Darci Schapansky has carved out a niche in the RV rental business in central Saskatchewan.
Schapansky, owner and operator of Retro RV Rentals in Emma Lake, 30 minutes north of Prince Albert in the center of the province, not only rents trailers, but depending how far her customers are headed, she will also tow it there and get it set up. Lakeland, Waskesiu and Candle Lake are common destinations, the Prince Albert Daily Herald reported.
“You just kind of show up and are ready to go,” she said.
Schapansky likes to stay within a 60-mile radius of Emma Lake,which is located north of Saskatoon.
“It’s been a big hit,” she said, explaining it is something she has seen in Alberta, but not in Saskatchewan.
The trailers she offers are the Shasta, Trillium and Max Sport. They can accommodate anywhere from two to six people and range in price based on a weekly rate.
The Shasta is her pride and joy. The unit is based off one built in the 1950s and she said it has a following.
“It is brand new but they made them look like they did in the ’50s,” she said, explaining that is where the name for her company came from.
The lightweight trailer is very small, but has a kitchen, dining area and queen-size bed. It is even fully electric with 30-amp service, she said.
“It is great for couples whose kids have left home,” she said.
Schapansky only opened the business this year and has hit a couple of learning curves. She has realized she cannot be everywhere at once.
She knew she wanted to open up her own business and this is something she could do with kids in tow.
So far, rentals have not been for more than two weeks.
She has already had a couple of requests from snowbirds — Canadians who spend their winters in the warmer U.S. — but is not too sure how that will work if they plan to take them out of the country.
For right now, Schapansky plans to keep the company small, but is open to expanding in the future.
Summer isn’t proving too sunny for Lompoc, Calif., business owner Brad Pellegrin, whose trailer rental company, Earl’s RV, will lose more than $50,000 this season because it’s no longer allowed to deliver camping equipment to state parks in Santa Barbara County, the Santa Barbara Independent reported.
It’s been a full year since Pellegrin — who started working for his father, the Earl of the company name, at age 15 and took it over in 2006 — found out that California State Parks had given an exclusive regional contract for RV delivery to a new outfit called Vacation Trailers 2 U, but it hasn’t gotten any easier to stomach.
“It’s a really unfair situation, a really messed up deal,” said Pellegrin, who said the move occurred “without any forewarning” and with no option for Earl’s RV to offer the services instead, despite having done so for 23 years at Carpinteria, Refugio, El Capitán and Gaviota state beaches.
“I asked why, and the only answer was, ‘We didn’t know you existed,’” explained Pellegrin. He doesn’t believe the response, pointing to his 15 years of advertising the service in the campgrounds’ main magazine and noting that he knew most of the camp managers by name due to delivering so much. “What really frustrates me is the state’s lack of a reasonable answer,” said Pellegrin. “To allow us to slip through the crack for 23 years? It just seems a little far-fetched. I can’t imagine anyone being allowed to break the law for 23 years.”
But Richard Rozelle — who took over in May 2008 as director of the State Parks’ Channel Coast District, which extends from Ventura County up to Point Sal near Santa Maria — maintains that Earl’s RV was indeed news to him, even if some of his on-the-ground employees were familiar with the service.
“While we do our best to educate employees about the rules and policies, they’re not always cognizant of everything that goes into running the state parks,” said Rozelle of these often seasonal staffers, who were first to mention Earl’s RV when the new contract was announced last summer. “When we started finding out about it, we asked them why they hadn’t come and asked for permission,” he said, noting that Pellegrin’s ignorance of the situation is not an excuse for breaking the law. “They’ve been operating illegally in the state parks for over 20 years.”
So when Rozelle was approached by the owner of Vacation Trailers 2 U (VT2U) nearly two years ago, he thought it was a great idea — given the rise of “glamping,” or luxury camping — and a green one, especially since so many people buy RVs but then only use them once a year. But most importantly, said Rozelle, “It provided an opportunity to generate revenue at a time when state parks are cash poor.”
Specifically, VT2U pays 10% of its first $300,000 in gross revenues to California State Parks, and then 12% when the revenues top $300,000; there is also a $6,000 minimum payment in case of a slow year.
