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July Towable RV Sales Up 21.5%; YTD 13.6%

Year-over-year retail towable sales gained 21.5% in July, while registrations for the first seven months showed a 13.6% increase. Every towable segment was up for the month while all but folding camping trailers recorded double-digit growth.

According to the latest report from Statistical Surveys Inc. as reported by RVBUSINESS.COM, results showed:

  • Sales for the high-volume travel trailer sector grew 24.2% in July and 15% for the seven months.
  • Fifth-wheel registrations rose 16.8% for the month and 14.1% year-to-date.
  • Folding camping trailer sales were up 4.4% in July, but dipped 2.2% year-to-date.
  • Recreational park trailer sales increased 32% for the month, but were down 9.6% year-to-date.

Thor Industries Inc. was the towable sales leader through the July with a 35.1% market share, followed by Forest River Inc. at 22.6% and Jayco Inc. with an 11.4% share.

By segment, Thor was No. 1 in travel trailer sales with a 32.4% share for the first seven months, ahead of Forest River (22.9%) and Jayco (13.2%). Thor held a commanding lead in fifth-wheel sales, capturing a 49.5% market share, while Forest River posted an 18.6% share and Palomino RV held a 6.7% share.

Forest River was the folding camping trailer sales leader for the seven months with a 44% market share while Jayco (17.3%) held the No. 2 position followed by Forest River’s Coachmen RV division (14.3%). In the park model segment, Thor was No. 1, posting a 22.2% market share, with Kropf Manufacturing Co. Inc. No. 2 at 10.9% followed by Skyline Corp. with a 9.9% share.

To subscribe to this or other SSI reports, contact Scott Stropkai, national RV sales manager, at (616) 281-9898 ext. 128, or (616) 446-8179 (cell).

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Park Trailer Builders Looking Ahead to Hershey

August 9, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Participating park model manufacturers had these comments in advance of America's Largest RV Show scheduled for September in Hershey, Pa.:

Interior of The Royal by Champion/Athens Park Homes

Champion/Athens Park Homes sees the 2013 Hershey show as the culmination of a great year and the kickoff to the 2014 season, says Dick Grymonprez, director of park model sales for Champion Homes. “We look forward to the Pennsylvania show,” he said. The company is building park models from eight plants across the U.S. and the two units it’s showing at Hershey – one from the Rental Cottage Series and the other from the traditional Royal Series – are being built in Champion’s plant in Sangerfield, N.Y.

“That plant will service all our needs in the Northeast,” said Grymonprez, who noted that it also will build units for customers in eastern Canada.

The Hershey units showcase Champion/Athens Park Homes’ best design elements, including a front porch, tape and textured walls with wood accents, wains coating and a “hunter’s cabin feel” to the Rental Cottage unit and a rear porch, full tape and textured walls and ceilings, lots of upgrades and clear story windows with high ceilings for the Royal unit, he said.

This will be the first time to the Hershey show for Grymonprez in several years. The long haul from Texas made taking park models problematic in years past, but now with a plant within a half-day’s drive, the challenge is gone, he said.

Champion has been signing up new accounts throughout the year and adding park model production to some of its plants for the first time, he said. “We are really going after the camping business and oil boom housing business,” he said. “Any place a park model can be used, we’re going after.”

Champion’s plant in Weiser, Idaho, will build park models for western Canadian customers.

“We will have both sides of Canada covered efficiently,” added Grymonprez, who cited the increased park model demand there.

The company is building park models for customers in Japan and Finland.

Grymonprez also said the company continues to do well in Texas, Athens Park Homes; home base, where it has put units in more than 50 campgrounds since its founding in 2005.

Champion now sells park models in 37 states.

• Larry Weaver, sales manager at Dutch Park Homes, Goshen, Ind., is also excited about this year’s Hershey Show, where a new Dutch Park Homes dealer, Ken Asel RV of Gerry, N.Y., will be showing the company’s Monterey and Sterling 12-wides and 8 ½-wide Classic.

Dutch Park Homes

The Monterey is Dutch Park Homes’ best-selling model and is actually part 13-wide and part 12-wide. MSRP for this popular unit is in the vicinity of $59,000.

Dutch Park Homes has been coming to the Pennsylvania Show every year since 1980 and the 2012 show was one of its best, with 11 sales recorded, Weaver said.

He’s got a great location at this year’s show and looks forward to showing off all the new decors in Dutch Park Homes’ 2014 units, he said.

