Entrepreneurs have traditionally struggled to find lenders who are knowledgeable about the private park business and are willing to invest in new parks and park expansions.
But thanks to the initiative of Alabama park owner Ed Bridgman, the outdoor hospitality industry will soon have its first conference dedicated solely to matching current and aspiring park owners with lenders and investors who are interested in funding new parks and park expansions, as well as RV and boat storage facilities.
The Oct. 19 event, called the “Investors Introductory Conference,” will take place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Homestead RV Community in Mobile, Ala.
Berkshire Hathaway has already committed funds to sponsor the conference, Bridgman said, adding that other well-known banks, including Atlanta-based Ameris Bancorp, have also committed to sending representatives to the event.
Representatives from private equity firms also plan to send representatives looking to provide funding for new park projects and park expansions, including Sterling Dodd, of Wolf Hill Investments, with Fervent Capital as an outdoor hospitality-focused commercial debt brokerage firm.
“I’m just getting fantastic responses,” Bridgman said. “I’m going to have at least a dozen people with open checkbooks ready to invest in the RV park industry.”
Lender and private equity interest in the private park business, of course, is a new phenomenon, driven by the explosive growth of RV sales and the corresponding increase in demand for RV sites across the country.
“Four years ago, when I was looking for a loan, I couldn’t get these people to give me the time of day,” Bridgman recalled, adding that he needed $2.3 million in loans to build Homestead RV Community.
It’s a different situation today, however. Lenders and investors are interested in RV park projects, but they still need help connecting with entrepreneurs who are planning to build new parks and expand existing ones.
Bridgman, who is also self-employed as a campground industry consultant, is encouraging conference attendees to bring as much documentation as possible regarding their proposed projects and financing needs, including their feasibility studies and financial statements so that lenders and investors can quickly assess their projects and determine their suitability for funding.
Bridgman said his firm, EOB Consulting, can assist entrepreneurs with preparing feasibility studies if needed.
“We travel to your location and create an understanding of your vision. We perform a comprehensive competitive analysis of the local market to support your vision. We identify the correct RV destination type and provide the site layout in both PDF and CAD formats,” Bridgman said, adding his firm also calculates the estimated construction and operating costs, revenue streams and projected cash flow over a 10-year period.
Bridgman is charging entrepreneurs $100 to attend the Investors Introductory Conference, which includes a catered breakfast and lunch.
Attendees who wish to reserve an RV site can do so through www.homervc.com.
For questions, please contact Bridgman at 512-785-1379 or complete the signup form on www.EOB-Consulting.com and email it to EOB@EOB-Consulting.com.