Since it’s officially a new venture for the region, state law allows Rozelle to enter into a two-year agreement with any vendor — rather than host the typical bidding process for government contracts — to determine whether it’s a viable long-term opportunity. “It’s turning out to be,” said Rozelle, who was not obligated to contact other vendors but said that he would have done so if he’d “known there was interest.” The contract expires next May, and will then be put out to bid for all interested companies.
Perhaps the only one angrier than Pellegrin over the current uproar is Jason Kimbrell, the owner of the official concessionaire Vacation Trailers 2 U. “I’m pretty disgusted with it,” said Kimbrell of what he calls a “big misinformation campaign” about his business and a case of “sour grapes syndrome” on Pellegrin’s part. “We’ve done everything by the book and exactly how we were supposed to do it,” explained Kimbrell, who said that the “lengthy” approval process required loads of paperwork, multiple meetings, upgrading trailers, acquiring appropriate insurance, and waiting nine months for a decision.
Like Rozelle, Kimbrell — a San Diego native who fell in love with Santa Barbara while a UCSB student years ago — “had no idea that Earl’s RV company existed” when he approached California State Parks with his proposal. He soon learned about Earl’s RV and a number of other businesses “flying below the radar screen,” including a number of folks who seemed to be subsidizing their RV ownership with occasional weekend rentals. When he heard about Pellegrin’s complaints, Kimbrell said he went to Lompoc to “extend the olive branch” and allowed Earl’s RV to fulfill the rentals that had already been commissioned through last summer. In return, Kimbrell said he got a handshake and a promise to not violate his agreement.
But then, a few weeks ago, Kimbrell’s employee noticed a number of trailers from Earl’s RVs at Refugio State Beach. “We weren’t going to make a big ruckus about them — State Parks has other things to manage,” said Kimbrell of both Earl’s RV and other nonregulated rentals. “But this was so blatant that I called them up.”
Meanwhile, his employee took flyers down to the apparently illicit camp visitors to advertise the now-official concessionaire. That move, according to Kimbrell, led to a verbal assault on his employee by those loyal Earl’s RV renters.
But according to Marell Brooks, a county planning commissioner and annual Earl’s RV customer for 20-plus years who was on the scene that day, they were the ones who felt “really uncomfortable” because the VT2U employee was “hassling everybody.” Said Brooks, “Rather than a nice enjoyable stay, that first day we were all being accused of doing something illegal.”
The incident became a nonissue when a Vandenberg firefighter disappeared nearby while kayaking that same day, so maybe that’s why Pellegrin fessed up to the act weeks later without being prompted, explaining, “We’ve bent the rules a couple times.”
Rozelle didn’t view it as lightly, explaining that he’s been “investigating a recent incident” in which Earl’s RV may have brought trailers into a park. “We’ve been reasonable in seeking compliance,” said Rozelle. “We may turn this over to the district attorney if we find this is an ongoing activity.”
Of all the charges being thrown on the wall, the one that’s stickiest is the price discrepancy between the high-end trailers offered by VT2U and the wider range of options rented by Earl’s RV, particularly the popup tent trailers that go for a fraction of the price of an RV.
“We don’t want those big RVs — we just want a tent trailer,” said Brooks. “By doing this, the state is telling local people, ‘Sorry, you have to spend $200 a night if you want to rent a camper.” Even Kimbrell — who stills refers customers to Earl’s RV but complains that Pellegrin lies about the existence of VT2U and tells customers that no company is allowed to rent in the state parks — sees the rationale in this argument. He agreed to let Earl’s RV deliver those trailers over the course of his contract, but said that California State Parks didn’t want to “reward bad behavior” by granting any such concessions.
Rozelle has also taken note of the valid complaint. “When I go out to bid, we’re going to be looking at providing a range of camping experiences,” he said. “The pop-up trailer could be part of that.”
That request for proposals will be hashed out this fall and put out for bid sometime before the VT2U contract ends in May. The State Parks review panel can certainly expect both Kimbrell and Pellegrin to be at the table next year. Said Kimbrell, “I’ve got a $650,000 bet on this business.” Said Pellegrin, “I do intend on putting my name on the list. I am very much interested. I want it back.”