Recreation by Design, a 25-year-year-old Elkhart, Ind.-based specialty vehicle manufacturer now aiming directly at RV dealers, will take two units to Hershey, a 48-foot fifth-wheel from its Baypoint Signature Series, and a 44-foot, two-bedroom Baypoint destination trailer, reports Terry Hiser, sales director for dealer development. MSRPs on the two units are $90,000 and $48,000, respectively.

Recreation By Design moved into a 70,000–square-foot, state-of-the-art former manufactured housing facility on the southwest side of Elkhart in the last year, which allows the company to expand from its historic specialty vehicle focus on the movie, agricultural and carnival industries to a broader line of products, Hiser explained.

“We now have the capability to go out and address the dealer market,” said Hiser.

The destination trailer, with four slideouts, has an appeal to the campground market, Hiser noted, as it was shown at Hershey in 2012 and did quite well.

Recreation By Design also has an expertise in building units in its Custom Series that are handicap accessible. Features include 48-inch exterior openings for power lifts, 36-inch inside doorways and roll-in shower units.

“We’ve done our homework on this over the last two years,” Hiser said. “We can accommodate just about everyone.”

The Shore Park by Skyline Corp.

• Elkhart-based Skyline Corp., which has made major market penetration in the past two years in park model production, will be showing four 12-wides at Hershey – three units from its Shore Park Homes series and one from its Stone Harbor series.

“We’re looking forward to all the shows this fall – in Hershey, the Elkhart Open House and in Louisville,” said Terry Decio, vice president of sales and marketing. “We’ve positioned our park models in a great place and we’re looking to continue to add to that.”

Skyline has leaped into the No. 2 sales position nationally behind longtime leader Breckenridge through the month of April, according to Statistical Surveys Inc.

Skyline will be showing two new floorplans in its Shore Park series, featuring new island and entertainment center applications and its top-selling unit with “waterfall” end wall windows. Stone Harbor is a packaged series floorplan.

MSRPs on the Shore Park are in the mid-$50,000 range, while for Stone Harbor it’s mid-$40,000.

Skyline has been building 12-wide park models for over 25 years,” Decio noted. “The last several years Skyline has made an effort to utilize its coast to coast network of manufacturing facilities to maximize value to the consumer. It helps us to be building them in a manufactured housing plant, where we can use a lot of the same quality materials.”

 

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OEMs Providing Park Models, Cabins & Yurts

February 14, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

This photo, courtesy of Cavco Industries Inc., is on the cover of February Woodall's Campground Management and depicts a park model resort in jackson Hole, Wyo.

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

Athens Park Homes looks for continued growth in 2013 of its park model business under new ownership by Champion Homes.

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.

Dutch Park Homes takes pride in its fit and finish.

Management: Kermit Kropf, president

Contact Information: 2249 Lincolnway East, Goshen, IN 46526; (574) 533-8090; fax (574) 533-8210; www.dutchpark.com

Breckenridge

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 model with kitchen and hutch.

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

Pacific Yurts' curved window is popular among campgrounds and consumers.

Pacific Yurts

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

Skyline Corp.

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

 

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'Covered Shelter' Builders Upbeat for 2013

February 12, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The cover of the Woodall's Campground Management February 2013 issue focusing on park models, cabins and yurts. This photo is of a Cavco Industries Inc. park model project in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Editor's Note: The following story is excerpted from the February issue of Woodall's Campground Management. Later this week, www.woodallscm.com will report in further detail trends in the park model, cabin and yurt industry and provide comments from the nation's leading builders of these covered shelter products.

This year might be the year that the recreational park trailer industry snaps out of its multi-year slump.

At least that’s what the major manufacturers are hoping for and telling Woodall’s Campground Management (WCM) for its annual park model, cabins and yurts issue. And to what extent the nation’s campgrounds bolster their covered shelter inventory will go far in determining the success these OEMs experience in 2013.

The major campground chains, Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) and Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI), each reported a hearty demand for covered shelter in their parks in 2012, which encouraged the park model OEMs as they begin to fill the pipeline for 2013. KOA said deluxe cabin rentals, a key point of emphasis right now, was up more than 20% in 2012 with registration revenues growing 19.5% higher than in 2011.

LSI reported that rental unit revenue rose 17% in 2012 from 2011. Double-digit growth has been recorded the past three years.

“Some people (parks) are not really taking advantage of this,” LSI President Robert Schutter said late in the year. “This is an area that we can exploit for many years. We have not maxed out.”

Builders are taking a variety of steps to grow their market share in both the campground and retail marketplace.

OEM Reports

Interior of a Breckenridge park model.

