Demand for park model RVs is rising across Florida driven by the growing numbers of snowbirds, according to a press release.
“Compared to last winter, I think our sales are going to be up by about 20%,” said Mark Kornovich, manager of Winter Haven RV in Lake Wales, which has sister dealerships in Ocala, Okeechobee and Minneapolis, Minn. “I think the recession is definitely behind us.”
Winter Haven RV is the largest park model dealer in Florida and its product line includes units built by Palm Harbor Homes as well as towable and motorized RVs.
Kornovich said the long-term outlook for his business is good, not only because of the strength of demand for park models, but because there is still plenty of space in Florida’s campgrounds, RV parks and resorts to accommodate new units.
About 80% of Winter Haven’s new park models are being placed in private parks in Florida, while the remaining 20% are being used to replace existing park models in RV parks and resorts across the state, Kornovich said.
According to Kornovich, RV enthusiasts often transition into park models after they develop a pattern of going to the same campground, RV park or resort each winter. They make friends with other RVers at the same park and want to continue spending their winters with them, while enjoying the amenities and activities that many RV parks and resorts provide.
Florida park models are 500-square-foot factory-built cottages that are designed to be used as vacation homes or part-time time residences. Park models often come equipped with bay windows and lofts and are usually designed to complement the architectural styles of the resort communities where they are to be used.
Across the U.S., park models are technically classified as recreational vehicles because they sit on a chassis and are built to the ANSI standard. This recreational vehicle designation makes it legal to place park models on permanent sites in campgrounds, RV parks and resorts. In Florida, these units are built to the HUD code and can be built up to 500 square feet in size.
For more information about the growth of the park model business in Florida, contact Kornovich at Winter Haven RV at (863) 439-7576 and visit www.winterhavenrv.net.
Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) leadership expressed a growing appreciation for — and desire to work with — the campground industry during the 51st Annual National Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., which concluded Thursday (Dec. 5).
“They really are the missing leg of our three-legged stool,” said Matt Wald, RVIA park trailer executive director. “The manufacturers build RVs, the dealers sell them and the campgrounds are where people take them and use them.”
While RVIA and the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) work closely, including on the industry’s Go RVing marketing campaign, RVIA is learning more about the campground side. “We don’t know what we don’t know,” Wald said. “We’re coming to appreciate the difficulties that campgrounds face, especially dealing with growing seasonal camping. The RVIA wants to help tackle zoning, taxation and environmental issues.
“It’s all of these issues where the customer’s impacted. It’s not the OEMs’ problems, it’s not the campground’s problem, it’s the customer’s problem.”
RVIA’s desire to work with campgrounds, Wald acknowledged, is “a different way of doing business. It’s what’s good for the industry.”
He thinks there’s a huge market of people who don’t realize the variety of accommodations available at campgrounds today, and that RVIA can help change that.
In addition to the association’s hopes to work with campgrounds, the RVIA and the former Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA) are about 18 months into a two-year trial unification. Wald reported that park model RV makers are pleased with the progress.
“I think the transition’s been well received,” said Tim Gage, national vice president of park models, cabins and specialty products for Cavco Industries Inc. “RVIA’s resources are great and Matt Wald’s done a phenomenal job for us.”
Gary Duncan, who heads Forest River Inc.’s park model division, echoed Gage’s comments, saying park models fit in with the RVIA. “That’s what this product is, it’s an RV.”
Curt Yoder, vice president of Kropf Recreational Park Trailers, said he’s pleased with the services the RVIA provides for park model builders and he’s happy with the transition. Looking ahead, “we’d like to see more exposure” as part of the industry’s advertising efforts.
John Soard, general manager and national sales manager of Fairmont Homes Inc.’s park model division, said, “we have some overseas possibilities that are creeping up on us here,” including opportunities in the Japanese market. “RVIA’s really been helping us with that,” he said. “There’s a lot of benefits to being part of RVIA.
Dick Grymonprez, director of park model sales for Champion/Athens Park Homes, one of the leaders of the mothballed RPTIA and now a member of the RVIA’s leadership team, added, “It’s been excellent.”