Park Vendors Make Gains in Growing Market
Wilcor International, a distributor of over 6,000 products to the campground industry, is concluding its start-of-the-year marketing surge through product displays at its showroom in Utica, N.Y. Based on these early customer contacts and orders, Sales Manager David Corrigan concludes that RV park and campground owners, who constitute 70% of Wilcor’s business, have returned to a pre-recession mindset and that’s good news.
“This year it seems a lot of them have gone back to the way they had been buying 10 years ago,” Corrigan said. “The mindset is, ‘We’re still here, we have to do business in this economic environment.’ Now we’re finding a lot are taking in more goods initially. They are not as concerned about the negative factors in the economy. Nobody has said it definitively but that feeling is there.”
Corrigan said campgrounds are loading up on RVer gift items that Wilcor has taylor-maid for their store shelves. These run the gamut from RV photo frames and picnic table items to battery-powered flashlights. It’s a market that has kept growing through the recession, based in part on customer feedback on what campers want most.
“It’s a niche that nobody else has,” he said. “They may not be able to sell propane for what Walmart does, but they can sell a gift line that nobody else has,” he said.
Corrigan said Wilcor is trying to develop its own brand of outdoor products so that when “campers go into a campground store, they’re looking at a Wilcor item. There is a small amount of recognition now, but we’re putting out a good product at a good price point. We have a long ways to go in marketing the brand.”
For more information visit www.wilcor.net.
One of the newest products to enter the RV park and campground market is Green Light Fire Bag.
The 9-pound bag contains enough kiln-dried kindling and firewood to provide a fire for at least 45 minutes and hot coals for up to two hours. (Matches are included!) The product is U.S.D.A.-approved and can be carried across state lines because it does not contain any harmful chemicals or pests. This is a key marketing point, since 47% of all bundled firewood contains harmful pests, say the owners, David Hidalgo and his wife, Shannon Schmidt-Hidalgo.
The couple introduced their 100% eco-friendly product at the KOA Expo last November and report immediate success.
Based in Orlando, Fla., the company has placed the fire bags in several dozen campgrounds (mostly KOAs for now) but looks for an industrywide appeal once the word gets out. It has begun to advertise in Woodall’s Campground Management.
“This is the very first complete, eco-conscious wood fire bag,” said Schmidt-Hidalgo. “We are campers ourselves and have identified that customers want a portable wood product that they can have within minutes and can enjoy and cook over. We have identified the right size” so the fire does not get too big, she said. Safety is a key point because the owners found that 76% of all childhood injuries suffered while camping are campfire-related, she said.
The wood’s moisture content is just 10%, so it lights quickly, she added. It also gives off light smoke so it can be used indoors as well.
KOA named the couple’s company a Camp Green Vendor in part because it produces zero waste.
The couple’s product also is carried in several Southeast RV dealerships, Publix grocery stores and Bravo Supermarkets. The latter is a brand popular with Hispanic shoppers, Schmidt-Hidalgo noted, which is a bonus because Hispanics have been identified as the largest minority entering the camping market.
The suggested retail price for the Green Light Fire Bag is $9.99.
For more information, visit the company’s website at www.greenlightfirebag.com, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (321) 322-8368.
Another vendor looking to expand in the campground market is Jumbo Bait Co., a Mt. Pocono, Pa.-based supplier of packaged fishing bait. The bait (Canadian Nightcrawlers are the most popular, but Founder and owner Jeff Woehrle also sells Baby Nightcrawlers, Red Trout Worms and Green Nightcrawlers) comes packaged in 4-inch by 4-inch by 2-inch Styrofoam containers that are shipped via Fed Ex ground or express to guarantee no more than two-day delivery anywhere in the U.S.
Woehrle has designed an attractive container that appeals to retailers.
“We realize that stores just don’t sell bait; they sell other things so our bait has to come in a clean package. We have really worked hard to come up with an attractive package that the consumer will want to buy,” said Woehrle.
