The state of New Jersey has reportedly agreed to back off residency rules that threatened to evict residents this fall at a Cape May County campground, according to The Press of Atlantic City.
About 60 residents of Carol Lynn Resorts in Woodbine met with state Sen. Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic, about the state’s decision last year to impose a six-month residency limit on seasonal campgrounds.
Van Drew announced that the state Department of Community Affairs will grandfather existing recreational park trailers, also known as park models, at the state’s campgrounds. These are trailers of 400 square feet or less that, according to the state, have electrical systems that might be substandard.
Residents still must comply with local ordinances over residency, Van Drew said. In Woodbine, that means residents at campgrounds such as Carol Lynn Resorts can live there daily from April to November and remain 21 days per month the remainder of the year.
Carol Lynn Resorts is considered a campground, but residents here hardly camp. They live in their park models year-round.
“Technically, a campground is not and never has been a year-round residence – technically,” Van Drew said. “The DCA has now agreed this requirement will only apply to new trailers coming into the park.”
Woodbine has never enforced its own rules governing campground residency. But when the state imposed the new six-month rules, campground owners Anthony and Carol Saduk gave residents a Nov. 1 deadline to leave.
The residency rules stirred tempers and raised consternation among campground residents. Van Drew began his comments by imploring the residents to “be nice.”
But the sudden eviction notices caught many people by surprise, and for-sale signs began popping up in the windows of many of the trailers.
DCA spokesman Chris Donnelly could not be reached for comment late Thursday. Van Drew said he was negotiating a deal with former DCA Commissioner Joseph Doria, before he resigned last week amid a corruption scandal.
Van Drew said he reached a similar understanding with the agency’s new acting commissioner.
Campground owners may impose their own rules that may be more restrictive than the state’s, Van Drew said. But Carol Saduk on Thursday said if Van Drew is correct, the state’s response satisfies her concerns about complying with the law and her tenants may stay through the winter.
“The regulation is on the books. You can’t ignore it because so-and-so said you can.
We wanted it in writing,” she said. “We were just doing what the state told us to do. The shame of this is it put us in the position of being the big bad guys throwing the senior citizens out.
“All’s well that ends well. We’ll move on from here,” she said.
Residents applauded Van Drew’s announcement and said the state’s decision satisfies them.
Meanwhile, the New Jersey Campground Owners Association has proposed a compromise to establish a 270-day or nine-month season. The trade group represents 105 campgrounds and resorts in 13 counties.
“If there are any situations where people are there longer, we’re proposing they get an electrical inspection by an electrician to certify it’s safe for use and meets the residential code,” said Jay otto, trade group president. “This should satisfy the DCA’s concerns about the electric systems in the units.”
Cavco Industries Inc., a Phoenix, Ariz.-based manufacturer of recreational park trailers, manufactured housing and cabins, announced Wednesday (July 29) financial results for the first quarter of its fiscal year 2010 ended June 30.
Net sales for the first quarter of fiscal 2010 totaled $13,595,000, down 62% from $35,509,000 for the first quarter of fiscal year 2009, according to a news release.
Net loss for the fiscal 2010 first quarter was $1,449,000 compared to net income of $853,000 reported in the same quarter one year ago.
Joseph Stegmayer, chairman, president and CEO, said, “Our first fiscal quarter results are representative of the continued challenges faced by the general economy and our industry, which are especially poignant in our core Southwest market area. For the five months ended May 2009, industry-wide reported manufactured home shipments continue to be very low at 380 and 611 in Arizona and California, respectively. In an effort to further streamline our cost structure in this environment, we have moved our Phoenix, Ariz., park model and vacation cabin operation to one of our other nearby factories. The combining factory had excess capacity available for a second production line, which is now being utilized for these specialty products. The transition was completed by the end of the first quarter with no interruption to the customers of that business.”
He continued, “While business conditions are certainly challenging, we are well positioned to expand our presence in our current markets. Meanwhile, we are continuing the previously announced bid process for seven operating Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. manufacturing facilities in as many states across the nation. Through a 50% owned subsidiary, we signed an asset purchase agreement last week, and are now working toward potential ownership in the near term. There are no assurances that this transaction will close or that it will be in the form currently contemplated. We do believe that a successful purchase will be a positive long-term strategic move for both the Cavco and Fleetwood Homes brand names.”
All the fears expressed by the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors in Poplarville, Miss., about someone purchasing former FEMA recreational park trailers and offering them for sale locally has come true, according to the Picayune (Miss.) Item.
Now their biggest concern is someone buying one of the trailers and trying to live in it. “We need people to understand they can’t be used for permanent residences,” said Anthony Hales, board president. “They do not come up to HUD standards.”
