariot Eagle Inc.
Location: Ocala, Fla., western division based in Phoenix, Ariz.
Background: Robert Holliday founded Chariot Eagle in June 1984 with five employees and subsequently built it into one of the larger park model manufacturers in the country, with manufacturing operations at its headquarters in Ocala, Fla., and at its sister plant, Chariot Eagle West, in Phoenix, Ariz., which it opened in 1995 to service the West Coast market. Both plants build the same types of products, although their floorplans vary.
Best Selling Units: A Model 314 with a convert-a-room, a park model with a built-in accordion door that can be opened to create a supersize living room or closed to create a second bedroom.
Market Focus: “Everything we do is custom,” said sales manager Joe Follman. “Nobody wants to be like the Joneses any more. The cookie-cutter days are long gone.” About 80% of Chariot Eagle’s sales are to consumers seeking vacation cottages, while about 20% of the company’s park models are for use as campground rental accommodations.
Contact Info: Tom Marcy, director of operations; (352) 629-7007; fax (352) 732-0026; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.charioteagle.com. For Chariot Eagle West, contact Terry Davidson; (623) 936-7545; fax (623) 936-7012; email@example.com; www.charioteaglewest.com
Company: Dutch Park Homes
Location: Goshen, Ind.
Background: Kermit Kropf was general manager of Supreme Corp.’s commercial truck body manufacturing facility in La Grange, Ky. before leaving the company to become president of Dutch Park Homes in 2003. Since that time, he has strived to set Dutch Park apart from its peers in the park model industry. Dutch Park’s employees are based in the company’s 32,000-square foot manufacturing plant in Goshen.
Best Selling Unit: “Our Classic Series is our most popular unit,” Kropf said. “It has many floorplans and options that people can customize.
Market Focus: About 70% of Dutch Park’s production is sold to consumers for use as vacation cottages, with roughly 30% going to campgrounds for use as rental units, said Dave Mockler, a company sales representative.
Contact Info: Dave Mockler, sales representative; (574) 642-0150; fax (574) 642-0155; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.dutchpark.com
Company: Fairmont Park Trailers, a division of Fairmont Homes
Location: Nappanee, Ind.
Background: John Soard spent 20 years with Breckenridge and Woodland Park before joining Fairmont Homes in 2005 to run the company’s park trailer division.
Fairmont Homes had been in the park model business back in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s and exited the market in 1994 to focus mainly on housing.
But the company re-entered the park model market in 2005 when Soard joined the company as general manager. He said Fairmont uses its housing expertise to build more durable and livable park models. “Livability is a big thing, the practicality of the floor plan, having the feeling of home, of open space,” Soard said. “Durability is also a big deal,” he said, adding that consumers are becoming more knowledgeable and discerning as they evolve out of travel trailers and into park models.
Best Selling Units: “The Model 136 is our most popular unit,” Soard said. “It’s a very practical unit. It has a very nice kitchen in it. It’s very user friendly. The living room is spacious and it has a double loft with plenty of room to sleep.”
Market Focus: “Loft models account for more than 90% of our business,” he noted, adding that the lofts are popular with families with young children as well as grandparents who have grandkids coming to visit them from time to time. Fairmont Homes primarily sells units through dealers and other retailers who sell them to consumers who use them as vacation cottages. However, about 10% of Fairmont’s park models are sold for use as campground rental units.
Contact Info: (800) 777-8787, ext. 3735; fax (574) 773-7964: email@example.com; www.fairmontparktrailers.com
Company: Pinnacle Park Homes Inc.
Location: Ochlocknee, Ga.
Background: Founded in 2003, Pinnacle Park Homes offers numerous park model floorplans with vinyl, Hardiboard, cedar or log exteriors. The company also produces the Lighthouse series of floating cabins, which are park models constructed on a floating device.
Best Selling Units: “Our custom deluxe cabins and our camping cabins are our most popular units,” said Andy Davis, senior sales manager. “Our Custom Deluxe Cabin and Camping Cabin Suite designs have been well received and become proven profit generators.”
