Marvin and Shirley Oetjen have seen the camping industry change several times in their 40 years of owning Kamper’s Supply, in Carterville, Ill., according to a report by the Southern Business Journal.
Even through the peaks and valleys of the business world, Oetjen said he still enjoys coming to work every day.
“I still have a lot of fun,” he said.
Kamper’s primarily focuses on providing service for RVs and campers, as well as selling parts and accessories. Oetjen said the business does sell RVs by the Starcraft brand. He said routine maintenance is a big part of his business, as well as brakes needing to be adjusted, bearings needing to be packed and appliances needing repair.
The idea for Kamper’s Supply came from when Marvin was a service manager for a car dealership and would frequently get called into work because he lived nearby. So, on Friday evening, he and Shirley would jump in their camper and head for the campgrounds until Sunday evening.
He said this was in the early ‘70s and the knowledge of electronics in campers was few and far between. Since he had experience working with electronics, Oetjen began doing his own repairs. Shortly afterward, he began doing repairs for other people in the campgrounds and found there was a need for his services.
The Oetjen’s took a trip to Elkhart, Ind., which Marvin called the “hub of the RV world” to talk with different distributors about opening a parts and accessory store. Soon after, the business got started on Sweets Drive in Carbondale in 1975 and moved to its current location at 400 W. Plaza Drive in Carterville in 1977.
Read the full report here.