June '18

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rv-pro.com June 2018 • RV PRO • 17 according to Dick Grymonprez, director of park model sales for Athens Park Model RVs. In 2016, Athens recorded its best year since its founding in 2004 and then "blew away" those numbers in 2017, Grymonprez says. Thus far, 2018 is off to a good start. Of the industry's 4,000 homes shipped in 2017, Grymon- prez estimates Athens built close to a fourth of them. He says he believes that Athens' success has buoyed the industry numbers the past two years. "In 2016, we grew 30 percent and the entire industry grew 10 percent. Last year, we grew 15 percent and the industry grew by 10 percent," he says. Where are these Athens units going? More than 50 percent of Athens' production used to end up in campgrounds. Today, that share has shrunk to between 30 percent and 40 percent. The majority is going onto private property, which is counter to the industry norm. "What's really happened to our company is that the tiny home market has gotten people interested in smaller-type units," he says. "We're getting so much more traffic from retail customers for weekend getaways and vacation homes. Our extra business has been retails. In some states, maybe we had one dealer, but we may have six dealers now. The tiny home market has drawn customers to us. Then, we educate them that a park model is better than a tiny home – but we don't sell our product as housing." In March, Athens debuted at a retail show in Tunica, Miss., a new 12-foot-wide model on a 15-foot frame that features a 10-foot-long front porch with a wood-burning fireplace and a side porch. "It looks huge, but it's still under 400 square feet," Grymonprez says. Inside features include a king-size bed, his and hers barn door closet doors, 48-inch walk-in tiled shower, farmhouse kitchen sink, Euro-style range hood and an appliance garage beneath the microwave. The unit will retail for about $75,000. It was built at Athens' Mansfield, Texas, plant but could be built at other plants moving forward. Because of transportation limitations, he suspects pro- duction and sales will be limited to the South. Grymonprez says the park model industry still could use more retail financing. He commends 21 st Mortgage Corp. based in Knoxville, Tenn., as a prime lender in this sector, but says there remains an absence of low-cost, easy-to-get-into financing for park model shoppers. Today's park models feature modern, residential-style kitchens; bathrooms with double sinks, plus tiled, walk-in showers and fancy Shower Pans

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