Editor's Note: The final portion of the park model, cabin and yurt presentation in the February issue of Woodall's Campground Management appears below.
Athens Park Homes LLC
2013 Focus: Athens Park Homes is ramping up its park model construction across the country following its July 2012 acquisition by Troy, Mich.-based Champion Home Builders, which operates park model manufacturing facilities in Chandler, Ariz.; Weiser, Idaho; York, Neb.; Athens, Texas; Sangerfield, N.Y.; Lillington, N.C.; and Lake City, Fla. “Right now, pretty much all of the plants have built one or two models,” said Dick Grymonprez, Athens’ director of national park model sales. He said the variety of manufacturing plants across the country will help Athens offer more competitive prices to private park operators and consumers. “We had shipped to 37 states before the Champion acquisition,” he said. “But now we’re able to build the Athens Park brand closer to where the user is. We’re also able to buy materials at better prices because of Champion’s buying power, so we can build park models for less money.”
Background: Athens Park Homes was founded in September 2004 by a group of investors spearheaded by manufactured housing veteran Phil Surles, who was a former COO of Troy, Mich.-based Champion Enterprises, the parent company of Champion Home Builders.
Management: Phil Surles, president
Contact Information:3401 Corsicana St., Athens, TX 75751; (903) 677-0108; fax (903) 677-0118; www.athensparkhomes.com
Dutch Park Homes Inc.
2013 Focus: Dutch Park signed up several new dealers at the Louisville show and is expanding its reach across the country. “We think we have the best fit and finish and quality in the park model industry,” said sales manager Larry Weaver, adding that the company is continuing to make “fit and finish and quality” its focus areas in 2013 along with a stepped up marketing of its rental products to campgrounds.
Background: Dutch Park Homes was founded in 1999. Omer Kropf purchased the company in October 2003. The company recently relocated to a different manufacturing facility in Goshen, about a half-mile from its original plant.
Management: Kermit Kropf, president
Contact Information: 2249 Lincolnway East, Goshen, IN 46526; (574) 533-8090; fax (574) 533-8210; www.dutchpark.com
2013 Focus: Breckenridge is stepping up its production of rental units for the campground industry. “We’ve been a partner of KOA (Kampgrounds of America Inc.) and LSI (Leisure Systems, Inc.) and we’ve sold our share of rental products to those companies. We also do quite a bit of business with independent campgrounds,” said Bob Phillips, Breckenridge’s general manager. He said production of rental units for campgrounds is a good way to help private parks broaden their business base, while also introducing consumers to park models. “If we can get folks interested in going to campgrounds and spending time in rental units, some may make an investment in park models as a second home,” Phillips said. With this in mind, Breckenridge is continuing to develop even more luxurious interiors.
Background: Tim Howard founded Breckenridge on Sept. 23, 1991, as a stand-alone division of Damon Corp. with about eight to 10 employees, several of whom had worked with Howard at Mallard Coach Corp., another Nappanee park model company. Breckenridge continued to operate as a Damon division until Thor Industries acquired Damon in 2003. Howard retired Feb. 1, 2012. Bob Phillips, whom Howard hired as his first employee, now manages the company. “I was his director of engineering for 19 years,” Phillips said.
Management: Bob Phillips, general manager
Contact Information: 656 North Delaware, Nappanee, IN 46550; (574) 773-5353; fax (574) 773-2124; www.breckenridgefinerliving.com
Cavco Industries Inc.
2013 Focus: Cavco is continuing to position its product innovations with several soon-to-be-announced park model products that will be industry firsts. “I think innovation is what has kept Cavco in the game,” said Tim Gage, Cavco’s national vice president of park models, cabins and specialty products. “We’re being really innovative on working with the new developers of campgrounds or resorts, whether it’s on the East Coast or West Coast. We’re creating some awesome exteriors and concepts that keep us one step ahead. The interest continues from developers and campground owners with requests for larger volume weekend getaway cabins and cottages. People seem to be staying close to home and want above-average accommodations.”