According to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) lead public affairs officer Jim Foster, the trailers are more than likely ones purchased through the General Services Administration’s auction website. “FEMA only sells through the GSA auction website,” said Foster, adding that the site indicates where the trailers are located. “They are sold individually or by the lots.”
Foster declined to say if FEMA was investigating the sale of the trailers at a site in nearby Nicholson, Miss., and the GSA website no longer lists any of the trailers for sale.
The owner of the trailers that are being sold in Nicholson said he purchased 50 of them through the GSA auction website and said he makes sure he tells people that the trailers are for camps or storage only and not to be lived in. “I do not want to deteriorate our community,” said Darryle Whitfield, “I tell anyone interested that these are not to live in. These are strictly for deer camps, fishing camps or storage units.”
Whitfield admits that he has had “only three people” indicate they were considering purchasing the trailers to live in.
Business had been brisk, Whitfield said, though he says he had done very little advertising and was amazed at the number of people interested in purchasing one.
“It is amazing of the number of people who want them,” said Whitfield, adding that he has had people from as far away as Virginia and Texas buying the trailers. “They’ve been from Virginia, Missouri, all over Texas,” he said, adding that several of the trailers have been sold for use along the Gulf Coast and in northern Mississippi.
Even so, the sale of the trailers has the supervisors stymied on how to prevent someone from purchasing one of them and moving it in place of a FEMA trailer without the county’s knowledge. “FEMA has questioned us several times since day one and has asked about making them permanent residences,” Hales said. “They said they would abide by our regulations.”
The county so far has refused to set a deadline for residents still living in FEMA mobile homes and travel trailers to be out of them or to be cited for living in housing that does not meet county codes. FEMA cannot force someone to move out of the travel trailers, instead having to rely on local officials to enforce zoning and code regulations.
In Pearl River County, as of July 16, there were 111 families living in FEMA housing units. Of those, 79 were in travel trailers. Harrison County has 172 total in FEMA housing, with 116 in the travel trailers, and Hancock County has 74 with 60 in the campers.
Admitting that the FEMA travel trailers within the county are not hard-wired electrically, thus making it possible that someone could try and switch the trailers and not apply for any permits, County Planning & Building director Ed Pinero said his office was taking steps to prevent someone from trying to place one of the campers in place of a FEMA trailer without the county’s knowledge.
“We are in the process of contacting FEMA so they can make us aware of when a camper has been moved (out) so someone can not move one in,” said Pinero. “It is not legal for one of these to be used as your permanent residence.”
Pinero said that the sale of the trailers could pose a problem not just for Pearl River County, located in the extreme southwest corner of the state, but for several other Mississippi counties.
“These are going to be a problem for the southern six (counties) because a lot of these are going to be sold,” said Pinero, adding that to date, no one had applied for any permits for one. “We will stay on top of this,” he said. “These travel trailers are not permanent housing and can not be used as such.”
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is sending out 1,385 rebate letters to 2005 hurricane victims who paid more than $5 for their federally issued trailers or mobile homes.
Last month, the Obama administration announced that, as part of efforts to avoid large-scale evictions of people still in the units, they’d allow for recreational park trailers or park model trailers to be purchased for $1 and mobile homes for $5, according to the Associated Press.
As a matter of fairness, the administration said it would offer rebates to those who’d previously paid more.
FEMA says the average range of cost paid for park models and mobile homes prior to the announcement was $8,500-$16,000.
Smaller travel trailers — over which concerns have been raised about formaldehyde fumes — are not eligible for purchase.
Retail registrations of towable recreational vehicles totaled 13,901 in April off 39.5% from April 2008, according to Statistical Surveys Inc.
The Grand Rapids, Mich.-based firm, which tracks retail sales for the RV industry, reported these sales figures by category compared with April 2008:
- 9,006 travel trailers, down 36.9% from 14,283.
- 3,776 fifth-wheels, off 42.1% from 6,517.
- 1,018 folding camping trailers, a 49% decline from 1,998.
- 181 recreational park trailers (park models), off 44,6% from 327.
Year-to-date, towable sales totaled 40,015, off 40.8% from 68,892 through April 2008.
Thor Industries Inc. retained its commanding position in the RV industry with a 29.5% share of the towable market. Jayco Inc. was second with a 14.2% share while Forest River Inc. was a close third with a 13.1% market share. Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC and KZ RV LP rounded out the top five.
By segment, Thor was first in travel trailers, fifth-wheels and park models and FTCA Inc., marketing under the Coleman name, was first in folding camping trailers.