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In December 2006, Neff Brothers RV in Lorain, Ohio, got a phone call — Nike needed three motorhomes to accommodate LeBron James, his entourage and a production staff.
The first phone call started a business partnership that earned the business anywhere from $80,000 to $125,000 during the four-year partnership, Angela Dudziak, Neff Brothers RV general manager, told Lorain’s The Morning Journal.
Now that James is headed south to Miami, Cleveland-based productions of Nike commercials featuring the former Cavalier will likely come to a halt, costing the business about $25,000 next year, Dudziak said.
“Clevelanders may be heart-broken and upset about LeBron’s leaving,” said co-owner Ralph Neff, “but the fact of the matter in the small business communities around the city is that his leaving will lose all of us a whole lot of money.”
The RV rental company has its peak season during the summer bringing in “hundreds of thousands” of dollars in revenue, Dudziak said.
The commercial production companies usually do shoots in the fall, during the rental company’s off-season, providing a boost in revenue.
“I don’t see us going bankrupt over it, but I see it hurting us in our off-season,” Dudziak said.
“When we need that good shot in the arm, it’s not going to be there.”
The production companies, for one shoot, rent at least three motorhomes, six at the most, outfitting James with a 40-foot luxury motorhome complete with a television, kitchen and bedroom.
To rent one of the luxury RVs for a production shoot — the typical production duration is one to three days — costs $900 per day, Dudziak said.
Neff Brothers also does work with production companies shooting commercials or campaigns with Cavaliers center Shaquille O’Neal and Cleveland Indians center fielder Grady Sizemore.
“When Shaquille O’Neal came to Cleveland last year, Neff Brothers commercial shoots soared even more,” Dudziak said.
The use of an RV by a U.S. Senate candidate is surfacing as a campaign issue in Nevada, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
One of Sue Lowden’s top rivals in the U.S. Senate race questioned Monday (May 17) whether she violated campaign contribution limits by using a donor’s luxury RV to travel the state, making the allegations five days before early voting starts in the hotly contested Republican primary.
The Lowden campaign said it broke no laws and provided documentation to show the bus is leased from its owner, Carl Giuduci, who with his wife, Elsie, donated “in-kind” contributions for the vehicle’s use that were under the $2,400-per-person limit for the primary campaign.
GOP candidate Danny Tarkanian’s campaign said it accused Lowden of exceeding the limit because she recently said on a TV news program in Reno that a supporter donated the RV to her. Tarkanian did not file any formal complaint with the Federal Election Commission.
“She talked about her bus being donated, and so that would violate campaign finance rules,” said Tarkanian campaign manager Brian Seitchik. “Like government bailouts, taxes and immigration, Sue Lowden says one thing and tries to change her position once the going gets sticky.”
Lowden’s campaign fired back, saying Tarkanian was lobbing allegations to gain attention and traction before the June 8 primary as polls show him behind Lowden in the crowded GOP field with a dozen contenders battling to face Democrat U.S. Sen. Harry Reid in the fall.
“Today’s desperate attack by Danny Tarkanian alleging that a lease agreement on a nearly decade-old RV is a campaign violation is absolutely false and absurd,” campaign manager Robert Uithoven said. “The fact is that career candidate Danny Tarkanian has a campaign that is crumbling around him with sagging poll numbers and time running down.”
The 2001 Monaco motorhome wrapped with Lowden’s picture has become a signature of the GOP front-runner’s campaign as she has traveled some 25,000 miles, including by car, bus and plane.
According to Lowden’s campaign accounting:
- Carl Giuduci donated $2,200 on Nov. 18 as an in-kind contribution for the RV’s use.
- Elsie Giuduci donated a total of $2,360 as in-kind contributions for the vehicle’s use as a campaign bus, including $1,885 on Nov. 18 and another $475 on Jan. 26.
The Lowden campaign said it spent its own money to fix up the RV, which has a bedroom, kitchen and bathroom, including $9,496 on Feb. 18 and $1,585 on Feb. 25.