Background: Cavco started producing park models in the early 1990s and began offering cabins and cottages in 2001. Cavco continues to be an industry leader and has continued to grow its market share and competitive edge by acquiring other companies, including Palm Harbor Homes, Fleetwood and Nationwide Homes, which provide Cavco with the ability to produce park models in every region of the country. Cavco currently produces park models in Phoenix and Goodyear, Ariz.; Seguin, Texas; Nampa, Idaho; Woodburn, Ore; Rocky Mount, Va.; Martinsville, Va.; Riverside, Calif.; Millersburg, Ore.; and Plant City, Fla.
Management: Tim Gage, national vice president of park models, cabins and specialty products
Contact Information: 1001 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85004; Phone: 602-763-5488; fax (623) 882-2845; www.parkmodels.com, www.cavco.com and www.fleetwoodparkhomes.com
Chariot Eagle Inc.
2013 Focus: Chariot Eagle has introduced a series of 8½-foot-wide park models with slides that have proven to be very popular as rental models, said Joe Follman, the company’s sales manager. Chariot Eagle has also included even more optional items in their models as standard equipment, including marble windowsills, night stands with overhead cabinets above the bed, new extended drawer guides and space saver microwaves. Chariot Eagle has also expanded its usage of tape and textured residential finishes at new competitive prices in their 2013 models.
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 floor plans vary and architectural styles vary to reflect regional architectural tastes in exterior design. Chariot Eagle specializes in customized park models and has developed more than 650 different floorplans.
Management: Robert Holliday, president
Contact Information: 931 NW 37th Ave., Ocala, FL 34475; (352) 629-7007; fax (352) 732-0026; www.charioteagle.com. For Chariot Eagle West, 8100 W. Buckeye Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85043; (623) 936-7545; fax (623) 936-7012; www.charioteaglewest.com
Fairmont Park Trailers
2013 Focus: Fairmont Homes’ Park Trailer division is stepping up its involvement in the park model rental business, having introduced a new rental unit at the ARVC Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo in November, which generated significant interest from private park operators. “This is our first concerted effort to get into the rental market,” said John Soard, Fairmont Homes’ general manager. “We’ve got the ability to do higher volume building so we can be more efficient for dealers and campgrounds with rental products.”
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 Homes uses its housing expertise to build more durable and livable park models. The company has been expanding its market share in recent years.
Management: John Soard, general manager
Contact Information: 502 S. Oakland Ave., Nappanee, IN 46550; (800) 777-8787; fax (800) 865-2294; www.fairmontparktrailers.com
Forest River Inc.
2013 Focus: Forest River is conducting a major overhaul of its park model products. “We are in the midst of the biggest series of product changes in several years,” said account manager Gary Duncan, adding that the company has introduced four new floorplans and expanded its offering of wood colors, cabinet designs and window treatments. New kitchen backsplashes and hidden hinges for cabinets were introduced. Kitchen cabinet and pantry shelves are now adjustable. Countertop choices were expanded. Pullout trash cans and pull out pantries are now featured in most floorplans. New window treatments feature hard valances and give a more upscale look. Accent furniture has been updated. Interior doors are also now stained to match the cabinets. On the outside, new vinyl siding colors were added. Shutters have been added to entry doors and loft windows. Duncan said the changes have been well received. “We had an extremely good show in Louisville,” he said. “We signed up several new dealers, primarily as a result of the product changes we made.”
Background: Peter J. Liegl founded Forest River in January 1996 with an initial product lineup that included towable RVs and park models. Acquired by Berkshire Hathaway in 2005, Forest River has continued to expand its product line, which now includes motorized RVs as well as restroom trailers and mobile offices. Its park model products are certified green and are manufactured in the Quail Ridge, Summit, and America’s Park Cabin model lines. A floorplan for the physically challenged is also available.
Management: Jim Foltz, general manager
Contact Information: 28936 Phillips St., Elkhart, IN 46514; (574) 264-7163; fax (574) 264-7364; www.forestriverinc.com
H L Enterprise Inc.
2013 Focus: H L Enterprise is focusing on expanding its dealer network of independent retail dealers including many campground owners. H L offerings provide flexible floorplans rather than the typical “cookie cutter” approach most often seen in the industry, according to Peggy Flager, H L Enterprise president and co-owner. “We are able to give our customers more of what they want and accommodate specific needs, including those involving limited mobility” she said.
