As the owners of Princess Craft Campers and Trailers in Pflugerville, Texas, P.J. and Richard Buerger have helped people create adventures for almost 15 years.
From the middle-age widow who wanted to travel the nation to the single man who needed new scenery, many customers have come to the RV dealer seeking a change, Community Impact reported.
“Almost every one of them has a story,” Richard Buerger said.
The Buergers, both longtime Austin residents, bought Princess Craft in 1996, though the business has operated since 1968.
Princess Craft’s original location was scorched in a 1971 fire that destroyed several buildings along Main Street in downtown Pflugerville. Three months later, the business reopened across the street at 102 N. First St., where it remains today.
The couple admits Princess Craft is not a typical RV dealer. It is not located off a major highway, but instead is practically hidden among a cluster of businesses in downtown Pflugerville. Its small lot can barely fit the up to 50 RVs Princess Craft has in stock at any given time.
Despite its small-town feel, Princess Craft has customized RVs for customers around the world, with nearly half of all orders coming from outside the state.
It developed a recompression chamber for treasure hunters in Egypt, provided trailers for the U.S. Army’s counterterrorism unit and, last summer, transformed an old RV into a social networking center for homeless people in Austin.
Princess Craft specializes in truck campers and lightweight trailers, and will service and repair any kind of RV. Most people find out about the dealer by word of mouth or through the web, P.J. Buerger said.
“We can work for the Egyptians, the Army, the Pflugerville police or the hot dog carts,” she said. “Whatever anybody needs, we’ll see if we have the expertise to do it.”
Despite a tough economy that caused many RV dealers to close, Princess Craft has continued to grow. The business celebrated its highest earning year in 2010, which Richard Buerger credits to “our down-home, old-school-type attitude.”
The Buergers said it is this friendly attitude that has helped them form lasting friendships with their customers, who range from photographers and artists to bass fishermen and race car divers.
Many times, their customers will stop by Princess Craft to talk about their adventures and where they plan to go next.
“That’s the fun part,” P.J. said. “We get to meet really interesting people.”
Noteworthy past projects
- Developing a recompression chamber for treasure hunters in Egypt. The organization, the Supreme Council of Antiquities, recovers stolen treasure.
- Providing trailers for the U.S. Army’s counterterrorism unit Army officials were scheduled to review the designs on Sept. 11, 2001, but did not due to the terrorist attacks. Princess Craft provided two trailers, one to transport equipment and another to serve as a command center.
- Transforming an old RV into a social networking center for homeless people in Austin. Dubbed the Homeless Coach, the RV serves as a headquarters for a six-month program that helps homeless people get off the streets and transition back into the community.
- Providing custom trailers for the Pflugerville High School marching band and Pflugerville Police Department.
Contact Princess Craft Campers and Trailers at (800) 338-7123, www.princesscraft.com.
Austin, Texas, businesses and volunteers began renovating a recreational vehicle July 31 at Princess Craft Campers and Trailers in Pflugerville that will be used to reach out to the homeless population in the Austin area.
The RV, known as the Homeless Coach, is an instrumental part of a program that bears the same name and that founder Tom Baum said aims to “reverse homelessness” in the Austin area. Baum said the six-month program will take homeless people off the streets and help them transition back into the community.
“With the right guidance they can give back to society and have a purposeful and meaningful life,” he said.
Baum said he will use the RV to house the homeless who enroll in the program.
The organization’s website-www.homelesscoach.org-will also feature online videos to allow participants to share their stories with the community at large. Visitors to the website can chat with and donate to the participants as well as see the RV’s current location through GPS technology.
Baum said the goal of the interactive website is to help the homeless individual create a social network and contacts that can help them after they graduate from the program.
One of the main reasons people become homeless, he said, is the breakup of the family unit, which can happen because of addictions, loss of a job, mental illness or criminal activity. Without a support system, Baum said it is difficult for people to get off the streets once they end up there.
“[Many] have a good heart and want to do right, but they have a history that prevents them from moving on,” he said.
The idea for the program came from a 40-day “homeless immersion” project Baum did in 2008. During that time period, he talked with homeless people in Austin and streamed videos to the internet with his mobile phone and from a RV trailer.
Baum said churches and businesses saw the 40-day project and donated materials to the individuals featured on his website as well as supplies for Baum to continue his work. The Well Bible Church donated an older model motorhome after seeing Baum’s homeless immersion.
“To me it was an affirmation that this was a good thing and that we needed to keep going,” Baum said.
Baum said Pflugerville businesses have also donated time, services and materials to the Homeless Coach, including Image Auto Body, Princess Craft and Aus-Tex Towing.
The Homeless Coach still has a lengthy list of materials and equipment it needs before the interior of the RV is finished. Baum said they need TV monitors, cushions, wood for cabinets and cameras. A complete list will be available online.
Baum said he hopes to begin construction on the interior of the RV Sept. 3, and an unveiling ceremony is set for Oct. 3. More information is available at www.homelesscoach.org. Click on the site to watch a short video about the project.