Blue Bridge, which has been around for eight years, is now an affiliate with Carillon Capital LLC, and in that relationship, “We’re bringing Blue Bridge into new industries,” said Ed Arienti, Carillon managing director of business development.
“We are in the manufactured housing and park model industries from the perspective of working with manufacturers in those industries,” Arienti explained, “and resorts, campgrounds and communities” who rent out units have been underserved, he believes.
“Whether it be from a resort aspect, travel aspect, manufactured-housing aspect or some of the maturing RVers — wanting to maintain the camping lifestyle but not driving a 40-foot coach anymore — they’ll enjoy a park model they’ll rent for x amount of weeks or months. Some will rent for six months in Florida and six months in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan,” he said.
Blue Bridge has the support of Champion and Athens Park, who use them, Arienti said.
“We are financing manufactured homes for their community owners when they’re purchasing manufactured homes, and we’re also financing park models for campgrounds and resorts,” Arienti explained.
“Our customer is the campground or the resort. We’re lending the money to buy those park mode RVs and rent them out,” he said.
In that market, “there are a few lenders out there, but not many.” Many campground and RV park owners have gone to local banks, but they don’t specialize in the market, which can be confusing for people outside the campground sector.
“In the park model industry I brought a director on who’s been known for many years as a true expert and specialist,” Jim Hofbauer, Arienti said. “We’re providing a very good solution,” he said.
“Basically we’re doing deals up to about a half-a-million dollars,” and even more, Arienti said.
Blue Bridge is about six months into the market, though their leadership brings decades of experience, Arienti said.
He’s been around the RV, auto and marine industries since 1976 and around the park model RV niche and manufactured housing since the late 1980s, he said.
“I’ve personally known the principals at Carillon for many years. Carillon is a boutique investment bank, which started identifying spaces that are underserved. I joined them as a managing director to bring my experience in certain industries,” including park model RVs, he said.
“We’ve got a core team of five directors. We’ll be adding others. These directors cover one or more industries each,” he said.
“I would say to any campgrounds and communities who are actively engaged in purchasing coaches and park models to rent, contact us because of the breadth of industry experience we have. We’re known by many manufacturers, we’re bringing fresh ideas to the market.”
Any campground not offering rental accommodations is missing out, Arienti said. “I think there’s a missed revenue opportunity. Not only that, they’d be missing a growing segment. It’s a growth segment, much of that segment is evolving from true RVers, transitioning to still loving the camping lifestyle but wanting to settle down a bit.”