Industry leader Breckenridge, a division of Thor Industries Inc., the RV industry’s No. 1 manufacturer, is stepping up its production of rental units for the campground industry. The company, which captured more than 25% of the retail park model market in 2012, has taken many steps to broaden the appeal of its 12-wide Extendable and Perfect Cottage series, explained Bob Phillips, general manager of Nappanee, Ind.-based manufacturer, which is a preferred provider for KOA and LSI, two of its two largest customers.

“What we're trying to do is anchor the market we’re in,” said Phillips. “Breckenridge has always been a leader in the 12-wide market. I don't think we're going to venture much outside that.”

In its Extendable Series, the company has adopted a full fiberglass front cap and tried to make a lot of the former options now standard, he explained. Color schemes have been changed.

In the entry-level Fine Line Series, three new floorplans are geared more to families and first-time buyers and are more economical, he said.

A lot of former options are now standard in the Perfect Cottage series. New features include wholehouse vacuums and heavy-duty, pullout kitchen spray faucets and softened interior color schemes.

“A number of campground dealers should be excited about that product (model),” he said.

In the last three years, Breckenridge has become more serious about its campground rental units, Phillips said. He termed that market “a different beast” from the retail market and said the company has attempted to shore up this market.

Breckenridge also offers a rental unit it has “hardened” for the demands of campground users. “For a rental product, it’s very bullet-proof for a campground,” he said.

Phillips said Breckenridge is proud of its No. 1 position in retail registrations and welcomes the competition. He said those builders gaining market share with Breckenridge are doing so in the 8 ½-wide market.

“We want to make sure those nibbling don’t get too close. They have pushed us in what we do,” he said.

Forest River Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway company, the nation’s No. 2 RV builder and among the five largest park model makers, has done a total overhaul of its park model offerings for 2013 in its high line Quail Ridge and entry-level Summit product line.

The company has introduced four new floorplans so far and revamped its interior decors for these 12-wide models. Many formerly optional features are now standard on the Quail Ridge line and may be available on Summit products.

Interior doors are now stained to match the cabinets. New cabinet designs and styles, new kitchen backsplashes and hidden hinges for cabinets were introduced. Cabinets now have pulls instead of handles and ball-bearing glides. Kitchen cabinet and pantry shelves are now adjustable. Countertop choices were expanded. Pullout trash cans are now inside the pantries.

New window treatments feature hard valances and give a more upscale look. Accent furniture was updated.

On the outside, new vinyl siding colors were added. Shutters have been added to entry doors and loft windows.

“Competition was at the heart of the need to change,” said Gary Duncan, account manager for the Elkhart, Ind.-based manufacturer. “We weren’t gaining market share in recent years. These changes are recognition of competition and where the product needed to be. It was getting stale. Minor changes weren’t going to cut it; we really had to do something dramatic.”

The company also has upgraded its cabin-like park models, which it builds to customer specs. The basic model is a derivative of a KOA floorplan, which is tailored to meet the customer’s needs. Forest River made few changes in its cabin offerings, other than improving its interior paneling and upgrading its wooden cabinets. Cabins are available with vinyl, cedar lap or cedar log siding.

Lead times for Forest River products are about six weeks.

Cavco Industries Inc., a publicly held company, was keeping under wraps 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, national vice president of park models, cabins and specialty products for the Phoenix-based manufacturer.

As reported earlier by WCM, Elkhart, Ind.-based Skyline Corp., another publicly held company and in a solid third place in retail sales among park model builders, has opted to resume park model production at its manufactured housing plants in Wisconsin and Oregon based on the dealer response to Skyline’s park model display at the Louisville Show, said Mike Scheid, division general manager of Skyline’s plant in Leola, Pa.

Interior view of a Skyline Corp. park model.

The Shore Park is built in a manufactured housing plant and uses many of the components used in manufactured housing. For example, it’s one of a few manufacturers who use drywall inside their park models.

“We figured out a way to ship it without cracking,” he said.

He said his plant picked up eight to 10 new dealers at Louisville and business looks to be up 25% to 35% again this year. Canadian business also is growing, he added.

“We’re looking forward to gaining market share and upping our revenues,” he said.

Its plant location in Leola also helps keep freight costs down to customers in the Northeast, compared with the park model builders based in Northern Indiana, he said.

The Canterbury brand name has been in the industry since 1982 and today is manufactured by DNA Enterprises in Goshen, Ind. The company’s core product offering is 12-wide park models which come in three distinct price tiers, noted company spokesman Kevin Wells. The Bayview is the entry-level model, the full-featured Parkvue is for the upscale buyer and the Select is a custom-made product.

