Not everybody has the moxie to reinvent themselves; it takes a certain kind of person to abandon all that they know as safe and secure to embrace a life of uncertainty. Some seem to be simply “born that way” and some come by it quite by accident; one seemingly mundane decision can have the power to shift your perspective and change everything you thought you knew about who you are and how you will make a name for yourself.
For Brad, everything changed the day he decided to skip the travel hotel and make the most out of his per diem by staging a business trip in his camper.
For you see, grinding out year after year on a career path as a telecom technician left a lot to be desired. The work was hard; the pay was meh, and the role required a lot of travel. Brad craved time freedom and a way to support his family without losing his soul.
He was tired of that business travel hotel life and one day Brad was inspired to try living out of his camper. While he wasn’t an avid camper, he was an enthusiast. He often traveled with his wife, Cece, and young son, setting up HQ in some campground and living life in nature’s bounty.
Why not try to apply those same skills to create a home away from home when working in the field and get out of long-term hotels? And so he did. It was here in, Rutledge Lake, NC, not far from Asheville, where Brad was struck by the entrepreneurial spirit.
He was already asking himself “What’s next?” and this time, Campground Ownership answered. From the outside looking in, here was a way to build a business based on serving folks a quality experience for a fair price—with a heck of a view.
How hard can it be? A self-professed self-starter, Brad took a class in Campground Ownership and began looking for a campground. What’s more, his wife Cece was a formidable entreprenuer-in-the-rough—she had a natural ability to make people feel right at home, even if they were thousands of miles away. Cece oozed magnetism and gracious, stick-to-yer-ribs southern hospitality. She was an asset anywhere she worked. What if they worked together and created a family business, one they could pass along to their son and his future family?
The idea had been planted, they were ready to put money where their mouth was.
“It was like Texas Hold ‘Em,” he says, “we were all in.”
Leaning in on oodles of research and instinct, Brad and Cece were driven to find a viable campground in consideration of location, seasonality, income potential, and size. With the full support of his family, they sold their house, cashed in a 401K, and rolled everything into a corporation.
After searching for many months, Brad and Cece finally found the 19-acre parcel for sale perfectly located in South Carolina, a well run family-run park with good customers, nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It had, as he puts it, an “out in the middle of nowhere feel.”
Was it love at first sight? Brad laughs and shakes his head, “I was just so ready to get out.” Anyone who has worked a soulless job before can assuredly relate—if you have the chance to reinvent yourself, you should definitely do it.”
And just like that, when the universe asked: “So you wanna buy a campground?”… the answer was yes.
Hello Pine Ridge Campground. And also goodbye.
“I bought the baby, raised it, improved it, and passed it off…”
Are these the words of someone who not just 10 years ago had very little owner/operator business experience—or campground ownership for that matter?
Flash forward nearly a decade and this scrappy upstart frustrated with a ‘job-job’ is inspiring us all with a Big Dream story; Brad and Cece now sit with a contract for over $4.5mil for the sale of Pine Ridge Campground, after improving, scaling, expanding, and innovating after his initial investment of $1,050,000.
“People assume that there is no way to turn a family-owned campground into an asset, but that is not the case. Campground Ownership has every potential to create a unique family experience and make a profit, a pure manifestation of generational wealth.”
Donna Bordeaux, Campground Accounting
Armed with the strategy, knowledge, and exit plan, the due diligence is done, and everything— the house, the cars, the tools—accounted for and the valuation at peak dollar, Brad and Cece are sitting in the catbird seat. All that was left to do was pack for the next chapter, life in St Croix diving, working part-time, and volunteering; this is a next-level career transition from working in the family business to piloting for son Evan.
And now that Brad and Cece have the perspective from ten years of experience, what advice would they give to their younger selves? “You don’t know what you don’t know. Hire a Pro. If you have a personal-owned campground (vs. a KOA) and you can make your own decisions, get help. And join an association.”
We couldn’t agree more. Here’s how we got there. By investing $65,000 in partnership over the years with Campground Accounting, Pine Ridge Campground saw $1.5mil in tax savings and expansive growth in rentable campsites, reservation systems, and customer satisfaction.
Enter Campground Accounting
When the resident bookkeeper wanted to retire, fate would bring Pine Ridge Campground and Campground Accounting together at the CARVC convention (Carolinas Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds).
While the bookkeeper they “inherited” was doing a good job filing tax returns and keeping them out of jail, Pine Ridge Campground needed to strategically plan for growth.
In order to succeed, Brad and Cece needed to embrace technology and put some monumental money moves in the hands of a savvy financial steward.
Bringing the vision for Pine Ridge Campground to life wasn’t easy, but it sure was fun. When we first met Brad and Cece, they were working long hours, handling almost everything themselves, and still pining for the time freedom they had in mind when they bought Pine Ridge in the first place. The initial investment was funded in part through a ROBS plan, which requires finesse to exit. Nobody wants to be double-taxed as a C-Corp, especially when there is a better way. What’s more, reservations were still being recorded on paper.
“I’m working myself to death for $20K; it was crazy. At some point, I oughta get some kind of reward out of this thing.”
By working together in pure partnership, we became co-creators in growth. Our endgame? Reframing the campground as an asset, one we could maximize in value and leverage to support the whole family.
Business isn’t a burden when someone you trust has got your back.
Campgrounds are here to stay—and isn’t that the best news ever? Between remote work, younger professionals, and travel techs and improvements in internet technology, interest in experiential travel, and a sense of adventure, there’s no end to the potential that campground ownership can realize.
A Campground/RV Park is an asset, one that can generate profit and deliver value while still putting family first.
Entrepreneurs, legacy-builders, and stewards of family businesses, if you want to make the most of your campground investment without it taking the most out of you, get to know Campground Accounting. We are the full-service CPA and RV enthusiast team that delivers a way out of operations overwhelm, decision fatigue, and fear of surprises…. because there’s more to taxes than being on time, and there’s more to life than business.
Pull up a camp chair at campgroundaccounting.com.