Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 3228 - April 2017 Woodall’s Campground Management something. We wanted to be more productive.” Rich and Nancy thought they were entering an early retirement to con- tinue camping with their growing fam- ily. As it turned out, camping began playing a major role in their so-called retirement years. “We wanted a proverbial hunk of dirttoleavetoourgrandkids,”Richsaid. “Wehadanopportunitytoretire,butfor us, that meant an opportunity for a new career.” The couple decided to start looking for a campground to purchase, as they had so many wonderful memories camping with their family. They attended many gatherings, including goingtotheNationalSchoolofRVPark and Campground Management at Oglebay Resort in Wheeling, W.Va., at- tending meetings by the NationalAsso- ciation of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) and the Ohio Campground Owners Association (OCOA) as well as taking part in Leisure Systems Inc.’s (LSI’s) Jellystone Symposium. “We looked at 26 campgrounds,” Nancysaid.“Whenweweresearchingfor aparktopurchase,ourNo.1prioritywas a beautiful piece of property. Dogwood Valleyisthatproperty.Itisshady,hilly,has a meandering stream and spring-fed lake. And it wound up to be in Ohio.” In fact, when they first heard of the park and learned it was in Ohio, Rich CAMPGROUNDPROFILE Entrepreneurs at heart, Rich and Nancy Felber have used their “retire- ment” years to build a legacy for their family and an award-winning camp- ground for their guests to enjoy — but it wasn’t easy. Thanks to a great deal of hard work, family fun and advice from other park owners, they are enjoying their 60s as owners of the Jellystone Park at Dogwood Valley in Mount Gilead, Ohio. The Florida natives didn’t originally plan to spend these years owning a business in Ohio. In 2007 — five years after they bought their first RV, spurred by Rich’s childhood camping memories — they sold their furniture company to retire, but quickly learned a laid-back life did not suit them. After all, they’d spent decades work- ing hard. Nancy had been a Realtor and Rich a general contractor before they married and started their furniture- manufacturing business. “We weren’t very happy retirees,” Nancy said. “We lasted a couple of weeks and decided we needed to do HardWork and Family Fun,Help from Other Operators, EarnedAwards for Jellystone Park at DogwoodValley andNancywerenotveryinterested.But then their daughter planned a move to Ohio, so they made the trip to look at the park. Though it was not in great condition, they fell in love with the grounds and saw potential in the fixer- upper property. They bought it in 2009. Since then, the Felbers have made dramatic improvements to it, achieving high recognition within the industry. The park features 78 acres of wooded resort property with RV, tent and cabin camping. There is a spring-fed six-acre fishing and swimming lake as well as shady, rugged walking and hiking trails. But despite the natural beauty, the Felbers essentially had to save the park, which was on the verge of being shut down by the state. “The campground opened in the mid-’60s and to say our electrical, water and sewage systems were inadequate is an understatement,” Rich said. “We re-plumbed the entire park, went from well to city water and re-wired every- thing.”Theybitoffalot,sincesewer,city water, and electrical work commenced at the same time in the spring of 2009. They also didn’t waste any time adding some nice features to their park, including two heated swimming pools, a 250-foot water slide, an enclosed t ubular water slide, a 2,000-square-foot store and office, a recreation building, laundry, a ceramics room, cableTV,Wi- Fi and a 7-day-a-week activity program — all of which they started before the park joined the network of Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts. “We are in 1,000% better shape than we were when we bought it,” Rich said. “Wehaveeighttimestheelectricitythan we had.We got help from campground groups on how to be compliant and improve our campground.” The work paid off. The Felbers and their park won a national award from franchisor LSI each of the last three years: Entrepreneur of theYear in 2016, Operator of theYear in 2015 and Rookie of theYear in 2014. Overcoming Challenges Even with their work ethic and back- ground, Nancy explained they underes- timatedthesizeandscopeofsomeofthe renovation projects they undertook in the first few years. Fortunately, network- ing with other park operators helped provide them some outside perspective. “We faced many challenges with this property,” she said. “But we have relied on our background and experience, on our colleagues, our continuing education at ARVC, OCOA, our 20 Group and Jellystone to help with the direction for our campground.” Nancy said when they talk to other campground owners, all of their stories have certain similarities. For people who are looking to purchase a camp- ground, their greatest resource is other park owners, she emphasized. Though the Felbers got help early on from LSI and from Jellystone franchisees, their park took a while to be ready to join the network, they explained. “2009 was our first year of operation and also the first time Jelly- stone came to visit us, but we couldn’t be a Jellystone back then, we were in such a state of disrepair,” Rich said.“We decided we were going to do the best we could, and then Jellystone started courting us.” The Felbers talked with LSI for quite a while to gain a clear understanding of the organization’s values. They decided to join because they saw an alignment with what they had in mind for their park,inparticulartheirvisionforfamily activities. In 2013, it became official. “It’s the family concept,” said Rich. “We’re big family people, family and friends are important to us and we enjoy providing a family service.” Rich and Nancy are very pleased with their park’s relationship with the franchise network. They said the organization’s ongoing support has beenveryhelpful,fromvisitingthepark Leisure Systems Inc. awarded the Felber Family with top honors in 2014, 2015 and 2016. The store is just one of many updates the Felbers made to the park to turn it around. Turning a 1960s Ohio park into a modern camping resort was a labor of love for Rich and Nancy Felber. ‘We faced many challenges with this property,’ said Nancy Felber. ‘But we have relied on our background and experience, on our colleagues, our continuing education at ARVC, OCOA, our 20 Group and Jellystone to help with the direction for our campground.’