Background: With over 100 years of combined RV industry experience, including the establishment of the original Hyline in 1986, owners Peggy Flager, Charles Ragland and Randy Hoff started H L Enterprise Inc. with the purchase of assets and the right to manufacture the Hyline product in January 2011. Product lines were broadened with the subsequent purchase of assets of Bridgeview Manufacturing and a portion of Discover Canada. The result is the current line-up of Hyline, Bridgeview, Georgian Bay and Harborview models.
Management: Co-owners Peggy Flager, Charles Ragland and Randy Hoff and General Manager Steve Stone
Contact Information: 21674 Beck Dr., Elkhart, IN 46516; (574) 294-1112; fax (574) 970-1303; www.hlenterpriseinc.com
2013 Focus: Pacific Yurts continues to expand its business in both domestic and international markets. “Our custom-curve window has been quite popular,” said company President Alan Bair. “It has a patent-pending design integrating a thermal pane window and beautiful curved wood frame, making the yurt more energy efficient.” Bair is also seeing growing demand for larger yurts. “Our customers are adding kitchenettes and bathrooms and more interior amenities. The “glamping” trend continues,” he said.
Background: Pacific Yurts was established in 1978 as the original manufacturer of the modern yurt. Pacific Yurts is the largest yurt manufacturer in the world with most of its sales taking place in the U.S. and Canada. However, the company also sells significant numbers of yurts to customers in Europe and Asia. International sales account for about 5% to 10% of Pacific Yurts’ business, but international sales are growing, according to Bair.
Management: Alan Bair, president
Contact Information: 77456 Highway 99 South, Cottage Grove, OR 97424; (541) 942-9435; fax (541) 942-0508; www.pacificyurts.com
Pinnacle Park Homes
2013 Focus: Pinnacle Park Homes is expanding its offering of floorplans for its cabin rental products this year. “We took input from campground owners and are tweaking our floor plans,” said Terri Stewart, co-owner of Pinnacle Park Homes. “Our cabin rental line has done very well for us.” Pinnacle Park Homes has also established new lender relationships, which it shares with campground operators who need financing for their park model purchases. “Financing is still tough, but we keep building relationships with people,” Stewart said.
Background: Founded in 2003, Pinnacle Park Homes offers numerous park model floorplans with vinyl, Hardiboard, cedar or log exteriors. In addition to producing park models with vinyl and rustic exteriors, Pinnacle Park Homes produces the Lighthouse series of floating cabins, which are park models constructed on a floating device. The company also offers ADA compatible and ADA compliant park models based on campground needs and requirements.
Management: Terri Stewart, co-owner
Contact Information: 26488 GA Highway 3, Ochlocknee, GA 31773; (229) 574-5159; fax (229) 574-5184; www.pinnacleparkhomes.com
2013 Focus: Skyline is having market success with new park model designs that include drywall interiors, which can be more easily repaired than damaged wood paneling. This feature is of particular interest to campground operators who use park models as rental accommodations. “This past year and a half we’ve gotten the product where we wanted to get it,” said Terry Decio, Skyline’s vice president of sales and marketing, adding that the company had very successful trade shows in Elkhart, Ind., and Louisville, Ky. Its rental product line, initially launched through a partnership with ARVC, is gaining traction in campground industry.
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 8½-foot-wide and 12-foot-wide units. Skyline has been building park models since the early 1980s. It currently manufactures park model rental units in five factories across the country, including Hemet, Calif.; McMinnville, Ore.; Lancaster, Wis.; Ocala, Fla.; and Leola, Pa.
Management: Kevin Garthus, national product manager
Contact Information: 2520 By-Pass Road, Elkhart, IN 46515; (800) 755-6521, fax (574) 294-6521; www.skylinecorp.com and www.skylinepm.com
Editor's Note: WCM Publisher Sherman Goldenberg interviewed a number of vendors at the 2012 ARVC conference in Las Vegas. In this final installment of a series published online, he shares his findings in a story that appear in its entirety in the January issue of Woodall's Campground Management.
Veteran campground consultant Bud Styer, of Bud Styer & Associates, Lodi, Wis., insists that park operators who make the right moves these days can go a long way toward controlling their own financial destinies. “Looking at the campground business,” said Styer, who also represents a group of 12 Wisconsin campgrounds under the heading of Camping for the Fun of It, “we grew between 2% and 4% this year. We’ve been very active with different kinds of themed weekends and we have a lot of rental units. But I’ll tell you, the industry has evolved today to be all about family and experiences. And if you can’t provide the experience, they are going to go elsewhere.