Cabin Suites include a cedar lap exterior, 6-foot open porch with pressure-treated decking, a 29-gauge colored metal roof and a rustic pine interior with all wood cabinets and drawers and wood grain linoleum throughout.
Market Focus: Campground rental units are becoming an increasingly important focus for Pinnacle Park Homes. “Listening to the needs and desires of campground owners and then turning that input into an affordable and profitable cabin design has been a crucial key to our growth,” Davis said, adding that rental units account for the majority of Pinnacle’s park model business.
Contact Info: Andy Davis, senior sales representative; (866) 574-5159; fax (229) 574-5184; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.pinnacleparkhomes.com
Company: Skyline Corp.
Location: Elkhart, Ind.
Background: Skyline is a diversified company that produces travel trailers and fifth-wheels as well as manufactured homes and park models. Its park models include both 8 ½-foot-wide and 12-foot-wide units.
Best Selling Units: Skyline’s most popular park models are its Shore Park Homes, which feature a variety of interior and exterior materials designed for specific regional tastes. Shore Park Homes’ exteriors range from vinyl lap siding with shingle roofs to cedar log siding with metal roofs. Interiors can include a rustic cedar or pine finish throughout or a fully finished and painted drywall.
Market Focus: Skyline is working to expand its business base in the park model arena. “As a national producer of park models and destination trailers, Skyline continues to seek new means of distribution, including both ‘street dealers’ and campgrounds,” said Terry Bodenbender, Skyline’s vice president of sales and marketing. He said Skyline has a coast-to-coast network of manufacturing facilities, which reduce freight costs and improves service response times.
Company: Western Homes’ Silvercrest Division
Location: Corona, Calif.
Background: Western Homes is a subsidiary of Champion Enterprises Inc., headquartered in Auburn Hills, Mich. The company’s Silvercrest plant in Corona produces manufactured housing, modular homes as well as park models, the latter of which it has produced for the past 18 years.
Best Selling Units: Silvercrest’s best-selling units are its Chalet series park models, which feature an overhead plant shelf, tape and textured walls, Clerestory windows and a generous use of hardwoods.
Market Focus: Western Homes’ Silvercrest Division has historically produced park models for the retail market. But the company is increasingly producing units for privately owned campgrounds and RV resorts as well as government run parks.
“In the next 60 to 90 days, we’ll have a new campground product available,” said Al Whitehouse, general manager of Western Homes’ Silvercrest division. “This will be a special campground series that will range from simplistic but nice units to 400 square foot park models with lofts and very nice amenities.”
Contact Info: Al Whitehouse, general manager; (951) 734-6610; fax (951) 737-1794; email@example.com; www.silvercrest-rv.com
Company: Woodland Park
Location: Middlebury, Ind.
Background: Founded in 1983, Woodland Park manufactures high-end park models, including custom units with oak and cherry cabinetry. While the company has the capability to produce rental units, its primary focus is producing high quality park models for the retail market.
Best Selling Units: The Timber Ridge series 4011-45, 4011-46L and 4011-47L. Models 45 and 46 feature a “EuroKitchen,” which includes a corner cooktop with a stainless steel range hood and stainless steel backsplash with a kitchen island.
“It’s a beautifully laid out kitchen with a lot of storage and counter space,” said Dave Burroughs, Woodland Park’s North American sales manager.
The all-new 4011-47 “Middle Cathedral” unit features a living room entertainment center with optional fireplace surrounded by stone and topped with a solid wood mantle. The open kitchen and dinette area features “banquette seating,” a concept common in new homes because of its ability to comfortably seat several people while having the benefit of underseat storage. “This is a feature that is all new to the park model industry,” Burroughs said.
Market Focus: “We are known for producing a higher end custom product,” Burroughs said. “I’m not set up to run high volume. We put out one to 1 1/2 units a day. We’re after a very quality-conscious buyer.”
Contact Info: Dave Burroughs, North American sales manager; (574) 825-2104; fax (574) 825-2487; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.woodland-park.com