Woehrle, who founded the company 38 years ago when he was just 15, sells to about 30 campground customers but has never targeted this market and is stumped to explain how he came by those 30 customers. “I think it will be a good avenue for us. Until this year, I never gave much thought to this market,” he said.
For more information visit www.jumbobait.com, e-mail Woehrle at email@example.com or call him at (800) 227-2248.
Orlando, Fla.-based Dogi-Potis seeing a growing market at campgrounds for its environmentally conscious pet waste removal products such as pet stations, dispensers, oxo-biodegradable litter pickup bags and liner trash bags.
The propensity of RVers and other campers to take their family pets with them on camping trips makes these products popular at campgrounds and RV parks, said Linda Rosado, marketing and brand manager.
In 2012, Dogi-Pot introduced its new Header Pak, which hangs on a wicket and dispenses the pickup bags just like a bathroom tissue. This product gives end users another option in choosing how they want to disseminate the bags, she said.
The company also redid its website last year and posted a video about its oxo-biodegradable pickup bags, she noted.
Dogi-Pot officials attend the ARVC Expo each year to keep in touch with the campground market which is important because Dogi-Pot works through distributors, rather than directly with the end users, and attendance at the show gives the company direct feedback from these customers.
To find a distributor near you, visit www.dogipot.com or contact Linda Rosado at (800) 364-7681.
Camco Manufacturing Ltd., a Greensboro, N.C.-based supplier of some 3,000 different RV aftermarket accessories, is touting what it calls “Camping Essentials,” over 40 products that most campers need. These run the gamut from cords, reels and tent stakes to utility straps, clips, fasteners, table cloths, shovels, lanterns and axes, explained Wendy LaRue, marketing coordinator.
Camco promoted these “Essentials” at the winter shows with great success, LaRue reported. “We had a great show season and everything is starting out strong. We hope spring breaks early and everything keeps going in the up and up,” she said.
Among the new products for Camco this season is the RhinoFlex Sewer Hose Kit
The flexible hose comes in two 10-foot sections and retains its shape once it’s set until unhooked and stored.
Camco sells only through distributors. For more information visit www.camco.net or call Camco at (800) 334-2004.
Southeast Publications Inc., Tamarac, Fla., is touting its MobileRVing.com website and MobileRVing Mobile App travel search engines to assist RVers and campers in finding the best options in North America for their camping needs. The MobileRVing.com website consistently receives over 400,000 hits per month and the free MobileRVing Mobile App is available for iPhone, iPad, Android and Kindle formats. Both the MobileRVing.com website and the MobileRVing Mobile App have been extremely successful in not only assisting RVers in their travels, but have also provided a huge boost in promotion and awareness to the RVing industry as a whole, says Wally Warrick, president and CEO.
Jim Rogers, CEO of Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), visited Southeast’s corporate offices in March to meet with staff and extend his appreciation to the company for its more than $400,000 in contributions to KOA’s Care Camps.
Southeast Publications has aligned itself with some other great companies in the industry that have proven to be the best in their respected segments as well, Warrick stated. Southeast Publications has had a long-standing partnership with Strait Web Solutions to ensure their customers have the best option in web design and social media marketing and with RMS North America, which provides the best reservation and campground management systems available to RV parks and campgrounds. Reza Paydar of Paydar Properties and the new chairman and CEO of Best Parks in America exclusively uses Southeast Publications as his guest guide provider for his Signature and Sunland Resorts. The most recent partnership to be announced is with Camp-California, as Southeast Publications has just been chosen to handle all new advertising sales for the 2014 Camp-California Travel Guide.
For more information about Southeast Publications and their services, visit www.SoutheastPublications.com and www.MobileRVing.com; e-mail ContactUs@SoutheastPublications.com or call (800) 832-3292. Like us on Facebook at Facebook.com/SEPublications and follow us on Twitter at Twitter.com/SEPublications to keep up with all of the great things that are going on.