RVIA Smiling After Big Louisville Show

As WCM reported in its January issue, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) came away from the 50th Annual National RV Trade Show held in Louisville, Ky., optimistic about the 10 park model manufacturers who exhibited 2013 product there.

For the first time, the builders were allowed to bid on space anywhere within the Kentucky Exposition Center.

Before 2012, the builders were limited to specific areas of the exhibition hall.

This was the first Louisville Show held since the Georgia-based Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA) was shelved and the bulk of its members invited to rejoin RVIA after a hiatus of more than a decade.

“The feeling was very positive. It goes to the whole notion they are part of the overall RVIA family again,” said Matt Wald, the RVIA’s recreational park trailer executive director. “Both psychologically and from the traffic flow, they felt it was a good deal for them.”

Other firms showing at Louisville were: Athens Park Homes/Champion, Breckenridge, Chariot Eagle, DNA Enterprises (Canterbury), Dutch Park Homes, Fairmont Homes, Kropf Industries Inc. and Woodland Park.

20 Park Model OEMs Join RVIA

Matt Wald

On July 1, 2012, the RVIA created a new membership category for manufacturers of recreational park trailers, also known as park models. By year-end, 18 manufacturers, representing upward of 95% of annual park trailer production, had joined the RVIA, with two other applications pending inspection of their facilities.

“We had anticipated having 15 members; we have exceeded our expectations. Everybody is happy about that,” Wald said.

All but two of the new members were members of the RPTIA, which still exists, but in name only.

“A couple of OEMs are still not in the RVIA family, but we would love to have them aboard,” he said. “Some are waiting to see if this ‘marriage’ works before investing in it. We think it is a value proposition they can’t stay away from.”

A new page on the RVIA’s homepage at www.rvia.org pertains to recreational park trailers with a link to annual shipment figures and other information.

The industry is coming off a second straight year of little if any year-over-year growth, but Wald and others see a glimmer of hope in the future.

During the past year, Champion Homes purchased Athens Park Homes of Athens, Texas, and has begun to produce Athens Park product in Champion plants across the U.S., which Wald calls “a pretty significant entry into the park model side of the business.” This puts them in the same national markets with industry leaders Breckenridge and Cavco, Wald noted.

Aside from anecdotal evidence and monthly wholesale shipments, which RVIA tracks, Wald said major players told him following the Louisville Show their orders were solid. “With the economy turning the corner, it could be a good year in 2013. I would like to be cautiously optimistic and say I do not expect a drop-off in 2013. I’m expecting a ‘flat’ year but hoping for better,” he said.

Issues such as consumer confidence, the “fiscal cliff” and financing are beyond RVIA’s control, he noted, “but I think it’s fair to say this industry is solid and primed to grow, hopefully this year,” he said.

 

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Park Models Make Waves at ‘12 Louisville Show

December 19, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Skyline Corp.'s Shore Park on display at the 50th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.

A perceptible change was afoot Nov. 27-29 at the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) 50th Annual National RV Trade Show at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky.: The prevalence of park models set up among the sprawling 730,000 square feet of traditional motorized and towable RV’s.

Not since the mid-1990s when they parted company with RVIA had the park trailer manufacturers been such a serious factor as Louisville Show exhibitors. Now that their Georgia-based Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA) has been shelved and they’ve been welcomed back as RVIA members along with the rest of the U.S. recreational vehicle industry, a total of 10 park trailer builders were displaying 2013 product at the Kentucky Exposition Center (KEC).

The exhibitors were Skyline Corp., Forest River’s Park Model Division, Athens Park Homes/Champion, Breckenridge, Chariot Eagle, DNA Enterprises (Canterbury), Dutch Park Homes, Fairmont Homes, Kropf Industries Inc. and Woodland Park.

“The feeling was very positive. It goes to the whole notion they are part of the overall RVIA family again,” said Matt Wald, the RVIA’s recreational park trailer executive director. “Both psychologically and from the traffic flow, they felt it was a good deal for them.”

RVIA created a new membership category in July for park trailer builders, and, by year’s end, 18 manufacturers representing about 95% of annual park trailer production had joined the Reston, Va.-based trade association, with two other applications pending at press time. “We had anticipated having 15 members,” said Wald. “We have exceeded our expectations. Everybody is happy about that.”

All but two of the new members were affiliated with RPTIA, which still exists in name only. “A couple of OEMs are still not in the RVIA family, but we would love to have them aboard,” said Wald, noting that there’s a new page on the association’s www.rvia.org website pertaining to park trailers with a link to annual shipment figures and other information. “Some are waiting to see if this ‘marriage’ works before investing in it. We think it is a value proposition they can’t stay away from.”