Like other RV manufacturers, recreational park trailer builders have been hard hit by the recession, with unit shipments being roughly half of what they were in 2006, when a record number of 10,100 shipments were recorded.
“I think the market is starting to improve. We’ve seen some movement in the marketplace. And a few manufactures even report having a small backlog, which is something that we haven’t experienced in the past year,” Bill Garpow, executive director of the Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA) in Newnan, Ga., told RV Business.
But manufacturers remain cautious about the economy, and generally don’t see the recreational park trailer or “park model” industry to rebound until the nation’s banks are in better financial shape.
“As I talk to my contemporaries, I’m hearing the same from everyone, that it’s really tough out there. And what business is out there is really tough to get,” said Tim Howard, president and CEO of the Breckenridge Division of Damon Corp., a Thor Industries Inc. company in Nappanee, Ind.
Like most manufacturers, Breckenridge has had to dramatically scale back its work force to remain viable during the current economic downturn. “We’re in very good shape,” Howard said. “Our balance sheet continues to be very strong. We have virtually no debt.”
But as a manufacturer, he said, it has been “heartbreaking” to have to let staff go because of the economic downturn. “You have an emotional bond to quality people and an investment in quality people,” Howard said, adding that Breckenridge has just over half as many employees as it did a few years ago, when the park model industry was experiencing record sales.
But even though all segments of the RV industry have been particularly hard hit by the current recession, Howard and other park model manufacturers and industry officials believe the park model industry still has a long ways to go to reach its full potential.
“I’ve always said this market is in its infancy, and I still do, especially given the trend from a transient to permanent camper,” said John Soard, a longtime park model industry executive who spent 20 years with Breckenridge and Middlebury, Ind.-based Woodland Park before becoming general manager of Nappanee, Ind.-based Fairmont Park Trailers in 2005.
Indeed, Soard and other park model manufacturers believe consumer interest in “destination camping” will continue to increase, and as it does so will demand for park models.
Soard, in fact, noted that many of the leading RV manufacturers are now building towable trailers up to the 400-square foot limit precisely because they believe consumer interest in destination camping is growing. “Each one of these major RV manufacturers has a destination travel trailer that’s intended to be parked, not towed,” Soard said.
Garpow, for his part, noted that park models remain one of the most profitable investments campground owners can make, a point that was underscored by Atkinson of KOA. Park model rentals typically generate two or three times as much revenue as a typical RV site, plus they stay rented for longer periods of time throughout the year. “Park models not only generate more revenue, but they do it for longer periods of time than a typical RV site,” Garpow said, adding that campground owners often generate enough income from their park models to pay them off in three years or less.
Garpow also noted that the Obama administration’s efforts to increase CAFÉ standards could further increase demand for park models. “One way to increase fuel economy is to produce lighter vehicles as well as vehicles with smaller engines, the net effect of which is to reduce the vehicle’s towing capacity. But as towing capacities are reduced, it’s going to be harder for consumers to find vehicles that can tow the biggest trailers, and that could lead to increased demand for park models or for destination camping.”
As a result, he said, many consumers may find it easier to purchase park models that are professional installed on permanent campsites than large travel trailers or fifth wheels that require a tow vehicle. This is precisely what happened when CAFÉ standards were increased in the late 1970s and 80s. In fact, the resulting reduction in vehicle towing capacities helped foster the birth of the park model industry.
Garpow also noted that many of the nation’s campgrounds have yet to open their doors to park models, either for rentals or sales, and that represents a significant growth opportunity for park model manufacturers.
Many campground operators say they are pleased with the return of investment on park models, including Jeff Gordon of Raintree RV Park in Rockport, Texas, which sits along the Gulf Coast roughly 30 miles northeast of Corpus Christi. In addition to 80 RV sites, Gordon also offers one cabin, two fifth wheels and four park models for rent.
“We’re actually going to phase out the fifth wheels and just go with park models,” Gordon said, adding, “All of our requests are for park models. They’re nicer accommodations, and that’s what people want in this area.”
Coincidentally, Gordon had to interrupt his interview with RV Business to answer questions from a woman who called on another line to reserve one of his park models. He said he’s also had some people change their vacation plans to coincide with days when he has park models available.
Such is the demand for park model accommodations, which is why campgrounds and RV parks continue to invest in these units, even during the current recession.
“Roughly 25-30% of the nation’s private campgrounds offer park models as rental units, and the numbers are growing,” said Garpow of RPTIA.
