Park Models Offer Doable Second-Home Option

July 16, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

When Cleyardis Yilmaz joined Thousand Trails two years ago and gained access to all of the company’s recreational vehicle resorts and campgrounds in North America, she didn’t know it would change her life.

According to a report in the Virginian-Pilot, the eighth-grade English teacher visited a campground in Orlando, Fla., in 2010, rented a cabin and discovered she enjoyed the vacation so much that she wanted to find a campground closer to her Virginia home in Lakeview.

She not only found Outdoor World Williamsburg, just off Interstate 64 near Colonial Williamsburg, Busch Gardens, Yorktown and Jamestown, but she also found a second home – called a “park model” cottage – that she was able to purchase.

The 28-foot-long unit sits smack dab in the middle of the RV resort, close to the indoor and outdoor pool, adult hot tub and pickleball and miniature golf courses.

Yilmaz makes the 45-minute-to-an-hour drive every weekend to visit her unit, tend to her plants on the deck and partake in the park’s amenities.

“I’m enjoying the adult lounge,” Yilmaz said recently during one of the hottest days of the summer. “I’m working on a puzzle right now.”

While these units are nothing new to the outdoor recreation industry, more and more resorts are selling them and offering sites on their properties where people, like Yilmaz, can get away and own a second home without shelling out a lot of money.

“In the last few years, with the economy being what it is, it’s become – for Middle America – an affordable second-home option,” said David Gorin, executive director of the Virginia Campground Association (VCA).

The park models – called that because they can be parked anywhere – also are know as “recreational, transportable homes,” “park trailers,” “cabins” or “cottages.”

Legally, park models are recreational vehicles, Gorin said, and always have a place in RV parks. But they mainly stay put.

Basically, they are suites of no more than 400 square feet that come in all kinds of configurations, Gorin said.

“In many parks, they are there as rental units,” Gorin said. “If you want to go to an RV park, and you don’t own an RV, you have an option of renting a cabin or park model.”

To read the entire article in the Virginian-Pilot click here.


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RVIA Officially Welcomes Park Trailer Members

July 13, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

First RVIA standards plant inspection of a recreational park trailer manufacturing plant

After reaching an agreement in March with the Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA) to represent recreational park trailer manufacturers as members, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) officially welcomed 16 park trailer companies as members on July 2.

According to a news release, RPTIA significantly scaled back operations and members services on the same day as part of the two-year trial period stipulated in the agreement.

“The park trailer industry is excited to be back in the RVIA fold. The RVIA standards, inspection and seals process, combined with phenomenal PR and government affairs capabilities are what compelled us to keep working to find a place at the RVIA table. It’s a great day,” said Fairmont Homes’ John Soard, chairman of the newly-formed RVIA Recreational Park Trailer Committee.

Recreational park trailer manufacturer members of RVIA are now fully integrated members of the organization with all the same rights, benefits and responsibilities as manufacturers of any other RV type.

As a result, the first RVIA standards plant inspection of a recreational park trailer manufacturing plant took place on July 3 as RVIA inspectors fanned out across the country to inspect park trailer manufacturers to the ANSI A119.5 standard, which in turn allows RVIA park trailer members to affix the new RVIA A119.5 seal to the units they produce.

Park trailer members are served within RVIA by a full-time dedicated executive director, Matt Wald, who spent the last eight years in the RVIA government affairs department. “It has taken a lot of work over the past three months to integrate our new park trailer members into RVIA. But that effort was just the beginning. Next up will be strategic planning, where we will map out the priorities and opportunities for the park trailer segment of the RV industry. And once we’ve planned the work, we will work that plan,” said Wald.

According to RVIA President Richard Coon, “This is a classic win-win. RVIA is made stronger with the inclusion of park trailer manufacturers, and the park trailer OEMs will be very well served by RVIA.”


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Matt Wald Named Park Trailer Executive Director

April 10, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Matt Wald

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) has named Matt Wald to the newly created position of park trailer executive director, according to a press release.

RVIA and the Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA) recently reached an agreement for park trailer manufacturers to join RVIA as members. One of the conditions of that agreement was the creation of the park trailer executive director position within RVIA to guide association efforts for this membership segment on a daily basis.

RVIA will begin soliciting and accepting companies as park trailer members in April. Wald will officially assume the executive director position on July 2, spending the interim time transitioning from his current role as government affairs director.

