Casita Enterprises, Inc.
America’s favorite lightweight travel trailer
Business View Magazine interviews Timothy Lang, VP of Casita Enterprises, Inc., as part of our focus on best practices in the recreational vehicle sector.
Casita Enterprises is proof positive of the old adage that quality and customer service matter. This family-owned travel trailer manufacturer was built on the premise that they could do it better, make it better, and if they stuck to what they believed in, it would work.
“Casita Enterprises was established in 1983 by my parents John and Connie Lang,” explains Timothy Lang, the company’s second-generation Vice President. “When they started it, it was a much smaller operation. It was based out of a little town that had less than 500 people in it. When they started out, they were producing a few trailers a week with quite a compact crew – less than 30 employees. My parents wanted to challenge the overall idea of RV camping. In the 1980’s, the idea of RV camping, in general, was that it was a headache, high cost, high maintenance – a low experience all around just because you had to spend so much time and money, every year, bringing out your camper and doing maintenance and repairs and all kinds of different things that made it more work than fun. And with that idea in mind, they took every Casita model and they specifically designed it to make it as user-friendly and high quality as possible in order to give each and every customer the best experience that they could have.”
It was that ethos that became the foundation of the Casita business and quickly garnered the company a reputation for high quality and friendliness. Soon enough, the demand skyrocketed and the company relocated to another small town, Rice, which was a lot closer to Dallas. Today, Casita Enterprises produces anywhere from 14 to 19 units a week, averaging 700 a year, and has just under a hundred employees. During peak seasons, like the months leading up to summer, the demand becomes so high that there is a six month waiting period.
“It really is a lot of word of mouth,” explains Lang. “There is one licensed dealership, Casita Travel Trailers, conveniently located in Rice, that is the only dealership that is authorized to sell new Casita units in the world. But, we are nationally known and we do business in Canada and up north. 40-45 percent of our sales are not in Texas. We do a lot of sales in Montana and Washington, areas that are popular for hiking and camping.”
Utilizing a very different sales model, Casita has created a program called the Casita Companion Program, where they have customers all over the United States who are willing to showcase their own trailer if someone is interested. Once you call the dealer, you are put in touch with an owner in your own area and you can go tour an RV – one that is already in use. Casita believes that their customers are so loyal that they will make good representatives for displaying their product.
“After that, you phone us up and we will manufacture a trailer specifically for you,” says Lang. “Some of the customizations you can do, for example, people up north often do not want the air conditioner. If there is something else that you want to be installed you can ask, and we will run it by the research division and figure out how to incorporate it in production. We really want to ensure you are getting a model you like, so we walk you through every step of the process. Then you can come to pick it up, or we will deliver it anywhere for $1.25 a mile. With that knowledge, you are getting a trailer with ultra-high quality, one of the best in the industry.”
It is this customer appreciation, and perhaps simplicity, in only offering one type of trailer with four variations and two lengths, that has held the company in good stead, even when the recession, a few years ago, was forcing other manufacturers out of business. “I can tell you,” Lang insists, “that the future definitely holds great, great promise for the RV industry as a whole, and it especially holds extreme opportunity for Casita. Our goal is to stay the same in terms of delivering the same high-quality product, while always looking to increase the quality of the customer experience.”
So what makes a Casita so popular? For one thing, they are light, having been created, entirely, out of a fibreglass resin shell, with a steel towing frame and fibreglass sealed, wood floor supports. Another thing is their usability. They are easy to tow, easy to set up, and worry-free. The trailers are built to last, as their steel frame affords heavy-duty protection from rough roads and terrain. They have an aerodynamic design, making them wind resistant. Overall, they are easy to clean, strong, rust proof, and durable. There is also an insulated interior which reduces outside noise and keeps occupants cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The units have a spacious feel, even though they include a private shower and toilet combination, comfortable sleeping accommodations, sitting features that easily convert, quality storage space, and large screened windows that give them an airy feeling.
“Let me give you an example of how we ensure you are getting better quality,” Lang interjects. “If you go online and look at how RV manufacturers do rain tests, you will see that they perform a light drizzle test for 20 minutes to ensure that there are no leaks. At Casita, we simulate a severe rainstorm with high-pressure rain nozzles and we leave the trailer under them for anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. We want you to be rest assured that your trailer is not going to leak. The fact is that we go above and beyond to ensure we provide the best quality. Going through production, we like to have as many checks and inspection points for each and every item as many times as possible before it is in the hands of the customer. We check that everything is fully operational and up to Casita standards; we have a very high-quality threshold.”
“We also promote that we are one of the lightest travel trailers in the industry,” he continues, “Our biggest model is a 17-foot travel trailer which comes in four different models; that is the biggest size you can get right now. And that, fully loaded, usually runs 2,500 pounds, so they are a very, very light trailer and we pride ourselves for keeping such amazing quality and keeping it as light as possible. We really pride ourselves on the fact that a lot of people will see little change in their fuel mileage while hauling our trailer – the increase will be somewhere from 1/2 mile per gallon to 2 miles per gallon. A lot of our customers come in and tell us they even forgot they were towing the trailer because it is so light and smooth on the road. These are the fibreglass versions of an Airstream trailer but without the big price tag.”
There have been a lot of improvements this year, as well. The research department, headed by Timothy’s brother David, has worked hard to upgrade the interiors both in functionality and aesthetics. This was necessary, as the inside of the trailers really had not changed since the 1980s.
“We really took a step out and ahead and we upgraded a lot of things in order to make life easier for every person who uses our trailer,” Lang explains. “We’ve added things such as the battery cut off switch; we have upgraded our plumbing; we have added 12 volt USB outlets because we have come to realize that everyone loves to charge their phone but always forgets to bring the little cube. We have also added things like digital battery monitors and a digital thermostat and several other things like more user-friendly jacks. We have added scissor jacks with a socket connection so that people can use a drill to easily raise and lower the jacks – just things to make it, overall, a faster and more enjoyable experience, so you don’t have to focus so much on set up and maintenance – you can focus on pulling out every weekend and having fun, exploring, and experiencing life.”
Lately, there has been a huge spike in sales to younger families, as the trailers’ updated interiors are aimed at the modern market. In fact, this year the company introduced what Casita is calling the Heritage Model that has a layout that includes bunk beds. People in the 27-36-year-old range have actually been shown to be willing to buy an RV instead of a house, so that they can spend more time exploring.
“And again, our quality and affordability make it the perfect purchase for anyone,” concludes Lang. “We are unique in so many ways, even within our competition; our biggest competition is our own used units! It shows that Casitas are one of the very few RVs in the industry that hold their value. We have even had customers come in and buy a new unit, and use it for a year or two, and then sell it because there is a waiting list and people want it right then and there. They can sell it for more than the original price because the demand is so high.”
AT A GLANCE
WHO: Casita Enterprises, Inc.
WHAT: A manufacturer of lightweight travel trailers
WHERE: Rice, Texas