TACO Honors Mac and Bettye McLaughlin
Mac and Bettye McLaughlin, owners of Hatch RV Park in Corpus Christi, Texas, received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO) earlier this month at the TACO Spring Convention.
The award was given to recognize the McLaughlins’ contributions to the RV park industry over nearly four decades, Brian Schaeffer, TACO’s executive director and CEO, stated in a news release.
“Mac and Bettye McLaughlin were deserving of lifetime achievement recognition because of their ongoing support for TACO and the campground industry,” Schaeffer said, adding, “They have never missed a TACO convention and Mac has served in practically every executive committee position with the association, including state president. They are also willing to help fellow park operators, newcomers and veterans alike.”
The Hatch’s 129-site park has been in their family since the 1930s on property that had been in Bettye’s family since the 1800s.
“When we bought the park from my mother in 1974, we were really in a quandary as to which way to go with the business,” Bettye McLaughlin recalled.
They could leave it as a mobile home park and allow RVers to come in to spend the night, as her parents had done. Or they could gradually get rid of the mobile homes and convert the park into an RV resort. The McLaughlins opted for the later approach and have continued to make improvements to their park ever since.
“The biggest change I have seen in this business is that parks have gone from campgrounds to full service RV parks,” Mac McLaughlin said. “When I started, most parks had 15-amp plugs hanging on trees.”
Now, he said, most parks must have 50-amp service if they want to accommodate the bigger RVs. And if they want to be competitive, they also need to offer cable television and Wi-Fi hookups.
“We were the first park in Corpus Christi to have a Wi-Fi system and the first to have cable TV service. But now, RVers just expect it,” he said, adding that an amazing number of people use the Internet in their RVs.
But running Hatch RV Park as a family business has enabled the McLaughlins to stay in close contact with their guests so that they can keep in touch with their needs and keep on the cutting edge of industry trends.
“You can’t be complacent if you want to be successful,” Mac McLaughlin said. That also means responding quickly to problems when they arise and being extremely attentive to your advertising, making sure that you don’t make your park out to be something it isn’t.
“With Bettye and me, if we had a problem, we took care of it immediately. I was the plumber, the electrician, the carpenter. I tell people I’m the CEO and the chief ditch digger, with a special emphasis on ditch digger,” he said.
Following these steps, and having an attractive location have not only enabled McLaughlins to survive the recession, but to thrive in it.
“Our gross revenue has increased over 15% over the past three years. Other types of businesses have lost 50% to 60% over the same period,” he said.
The resiliency of the RV park business has proven to be enticing for the McLaughlins' daughter, Cheryl Davani, who plans to take over the park with her husband later this year.
“There is a lot of potential here,” said Davani, who grew up on the campground and has worked in the architecture profession for the past seven years. She said she plans to use her urban planning and architecture background to preserve historic buildings on the property, while also exploring ways to expand the park.
Bettye McLaughlin, for her part, is happy to be keeping the park in the family. “It’s a really good thing,” she said. “I’m really thrilled that my daughter and her husband are taking it over.”
For more information on Hatch RV Park, please visit its website at www.hatchrvpark.com.