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January 1st, 2015

Memo From Frank & Dave

You wouldn’t take your RV out on the road without a map, right? Without a GPS system? Just trying to guess where to turn? So why would you let your goals also be up to chance and luck. We are huge believers that every American should make a plan for the year, which spells out in complete detail what the goals are and the steps to attain them. If one of your goals is to buy an RV park in 2015, then it’s time to take out the pen and paper and lay out the plan. Start with what your “weapons and ammo” are for down payment and time. Then add to it your geographic territory you would consider and what the rates of return need to be. Then start pouring as much volume of deals as into that sorter as you can possibly find, from on-line listings to broker listings to direct mail and cold call searches. You make your own luck with volume and working smart. And while you’re working on that, remember to Have a Happy New Year!

Garden & Gun Magazine Shows New, Upscale Uses For RV’s

Garden & Gun Magazine, an upscale publication that showcases the best of design and living in the American South, featured not one, but two RV’s in their most recent issue. The first story was about the new arrival of expensive RV/bars for tailgate parties. The second was the story of an RV being used as a “party trailer” on a large estate, including a full-sized Kodiak bear for decoration. Both articles had several things in common.

RVs seen as an important piece of American culture

The RV has become embedded in U.S. culture, in the same manner as the automobile. As a result, RVs are considered a nostalgic reminder of our American roots and our love for the USA. They are a feel good moment for millions of Americans. That’s why you will find RVs prominently featured in everything from the Neiman Marcus catalog to every major American periodical. RVs are part of our history.

RV’s keep getting a wider acceptance with a younger market

Young people are getting on board the RV bandwagon, with newer models that have more aesthetics and amenities, coupled with the desire to be different. RVs are quietly becoming “cool” with a new, younger market of consumers. Just go to any RV sales center and you will be amazed that the median customer is in their 30s – several decades younger than the old days. And this phenomenon is growing rapidly.

RV’s offer unique design features that are highly adaptable

RV’s began as effectively a box on wheels, and this has led to the ability to transform them into a number of uses. RVs have no load-bearing interior walls, so they can be re-case into many different forms and functions. Whether it’s a conversion to a mobile bar or a “man-cave”, RVs are only held back by your imagination. And this gives a huge amount of creative freedom, much of which is being exploited by manufacturers to make today’s RV’s the best ever made.

RV’s have arrived as design chic

So why did an upscale magazine devote so much room to RVs in this issue? It’s because RVs are “chic”. That’s the reason that RV park occupancy is up so dramatically – it’s considered cool to travel in an RV by a younger audience, not just retirees. No other item in U.S. culture is seeing as strong a resurgence as the recreational vehicle.


The more RVs on the road, the greater the demand for RV park spaces. And that number is growing daily. The market for RVs now extends from adults in their 20s to their 80s and above – a huge footprint for growth.

Winnebago’s Revival Is A Testament To The Future Of The RV Industry

October RV sales were the highest in 40 years. The RV industry is booming, with over 350,000 units shipped in 2014. 10,000 baby boomers retiring per day, coupled with lower fuel prices and better designs have made RV sales lots full and created backorders on the most popular models. And the poster boy of this resurgence is Winnebago Industries.

From humble beginnings, a giant was formed

In 1966, the first Winnebago model rolled off the assembly line. The business model was simple: to create a safe, quality product at roughly half the cost of the competitors’ models. This simple recipe had a Wal-Mart-type effect, with millions of consumers who were unable to afford the more expensive options lining up to buy a Winnebago. Just like the Xerox dominated the copier market, Winnebago dominated the RV market to the point that the name Winnebago was what many Americans used to reference the recreational vehicle. Sales of Winnebago product rose to over $1 billion in sales by 2004.

The Great Recession takes its toll

The Great Recession, which began in 2007, destroyed many U.S. industries, and the RV business was no exception. Winnebago sales fell to around $200 million during 2009 – an 80% reduction. Not only were consumers without jobs, but they were also saddled with huge “upside-down” mortgages and gasoline prices that were at an all-time high. The future of RVs – and America – looked bleak.

The re-birth of the Winnebago

Fast forward to 2014, and revenues exceeded $800 million, and appear on-track to break $1 billion in 2015. What a difference! So what’s leading the charge? First of all is the return of some degree of American prosperity. But another factor is the baby boom, which is creating 10,000 new retirees per day, and will continue on doing so for around 15 years. These folks are devoting their lives to leisure, and the RV is a dominant part of that plan. In addition, an entire new generation of younger RV users has been developed, due to more attractive designs and lower prices. Then, on top of everything else, the price of gasoline has plummeted. All of these factors have made RVs “hot” again, and this trend has huge lasting power.

The future of the RV park industry mirrors Winnebago’s fortunes

RV parks are, in essence, parking lots for RVs. They offer amenities and location, but what drives occupancy is simply how many RVs are on the road. As this number swells, so do RV park revenues. That’s why RV parks are showing huge gains in occupancy and revenues, in keeping with the resurgence in RV sales. The two go hand-in-hand.


2015 has all the makings of a record year for RV sales, and a record year for RV park occupancy. If you have procrastinated in looking for an RV park to buy, perhaps now is your opportunity before the word gets out.

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