Editor’s Note: The following is a Q&A conducted by Woodall’s Campground Management with Carefree RV Resorts CEO David Napp discussing the state of the outdoor industry and his company’s continued growth. To view the entire article click here.
Carefree RV Resorts has continued to grow its presence in the RV sector across North America, adding 20 properties — valued at more than $300 million — over the last year or so.
CEO David Napp, an attorney by trade, and his business partner, Colleen Edwards, have gotten to know the RV sector well, having previously founded Encore Communities.
Napp shared his perspective on the biggest challenges and rewards facing his company and the outdoor hospitality sector as a whole, as well as his thoughts on the future — which can be very bright, he thinks.
WCM: What was most surprising to you entering the industry, and what do you think would surprise most people who aren’t familiar with it?
Napp: I think most outsiders looking at the RV business have a predetermined business model in their minds that the entire RV sector is focused on short-term stays, such as weekend camping and tenting, on underdeveloped properties. People unfamiliar with the RV business visualize the industry on a whole as being rustic campgrounds with lean-tos and outhouses and, of course, rain. So I would say that what surprises people new to the industry the most is the financial stability and quality of destination RV resorts with a high percentage of park models.
Once they understand that you have this very attractive demographic customer owning a vacation cottage that’s blocked, strapped and skirted and doesn’t go anywhere for 20 to 25 years, on leased land – you see people’s eyes light up. We went out last year and raised investment capital and had conversations with a number of institutional investors. We talked to some of the largest private-equity firms and largest pension funds in the country, and to a firm, the surprising point for them was how stabile our business is. When you talk about the type of debt financing that we can get, how solid the foundation is of this business model is, and how well we did through the worst recession in 75 years — that was the most the surprising aspect of the business.
WCM: What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned in this business?
Napp: Well, that I’ve still got a lot to learn.
WCM: You’ve never got it figured out completely, right?
Napp: Far from it. Listen, you have to challenge yourself. For me, that’s the main thing in life – to push yourself to get better every day. You have to have passion to be successful; you have to love what you’re doing in order to embrace it. A life without passion isn’t worth living and you have to be passionate with any part of your life to be successful at it. If you’re passionate about your work, then I think you’re able to adjust as circumstances and economic conditions change. Passion doesn’t guarantee success – but a lack of passion gets you nowhere fast.
To view the entire article click here.