The campaign wouldn’t say how much the luxury RV is worth. Similar 2001 vehicles can be found for sale in the $60,000-to-$100,000-plus range, depending on their conditions.
Lowden’s campaign refused to say how much it was leasing the bus for on a day-to-day basis when she is using it on the road. The campaign said it doesn’t pay when it’s parked.
According to a redacted lease agreement released by the campaign that did not provide any dollar figures, Lowden must return the vehicle after she is done using it during her bid for public office.
“Possessory right shall be forfeited upon the termination or expiration of this agreement,” said the one-page document, which also states Lowden has no ownership rights to the RV.
Both Giuduci and Lowden are listed on the vehicle title and registration with the Department of Motor Vehicles, according to the campaign, which said that was necessary to obtain insurance.
Using a new online rental form, videos of the available rental units and a streamlined rental process, Johnston RV Country of Rochester, N.Y., is making RV rental much easier, according to a news release.
Online reservations have been the standard for hotels, airlines and car rentals for many years. RV rentals have always been a more personal experience. While personal, friendly help is still available, those who prefer online reservations now have that option at RV Rentals Rochester.
Due to the economy and rising air fare, this year is expected to be a record year for driving vacations.
Many families are turning to RV rentals. Renting an RV avoids trying to cram the entire family into the recently downsized family car.
A recreational vehicle can also save significantly on hotel expenses since the family is bringing their living quarters with them.
Avoiding the latest security hassles at the airports, saving money and being able to spend more quality time with their family have become important new priorities for the average family.
New fuel-efficient recreational vehicles have also added significantly to the trend of returning to a more traditional family vacation.
RV Rentals Rochester has prepared for the increase in rentals by making it easier to confirm a rental using a new online form at http://RVRentalsRochester.com.
Florida RV rentals are approaching the highest levels since 2006, according to a news release from Florida-based RV rental dealer Allstar Coaches.
“Compared to the past few years, RV rentals across the board are way up and at the highest levels we’ve seen in quite some time,” said CEO Rob Tischler. Allstar Coaches is also reporting substantial increases in reservations for its California, New Jersey and Pennsylvania RV rentals. “We haven’t been this booked this early in the season since 2006.”
To meet the high demand, Allstar Coaches is actively searching for additional rental units to increase its California, Pennsylvania and Florida RV rental fleets.
Allstar Coaches manages and rents a fleet of privately owned, luxury Class A motorhomes. RV owners place their vehicles into Allstar’s fleet program which is designed to cover the costs of ownership. Depending on the particular model, RVs enrolled in the program can generate monthly incomes of up to $2,000-$3,000 for their owners. Active full time units are generally booking about 24-26 weeks per year. Allstar’s fleet program offers current and potential owners the ability to have their RVs pay for themselves and still capitalize on all the benefits of ownership.
For detailed pricing and information, call (866) 838-4465 or visit Allstar Coaches online at www.allstarcoaches.com.
Allstar Coaches, Florida’s leading RV rental dealer, announced Wednesday (Feb. 3) that it is reducing rates for Florida RV rentals during the months of February, March and April.
In addition, Allstar Coaches is offering all-inclusive Florida RV rental specials and reduced delivery fees for Super Bowl XLIV in Miami, Sebring and the upcoming Daytona 2010 Speedweek, according to a news release.
“With Super Bowl now upon us and the Daytona 500 right around the corner, we’re excited to be able to offer customers our lowest rates ever on our Florida RV rentals,” said Rob Tischler, president and CEO of Allstar Coaches.
Allstar Coaches has been fortunate to have become extremely busy since the company was featured on the “road trip” episodes of ABC’s “The Bachelor” last month, he said, In order to keep up with the high demand from the Miami Super Bowl and upcoming Daytona races, the company moved in additional units from its other locations.
“Since bringing in the extra inventory, we have more coaches available for rental and are able to really cut our prices,” added Tischler. Local delivery and pickup for all Broward and Palm Beach RV renters is also offered at no charge. The company says it has no plans to scrap its competitive price policy.
Allstar Coaches offers Florida RV rentals from its Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach locations. With additional locations opening this year in Orlando and Tampa, Allstar Coaches is poised to become Florida’s largest RV rental dealer.
