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Wheel Estate Sales and Service Inc., which does business as Stewart Lodges, a manufacturer of park model cabin trailers, has nearly doubled its sales volume since opening a 35,000-square-foot factory in Colorado in February.
“The two factories are about neck and neck in production, and the Georgia factory hasn’t seen any reduction in sales with the addition of the western plant,” said Chip Eddy, national marketing manager for Thomasville, Ga.-based Wheel Estate. “We are doing about double what we were doing last year. We figure that by the end of the year the Colorado plant will surpass Georgia in production.”
Previously, the company manufactured its park models – sold primarily to campgrounds – in a 25,000-square-foot plant in Thomasville.
The factory in Delta, Colo., employs 100 people and has allowed the company to reduce its order backlog at its factory in Thomasville.
Production this year at both plants is expected to be about 750 units.
“Last year we were shipping more than 40% of our production in Georgia to states that would be covered by Colorado,” Eddy said. “We figured we lost some business because of the freight costs from Georgia. We are picking up a lot of that business now.”
In addition, Wheel Estate has abandoned plans to open as many as 20 company-owned retail stores to sell directly to consumers in favor of establishing a network of independent dealers.
“We made a decision to go more toward independently owned dealerships,” Eddy said, adding that eight dealerships in the eastern U.S. have signed on to retail Wheel Estate products, which include Stewart Lodges and Cozy Cabins.
The company will continue to operate a retail store near its Georgia factory and will open a retail outlet near its Colorado factory sometime next year, Eddy said.
Plans to build a third plant in Indiana have been delayed, but likely will proceed in 2003, Eddy added.
Also, Wheel Estate in November became licensed to provide park model cabins to Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) franchisees. “We built a proprietary design that we developed together,” Eddy said.