For 14 years, roughly 80 employees at Fleetwood Enterprises Inc.’s 135,000-square-foot factory in Rocky Mount, Va., produced nothing but manufactured homes.

And while most of them retained their jobs after Phoenix, Ariz.-based Cavco Industries Inc. acquired the company last fall, the seasoned team of employees had to learn a new product: a custom designed park model for Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) East Coast franchisees, according to a news release.

But after seven months of intensive training, including specialized training sessions for key production employees at Cavco’s park model factory in Goodyear, Ariz., the Rocky Mount employees succeeded this month in producing Cavco’s first “Kamping Lodges” for KOA’s East Coast franchisees, with the first unit being delivered to the KOA in Allentown, Pa.

“I’m very impressed,” said Mike Atkinson, KOA director of lodging. “It’s a daunting task to go from a manufactured home plant to a park model plant, especially when you try to put KOA specifications into the mix. It’s the toughest park model you can build because it’s so far outside the norm of what park model companies do.”

The units include tongue and grove interiors, specialty floor materials, and composite siding. The walls are glued together instead of nailed together and the dormers in the rooflines have to be trimmed out. “It takes real craftsmanship to build a KOA unit,” Atkinson said.

Atkinson, who visited the Rocky Mount plant this week, credited Tim Gage, vice president Cavco park models, Dave Blank, vice president and general manager of Cavco’s Goodyear, Ariz., operation, and Tom Satterwhite, general manager of the Rocky Mount factory, for developing the teamwork and training necessary to produce a high quality product for KOA franchisees.

Several Fleetwood employees spent time training at Cavco’s park model factory in Arizona, but the job was made easier because Satterwhite had already created a culture of teamwork at Rocky Mount.

Satterwhite, for his part, said all the accolades go to Cavco’s park model experts. “We just executed the plan they put together,” Satterwhite said, adding, “I think all our people in the plant are just glad KOA selected us as their lodge provider and glad we have the opportunity to work with Cavco.”

For more information on Cavco’s Kamping Lodges, park models and other specialized living units, contact Tim Gage at (602) 763-5488 or visit www.cavcoparkhomes.com. For more information on KOA’s use of park model cabins as Kamping Lodges, contact Mike Atkinson at (406) 248-7444 or e-mail him at [email protected]