Ron and Martha Hintz have owned and operated the Village Camper Inn since 1988. Recently they expanded their customers' options by offering permanent manufactured housing sites for year-round living there. Last week, they sat down and talked with me about their business.
Q: How long have you run this business?
Martha: We've been here since 1988. My family built it in 1971.
Ron: They started with five acres and then they bought five more acres and then they bought ten acres, and we bought five more acres and we bought another acre, so it's about 26 acres now, total. And all of that isn't in RVs; some is still forested.
Q: What inspired you to go into this line of work?
Martha: We both appreciate people who are on vacation. Usually they are having fun, so the recreation industry is fun.
Ron: Martha's parents wanted to retire, also. So we bought it.
Q: How has your business changed over the years?
Martha: Our business is evolving. We now have overnighters and short term people. We also have a few residents that stay year-round in 400-square-foot park trailers, and we also have lots for permanent manufactured housing. We're trying to be diversified and cover the needs of different situations people are in. We recently began selling park trailers.
Ron: And we're manufactured housing dealers now.
Martha: For in-park sales only. I don't want to be a distributor dealer, just for people who live here.
Q: What business decision or action would you change if you could do it again?
Martha: I think I would strive to get more accounting information, more schooling in business.
Ron: When you have a business like this, you can't do all the work that you can imagine would be done. There's no end.
Q: What's the toughest business decision you've ever made?
Martha: In ancient history, jumping into our mobile home park in Gasquet. It was just a huge down payment.
Q: How do you distinguish your business from your competitors?
Martha: Our format is different. Most RV parks provide smaller spaces.
Ron: We're in the trees, in the redwoods. We have a lot more open space, grass areas. We can't compete with the state parks, because in essence, they are our competitors, but we also subsidize them as taxpayers. They get free advertising from us.
Q: How do you define success for your business?
Ron: Public relations. We have many close friends. They're not just customers. We travel with them, have dinner with them, we visit them, stay at their houses. We have customers that have been coming back for 17 or 20 years.
We have customers that came here for three or four years and then bought real estate in the area, and we're still connected.
Reach Christine Walters at email@example.com.