“I’m excited to welcome Matt to this new role representing park trailer manufacturers,” said RVIA President Richard Coon. “With his strong government relations and public affairs background, he is uniquely qualified to serve the interests of the park trailer industry both within RVIA, but also more importantly to the world.”

In his new role, Wald will be responsible for promoting and protecting the interests of park trailer manufacturer members, including: monitoring and acting on federal, state and local legislative issues; preparing, analyzing and distributing market data and demographics; managing the ongoing process of creating and updating the ANSI A119.5 national safety standard for park trailers; serving as the liaison between RVIA and the media to promote the recreational park trailer industry as well as acting as an industry spokesperson with government agencies, industry trade groups and at industry trade shows. He will also serve as staff liaison and manage the affairs of RVIA’s newly-formed recreational park trailer standing committee.

Wald has worked as RVIA’s director of government affairs since 2003 with the responsibility of lobbying state and federal governments on issues impacting the RV industry. Before joining RVIA, Wald served as director of federal and state government programs at the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association. He also was director of government affairs for both the American Subcontractors Association and the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association.

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Agreement Allows RPTIA Members to Join RVIA

March 7, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) and Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA) have announced an agreement under which park trailer manufacturers will be able to join RVIA as members.

“This is something our members of RPTIA have been talking about for a long time. We feel this is the best time to move forward, and we are excited to be working with RVIA to better the park trailer and destination camping industry,” said Dick Grymonprez, chairman of RPTIA and vice president of sales and marketing for Athens Park Homes.

“We are very happy to welcome park trailer manufacturers as RVIA members,” said RVIA President Richard Coon. “We look forward to representing them and firmly believe that we can leverage our association services and programs to help these companies achieve their goals.”

RVIA’s board approved the agreement to have park trailer manufacturers join the association at its March 5 meeting in Palm Springs, Calif. In January, the RPTIA board and membership had a vote to suspend operations contingent upon favorable negotiations and the joint acceptance of a workable plan between RVIA and RPTIA that would result in park trailer manufacturers being allowed to join RVIA as voting members.

The agreement reached calls for a two-year trial period. RPTIA will “safe harbor” or “mothball” its association for these two years, pending an agreement of both parties to continue having RVIA represent park trailer manufacturers. An effective date of when park trailer manufacturers can join RVIA will be determined in the coming weeks.

As conditions of park trailer manufacturers joining RVIA:

• Park trailer members will have two representatives on the board.

• RVIA will form a Park Trailer Committee as one of the association’s standing committees.

• RVIA will continue the Destination Camping Committee and its efforts to study and recommend initiatives to grow this market segment.

• RVIA will hire a full-time senior level staff person who will report to Coon. This person will be responsible for providing guidance, managing information, serving as a spokesperson and representing park trailer manufacturers’ best interests.

• ANSI A119.5 will be recognized and accepted as a park trailer standard and will be maintained by RVIA’s Standards Steering Committee. RVIA inspectors will inspect park trailer plants at least twice per year.

• RVIA will continue efforts to have HUD accept the A119.5 as an exception to the Construction Code.

• RVIA’s Government Affairs Department will represent the legislative interests of recreational park trailer manufacturers at both the state and federal levels.

• Park trailers members will be treated the same in terms of participation at the National RV Trade Show, with the understanding that there are size restrictions.


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RPTIA Soliciting Votes on Possible RVIA Merger

January 27, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA) is surveying its 45 members on their opinion about reuniting with the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).

Votes will be tallied the end of the month and the RPTIA board will go from there, RPTIA Executive Director William Garpow told Woodall’s Campground Management.

An affirmative vote would put the RPTIA into a state of suspension dependent upon subsequent actions by the RPTIA and RVIA boards, Garpow said.

To view the entire article click here.

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Garpow Announces Transition Plans for RPTIA

November 30, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Bill Garpow

The Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA) has begun a nationwide search for a new executive director, according to a report by Woodall’s Campground Management.

Current executive William “Bill” Garpow announced today (Nov. 30) that a tentative timeline for transition to retirement has been put in place. He said he will remain as executive director until a successor is hired and will help with training.

The RPTIA also may move its current office in Newnan, Ga., to Northern Indiana, where more than half of its members are based.

Garpow, 70, cited health reasons for his decision.