Skyline’s display was as prominent as any at the 2012 Louisville Show. In fact, Skyline, headquartered in Elkhart, Ind., has opted to resume park model production at its manufactured housing plants in Wisconsin and Oregon based on the dealer response to its Louisville Show park model exhibit, reports Mike Scheid, division general manager of Skyline’s Leola, Pa., plant.

Skyline showed a Shore Park-brand unit built in a manufactured housing plant and using a host of manufactured housing componentry like residential-style drywall, said Scheid, adding that his plant picked up eight to 10 new dealers at Louisville and business looks to be up 25% to 35% again this year. Skyline’s Canadian business also is growing.

The Elkhart-based Forest River Park Model Division showed three new park model floorplans at Louisville. Even though the company’s display was in “an obscure corner of the northwest wing,” dealers came to buy. “Our product changes were well received,” reports account representative Gary Duncan. “Dealers came with a purpose.”

Forest River has targeted its marketing toward campgrounds, a hospitality arena that Wald calls “one of the hottest growth areas” for park models because of the fact that so many campgrounds are buying and leasing these units – many of them with rustic aesthetics — to first-time campers and others without RVs in what amounts to a burgeoning “cabin” style of accommodation.

 

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RV Industry Prepares for Two Major Shows

July 20, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Officials of "America's Largest RV Show" set for Hershey, Pa., report a near sellout for space for this year's show.

Two major RV shows unfold in September – one is “America’s Largest RV Show” and runs Sept. 10-16 at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pa., the other has become known as the “Elkhart Open House” and follows on Hershey’s coattails the following week at multiple sites in the RV building hub of Elkhart County in Northern Indiana.

Combined, these two shows give consumers, dealers and campground owners a thorough look at new products for 2013.

Pennsylvania Show

At last count, 45 manufacturers had signed on to display some 1,000 new models at Hershey show and the combination dealer and retail show is still growing.

“I expect to sell out shortly, as I am working with five manufacturers currently,” said Rebecca Lenington, executive vice president of the Pennsylvania RV and Camping Association (PRVCA), the show sponsor. “Manufacturer space is currently 5.59 percent over 2011 and booth vendor space is 8.7 percent over 2011 for a total of 5.75 percent over 2011.”

The vendor count is 165 companies and space was virtually sold out.

“We’re tickled pink,” added Heather Leach, marketing and education director. “If someone comes in at the last minute, we’ll find space for them. We’ll have to make space for them.”Dealers get their first look during Industry Days Sept. 10-11, followed by the public Sept. 12-16. It’s a complete show, offering a look at new RVs as well as thousands of accessories, countless service providers and free educational seminars.Campground owners can get a good look at the latest recreational park trailers and destination trailers at the Hershey show. Here’s a sampling of what some of those manufacturers will be bringing to Hershey:Skyline Corp. is displaying one park model, the Shore Park, a 12-wide built at the company’s Leola, Pa., plant.Cavco Industries Inc. was debating whether to show its entry-level 100 Series or higher-priced 200 Series at Hershey. Either way, the show product will come from the company’s Rocky Mount, Va., plant, reported Tom Satterwhite, general manager.Silvertop Manufacturing, White Marsh, Md., will be displaying its popular RV-2-Way portable awning (its major RV product), as well as its Chesapeake Screen Room and two options for the Chesapeake. The options turn the Chesapeake into a more durable and weather-resistant add-on.Show sponsors have added some new aspects to this year’s show. The educational component has been altered. The hour-long seminars were dropped in favor of expanded sessions geared to RV service writers and Finance and Insurance writers, Leach noted, and the Red Carpet Luncheon has been replaced with a traditional breakfast at nearby Chocolate World.Entertainment tent at the Forest River Inc. display during the Elkhart Open House.

Elkhart Open House

Meanwhile, the Elkhart Open House, spawned by Forest River Inc. five years ago at the start of the Great Recession and then buoyed in subsequent years by Thor Industries Inc., features a look at new products made in the Elkhart/LaGrange County area of Northern Indiana by these and many other leading OEMs. The Open House, open only to dealers, extends over much of the week, although Tuesday through Thursday (Sept. 18-20) will be the key days among the industry’s major exhibitors.

Both Forest River and Thor are planning to locate their product displays in the same locations as last year’s Open House, which drew more than 3,000 U.S. and Canadian dealer personnel to the streets, factories and open roadside lots of area Hoosier communities like Elkhart, Middlebury, Wakarusa and Shipshewana, RVBUSINESS.COM reported.