“The days of just going to a campground and relaxing and looking at the fire — there are a lot of people who still do that — but the growth is in the experience,” said Styer, an ARVC board member. “You’ll see zip lines, waterparks, dog parks, unique rental units, yurts, cabins, gazebos, Conestoga wagons. They want that experience — and the parks that are delivering it are seeing growth.”
Styer, at the same time, is a big booster of the annual convention hosted by the Wisconsin Association of Campground Owners (WACO), for which he also serves as a board member. While WACO’s last convention in March drew a crowd of 565 park operators and industry representatives, he sees more growth for the next round, March 20-23 at the same venue in Stevens Point, Wis.
“We have the largest trade show in the country,” said Styer. “The ARVC show has 117 vendors. We average 195. And in 2013, we’ll have 50,000 more feet. Our hope is to have 250 vendors by March. We’ve invited all our neighbors (parks in neighboring states). They have shows, yet the vendors only have one thing on their mind: they want buyers in front of them who are ready to buy.
“We’ve designed our show so that we want our people to come with trucks and trailers prepared to buy things and haul them home. We want our vendors to have show specials and understand our people are here to buy. So give us a great product and give us a great price and everybody wins.”
Leisure Interactive Making Waves With Integrated Hercules Software
Located at a visible front-row display at the ARVC Expo was Orange, Calif.-based Leisure Interactive LLC, a leading provider of online reservation technology, front office software, property management solutions and consumer marketing networks for campgrounds and RV parks and a growing variety of other applications.
Leisure Interactive first made a name for itself in the campground circuit as Friend Communications. But the name was changed a couple of years ago because “Friend” didn’t really reflect the company’s evolving mission, explained President Gary Pace, a former Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. executive. “So, as we started moving from Reservation Friend as just an online booking engine and we saw the technology, we finally caught up to build a fully integrated platform, which included property management, distribution to websites and portals and supporting different kinds of companies, we named the new (software) product Hercules.”
Although the bulk of Leisure Interactive’s business today is still directed at the RV park and campground sector, Pace said the company has been “dabbling” in other niches in the outdoor recreation sphere and morphing its software as it goes to accommodate the idiosyncrasies of different allied business sectors in the outdoor hospitality space.
Look for more on this California company and its expanding reach into campgrounds — including state parks — plus the marine industry and mobile applications in a future issue of WCM.
Fairmont Park Trailers Gaining Ground in U.S. ‘Cabin’ Business
Bryan Cira, general manger of Fairmont Homes, was manning a booth in Las Vegas to promote a new vinyl-sided rental cabin, a hyper-affordable recreational park trailer selling as a show special for $17,995. Adding to that pricing edge, Cira reported, is the ability of his Nappanee, Ind.-based firm to ship long-range units two-at-a-time on one frame, thus splitting the freight in half.
“We also are promoting the fact that Fairmont Park Trailers is the fastest-growing park model company out there,” said Cira. “We’ve grown enormously over the last five years, and a lot of people aren’t really aware of us. And there have been a lot of park model manufacturers go out of business the last few years, and they (potential customers) are happy to see somebody in it the way we are in it. I know the park model industry was down this year, but Fairmont’s park model sales were up more than 35%.”
Further separating Fairmont from its competition, Cira maintained, is the fact that his cabins are built out of a housing facility.
“Instead of getting basic RV construction, our homes are built like a house — 2-inch by 4-inch interior walls, thermopane windows, residential cabinet design, hardwood stiles, half-inch side panels, dovetail drawers, all the advantages you’d get in an expensive modular home you are getting in a park model,” said Cira, whose firm had a “great” product showing at RVIA’s Louisville Show that same week. “We also have a lot of economies of scale because of the size of our housing company. We can offer prices like $18,000 for a fully equipped park model where other people don’t have that kind of ability.”
AGS Re-establishes Name Under New Independent Ownership
Area service guides are the long suit of AGS, a well-known name in the RV park and campground business that was owned and operated until 2011 by Good Sam/Camping World. Now running the show as a division of Texas Advertising and overseeing two dozen rep teams on the road all over the country and Canada are new owners Brian and Debra Schaeffer.