“As you may be aware, in late September I had extensive surgery performed at Wake Forest Medical Center that, thankfully, went very well. Though my doctors tell me that I can now consider myself as a 70-year-old cancer survivor, it was nonetheless a life-changing event that brought me to the realization that it was time for me to consider retirement,” he stated in an announcement.

“In talking with the RPTIA board regarding this change of my priorities, a tentative timeline for the transition was put in place. Plans are that I’ll continue as usual until the board retains its new director and then remain available to provide any needed training. In total, this process could take as much as two years,” he stated.

The salary will likely be close to six figures plus benefits to include a contribution toward health and life insurance as well as a possible matching funds retirement package, Garpow speculated, though not tying the RPTIA board to these terms.

Woodall’s Campground Management reported that Garpow has been RPTIA’s only executive director. He has been an integral member of the manufactured housing and RV industries since the 1960s. Due to his health, he was unable to attend this week’s National RV Trade Show for the first time in 40 years.

RPTIA is a non-profit trade association whose members are the manufacturers, suppliers and service firms producing park trailers. The association also represents allied associations whose members primarily represent the retailers, RV parks or resorts in the United States. RPTIA exists to unite all recognized segments of the industry so they may, in consort, have effective influence upon matters of public interest involving the betterment of the industry. The association members produce 90% of the park trailers built in the U.S.

Upon joining RPTIA, manufacturers are required to sign a pledge that they will build park trailers that conform with the A119.5 Standard.

The RPTIA was formed as an off-shoot of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).

“Financially, RPTIA has a sound operating reserve and has made the necessary cuts to keep us in balance,” Garpow noted. “As such, we feel confident that the association will be able to operate until the economy improves even with the expected delays.”

The committee scheduled to meet on Jan. 11 will, in full confidence, review the résumes and proposals as part of the selection process, he said. At this meeting, they will choose three or four potential candidates for a subsequent face-to-face meeting. The final selection and resulting offer to the chosen candidate could be made in the spring.

Inquiries should be directed to Garpow at (770) 251-2672 or (770) 634-8500 (cell).

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Pa. County Still Battling Park Model Community

October 7, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

The on-going battle involving the Lake Adventure Recreation Vehicle Park in Pennsylvania’s Pike County continued Sept. 29 before the Dingman Township Zoning Hearing Board.

The board was hearing an appeal of a permit denial that would have allowed trailers with larger bodies – specifically park models – requiring state travel permits to be placed in the campground, The Pike County Courier, Milford, reported.

Lake Adventure attorney Tammy Clause and Dingman Township Solicitor John Klemeyer debated on the standards by which a recreational vehicle is measured. The township’s definition of a recreational vehicle was amended in June, setting a maximum size of 400 square feet (in use) and width (for transport) no greater than 8 1/2 feet, but trailers requiring state permitting were disallowed. The campground wants this last provision amended.

The size requirement was previously only in effect for travel trailers, but now encompass all recreational vehicles.

The amendment to the initial zoning ordinance, which came as a result of the alleged environmental damage caused by larger recreational vehicles, poses problems for residents of the Lake Adventure community who own vehicles that exceed the mandated 300 square feet and which now require special permits to move their trailers.

The Lake Adventure community and its contracted engineer, Robert Ferri of Nicholas Engineering, claim the 400-square-foot units have little impact on the environment, stating on the Lake Adventure website that “the new units actually have a positive impact on our [Lake Adventure’s] infrastructure and ecological environmental impact.”

During the meeting, Clause argued, as she had previously, that the board’s zoning amendment did not comply with other nationwide regulations for recreation vehicles. She additionally defended the lack of pollutants emitted from the 400-square-foot models.

In order to emphasize her point, she relied on the testimony of three witnesses: Lake Adventure Compliance Officer Kenny Ranoul, Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA) board member John Soard, and Lake Adventure board member Tom Annunziata.

Ranoul testified that of the 1,964 billable lots in Lake Adventure, 1,732 are occupied and 989 are park model units. Of those park model units, Ranoul said, 983 have slideouts, or models that expand to reach a width greater than 12 feet. Under the amended ordinance, slideouts would not classify as recreational vehicles and would consequently require a special highway hauling permit to be brought into Lake Adventure.

“There is no other community that is restricted by a hauling permit except for Lake Adventure Community Association,” Clause said, to Klemeyer’s objection.

“That’s simply not true,” he countered. “All recreational vehicles within the township must comply with the zoning ordinance.”

