The recreational park trailer sector’s strong recent performance is prompting growth among the park model manufacturers of Elkhart County, Ind., where 14 park model manufacturers employing about 800 people are currently located.
It’s also bringing expansion elsewhere.
In Indiana, Woodland Park Inc. is breaking ground on a new 47,500-square-foot manufacturing plant —  located directly behind its existing 26,000-square-foot plant — enabling the 21-year-old Middlebury company to triple its production capacity. “All of our dealers, from the Midwest to the Pacific Northwest and Canada, are experiencing strong sales, and we’ve reached the point where we have to expand if we want to grow our business,” reports Ernie Yoder, Woodland Park’s owner.
Yoder, who was joined in a recent groundbreaking ceremony by State Senator Marvin Riegsecker (R-Goshen), said the company expects to complete the new factory by next March, while gradually doubling its workforce to 100.
In the same county, Middlebury, Ind.-based Pilgrim International, Inc. and New Generation Park Models of Elkhart have thrown their respective hats into the park model ring. ”This is a diversification of our business base,” reports Tom Gaither, vice president of sales and marketing for Pilgrim, a three-year-old company best known today as a towable RV manufacturer.
”It’s a very strong business,” adds New Generation Park Models President John Hite, whose family is well known in the park model business, having earlier founded Elkhart-based Heritage Park Models.
Both Pilgrim and New Generation, a new company, started producing park models in May.
Elsewhere, Caldwell, Idaho-based KIT HomeBuilders West LLC, is experiencing solid growth in terms of both staffing and revenues after its first year of independent ownership as a privately held concern, according to a recent report in the Idaho Business Review.
KIT’s new owners, including Boise business broker Art Berry and longtime KIT plant manager Chuck Lawrence, have grown the company’s workforce from 170 to about 200 while increasing its annual revenue base to an estimated $15 to $25 million, or roughly 30% ahead of last year’s figures.
Berry and Lawrence acquired the Kit Manufactured Homes Division in May of 2003 from Kit Manufacturing Co., a publicly listed company based in Long Beach, Calif. and renamed it KIT Homebuilders West. Kit Manufacturing sold its recreational vehicle division to plant managers Don Day and Jim Homburger, who now run that business as Extreme RVs.
Today, KIT HomeBuilders West manufactures park models as well as modular homes. Retail prices range up to $180,000 for HUD homes with foundations and utilities and from $15,000 to $90,000 for park models, the newspaper said. KIT currently has 80 to 85 dealers combined for its HUD and modular homes and park models, a third more than the company had before the business changed hands last year.