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Although sales of recreational park trailers in the U.S. and Canada declined 7% in 2003, Ocala, Fla., park model builder Chariot Eagle Inc., is operating at capacity, according to the Ocala Star-Banner.
“We can’t build any more than we’re building now without expanding,” said Robert Holliday, Chariot Eagle’s president. “This is probably the best year in the 19 years I’ve been in the business.”
Chariot Eagle is building at a rate of more than 800 units a year in Ocala and about 350 per year at its new factory in Arizona, Holliday told the newspaper.
The company customizes its units, so they take longer to build, which explains why Chariot Eagle has about a three-month order backlog, he added.
Holliday has found that experienced RVers often switch to park models once they get older. For example, the Star-Banner interviewed Loren and Mary Grace, ages 71 and 61, respectively, who said they owned a Georgie Boy Class A motorhome until they sold it five years ago and replaced it with a park model in the Ocala area.
The Graces, who live in Kentucky during the warm weather months, decided a park model would be an affordable winter home option.
Although a park model in Florida is much less expensive than a condominium, Mary Grace told the newspaper, park models do not increase in value as do condos, and insurance is “pricey and difficult to find.”
However, the Graces are content with their park model because of the sense of community they feel in the campground where it is located.
Chariot Eagle ranked No. 3 sales of its units through retail dealers during the first 11 months of 2003, according to Statistical Surveys Inc., an independent market research firm.
Statistical Surveys does not count park models sold directly to RV park and campground operators.
Chariot Eagle’s dealers sold 599 units during the first 11 months of last year, Statistical Surveys reported.
The leading park model manufacturer is Thor Industries Inc.’s Breckenridge operation, followed by Skyline Corp. There were 1,310 Breckenridge units and 1,029 Skyline park models sold by dealers during the first 11 months of 2003, Statistical Surveys reported.
Concerning the entire park model sector, sales by dealers declined 1.7% during the first 11 months of 2003 to 4,860 units, compared with 4,943 units sold by dealers during the first 11 months of 2002, Statistical Surveys also reported.