Thor’s six RV-building divisions are to be located on the grounds of the RV/MH Hall of Fame, while Forest River’s varied business units will be positioned in and around the grounds of Forest River’s Dynamax facility on C.R. 6 – about three miles apart from each other. Again this year, shuttle buses will ferry dealers back and forth between the two larger displays.

Having said that, the management teams of both companies apparently are looking for another good year of Open House festivities, a rare combination of serious business and social time that tends to cultivate sales as well as build relationships between dealers and manufacturers for the year ahead.

“For this year, we’re looking for more of the same – if not bigger,” says Bob Martin, president of Thor’s RV Group, headquartered in Jackson Center, Ohio. “Based on dealer reaction at Louisville, dealers that weren’t able to make the Open House last year had commented that this year they definitely would make it to the Open House. For us, it’s a great opportunity. We can simply show more product (versus a typical convention) and it’s a little bit more laid back atmosphere.”

Jeff Babcock, a general manager for Elkhart-based Forest River, also sees some changes in the works with regard to a “tighter” layout for this year’s exhibitors that should make it easier for some of Forest River’s and Thor’s competitors to “set up camp” in more amenable locations. This would answer one of the chief drawbacks to the Open House for some of the exhibiting companies who want better and more accessible locations.

“I think that this year is going to be even better than last year,” adds Babcock. “This thing’s taken on a life of its own. I think we’re going to have more participation from other manufacturers outside Indiana and Michigan”

“I mean, I think this thing is going to be bigger than it ever has been before, but that just follows suit from the last four years,” he noted. “Every year this goes on, it just gets bigger and bigger, and we’re expecting this year’s Open House to be our best year yet.”

The Elkhart Open House has gained traction among RV dealers since Forest River President and CEO Pete Liegl created the event in 2008. As other manufacturers have piled on, it has grown into a major showcase.

Elkhart, Ind.-based real estate firm Northland Corp. is leasing prime location sites during the Open House to several other RV manufacturers.

Most of the lots – ranging from one to two acres – will occupy pockets along C.R. 6, a busy east-west artery on the north side of Elkhart. Importantly, the sites will run between the focal points for the event. Other RV firms have arranged to show their 2013 product at locations along the C.R. 6 corridor.

 

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Analyst Touts Cavco and Drew Industries Investments

Editor's Note: The following investment advice story is from John Udovich writing for the SmallCapNetwork. Among the products of Cavco Industries Inc. and Skyline Corp. are park models purchased by campgrounds and RV parks.

While much of the homebuilding sector has been left for dead, the RV and manufactured home sector is showing some signs of life, meaning it might be time to take a look at RV and manufactured home stocks like Cavco Industries (NASDAQ: CVCO), Skyline Corp. (NYSE: SKY) and Drew Industries (NYSE: DW). After all, there are still consumers who can afford RVs while manufactured homes have moved beyond images trailer parks. So which are the best RV and manufactured home stocks, Cavco Industries (CVCO), Skyline Corp. (SKY) or Drew Industries (DW)? Here is a closer look to help you decide:

Cavco Industries Made a Big Acquisition Last Year

Cavco Industries is a builder of manufactured and modular homes, park model homes and vacation cabins in the USA. At the end of May, Cavco Industries reported that fiscal 4Q2012 net sales surged 156 percent from $38,822,000 to $99,513,000 while net income rose from $1,733,000 to $2,888,000. For the entire fiscal year, net sales rose 158 percent to from $171,827,000 to $443,066,000 while net income rose from $4,072,000 to $29,728,000. It should be noted that the surge in revenues and net income was due to Fleetwood Homes, Inc., a subsidiary that is owned 50 percent by Cavco and 50 percent by the Third Avenue Value Fund (TAVFX), acquiring Palm Harbor Homes Inc. during the quarter ended June 30, 2011. The acquisition expanded the geographic reach of Cavco Industries along with the diversity of home products plus allowed for the introduction of related mortgage and insurance business lines. Otherwise, Cavco Industries did note seasonally slow winter home buying activity that began to show a modest improvement in both consumer interest and traffic levels at the end of the quarter, plus a generally challenging economic environment. On Thursday, Cavco Industries rose 3.63 percent to $47.94 (CVCO has a 52 week trading range of $28.43 to $54.11 a share) for a market cap of $330.34 million plus the stock is up 19.7 percent since the start of the year, up 27.12 percent over the past year and up 34.1 percent over the past five years.

