“Slow, but sure.” That’s the way Wade Elliott of Utility Supply Group in Kingston, Wash., sees the nation’s economic recovery, judging from the pace of sales of pedestals and other electrical products to campgrounds across North America.
“It is a better year than last year and last year was better than the year before,” he said.
Elliott said the pace of sales is constrained to some extent by lenders, who aren’t as forthcoming with loans as they were before the recession.
As a result, he said, many park operators are using their savings to pay for electrical upgrades, rather than borrowing money to pay for bigger installations.
“So we see a lot of jobs,” Elliott said, but many of them are relatively small installations of electrical pedestals and related equipment for 15 or 20 sites or less.
Park operators are also careful with how they spend their money.
“Lots of people are refurbishing and continuing to extend the life of their infrastructure as much as they can,” Elliott said.
Other electrical product suppliers provided Woodall’s Campground Management (WCM) with similar perspectives.
“I’m seeing more replacements of existing meters,” said Lisa Senior, general manager of Hialeah Meter Co., Hialeah, Fla., which sells remanufactured meters for both electricity and water across the U.S. and Canada.
However, some suppliers are generating sales from new and expanding parks.
“We just had the biggest order in our history for 440 pedestals for a brand new RV park in Washington,” said Terry Linnell of B & B Electrical in Keego Harbor, Mich., a Detroit suburb.
She added that B & B sells everything related to electrical equipment that an RV park would need, including meters, wire, lights and signage.
While utility product sales are often fueled by park improvement and expansion efforts, this year’s sales have also been driven by rising power and water costs, which are prompting park operators to invest in more metering equipment.
“People are really going out and metering,” said Maggie Linnell of Your Electrical Solutions in Orion, Mich. She added that much of the metering demand is coming from parks with seasonal sites that are affected by rising water and power costs.
Meters are also a key sales item for York, S.C.-based Vision Metering, according to Jenner Sequeira, sales manager.
Kathleen Kullberg, marketing manager for Cleveland, Ohio-based Eaton Corp., said campgrounds, RV parks and resorts are also increasingly investing in her company’s wireless meter reading systems, which enable park managers to monitor utility costs without having to physically check the meters at each campsite.
Paul Croteau, principal of Electrical Professionals in Kansas City, Mo., said he is also seeing increased sales of portable electric meters as well as solar products.
“Business has been very good compared to the prior year, probably up 15 percent to 20 percent,” he said.
Croteau said portable meters are particularly popular in parks with seasonal sites because they can be easily moved.
Solar powered lighting systems are also increasingly being used to illuminate pathways, decks and boat docks. Higher output solar lighting products are also in demand to illuminate bathhouses, parking lots, flags, monuments and signs.
While solar powered systems can provide lighting all night long if they receive sufficient sunlight during the day, some systems also have high and low settings to conserve power as well as motion activated sensors that automatically switch the devices to higher illumination settings when people walk by.
Croteau said park operators are increasingly purchasing solar products to avoid the high cost of installing new electrical lines to remote sections of their parks. Solar powered systems are self-contained units.
Park operators are also continuing to purchase a variety of devices that save both power and water.
Elliott of Utility Supply Group said he is seeing growing demand for his XLerator electric hand dryers, which save park operators money on paper towels and trash pickup, while reducing the accumulation of paper waste in bathrooms.
“Once people use them,” he said, “they never want to go back to paper.”
Elliott added that demand for electric hand dryers continues to grow.
“Somebody will buy one or two and try it and then they’ll come back the next year and bring their friends,” he said.
Covington, Ky.-based Monarch Coin & Security Inc., for its part, is seeing rising demand for coin and token operated meters that limit power and water consumption, said Tom Benken, the company’s sales and marketing manager.
The company also provides timers that can be set up to regulate lighting needed for basketball or tennis courts or other outdoor areas.
While some parks don’t want to charge for showers, Benken said park operators can provide their guests with tokens, which limit the duration of their showers while also preventing people who are not guests from using the showers.
Benken said the drought that has affected much of the country this year has increased demand for meters that limit water consumption.
Of course, while many utility products are necessities for campgrounds, suppliers of these products also tell WCM they benefit from the fact that their products are American made.
“My products are made in the United States. That is a big deal to our customers,” Elliott said, adding, “Campground operators tend to buy American if they can. That’s important to them.”
