Pinnacle Park Homes Inc., a park model and camping cabin manufacturer based in Ochlocknee, Ga., is celebrating its 10th year in business.
"We are one entire quarter ahead in sales compared to last year and that says a lot since sales last year surpassed sales in 2010 and 2011" Andy Davis, sales manager, stated in a news release. "While the last three years were very good years for Pinnacle Park Homes, we can see 2013 being even better."
"We have expanded our workforce to meet the demand," added Randy Stewart Jr., production manager and owner.
"Ten years is a milestone. We are the same company with the same owners that started out 10 years ago. To make it this long we have changed with the needs of our clients," said Stewart, "but our roots have not changed and that is to build the very best cabin possible.
"We are continuing to add new floorplans that meet the needs of campground owners. We have asked for input and have received many suggestions that have been implemented in our newest floorplans say owner," Stewart added.
"With destination camping on the rise, we can only see orders increasing. With a growing backlog we cannot stress enough the importance that campground owners need to plan ahead and place their orders early," Davis said.
"Pinnacle Park Homes takes pride in delivering a durable, quality-built cabin on time, " said Stewart. "We want all campground owners to know that they will get what they ordered so that they can begin to profit off their investment as quickly as possible," Davis added.
For more information contact Pinnacle Park Homes at (866) 574-5159 or visit their website at www.pinnacleparkhomes.com.
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
Private park operators are continuing to increase their investments in park model cabins, cottages and yurts as they work to both diversify and fortify their business base in a challenging economy.
And even though private parks have been stepping up their investments in rental accommodations for several years, the parks themselves are still a long way from reaching the saturation point, according to both park model and yurt manufacturers.
“There’s no letup in demand for rental units,” said Joe Follman, sales manager for Ocala, Fla.-based Chariot Eagle, which is promoting new floorplans as well as more rustic cabin-style park models.
“I don’t think there’s saturation by any means,” said Alan Bair, president of Cottage Grove, Ore.-based Pacific Yurts, adding that demand for yurts as rental accommodations is coming from both public and private parks.
“Once a campground or park puts them in, they buy more,” Bair said. “People love the unique experience. It’s different than what they’re used to. It’s unusual and exciting and they remember it.”
Park model manufacturers report a similar experience. Small- and medium-size parks typically order one or two park models to start out, and then gradually increase the numbers based on consumer demand.
Some park operators say the level of demand for rental accommodations has surprised them.
Operator Surprised by Rental Demand
“It’s a market I didn’t plan on,” said Ken Butschek, who owns La Hacienda RV Resort near Lake Travis, Texas, who is seeing rising demand for park model rentals from RVers and non-RVers alike. His park model renters include Lynn and Gary Kingsbury of Vermont, who opted to leave their fifth-wheel at home this winter and rent a park model instead.
“One of the issues we have in leaving Vermont in January is that it’s quite an adventure with the cold and the snow and the roads,” Lynn Kingsbury said. “We love our RV. But we decided to see how we like staying in a park model.”
Liz Fisher of Seattle drove her Class B RV to La Hacienda RV Resort this winter as well, but she’s renting a park model instead of staying in her RV.
"One thing I like about park models is there are windows all around, so there is more light coming in, and I have a deck facing south, so I can enjoy the sun," she said.
Butschek said Winter Texans are also renting park models because they offer an easy way for retirees to enjoy the Sunbelt during the winter months. “I’m getting a lot of people renting my park models this winter because they don’t want to rent an apartment or sign a lease,” Butschek said. “Here, they don’t even have to turn on utilities. They just bring their clothes and food, and they’re good.”
Butschek said he is considering adding eight park models this year to his stock of 21 because of the winter traffic.
Park model rentals, of course, also enable park operators to broaden their business base to include individuals and families who don’t have a tent or RV, which explains their allure to public and private park operators across the country.
KOA, LSI Still Growing Park Model Segment
“We’re going to continue to grow (the rental) segment of our market,” said Pat Hittmeier, president of Billings, Mont.-based Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), adding, “I don’t think we’ve hit saturation by any stretch.”
KOA corporate and franchise parks purchased several hundred park models during the past two years, including 340 in 2010 and about 230 in 2011, Hittmeier said, adding that KOA parks plan to purchase another 230 park models this year, which the company plans to market as “deluxe cabins.”
Milford, Ohio-based Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI), parent company of Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts, also expects its franchisees to continue to broaden their rental base with park models this year. “We saw revenues jump 13% in the rental business (in 2011),” said Rob Schutter, LSI’s COO. “We don’t see that abating any time in the near future.”
Aside from broadening a park’s business base, park models can significantly increase a park’s income, said Dick Grymonprez, vice president of marketing for Athens Park Homes in Athens, Texas. He added that park operators can pay off their units in less than two years in some locations.
“In my campground, it’s about 20 months,” said Joe Moore, general manager of The Vineyards Campground and Cabins in Grapevine, Texas, adding that park models can generate two to three times the revenue of a typical RV site. “It depends on how well you market the product and what your clientele is and your location,” Moore said, adding that he’s been purchasing units from Athens Park Homes in recent years.