Following Klemeyer’s cross examination of Ranoul, in which Lake Adventure’s definition of a travel trailer was debated further, witnesses John Soard and Tom Annunziata took the stand.

Soard, affiliated with park model builder Fairmont Park Trailers in Nappanee, Ind., testified that he knew of no other jurisdictions in which 400-square-foot units required a hauling permit, prompting attorney Clause to make the case that the township’s amendment is not uniform with the rest of the state or even with the rest of the country. Annunziata added that as a newcomer to the community in 1989, he moved in under the assumption that recreational vehicles of all types were welcome.

With the three witnesses at rest, Clause attempted to present a report on the lack of environmental damage caused by the recreational vehicles in Lake Adventure. Her attempt prompted Klemeyer to object, claiming it was unrelated to the case at hand.

The board sided with Klemeyer.

Saying he lacked the resources to make a final argument, Klemeyer requested another meeting to finalize the proceedings. Despite Clause’s vehement objections, a new meeting was scheduled for Oct. 27 at 5 p.m.



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VIDEO #1: RPTIA Members Address Gas Costs

May 5, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Today’s Video No. 1 comes from WNDU TV, South Bend, Ind., as representatives from the Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA) discuss the impact of gas prices.

Members of the RPTIA are concerned about gas prices but remain hopeful that RVers will continue to enjoy camping. The association is currently holding its quarterly board meeting at the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind.

“Obviously as discretionary spending gets tighter because of the gas prices, it does create a little bit of a tough situation for consumers looking to purchase a model whether it be a park model or travel trailer,” said John Soard, general manager of Fairmont Park Trailers in Nappanee, Ind.

In the meantime efforts are being made to allow people to “test out trailers.” Recently, Kampgrounds of America (KOA) campsites started renting out park trailers, which they call lodges.

“As the economy has faltered a bit, what we’ve found is that people still want to camp,” said KOA’s Director of Lodging Mike Atkinson. “They still want that experience but don’t want to afford that huge investment.”

Locally, the park trailers or lodges at the KOA campsite in Granger, Ind., are usually booked for the entire summer and during the University of Notre Dame football season. They cost about $99 a night.

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RVIA Board Approves Immediate Fee Reduction

April 2, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) board Thursday trimmed by $5 to $30 the cost of the RVIA seal members pay for each unit they build to support the organization. The new fee was effective Thursday (April 1).

The board, meeting at the Washington Court Hotel in Washington, D.C., also agreed to reestablish negotiations with the Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA) for a possible reunification of the two associations.

Last July the RVIA board approved an increase in the seal fee from $4 to $35 as the RV industry was in the midst of the worst sales slump in more than 30 years. Seal fees and income from two major shows — the Louisville National RV Trade Show and the retail California RV Show in Pomona — are RVIA’s primary source of income.

The board’s action Thursday rolls back part of that increase. The board also ordered that a board subcommittee review seal fees in 90 days to determine whether further reductions are warranted, according to RVIA President Richard Coon.

”Business has picked up better than we originally expected,” Coon told RVBusiness. ”Sales the first part of the year have been better than we expected. And now that we are doing better, we are going to back off the seal fees.

”We all agreed when we put in the increase that it was only temporary.”

The GoRVing market expansion assessment will remain unchanged at $46 for folding camping trailers and truck campers; $61 for travel trailers and fifth-wheels; and $74 for motorhomes.

The on-and-off negotiations between RVIA and RPTIA are on again at the request of RPTIA, which abruptly called off talks last fall.

RPTIA Chairman Curt Yoder, vice president of park trailer manufacturer Kropf Industries Inc., spoke to the RVIA board Thursday about restarting the unification talks.

”Our door is always open to that,” Coon said. ”He explained that when they took the vote (to call off negotiations) that there was a misunderstanding. We are interested in seeing if we can pull the thing together.”

Coon said he hoped that a decision could be made by Jan. 1.

”When we first started talking we had a goal of working toward January 2011,” Coon said. ”That might still be reasonable. We worked through most of the issues in our earlier discussions.”

In addition, the RVIA board voted to invite RPTIA members to display product at the 2010 Louisville Show scheduled for Nov. 30-Dec. 4 at the Kentucky Exposition Center.

