Stone Canyon Lodges has produced the nation’s 100,000th recreational park trailer, according to the Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA).
The production milestone was achieved earlier this month when RPTIA sent the 100,000th inspection seal to the Bear Creek, Ala.-based park trailer manufacturer, which builds custom units for Park Cabins Inc. and Rock Bridge Cabins.
“We’re still a relatively small niche of the RV industry. But we’re a lot bigger than we used to be, and we’re achieving record sales largely by word of mouth,” said Bill Garpow, RPTIA’s executive director, in a press release.
He added that the park model business, which began with a handful of companies in Elkhart County, Ind., now includes nearly 50 manufacturers in 10 states from Florida to California.
Elkhart County currently has 14 park model manufacturers with a combined work force of roughly 800 employees who produce approximately half of the industry’s volume nationwide. But park trailer manufacturers have also set up shop in many other regions of the country, partly to accommodate rising demand and partly to lower their shipping costs to local markets.
In the past 10 years, Georgia has grown from one to 10 builders, while North Carolina and Texas have also become manufacturing hubs. In addition, RV and manufactured home builders that opted out of the park trailer business several years ago have gotten back into it, including Riverside, Calif.-based Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. and Fairmont Homes of Nappanee, Ind.
A product of the energy crisis of the 1970s, park trailers were initially designed for snowbirds who craved sturdier and more spacious trailers in an era characterized by skyrocketing fuel costs and a national focus on the production of energy-efficient vehicles with reduced towing capacities.
Park models offered a solution because they were designed for use in campgrounds, they were bigger than the typical travel trailers and fifth wheels, and yet they didn’t have to be towed.
“The industry has seen more growth than I ever expected would happen when we first started building park trailers in the 70s,” said Bob Kropf, a retired former owner of Kropf Industries Inc. in Goshen, Ind., one of the original pioneers of the park trailer industry. “It’s quite exciting.”