Skyline Corp. Has Not Seen Profits in Awhile

Skyline Corp. designs, produces and markets manufactured housing, modular housing and towable recreational vehicles to independent dealers and manufactured housing communities located throughout the U.S.A. and Canada. Investors should be aware that Skyline Corp. has been operating at a loss since 2008 while EBITDA and free cash flow has been negative since 2007. Moreover and last March, Third Avenue Management sold 55.7 percent of its stake in Skyline Corp. for $3,394,689 while keeping a 4.31 percent stake. Third Avenue has had the stock since before the 2Q2009 after it had been sinking for several years and had bought it for roughly $20 per share – well above its current market price. On Thursday, Skyline Corp. rose 3.05 percent to $4.39 (SKY has a 52-week trading range of $4.02 to $17.95 a share) for a market cap of $36.84 million plus the stock is up 0.92 percent since the start of the year, down 70.7 percent over the past year and down 86.6 percent over the past five years. Skyline Corp. does have a forward dividend of $0.36 for a dividend yield of 8.5 percent.

Drew Industries is Benefiting From More RV Sales

Drew Industries supplies a broad array of components for recreational vehicles (RVs) and manufactured homes to nearly all of the leading producers of RVs and manufactured homes. In Early May, Drew Industries reported better than expected quarterly sales results thanks to strong RV demand (sales in the RV segment accounts for more than three-quarters of the company’s net sales). Specifically, Drew Industries reported that net sales rose 32 percent to $223.6 million while net income came in at $11.1 million verses $9.4 million. Moreover, sales in the RV Segment to producers of travel trailer and fifth-wheel RVs rose 29 percent verses an 11 percent industry-wide increase and the company noted that over the past few months, retail demand in the RV industry has been improving – despite the economic headwinds. It also worth noting that Drew Industries’ manufactured homes segment saw sales rise 26 percent thanks to a 35 percent increase in industry-wide production of manufactured homes during the quarter (DW has less content in smaller homes which accounted for some of the industry rise). On Thursday, Drew Industries rose 0.70 percent to $27.20 (DW has a 52-week trading range of $17.49 to $30.55 a share) for a market cap of $605.86 million plus the stock is up 10.9 percent since the start of the year, up 14.3 percent over the past year and down 18.6 percent over the past five years.

The Bottom Line. Investors should probably stay away from Skyline Corp. (SKY) and instead be taking a closer look at RV and manufactured home stocks like Cavco Industries (CVCO) and Drew Industries (DW) as they appear poised to move higher.

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WCM Survey: Park Model/Yurt Builders Optimistic

January 19, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The master bedroom of a solar-powered park model built by Palm Harbor Homes, a division of Cavco Industries Inc.

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

Interior of a upscale yurt by Pacific Yurts.

“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.”

Dutch Park Homes park model

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

Interior of a park model built by Woodland Park.

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

Pinnacle Park Homes park model.

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.

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Skyline Corp. Named ARVC Preferred Provider

The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) and Skyline Corp. have negotiated an agreement that gives Skyline “preferred provider” status on park model and travel trailer sales to ARVC-member parks in the U.S. and Canada.

“I am very excited to have Skyline as a preferred provider,” said David L. Berg, ARVC chairman, adding that savings from a single park model purchase could offset the cost of ARVC dues for as much as 20 years.

“This agreement does not just cover rental units,” Berg said. “It covers all products that Skyline manufactures, including park models of all widths, towable travel trailers, park model cabins which they are designing specifically for ARVC members and mobile homes. The only restriction is that the member must use the units as rentals or sell them directly to their customers for use in their park.”

Skyline, for its part, said the preferred provider agreement with ARVC should help boost sales for the Elkhart, Ind.-based company in an increasingly competitive market. “We’re looking forward to displaying some of our units at the upcoming Outdoor Hospitality Conference and Expo in Savannah,” said Terry Decio, Skyline’s vice president of sales and marketing.

Elkhart, Ind.-based Skyline has manufacturing facilities in Indiana, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Florida, Oregon and California.

“With Skyline plans from New England to California, this will be a far reaching member benefit that the vast majority of our membership can enjoy,” Berg said.

ARVC is the national trade association that represents the outdoor hospitality industry. Based in Denver, Colo., membership includes over 3,300 campgrounds, RV parks and resorts throughout the United States. ARVC's consumer website is www.GoCampingAmerica.com, while its industry website is www.ARVC.org.

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Who's Who in the Park Model and Cabin Business

February 15, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

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; dgrymonprez@athensparkhomes.com; www.athensparkhomes.com

Company: Canterbury RV

Location: Goshen, Ind.

