The recreational park trailer industry is coming off its second best year in history but with an eye on pending government regulation that would threaten future sales in one of its top 10 markets.
Twenty-three members of the Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA) attended the trade group’s 14th annual meeting in October in Middlebury, Ind., and discussed progress their association has made in the past year. Industry shipments for 2006 will fall short of the record 10,000 set in 2005 but will still constitute the second best ever.
However, William Garpow, executive director, briefed the members on a proposal by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs that could end the product’s popularity in the Garden State. The agency proposed in September that it will not recognize the construction standards (ANSI 119.5) that park trailers are built to and wants the Uniform Construction Code (UCC) to prevail, the same code as manufactured housing.
If the DCA proposal becomes law, it would exclude any new park trailers from being placed in New Jersey, since the industry could not build them under the UCC to satisfy the state.
Currently, the American National Standards Institute requirements cover electrical, plumbing, structural, heating & AC, fire and life safety issues.
New Jersey dealers sold more than 500 park models in 2005, making it the sixth largest park trailer market in the U.S. “It’s a significant market and we want to maintain that market,” Garpow told RV Business magazine.
The proposal arose after New Jersey officials found instances where people were using park models as permanent residences. Park models are sold as vacation or second homes but are not designed for year-round occupation, according to the industry.
“From our way of thinking it’s overkill,” Garpow told RV Business. “They’re trying to make us into a residential unit and we don’t intend to be that.”
The DCA proposal stemmed from a decision rendered by the Construction County Board of Appeals of Sussex County that no permit is required for the installation of park trailers. This decision was “an error,” the DCA said, and it is seeking to clarify the existing law, not change it. The proposal, if it becomes law, would not apply retroactively to existing buildings.
The RPTIA board authorized its legal counsel to respond to the state’s proposal which he did in a legal brief filed by the Nov. 17 deadline. New Jersey had 90 days to reply. The state’s campground association and several large park model dealers joined the RPTIA in its opposition to the proposal.
Also during the annual meeting, RPTIA members reviewed the financial status of their association and “the inspections we have for our standards program to make sure our members are building products in compliance with their pledge to the association,” Garpow said. Members also showed special interest in the association’s public relations program.
Membership grew by 10 in the past year, bringing total membership to nearly 50, Garpow noted.
Four of the five officers stood for re-election. They are President Olen Wenrick, Trophy Homes, Elkhart, Ind.; Vice president Curt Yoder, Kropf Industries, Goshen, Ind.;
Treasurer Ernie Yoder, Woodland Park, Middlebury, Ind.; Secretary Joe Follman, Chariot Eagle, Ocala, Fla.; and Immediate Past President Tim Howard, Breckenridge, a division of Damon, Nappanee, Ind.