A group of investors led by Phil Surles, the former chief operating officer of manufactured housing builder Champion Enterprises Inc., has formed a new company called Athens Park Homes LLC targeting the growing park-model business in Texas.
“We feel that the Texas park-model market is going to grow,” said Surles, who spent 27 years in the manufacturing housing business before leading a group of investors to form Athens Park Homes. “Demand for park models is already strong in Texas, particularly in the Texas Hill Country, and since most of the park models are made in Indiana, we feel we would have a huge freight advantage by building these units here.”
Athens Park Homes is the third park-model manufacturer to open in Texas in the past five years. The other ones are Grandview-based Park Manor Inc. and GS Manufacturing in Alba.
Surles said Athens Park Homes will begin manufacturing operations in December with 30 employees.
“We think we’ll be able to hire many of the former Champion Enterprises employees who lost their jobs with the closure of the Athens plant last year,” Surles said. “The manufactured housing base in Athens is accustomed to building high-end custom, modular housing, so building upscale park models will not pose a manufacturing issue.”
Athens Park Homes will build a full line of park models, including cabin-style units, but will specialize in the middle and upper ends of the market, offering full tape and texture, cement fiber siding and other amenities.
The company expects to be in full production by Jan. 1 and haave prototype units displayed Jan. 13-15 at the All Valley RV Show in Mercedes, Texas.
Surles said units also will be available through local RV and park-model dealers across Texas, including Lone Star R & R in Burnet.