Mike Atkinson, facilities development manager for Billings, Mont.-based Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), said his company’s park models, which it markets as Kamping Lodges, have the highest occupancy rate of any category of rental accommodation in the KOA system. He said KOA parks had taken deliver of 163 park models as of early June.
KOA, like other campgrounds, furnishes its park models with beds, linens and kitchen utensils. “Our numbers show that the customers who are coming to our campgrounds want lodging that has amenities,” Atkinson said. “They want a bathroom. They want a comfortable bed. And they don’t want to pack their car with everything. They don’t want the labor.”
Park operators often invest in park models so that they can have rental units available for people who don’t have their own RV. Many park operators also take it a step further and form their own park model dealerships. This way, they can potentially make a profit on the sale of the park model in addition to generating ongoing revenue from the campsites they lease to park model owners.
Some parks also set up rental pools using the park models they have sold at their parks. This way, the owners can make money on their park models when they’re not using them.
While park models have long been a rental option of choice for Winter Texans, Gordon of Raintree RV Park said boating enthusiasts also like to rent them as well. “We’re on the coast, so we get a lot of people from San Antonio, Austin and Houston and the surrounding areas,” Gordon said. “But if they’re pulling their own boat down, they can’t pull a camper, too.”
Park models are also ideally suited for campgrounds in popular tourist destinations that want to broaden their business base to compete with hotels and motels.
Crater Lake RV Resort in Fort Klamath, Ore., purchased three park models in 2006 and installed a fourth one this year. “They are our most requested cabin,” said resort owner Babe Hamilton, whose park also features 14 RV sites. “They’re just a nice looking cabin with the wood siding. They all have their own gas barbecue on the deck, and they’re right on the creek. It’s a very nice setting.”
Some private park owners are also finding that park models can be used for more than guest accommodations.
At the River’s Edge at Deer Park in Heber, Utah, which is close to the Deer Valley and Park City ski resorts, Cavco park models are being used not only as guest accommodations, but as seasonal employee housing for during the winter months, said resort owner John Kenworthy.
“We’re continuing to expand the lodging part of our business,” Kenworthy said, adding that his park models remain are in high demand.
Garpow and Linda Profaizer, president and CEO of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), are scheduled to discuss the merits of investing in park models on Sept. 15 during the 41st annual Pennsylvania RV and Campground Show in Hershey, Pa. The show features the largest park model expo in the country.
Happy campers they’re not.
In past years, visitors with recreational park trailers or park models were free to stay at campgrounds throughout New Jersey for as long as they wanted.
But this year the state is limiting those stays to six months, saying safety issues make it necessary. Owners of the 400-square-foot park models reject the state’s concerns, and say the new regulation is arbitrary, according to newjerseynewsroom.com.
“The electrical system of park models is intended for ‘seasonal use’ only,” he said. “The electric code, however, does not specify what seasonal use is. Therefore, the department has defined six months as seasonal to us,” according to the article.
But the president of the New Jersey Campground Owners Association, based in Middle Township, rejected the state’s reasoning.
“They’ve convinced the state Legislature this is a health and safety issue when this has never been a problem,” Jay Otto, the president of the group, told the Press. “They perceived this danger that doesn’t exist,” he said.
The Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO) launched a new website Tuesday (June 9) that highlights campgrounds and RV parks in Texas that offer cabin, cottage and recreational park trailer or park model rentals.
The website, www.TexasCabinRentals.net, features more than 130 campgrounds, many of which offer cabins, cottages and park models that can be booked online, according to a news release.
“We’re trying to make it easier for consumers to identify campgrounds and RV parks that offer rental accommodations,” said Brian Schaeffer, TACO executive director and CEO, adding that private parks are increasingly investing in park models and cabins to accommodate people who do not have an RV but want to experience the camping lifestyle.
Several Texas campground owners said they were looking forward to the new website because it will help spread the word about the availability of rental units in private campgrounds.
“It’s often cheaper to stay in a park model than a hotel,” said Jeff Gordon, owner of Raintree RV Park in Rockport, which has four park model rentals. “We’re on the coast, so we get a lot of people from San Antonio, Austin and Houston and the surrounding areas. Many of them bring their boats down and stay in park models because they can’t pull a boat and a camper, too.”
Jim Rowley, owner of the 108-site Pecan Park in San Marcos, has two fully furnished park models, which he said are ideal for people who have never camped before. Each unit is fully furnished linens and kitchen utensils and can sleep up to eight people.
“A lot of people want to know what campgrounds are like, and park models give them a chance to have a camping experience without buying an RV,” Rowley said, adding that his park models are positioned on a bluff overlooking the San Marcos River.
