The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association commissioned an Economic Impact Study on the RV industry, released on June 7, 2016. The study found that the RV industry contributes about $49.7 billion in economic output or 0.28 percent of the Gross Domestic Product. Through its production and distribution linkages, the industry impacts firms in 426 of the 440 sectors of the United States economy.
Nationwide, the industry is responsible for 216,170 jobs, both directly and inderectly, creating an economic impact of $37.5 billion. The full study results, along with each individual state and congressional district's economic impact is available on the website by clicking here .
Tue Jan 24, 2017
In the 1970s and early 1980s, the rodeo industry hit its largest peak, with cowboys coming from everywhere to try to claim their eight seconds of fame.
In those days, a company started west of Fort Worth Texas called Capri Campers, a truck camper company that wanted to tailor its manufacturing to the rodeo industry and claim that corner of the market.
“This was right in the middle of horse country and there were a lot of roughstock rodeo cowboys,” Capri Campers President Pete D’Acosta says. “The cowboys had a material influence on the design that was built into these. This was their primary means of transportation.”
For decades, the Capri Campers were the No. 1 rodeo RV in the industry, designing and building custom truck campers for cowboys heading to rodeos all over the country.
Then, the horse trailers with living quarters came out, taking a lot of the cowboys away into the more luxury RVs. Capri Campers fell off the map a bit for several years. D’Acosta, a business owner who had spent 30 years of his career in other industries, saw the heritage of the company and decided to buy it with his son Tyson and get it off the ground again.
“I was on a different career path at a different pace,” D’Acosta says. “He (Tyson) had a good job in Colorado and we had talked about acquiring a company and running it as a family. This came on my radar and I decided this is what we wanted to do. We hadn’t ever stepped in an RV before. This was a great company with a great legacy that had been sitting here for the last 10 years without much investment or enthusiasm and we thought it was a good opportunity to get it energized.”
Since that time three years ago, Capri Campers has made a significant turnaround, tripling the staff and quadrupling the truck camper production. Capri Campers continues to make custom truck campers the way its customers dream it up and D’Acosta says the truck camper has seemed to make a resurgence in the last several years, especially among rodeo cowboys.
“We’re on a pace to build 10-12 custom units a month,” D’Acosta says. “That number was only 2 or 3 a few years ago. They’re built from the ground up by hand. There’s a crew that works on every single step. Because of that, there are no two campers that are alike. It’s a fun process.”
One of the cowboys who is a loyal customer to Capri Campers is recently crowned World Champion Tim O’Connell. The 23-year-old native of Zwingle, Iowa has been bareback riding for seven years, getting involved in the family passion.
O’Connell has won several rodeos over the last few years, including coming in first place in the National Finals Rodeo in the bareback category, often called the most physically demanding events in the rodeo. Cowboys ride a bucking horse one-handed without touching or hanging onto anything with their free hand. They also are required to lean back in a stylistic manner and must stay on the horse for eight seconds.
O’Connell has had his Capri Camper for three years, about the same time that D’Acosta bought the company and says the camper has been a godsend in his travel-packed schedule.
“They’ll build them how you can think it up in your head,” O’Connell says. “There’s a shower, a nice bed, a whole side to hang the clothes, seven cabinets, storage under the bed. It’s the back of a pickup that has the comforts of your own home. It’s better than any hotel I’ve ever stayed in.”
Rodeo season never ends. With so much travel, O’Connell says he sleeps in the camper about 150-180 times a year.
“Traveling up and down the road every night, it’s not the best situation to stop and find a hotel and only sleep in it five or six hours,” O’Connell says. “The money you save pays for itself, really. They become your second home.”
D’Acosta says the process of contacting the rodeo cowboys and getting the company back off the ground has been terrific, especially in light of the surging RV industry.
“We have made significant upgrades and reengaged very quickly with the world champions that we connected with once it started up,” he says. “Getting it exposed again has been great.”
O’Connell says that he is happy with the camper and what it and the newly revolutionized company has done for him.
“I just think Capri has really changed the truck bed camper industry,” he says. “They are consistently making these things better. If you can dream it in your head, they can make it.”