Thu Feb 23, 2017
Runaway Campers is just more than three years old, but the company already has expanded to two new facilities in its hometown of Ocala, Florida and has already hit the mark of 1,000 units built.
When Owner and Founder Stephen Shives started the company in November 2013, it was to provide consumers with a lightweight, towable mini camper. It immediately took off as a local, affordable camper business and Shives realized he needed some help.
His son Justin’s background was at BMW, as a master technician. When Justin saw the growth and potential his father’s company was experiencing, he moved his family back to Ocala from Orlando two years ago and now oversees the production of the campers.
“We saw the potential and everything was going good two years ago and everything’s still going really well today,” Justin Shives says. “The way I look at it is I want it to be my future as well and we’re looking to continue to grow and make it as big as we can without going into debt.”
In addition to Stephen who owns and oversees everything and Justin, the family business also Stephen’s brother Marvin, who handles sells.
Last year, like for many manufacturers throughout the country, was the company’s best year. The factory-direct manufacturer hit its mile marker of 1,000 units and put a little more than 500 campers on the road during the year, Justin Shives says.
In addition to its normal mini campers, Runaway also produces a limited amount of the Wav, a 6x12-foot unit that is both the largest and the only standup model that the company builds. This year, Runaway built six of the campers on a first-come, first-serve basis and will continue doing that on a yearly basis.
The company will be opening a new sales center on March 25, which will be used to run more sales as well as a customer pickup location. At the grand opening, the company will be auctioning off the 1,000th unit, Shives says.
The new sales center hasn’t come without its challenges, however. The local county and the company have been negotiating for a while, since the county wants to build a road through the middle of the company’s property and won’t provide a permit if the company isn’t willing to let the county build the road.
“We’ve had to skirt around their walls, Justin Shives says. “We’ve been doing what we can to get around pulling permits and trying to make it as nice as possible.”
The location of the new facility is in prime position, across the street from a popular flea market and just down the road from a Camping World store.
Runaway Campers will open the new facility in about a month, as the finishing touches are currently being applied. After that, the company is looking at opening a third facility where it would be able to exclusively produce the Wav products.