Brian, as most in the campground business well know, also serves as executive director and CEO of the Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO).
Establishing its name under the new ownership remains a key emphasis for AGS, which relies heavily on those rep teams, many of whom have established solid relationships with customers over the years.
“We acquired AGS about a year-and-a-half ago,” reported Michael Moore, general manager of AGS, Crowley, Texas, who was also promoting a related website service, TXAD Internet Service. “Some of the work is to establish the ‘new’ AGS. We have all new products. We have a whole new attitude as far as what we are promoting out there. Coming to the shows is part of that. It’s trying to re-establish that relationship, whether they did or did not have the greatest relationship with the old regime.”
AGS’s guest guides are available in different formats with customized covers for park operators to hand out to their customers.
“When you get the RVer to check in, they need some information on not only the park, but the area, too — where to go, how to get there. And what we do is sell sponsorships in the community to produce that directory,” said Moore. “The local Mexican restaurant and local RV dealer can take a sponsorship, and those people are responsible for financing, essentially, the directory we then create, design, print and ship out.”
All is all, he added, things are going well. “Yes, it’s going great,” said Moore. “We’ve been very pleased and busy. “
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; firstname.lastname@example.org; 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; email@example.com; 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; firstname.lastname@example.org; 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; email@example.com; www.charioteagle.com. For Chariot Eagle West, contact Terry Davidson; (623) 936-7545; fax (623) 936-7012; firstname.lastname@example.org; 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; email@example.com; 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: firstname.lastname@example.org; 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; email@example.com; 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; firstname.lastname@example.org; 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; email@example.com; www.woodland-park.com
Read this and related stories in the February issue of Woodall's Campground Management.
With 67 RV sites, cottonwood trees, rock climbing walls and a three-acre fishing lake stocked with trout and catfish, Rancho Jurupa Park in Riverside, Calif., lives up to its billing as “a perfect setting for a quick escape from the city.”
Operated by the Riverside County Regional Park & Open Space District, it’s also one of a growing number of government-run parks investing in park models as rental accommodations.
“We did a feasibility study and a master plan, and one of the features that was called out was cabins for folks who want to get outdoors and have a nice recreational experience, but don’t have a camping unit themselves,” said Scott Bangle, general manager of park district.
Riverside County just installed six Silvercrest park models at Rancho Jurupa Park, and the county plans to add more park models to other county parks in the future. “I could see having a handful of units at every park,” Bangle said. “(They) will be part of our inventory at all of our major regional parks someday.”
Riverside County, of course, isn’t the only government agency that’s investing in park models as rental units. Phoenix, Ariz.-based Cavco Industries Inc. just delivered 25 park model cabins to Lassen National Park in Northern California, and the company is in discussions with other California counties about purchasing parks models for use as rental accommodations, said Tim Gage, vice president of Cavco’s Specialty Division.
“We believe that the government campground parks are a marketplace that hasn’t been fully explored at this point,” said Gage.
Private parks, for their part, have been stepping up their investments in park model cabins in recent years. But despite the significant purchases of park model cabins as rental units by Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI) and operators of independent parks, North America’s private campground sector is still a long way from being saturated with rental accommodations.
In fact, the KOA system, which purchased 317 park models last year, is now waiving royalty fees on park model income for one year on any new units that its franchisees purchase this year.
“The idea is to encourage more KOAs to invest in lodging,” said Mike Atkinson, director of lodging for the Billings, Mont.-based franchisor, adding that park models are “becoming an absolute necessity to grow your campground income.”
Necessity or not, park models accounted for 1,168 of KOA’s 1,530 fully equipped (with bathrooms) rental accommodations systemwide in 2010 and generated over three times as much income as typical RV sites. “Park models have the longest short-term occupancy and you get over three times the money,” Atkinson said.
Atkinson added that most people who could be potential campground accommodations guests have not even been exposed yet to the concept.
Of course, Atkinson cautions that simply purchasing park models doesn’t turn into immediate revenue hikes because they have to be marketed. He says it typically takes three years for them to reach their marketing potential.