Doug Dalton, sales manager for Jamestown Advanced Products in Jamestown, N.Y., promotes the fact that his company manufacturers its power outlets, pedestals and other electrical products onsite.
“We’re looking to make sure that all of America knows about Jamestown Advanced Products and the quality products we have in our production line,” Dalton said.
Some of the Electrical Meter Suppliers to the RV Park and Campground Industry
B & B Electrical
Overview: B & B Electrical has been providing electrical products for RV parks and mobile home communities since 1968.
Product Speciality: B & B’s product lineup includes pedestals, surface boxes and accessories, electric wire, as well as electric meters and conversion kits. The company also offers light posts, water and gas meters and pre-construction meter mounts.
Management: Richard Linnell, president and owner.
Contact: 2804 Orchard Lake Road, Keego Harbor, MI 48320; (888) 391-3802 or (248) 391-3800; www.bbelec.com/index.php.
Overview: Cleveland, Ohio-based Eaton Corp. acquired RV Park Hookups in 2006, the latter of which had been supplying pedestals and other equipment for campgrounds and RV parks since 2000.
Product Speciality: Pedestals, which it markets using the Powerhouse, Park Light and Newport Camp Mate product names.
Management: Todd Butler, business operations manager.
Contact: 149 Warwick Court, Williamsburg, Va. 23185; (800) 723-8009; or visit the company’s website at www.marinapower.com. Paul Croteau of Electrical Professionals in Kansas City, Mo., serves as a manufacturer’s representative for Eaton. He can be reached at (816) 478-4746.
Hialeah Meter Co.
Overview: This company has been providing high quality, remanufactured watt-hour meters since 1954.
Product Speciality: While it’s best known for its remanufactured meters, Hialeah also provides a full line of power outlets, pedestals, sockets and socket accessories.
Management: Eugene Bixby, president and CEO.
Contact: 450 W. 28th Street, Hialeah, Fla. 33011; (800) 654-0821; www.hialeahmeter.com.
Jamestown Advanced Products Corp.
Overview: Jamestown Advanced is a custom steel manufacturing company with 196,000 square feet of manufacturing space and over a decade of experience in custom design fabrication. The company began producing campground and RV products in 1995. Its customer base includes state parks, municipalities, federal properties and privately owned RV parks and campgrounds across North America.
Product Speciality: Campsite amenities, including pedestals, campfire rings, grills, picnic tables, lantern holders, benches and mailboxes.
Management: Wendi Lodestro, president.
Contact: 2855 Girts Road, Jamestown, N.Y. 14701; (800) 452-0639 or (716) 483-3406; www.jamestownadvanced.com.
Monarch Coin & Security Inc.
Overview: Monarch was founded in 1905 and has become one of the nation’s leading providers of coin operated devices that control the use of washing machines, dryers, showers, door locks and other devices.
Product Speciality: Monarch’s specialties include the Monarch Key Kop, the AquaMiser shower timer and universal bathroom lock.
Management: Stephanie Hall, president and CEO
Contact: P.O. Box 427, Covington, KY 41012; (800) 462-9460; www.monarchcoin.com.
Utility Supply Group Inc.
Overview: Utility Supply Group is a nationwide distributor of electrical products for campgrounds, RV parks and manufactured housing communities.
Product Speciality: Pedestals, power outlet boxes, meter socket kits, digital and clock type electronic meters. The company also provides water and gas meters as well as replacement parts and accessories as well as XLerator hand dryers.
Management: Wade Elliott, president.
Contact: 26519 Bond Rd. NE, Kingston, Wash. 98346; (800) 800-2811; www.go-usg.com.
Overview: Originally founded as Austin International, the company changed its name to Vision Metering LLC in 2011. The company describes itself as the world’s largest supplier of utility products and services. Product Speciality: Low-profile E-Z read meters as well as socket and mounting kits. Management: Randy Austin, owner
Contact: 7 Ross Cannon Street, York, SC 29745; (803) 628-0035; www.electricalconnector.com.
Your Electrical Solutions
Overview: This company was founded in January 2012 by Maggie Linnell, who previously worked for B & B Electrical.
Product Speciality: Products include pedestals, surface boxes and accessories; metering and group metering equipment, water meters, wire and lighting.
Management: Maggie Linnell, owner.
Contact: 2737 Browning Dr., Lake Orion, MI 48360; (248) 391-2400; www.yourelectricalsolutions.net.