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Mark Warmoth, owner of Weekend Warrior Trailers Inc., lives the lifestyle he sells.
According to a recent profile in The Press-Enterprise, Riverside, Calif., Warmoth takes family or groups of friends on weekends to his second home on the Colorado River or to Glamis Dunes in Imperial County with a trailer full of all-terrain vehicles.
During the week, Warmoth wears flip-flops to work. He sports a goatee braided at either end with purple rubber bands, and his graying blond hair is swept back as if he just got off a dirt bike.
“My whole life, I’ve been preparing for this job,” said Warmoth, who learned to ride a dirt bike when he was 8. “I really am a weekend warrior.”
Headquartered in Perris, Calif., Weekend Warrior was founded in Warmoth’s garage in 1998 and has grown to become the marquee manufacturer of the flashy trailers known as sport-utility RVs, toy haulers or toy boxes.
Toy haulers feature living quarters in the front for up to eight people and storage space in the back for everything from ATVs, dirt bikes and 4x4s to jet skis and snow mobiles.
Priced from $20,000 to $60,000, these mobile garages appeal to people who spend their weekends at the river, in the desert or in the mountains.
Although Warrior has grown steadily, business took off in the past few years because of changing demographics and the exploding popularity of off-road sports.
“This is a Baby Boomer product,” said Warmoth, 49. “So I’m selling to people just like me. I think that is part of why we’re doing so well. Our parents waited until they retired to see the world. We’re doing it every weekend.”
The toy hauler segment is still relatively small, but it grew by more than 50% in 2004, according to Statistical Surveys Inc.
“Everybody in the industry has a sport-utility offering now,” said Tom Walworth, president of the marketing research company.
But Weekend Warrior, which had sales of $90 million last year and plans to double that in 2005, is the market leader, he added.
“We’re growing as fast as we can grow and we’re punishing our competition,” said Warmoth. “I’d hate to be going against us.”
Last year, the firm sent a message to those competitors, gobbling up Caldwell, Idaho-based Extreme RVs in July and later buying the toy hauler division of National RV, a much larger recreational vehicle company also based in Perris.
Warrior now employs about 1,000 people, cranking out 25 trailers a day, or 5,000 a year, at four plants in Perris and in Idaho. The company recently bought more land, in Riverside County, to consolidate its 450,000 square feet of factory space.
“National RV wanted out. They wanted to concentrate on motorhomes, which is their gravy train,” Warmoth said. “We eat and sleep ramp trailers. That is our thing.”
Over the past six months, Warrior has redesigned National RV’s product line and created a separate business entity called Rage’n Inc. to build and sell them to dealers, said Gary Denton, the company’s vice president of marketing.
In the Southern California area, Warrior has an exclusive deal with Montclair-based Giant RV, which has six large dealerships in Riverside, San Bernardino and Orange counties. One of the benefits of the Rage’n line is that it has its own network of dealers, Denton said.
Along the way, Warmoth has also become an off-roading folk hero of sorts, giving money and time to nonprofit groups that do battle with government agencies and environmental organizations over the future of some off-road trails.
“I consider myself an environmentalist, but I want to protect the land for the people, not from the people,” he said. “And it’s my livelihood. It’s what I’ve been doing since I was 8 years old, and it’s what I do with my kids.”
In 2000, he came up with the idea to establish a fund to fight land closures brought on by lawsuits over the Endangered Species Act. The Action Program, as it is called, raises about $500,000 a year from off-roading companies and customers.
“Mark is the ultimate American success story,” said Grant George, president of the American Sand Association, which is part of the Action Program.
“He took his passion and he turned it into a highly successful business. Then he took that passion and that business and gave back to the future of the sport.”