Nevertheless, some park operators find that these ordinarily rustic-looking units outperform their expectations.
Scott Cory, managing partner of Ventura Ranch KOA in the mountains southeast of Santa Barbara, Calif., installed four Cavco park models at his park in June of last year. It was the first time his park offered accommodations and he found that his guests responded very favorably to his investment.
“Lodging is the biggest ‘wow’ factor we’ve done at our park,” he said, adding that he plans to purchase six more park models this year. He also complements his park models with glamour tents and teepees.
Manufacturers, for their part, are increasingly rolling out more park model rental options, not only to accommodate rising demand for rental units, but to make up for recent declines in sales to consumers who traditionally purchased park models and placed them on leased campsites for use as their own private vacation cottage.
“We’re looking at doing more rentals because more and more campgrounds are realizing the benefits of having park models versus transient RV sites,” said Tyler Steele, vice president of Canterbury RV in Goshen, Ind.
“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,” said Andy Davis, sales manager for Pinnacle Park Homes in Ochlocknee, Ga.
Some park model manufacturers, however, still focus most of their attention on producing units for consumers who want to buy them for use as vacation cottages that they can place on leased or purchased campsites in campgrounds, RV parks or resorts.
“We’re probably about 10% for campground rentals, while 90% of our production is for retail sales,” said John Soard, general manager of Fairmont Park Trailers in Nappanee, Ind.
Joe Follman, sales manager for Chariot Eagle Inc. in Ocala, Fla., added that park operators that rent or lease sites to park model owners can benefit from having a steady income stream. “I think there’s still a lot of room to grow in this industry, both in the Sunbelt and up north,” he said. “There’s still plenty of business out there. We’re such a small percentage of the RV business.”
A continuing roadblock is the availability of financing, both for consumers and parks that want to purchase park models for use as rental accommodations.
“You can show how quickly they can be paid off, and how it’s a great investment to put cabins in. But the lenders are just not buying aggressively,” said Dick Grymonprez of Athens Park Homes in Athens, Texas. “If we could get financing, all of us would be building more cabins. I can’t tell you how many campgrounds tell me, ‘If you can get us financing, we’ll buy six.’ I can’t tell you how many roadblocks we face getting them financed.”
But there is money out there. Parks are continuing to purchase park models. And, increasingly, manufacturers tell Woodall’s Campground Management that the best sources are local lenders rather than nationally known lenders that have little knowledge or experience with the park model product.
The same approach can also help consumers find sources of financing for park models they’d like to purchase as private vacation cottages. “We’re recommending that dealers work with their local banks and educate them about the lack of defaults in the park model world and why it’s a good business model for them,” said Steele of Canterbury RV.
Fairmont Park Trailers, a division of Fairmont Homes Inc,. has announced the addition of the Harmony Park series of recreational park trailers to its product line-up, and will debut the new price leader line at next week’s National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.
Fairmont currently builds the Brookwood and Country Manor models.
“Our successful dealers, while noticing increased sales with our existing lines, have begun asking for a price leader model in the Fairmont brand that will allow them to reach both ends of the pricing spectrum," John Soard, general manager of Fairmont Park Trailers, stated in a news release.
“The Harmony Park will feature the three main construction components of its most successful models, (half-inch drywall, hardwood cabinetry and structural plating on the exterior walls), but by pulling a page out of Fairmont’s 40-year-old playbook that enables us to build low-priced, value packed housing, we were able to put together a park model that is durable, well equipped, yet fits nicely into the price leader position," he said.
Soard continued, “In 2010 Fairmont has experienced a 47.8% increase in wholesale shipments, (U.S. and Canada), a 28.8% increase in U.S. retail deliveries and a 39.3% increase in domestic market share. Harmony Park will provide our dealers with yet another avenue to increase their sales and profits.”
The double loft Harmony park model headed to the show has a MSRP of $32,500, and the (equipped) show MSRP of $35,700, compared to the best seller Country Manor (base) MSRP of $39,075, and the (avg. equipped) MSPR of $45,200 (FOB Nappanee).
The Fairmont products will be on display in booth No. T5541 in the west wing of the KFEC from Nov. 30 through Dec. 2. For more information on Fairmont Park Trailers, please call (800) 777-8787, or visit www.fairmontparktrailers.com.