“I definitely think TexasCabinRentals.net will help our business,” said Jenifer Johnson, director of business development for Mill Creek Ranch RV and Cottage Resort in Canton, which has 100 RV sites and 31 park models. “All of our park models are owned by individual owners, and when the owners aren’t here, we rent them out,” she said.
Most people only dream of a lakeside vacation home, but a growing number of RVers are discovering they can afford that summer cabin experience — and they don’t have to travel far to get it, according to The Edmonton (Alberta) Journal.
Buying a spot or renting one long-term in an RV resort is becoming increasingly popular, said Doug Ross, general manager of Grove RV and Leisure, a dealership in Spruce Grove. “People like to get away from the city, but the cost of towing and gas prices and everything sometimes makes it a little more expensive.”
Now, however, holiday playgrounds where RVers can leave their units year-round are popping up within easy driving distance of Edmonton, Ross says. Among them are Lake Arnault RV Resort, an hour west of the city, and Allan Beach Resort on Hubbles Lake in Stony Plain, 30 minutes from Edmonton.
“This way, they can drive in their car out to where their recreational vehicle is set up,” said Ross. “They can have everything all set and ready to go the minute they arrive.”
That’s the kind of person developer Pablo Galvez hopes to attract to Allan Beach Resort, which will start pre-selling lots on spring-fed Hubbles Lake this summer.
“People are just so busy, and they don’t have time to drive three or four hours to a cabin on a lake,” Galvez said. “Imagine: Get off work at five o’clock on a Friday, and by 5:30 you’re at your cabin with a glass of wine on the deck.”
Property prices in the four-season resort will start at about $145,000. Owning land in an RV retreat is attractive for another reason, said Galvez. “RV condos like this are the cheapest form of lakefront ownership,” he said.
Don Dobing, owner of Lake Arnault RV Resort, agreed. Pre-sales have begun for lots in his project. Prices range from $60,000 to $100,000.
“It’s a nice alternative (to traditional lakefront property),”Dobing said. “You own your property, and if you want to give it to your family or you want to sell it, you have title to it. So you’re going to get your investment back.”
And then some, said Arnie Lank, sales manager for Gleniffer Lake Resort and Country Club, southwest of Red Deer. The popular vacation spot started out as an RV resort 20 years ago. The gated community has indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a hot tub, fitness center, golf course and swimming and boating on Gleniffer Lake. When it first opened, lots sold for $12,000 to $18,000. Lank says a property for sale now in an older part of the park has an asking price of over $200,000.
The final phase of the resort is restricted to cabins and recreational park trailers or park model RVs, but the only time the huge units move is when they’re towed to a permanent or semi-permanent site.
A number of resorts close to Edmonton rent spots for the entire summer.
At Hubbles Lake RV Resort on Hubbles Lake in Stony Plain, seasonal rates start at about $1,800. Customers can store their units at the resort over the winter for $150.
“It’s a cottage atmosphere,” said park owner Laurie Zimmer. “We’re (within) proximity to Edmonton here. People can just quickly run out with the van or a small car.”
Many rental places are so popular, spots are snapped up even before the season starts. That’s the case at Hilah-Ayers Wilderness RV Park on Mulhurst Bay at Pigeon Lake, an hour’s drive from Edmonton.
There are no spots left for this year, said spokesperson Charlene Dawson. Spaces are rented for a one-year period. Rates start at about $2,100.
The Whitemud Creek Golf and RV Resort in southwest Edmonton has monthly rates from about $750.
“In Edmonton, you only have so many RV spots, so we’re busy,” said Manager Jo-Ann Ruff.
Canadian RV maker Glendale International Corp. reported the appointment of Murray Hannan as its CFO.
As part of Glendale’s ongoing restructuring and cost rationalization, Brian Jennings has agreed to resign as the corporation’s CFO and will be replaced on a part-time basis by Hannan.
“We are very disappointed with Mr. Jennings’ departure as a member of the executive management team, but reducing costs at all levels of our business given the current economic environment is necessary,” said Edward Hanna, Glendale CEO. Hanna also indicated that “we are fortunate that Mr. Hannan, a member of the board of directors and former CFO of the corporation, has agreed to assume the role on a part-time basis which will make the transition from Mr. Jennings seamless.”
The company’s Glendale Recreational Vehicles division, located in Strathroy, Ontario, makes RVs for the Canadian and U.S. markets. The Travelaire Canada division, located in Red Deer, Alberta, manufactures recreational park trailers and relocatable structures for the Western Canadian market place.
The corporation also owns 43.6% of Firan Technology Group Corp., a leading North American manufacturer of high technology printed circuit boards and precision illuminated display systems.