Background: Canterbury RV builds both 8-foot and 12-foot-wide park models on 8-inch I beam frames.

Best Selling Products: “Our best selling unit is our 12-wide loft unit: the Canterbury Classic,” said Tyler Steele, Canterbury RV’s vice president. The company has also introduced a new custom series called the Canterbury Select. “We give you 400 square feet. The rest is up to you, from start to finish,” he said.

Market Focus: Canterbury RV has traditionally produced park models for the retail market. But the company sees additional market opportunities in the campground business. “We’re looking at doing more rentals,” Steele said. “More and more campgrounds are realizing the benefits of having park models versus transient sites.”

Contact Info: Tyler Steele, vice president; (574) 534-0034; fax (574) 534-4342; tylersteele@canterburyrv.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; tylerm@cavco.com; www.cavcoparkhomes.com

Company: Chariot Eagle Inc.

Location: Ocala, Fla., western division based in Phoenix, Ariz.

Background: Robert Holliday founded Chariot Eagle in June 1984 with five employees and subsequently built it into one of the larger park model manufacturers in the country, with manufacturing operations at its headquarters in Ocala, Fla., and at its sister plant, Chariot Eagle West, in Phoenix, Ariz., which it opened in 1995 to service the West Coast market. Both plants build the same types of products, although their floorplans vary.

Best Selling Units: A Model 314 with a convert-a-room, a park model with a built-in accordion door that can be opened to create a supersize living room or closed to create a second bedroom.

Market Focus: “Everything we do is custom,” said sales manager Joe Follman. “Nobody wants to be like the Joneses any more. The cookie-cutter days are long gone.” About 80% of Chariot Eagle’s sales are to consumers seeking vacation cottages, while about 20% of the company’s park models are for use as campground rental accommodations.

Contact Info: Tom Marcy, director of operations; (352) 629-7007; fax (352) 732-0026; tommarcy@charioteagle.com; www.charioteagle.com. For Chariot Eagle West, contact Terry Davidson; (623) 936-7545; fax (623) 936-7012; terrydavidson@charioteaglewest.com; www.charioteaglewest.com

Company: Dutch Park Homes

Location: Goshen, Ind.

Background: Kermit Kropf was general manager of Supreme Corp.’s commercial truck body manufacturing facility in La Grange, Ky. before leaving the company to become president of Dutch Park Homes in 2003. Since that time, he has strived to set Dutch Park apart from its peers in the park model industry. Dutch Park’s employees are based in the company’s 32,000-square foot manufacturing plant in Goshen.

Best Selling Unit: “Our Classic Series is our most popular unit,” Kropf said. “It has many floorplans and options that people can customize.

Market Focus: About 70% of Dutch Park’s production is sold to consumers for use as vacation cottages, with roughly 30% going to campgrounds for use as rental units, said Dave Mockler, a company sales representative.

Contact Info: Dave Mockler, sales representative; (574) 642-0150; fax (574) 642-0155; dave@dutchpark.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: jsoard@fairmontparktrailers.com; www.fairmontparktrailers.com

Company: Pinnacle Park Homes Inc.

Location: Ochlocknee, Ga.

Background: Founded in 2003, Pinnacle Park Homes offers numerous park model floorplans with vinyl, Hardiboard, cedar or log exteriors. The company also produces the Lighthouse series of floating cabins, which are park models constructed on a floating device.

Best Selling Units: “Our custom deluxe cabins and our camping cabins are our most popular units,” said Andy Davis, senior sales manager. “Our Custom Deluxe Cabin and Camping Cabin Suite designs have been well received and become proven profit generators.”

Cabin Suites include a cedar lap exterior, 6-foot open porch with pressure-treated decking, a 29-gauge colored metal roof and a rustic pine interior with all wood cabinets and drawers and wood grain linoleum throughout.

Market Focus: Campground rental units are becoming an increasingly important focus for Pinnacle Park Homes. “Listening to the needs and desires of campground owners and then turning that input into an affordable and profitable cabin design has been a crucial key to our growth,” Davis said, adding that rental units account for the majority of Pinnacle’s park model business.

Contact Info: Andy Davis, senior sales representative; (866) 574-5159; fax (229) 574-5184; andy@pinnacleparkhomes.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.

Contact Info: Kevin Garthus, national product manager; (800) 348-7469, ext. 321; fax (574) 522-5257; kgarthus@skylinecorp.com; www.skylinecorp.com and www.skylinepm.com

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; awhitehouse@championhomes.net; 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; daveb@woodland-park.com; www.woodland-park.com

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