Ken Lawrence, production manager for Indianapolis, Ind.-based Yurts of America, which featured a yurt at the Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo in Savannah, Ga., sponsored by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), said the payback can be even faster with yurts, given their lower cost. He added that 24- and 30-foot-wide yurts are also available, which are ideal for large groups, such as children with chaperones.
Builders to Market Product at State Shows
Increased park operator interest in rental units has also generated increased competition among manufacturers as they compete for sales in a challenging business environment.
“It is a fairly competitive market,” said Daryle Lambright, North America sales manager for Woodland Park in Middlebury, Ind. “We really see the rental market opening up to more floor plans as well as some units with nicer features and residential style appointments.”
Despite the competition, growing numbers of park model manufacturers are stepping up their involvement in the rental market. “We’re going after the rental market more than we have before,” Lambright said.
Larry Weaver, sales manager of Goshen, Ind.-based Dutch Park Homes, whose product offering includes a log cabin style park model, said his company is also stepping up its involvement in the rental accommodations market. “We’re going to be a lot more aggressive at Dutch Park than we have been,” he said. “We’re going to attend the Ohio and Michigan state shows,” he said. “By being at the state shows, we’ll find out what (parks) want and we’ll build it. Rental units are really coming on strong. You need to be where people are looking for rental units.”
ARVC has also weighed into the market, offering park operators significant savings on rental units through a preferred provider agreement with Elkhart, Ind.-based Skyline Corp. Skyline, in fact, is expected to showcase a new rental unit for the campground market in March during the Wisconsin Association of Campground Owners (WACO) conference and trade show.
Solar-Powered Park Model Unveiled at Tampa Show
Phoenix, Ariz.-based Cavco Industries, for its part, has increased its 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. “Our direction has always been to work outside of the box and create products that are conducive to the property that wants rental cabins or cottages,” said Tim Gage, Cavco’s national vice president of park models, cabins and specialty products.
Cavco’s latest park model designs include a new off-grid solar powered park model cottage, which the company showcased at the KOA convention in Las Vegas, as well as the nation’s first “net zero” park model, which was shown by its Palm Harbor Homes subsidiary in January at the Florida RV SuperShow in Tampa.
“This is green to the point of being ‘net zero,’ which means you typically have a ‘zero dollar’ utility bill or in some cases end up selling power back to the utility company,” said Mike Wnek, Palm Harbor’s senior vice president, adding that the unit’s 3.2 KW photovoltaic panels generate more than enough electricity to use each day.
Dubbed the Staniel Cay Eco Cottage, after an island in the Exuma Cays archipelago east of the Bahamas, the 399-square-foot unit is designed for use as a part-time residence or vacation cottage in Sunbelt RV resorts as well as on private property in the Caribbean and Central America.
Builders Say Lending Environment Improving
About the only thing putting a brake on park model sales is the availability of financing. “I could list 10 campgrounds who will tell me they’ll buy five park models right now if we could find them some financing,” said Grymonprez of Athens Park Homes. “We need some new lenders out there.”
But while the limited availability of financing has limited the park model industry’s growth in recent years, some park model manufacturers tell Woodall’s Campground Management they are starting to see some improvement in the availability of financing.
“The market has started to loosen,” said Lambright of Woodland Park. “We’re hearing a lot less complaints from the dealers (about the availability of financing). There are a couple more lenders that have entered the market, which has helped as well.”
Andy Davis, national sales manager for Pinnacle Park Homes in Ochlocknee, Ga., is also seeing some improvement in the availability of financing.
Manufacturers are also working to increase their sales of park models to consumers, who use them as weekend retreats or vacation cottages at private parks across the country. “This time of year, most of our sales are in Florida and Texas, but there is still business going up north,” said Follman of Chariot Eagle.
Some park model manufacturers are seeing rising demand for their units in Canada and overseas as well. “We’re actually building units for China,” said Dave Hostetler, sales manager for Bridgeview Manufacturing in Elkhart, Ind. “A lot of our business is overseas.”
Bair of Pacific Yurts is also seeing rising demand for yurts overseas, particularly from vacation resorts in Europe. “We expect to see a continuing trend of (sales) improvement,” he said.
Ochlocknee, Ga.-based Pinnacle Park Homes will produce 2012 models beginning July 11, owner Randy Stewart Jr. stated in a news release.
“As we look back over the last six months of production, we have seen an increase in both our campground rental line and upscale resort line of park models and cabins,” said sales manager Andy Davis. “Being able to look back and pinpoint just why we have been profitable in an unstable market is key. Offering a quality-built product at an affordable price is just the beginning.
“Earlier this year, we released our rental line for campground owners with both price and longevity in mind, then combined that with attractive financing solutions. We have been able to obtain several new financing resources that have allowed our clients more options when it comes to purchasing new park models and cabins, while other manufacturers report that financing has been their obstacle.”