Allstar also has rental locations in California, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Arizona and Nevada and has the ability to deliver a luxury RV to virtually any doorstep in America.
Forest River Inc., Canada-based CanaDream Corp. and Australia-based Apollo Motorhomes announced Monday (Nov. 30) the emergence of AmeriDream — an RV rental venture positioned to capture significant market share and further promote the growth of RV tourism in the U.S.
“The venture provides an enormous benefit to our dealers and travelers here and abroad,” said Peter Liegl, Forest River president and CEO, in a news release. “Dealers within our network will be able to better manage their domestic booking and gain exposure to the lucrative international market virtually overnight. AmeriDream dealers will be able to seamlessly integrate the advanced systems and access the extensive international wholesale network behind the continual growth of CanaDream.”
Brian Gronberg, president and CEO of CanaDream Corp., said, “Being able to take advantage of the rapid growth of international RV travelers coming to America is the only way to maximize both utilization and nightly rates. Our systems, networks and Internet strategy will make AmeriDream the preferred RV vendor for the international audience.”
According to a study by Ypartnership titled “National Travel MONITOR,” 66% of U.S. leisure travelers now use the Internet to plan some aspect of their travel (versus 35% in 2000).
Industry forecasts indicate Forest River’s entrance into the RV rental market is opportune. In what is considered to be a down market, the Recreational Vehicle Rental Association (RVRA), reports rental activity will be up 12% this year.
AmeriDream enters a market dominated by Cruise America and El Monte RV.
Forest River is a leading manufacturer of leisure vehicles in the United States, based in Elkhart, Ind. Founded in 1996 by Liegl, it has grown into a company of 5,500 employees and 71 facilities throughout the nation. In 2005, the company was acquired by Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Berkshire Hathaway is headquartered in Omaha, Neb.
CanaDream is one of the largest RV rental companies in Canada. The company operates a fleet of approximately 700 units from nine gateway cities across the nation. CanaDream’s leadership position has been achieved through a combination of substantial investments in proprietary technology related to its operations, its extensive international wholesale network and the upgrading and maintenance of its rental fleet. CanaDream is publicly traded (symbol: CDN) on the Canadian Venture Exchange.
Apollo is the largest privately owned leisure vehicle operator in the Southern Hemisphere with a fleet of over 3,000 vehicles and 300 employees. It has 10 branches in Australia, two in New Zealand and three in the U.S.
A little more than 2 million Southern Californians traveled for Thanksgiving, 85% via the automobile, according to a study conducted for the Automobile Club of Southern California.
“The main reason is probably a plane trip is going to be more expensive,” said Automobile Club of Southern California spokeswoman Marie Montgomery. “A lot of costs can be associated with a plane trip, including car rentals and hotels.”
El Monte RV rented out 56 recreational vehicles to local families Wednesday, General Manager Edward Calderon told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.
“This is our busiest holiday for rentals,” Calderon said. “All of our biggest RVs are rented.”
Paul Peterson of La Crescenta rented a smaller RV, about 25 feet, Wednesday to drive with his wife and two children to California City.
“We join a group of about 20 to 30 people at a campground,” Peterson said. “We did it last year for the first time, and decided to do it again this year.”
While Peterson is renting a motorhome for a Thanksgiving camping trip, others rented out RVs to park in their driveways and put up family members, Calderon said.
“Some people have more family members than rooms,” Calderon said. “Instead of sending them to hotels, they’re renting RVs.”
The top cost-saving measure taken by many travelers this holiday season is staying with friends and families instead of in hotel rooms, Montgomery said.
Three Rivers RV has partnered with Cruise America RV Rentals & Sales as the sole representative of the Cruise America line of RV rentals for the St. Louis region.
Through the partnership, Three Rivers began providing RVs for short-term rental in October, according to the Alton (Ill.) Telegraph. The RVs are available in 25- and 30-foot lengths that can accommodate five to seven people.
Cruise America ranks as the nation’s largest RV rental firm. For more information, visit www.threeriversrv.com or call (618) 254-8856.