b'Q&A CONVERSATIONS BY BEN QUIGGLEAJ Lefear, a park owner in Texas, Dives into Issues Surrounding Diversityand Attracting More Minority OwnersWhen AJ Lefear bought apiece of undeveloped landwith a mobile home on it inBrazoria, Texas, it wasnt tobuild an RV park. The idea was simply tohavesomeland,heex-plained. I had the desire,Im an engineer, and so Ijust wanted to have some Left to right: The Lefear family Jackson, Natasha, Logan, AJ and Anthony IIIland. This piece of propertycame available and I bought it. I had no idea what I was going to do with the restof the land. I was just going to rent out the mobile home.His father-in-law had different ideas, however, and suggested that Lefear buildan RV park. He liked the idea and bought a few RVs to rent out. Then county officials came and pointed out that it looked like I had an RVpark, he explained. I had to go through the permitting process, and I became alicensed septic installer, a construction company spawned from having to buyequipment to build the park.Sitting on seven acres, the TripL RV Park has 30 sites now that offer free cable,Wi-Fi, laundry facilities and 30- and 50-amp electrical connections. The park in-cludes gravel and concrete sites, along with an outside pergola and barbecuegrills throughout the park. Lefear is also putting in custom-built cabins. Besides juggling the responsibilities of owning a park, his wife is a business ex-ecutive and they have three children. The family lives full-time in Dallas and theyalso own a coffee shop, which is getting ready to open its second location. As a Black campground owner, Lefear has also spoken some about diversityissues in the outdoor hospitality arena, most recently through a video on a privateFacebook group managed by CampgroundViews.com. Woodalls Campground Management (WCM) caught up with Lefear to discussdiversity issues in the RV park and campground sectors and how more minoritygroups can be encouraged to become park owners. Below is our edited conversation.WCM: As a magazine, we travel to Black owner? severalconferenceseveryyearand AJ Lefear: Throughout my life, Ive al-thereisntatonofdiversityamong ways been the only or one of a very fewpark owners at the conferences. What Black people in a group. In my engi-has been your experience entering the neering classes at college, there wereRV park and campground sectors as a only a few Black people. In my mastersengineering class, I was the only Blackperson and the only American in mygraduating class. From that perspec-tive, seeing so few Black people in a cer-tain industry is nothing new to me. ButI also think it can give a false indicationthat theres not any interest by people ofcolor or Black people to take part in thisindustrybecausethereisagrowingbaseofBlackpeoplewhowanttocamp.Fromtheownershipperspective,and I am not going too far into that,there are very few Black owners, but itdidnt stop me. I wasnt hesitant to startthis venture because at the end of theday people still need a place to stay andpark their RVs. There was a need, an op-portunity to meet that need and thatsBusiness 101: Identify the need and seeif you can meet it because it doesntmatterwhatcoloryouare,youcanbuild something that if no one comes,then theres no need for it and no desirefor it.WCM: How does the RV park andcampgroundsectorencouragemoreminorities to take an interest in camp-ground ownership?Lefear: Thisismoreaboutunder-standing the power of ownership in theBlack community. I think as a commu-nity, we still have not understood orhave had the same amount of time orQ&A Conversationscontinued on page 2814 -September 2020 Woodalls Campground Management'