With cabin rentals being at an all-time high, Davis says now is the time for campgrounds to add to their existing rental pool and to most definitely add cabin rentals if they do not currently offer them. Park models and cabins pay for themselves in a very short amount of time, he says.
“We are very price-competitive while producing one of the most solid-built park models in the industry,” says Stewart. “We build with longevity in mind. We do not use seconds when it comes to the materials we purchase. In fact most of our standard structural features are other manufacturer’s upgrades. Other manufacturers build to two very different structural standards (depending on the price you pay). We here at Pinnacle Park Homes only build to one set of standards, this way you know what you are getting when you purchase a Pinnacle."
J R Heath has joined the sales staff at Pinnacle Park Homes.
Heath has been in park model sales for 10 years and has spent the last few years in the disaster relief housing market, Andy Davis, Pinnacle's sales manager, stated in a news release.
"While he brings extensive product knowledge, we see that his experience with international markets will be a great asset," said Randy Stewart Jr., owner of the Ochlocknee, Ga.-based manufacturer.
"J R could not have come at a better time, as last year we saw an increase in campgrounds expanding with park models and cabins, and with the way that 2011 has started, we do not see this slowing down," Davis continued. "We have new floorplans and great financing opportunities to be taken advantage of. With state and federal campgrounds closing, campground owners are seeing increased traffic so we encourage all campground owners to explore the options that we can provide in order to keep up with the demand and their competition."
Contact Pinnacle Park Homes at (866) 574-5159 or visit them on the web at www.pinnacleparkhomes.com.
Park model builder Pinnacle Park Homes has secured a new commercial lending program.
"Financing has been a huge obstacle for many of our campground owners and now we have been fortunate to secure a source that can offer rates as low as 6.99%," Andy Davis, sales manager for the Ochlocknee, Ga.-based builder, stated in a news release. "We are very excited to be able to offer this program, as we know rental cabins are the future for campgrounds. We can now obtain same day approvals and application only approvals up to $75,000."
He continued, "This is going to be a great tool to allow campgrounds to get their cabins now and pay for them over time at a great rate, which simply means more profit from day one. Previously, if financing was obtained the rate was much higher, the process much slower and required extensive documentation."
This program is specifically designed for those campgrounds that have been in business for four or more years as a reward for having tightened their belts and hung on during these trying economic times, he added.
"This certainly has the potential to increase our sales while at the same time producing more income for campground owners and with Spring right around the corner this could not have come at a better time," Davis concluded.
For more information contact Pinnacle Park Homes at (866) 574-5159 or visit them on the web at www.pinnacleparkhomes.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.
Brian Knight, who has been employed as an engineer with Pinnacle Park Homes for just over two years, recently received the "South Georgia Design Award" for his design work. He was honored for his creative and innovative ideas, according to a news release.
The award will be awarded to him in November. This is the first time he has won the award.
"We are pleased to have someone of his caliber on staff," said Andy Davis, sales manager for the Ochlocknee, Ga.-based park model builder. "You only have so much space you can use so it is very important to make it user friendly. Campground owners see repeat rental business when they can offer a well designed-quality built cabin."
Visit Pinnacle Park Homes on the web at www.pinnacleparkhomes.com to view a few of the floorplans designed just for campground owners.
Pinnacle Park Homes Inc. has introduced two new lines of park model homes for the 2011 model year. Both of these lines are more upscale in nature which can include amenities like solid-surface counter tops, upgraded black or stainless appliances, upgraded faucet and lighting packages, inverted dormers, composite decking on porches, stained or painted fiber cement board siding and many more, according to a news release. “With the addition of the Grand Lake Lodge Series, the Coastal Cottage Series and the Rental Ready Line added earlier this year, this truly makes Pinnacle Park Homes your one-stop shopping place when it comes to park models," said Andy Davis, sales manager for the Ochlocknee, Ga.-based park model builder. "Having delivered homes from Delaware to California just this week shows we are competitively priced across the nation." For more information contact Davis at (866) 574-5159 or visit their website at www.pinnacleparkhomes.com.
The state of Louisiana awarded Pinnacle Park Homes the contract for six park models it was adding to the Sam Houston Jones State Park in Lake Charles, La.
Ochlocknee, Ga.-based Pinnacle Park Homes has now completed the project. This is just one of many projects that Pinnacle Park Homes has been a part of for state and local governments, according to a news release. Campground owners know the value of offering rental cabins at their parks and now many states are looking to increase revenue at their parks by adding park model and cabin rentals.
Pinnacle Park Homes has recently released three new cabin and park model price point packages designed just for campground owners. These units are designed to sleep six people and come complete with all appliances and heat/AC, one of the units even comes with two TV’s.
Pinnacle Park Homes offers an optional furniture package with all of their units.
"Anything we can do to accommodate our campground owners to make it easy for them to generate income faster is what we are all about," says Andy Davis, sales manager.
Currently Pinnacle Park Homes offers many different options for financing, including one plan that allows campground owners to get their cabins and park models now and make no payments till 2011.
Visit them on the web at www.pinnacleparkhomes.com or call them at (866) 574-5159 for more information.