In other action the RVIA board:

  • Amended the association bylaws to have interim appointments to the board complete the remainder of the term for the seat that is being assumed. Previously, board appointees were required to stand for re-election in the next association elections.
  • Named the following to the board: Dometic’s Doug Whyte to the Supplier seat vacated by Art Wyatt, who recently retired from the company; Evergreen Recreational Vehicles LLC’s Mike Schoeffler to the RV Manufacturer seat vacated by Dynamax Corp.’s DeWayne Creighton, who resigned; and Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp.’s Jonathan Randall to the At-Large seat vacated by Country Coach’s Jay Howard, who resigned.
  • Approved the FY2009 audit report recommended by the Audit Committee and delegated authority to the committee to review and accept the association’s annual filing of IRS Form 990.
  • Increased the fee for units entering the California RV Show’s demo area from $125 to $200 starting this year.
  • Named Newmar Corp. President Matt Miller to replace Jayco’s Dave Eash on the RVDA/RVIA Technicians Certification Governing Board.
  • Announced that the September RVIA board meeting will be Sept. 14-15 at the Hotel Park City in Park City, Utah.
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RVIA Board to Address Seal Fees, RPTIA Talks

March 30, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

RVIA logoThe Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) board of directors Thursday (April 1) will discuss reducing the seal fees members are charged for each unit they build. In addition, it will consider reopening discussions with the Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA) about a possible merger or reunification.

Originally scheduled for Feb. 11, the meeting at the Washington Court Hotel in Washington, D.C., was postponed by a snowstorm that buried the East Coast.

”I think it’s going to be an upbeat meeting from the standpoint that the industry is doing a lot better than a year ago or even when we met in Washington in June for Committee Week,” said RVIA Chairman Jim Sheldon, a Monaco RV LLC executive.

The fact that the RV industry appears to be in recovery mode following the worst economic slump in 30 years has prompted consideration of reduced seal fees. February wholesale shipments were the best they’ve been in nearly two years, and seasonally adjusted, represented an annualized total shipment rate of more than 231,000 units.

RVIA’s board last June increased the portion of the seal that goes directly to the organization — as opposed to supporting the industrywide Go RVing Coalition — from $4 to $35 per unit.

”At that time, the association was bleeding money,” Sheldon said. ”At the same time, the members didn’t want us to throttle back on dealing with the issues of concern to the association. We needed something to shore up our reserves, particularly because of what we thought would be reduced levels of show revenues from the Louisville and Pomona shows.”

With shipments increasing and retail RV sales recovering, at least to some degree, Sheldon said, the board will consider reducing the seal fee.

”Rather than saying that the new fees are the new paradigm, the board will be looking to see if we can reduce that fee somewhat because we are doing well.”

A recommendation on whether to reduce the seal fee will be made to the full board by the RVIA Executive Committee that will meet Wednesday.

Sheldon said he couldn’t say whether the board will vote to reduce the seal fee. ”I don’t want to second guess the board,” he said.

Surprisingly, the on-again-off-again question of whether RVIA and RPTIA will reunify follows a vote by RPTIA members to overturn a RPTIA board decision last November to ”cease all negotiations” with RVIA.

The talks had been going on for a year and their abrupt cancellation came as a surprise to RVIA.

Bill Garpow, RPTIA executive director, said the second vote occurred after some members argued there ”hadn’t been a straight up-or-down vote” on the question during initial balloting.

”We are saying that we would like to continue the discussions,” Garpow said. ”It was not a vote on whether we will merge with (RVIA) or reunify with them.”

Recreation park trailer manufacturers were RVIA members until October 1994 when they left the organization and formed their own group based in the Atlanta suburb of Newnan, Ga.

”(RVIA President) Richard Coon and I are both pleased that they have rethought their position and that they want to reopen the negotiations,” Sheldon said. ”Our board is already on the record of wanting to listen to what they have to say.”

RPTIA President Curt Yoder, vice president and co-owner of park trailer manufacturer Kropf Industries Inc., will speak to the RVIA board about reopening negotiations.

Also at the board meeting, reports on the association’s activities will be given by Sheldon and Coon, while RVIA Treasurer Bob Olson of Winnebago Industries Inc. will review the association’s financial standing and present the Audit Committee’s report for fiscal year 2009.

Also planned is a look at the RV market’s future from RVIA Vice President of Administration Mac Bryan, a report on RV Centennial activities from RVIA Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Gary LaBella and an update on legislative issues from RVIA Vice President of Government Affairs Dianne Farrell.

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