WOODALLSCM.com July 2019 - 13 ARVC NEWS & NOTES David Basler Many park owners are fortunate to have children or other family members whoarewillingtotakeovermanagement or ownership of the park when they are readytoretire.Butthefacttheyarefamily doesn’t automatically guarantee a smooth transition. There are many fac- tors to consider. Denny Quigley is the owner of a Na- tional Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) member-park and four-time “Park of the Year” award winner Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park at Kozy Rest in Harrisville, Pa. Several years ago, he decided to make his son, Gary Quigley, a shareholder in the business. Denny had seen the kind of response Garywasgettingwhenhespokeatindus- try conferences and wanted to“lock him in” before another park lured him away. “First, you have to have a son or daughter who’s truly invested and wants to be a part of the business,” he said. “I see a lot of other owners out there that havekidsthatwantnopartofwhatmom and dad are doing, so I’m very fortunate. Gary has a true passion and interest in this industry and wants to be a part of it and move forward with the business.” As tough as it might be, some park owners have to accept the fact their chil- dren simply aren’t cut out for this busi- ness. “You can’t force it on them,” Quigley said. “And if they don’t have a business sense about them, you’re just setting them up to fail.” He added that once the decision is made to bring the next generation into thebusiness,it’stimetostartgivingthem some responsibility. “You have to start letting them make someofthekeydecisionsandsometimes you have to let them struggle so they learn,”hepointedout.“It’snoteasytodo, but you can’t make it easy for them be- cause it is a business.You kind of have to step back and let them make decisions.” Not all park owners, though, are as willing as Quigley is to step back and let the next generation do things their way. Someownersfinditdifficulttoovercome the mindset of “but we’ve always done it this way.” “Sometimes, even though mom and dad have given the park to the kids, they don’t give them everything. They don’t give them the right to make changes,” said Joe Moore, founder and owner of Moore’s Campground Consulting in Mi- neola,Texas. “Theysay,‘It’sbeenworking for us all these years.Why do you want to change it or tear it up?’ I would encour- age siblings or the next generation to get some assurances upfront that they can Passing the Torch and Preparing for the Next Generation make changes.” Moore said one park owner told him whenheturnedmanagementofthepark overtohiskidsthefirstthingtheydidwas change the hours of the store and the of- fice because technology now makes it so much easier for guests to interact with the park. “They can make reservations in their pajamas at midnight, so the park office doesn’t need to stay open as long,” he says.“The park saves money by not hav- ing staff stay late and they save on utility bills. So, there are some changes that can and should be made in generational transitions.” It’s also essential for owners to share their expertise, procedures and best practices with the next generation. For example, Danny O’Leary was just named park manager and marketing di- rector for ARVC member-park Rincon Country RV Resort East in Tucson, Ariz. His father, George O’Leary, established theparkalongwithitssisterpark,Rincon CountryRVResortWest,andisstillheav- ily involved in the operation of both parks. FortheyoungerO’Leary,thetransition of park management has presented its challenges. “I think every family will have their own unique challenges that are specific to their situations,” he said.“For me per- sonally, one of the biggest challenges is that Dad — and I’m thankful in many waysforthis—hasnointentionsofretir- ingorslowingdown.Atage88heisasac- tive as anyone 20 or 30 years younger than him. “As much as I would love it, he can’t keep going forever,” O’Leary continued. “He does tasks he’s been doing since he started the park — things like budgeting, scheduling new buildings and remodel work. He doesn’t mean any harm by it, but there are vital things I need to learn thathe’sdoneforever.Ifearthatoncehe’s gone or unable to do the work, I’ll be at a great disadvantage not knowing impor- tantoperationsandhowtheyweredone. I try and remind him, and to his credit he does try to be better.” The thing is, these generational chal- lenges aren’t limited to only family- owned parks. In the world we live in with multiple generations working together, these challenges are everywhere. O’Leary had some sound advice for sage park owners about what the next generation needs from them. “From my own experiences, I would tell other park owners to try to embrace not only the next generation, but every employee’s individual best traits — and to not be afraid of being unconven- tional,” he explained. “Don’t force a square peg into a round hole.” It’sthistypeofmulti-generationalbal- ance that every park owner should strive to achieve. DavidBaslerisARVC’svicepresident of membership and marketing. WCM