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The Camp-Inn Story…..A real TEAR Jerker!

Back in the day…there was a red-haired boy named Craig who liked to build things……really COOL things.

“Wouldn’t it be cool to have a two story tree house with running water, electric lights, an upstairs bedroom AND a secret lookout tower WAY up high?” he thought. And so, at the age of 11, Craig built one.

Fast forward to 2000, Craig is 36, an engineer, inventor and family man. And, he still LOVES to design and build cool things, but these days his inventions are very sophisticated with Patents and all. Craig works with his kindred spirit, Cary…a guy at work who loves to design and build things too. In their free time, Craig and Cary helped each other build kitchen cabinets for both their homes, and a custom car.

Craig decides he wants to take a sort of kooky 3 week “retro” trip with his family along the original Route 66, from Chicago to the Grand Canyon, then up through Utah’s National Parks before heading for home… and being Craig… he also wanted to hit every cheesy tourist trap along the way for good fun.

Craig was a tent camper. But with such an aggressive travel agenda…he wanted overnight accommodations that were quick and easy.

Being an Engineer, Craig did some quick math… 3 week trip = 21 nights …. One hour setup every night + one hour teardown every morning, times 21 stops = 42 hours of work in a 3 week trip….That sounded like work!

Craig looked at various small travel trailers on the market, and couldn’t find one that worked for him. He wanted to be able to pull it with the family car. He reasoned, that if he had to buy a truck, it would double the cost of buying the trailer, and then he had a truck he didn’t need except to pull this trailer. Everything was either too heavy, or too much wind resistance….

On this particular day, we find Craig in his typical “pre-amazing breakthrough” situation: He wants something that doesn’t exist.

Remember, Cary…the other inventor guy? At this moment, Cary tosses a magazine across the desk to Craig. Upon seeing it, Craig’s breath caught. His heart jumped. Was it a centerfold? No! But to Craig it was love at first sight and much more exciting….it was a photograph of an old 1938 Teardrop Camper.

This was it! The “Eureka Moment” If you know an inventor…you’ve seen this. (and its cool). Craig’s started designing in his head.

Craig researched all the existing vintage designs for teardrops and all had their shortcomings…. The bed was too small…only one door…no sink or stove… So, after quickly concluding that a Teardrop Camper of his dreams didn’t exist, Craig and Cary built one. Of course, like his childhood tree house...it had all the cool stuff (running water, electric lights…etc). There was no secret lookout tower…but it had something even cooler….It was Irresistible.

All along Route 66 it received thumbs up. At Cadillac Ranch…it drew a crowd of curious and delighted folks. At the Grand Canyon it became the hit of the campground. Everyone wanted one. Craig secretly delighted in all the smiles and waves he got as they drove along. And, cooler yet…it fit right into the Americana that still exists along old Route 66.

After returning, Craig and Cary discussed and dreamed of creating a business building these unique little trailers. They spent a couple years refining their design and setting up shop, and in April 2002, quit their jobs and followed their dreams…….

I told Craig and Cary that they should tell their story to the world, and being Engineers, they wrote something that read like assembly instructions for a jet engine. I offered to help them, since I was their first customer. That’s why I wrote this story.

spLisa Mann


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Camp-Inn TM Trailers are built by:
Petenwell Industries LLC
555 Kucirek Street, Necedah, Wisconsin 54646
(608) 565-7443

Email: camp.inn@tds.net

© 2001-2012 Petenwell Industries LLC #