Costa Mesa Daily Pilot, February 1993

Entrepreneur; Newport Beach/Costa Mesa Daily Pilot; February 15, 1993; Tony Cox

Who: Ray Novelli, a 54 year old Linda Isle resident who is president and part-owner of Off Road Motorcoaches. Born in New Jersey and raised in Nevada, Novelli was in the construction and development business until 1975. He then got involved with a group of companies that acquired and developed 45 mobile home resorts around the country. Another one of his companies owns a popular country music club in Ohio, the Ponderosa and plans to open a 4,000-seat country music hall in this area.

What: Off Road Motorcoaches makes rugged four-wheel-drive mobile homes under the Revcon nameplate. The fledgling company has three models. The one that is expected to sell in the larges volumes is a 30-foot RV built on a four-wheel-drive, Ford F250 truck. It retails for $69,000. The other two models will be custom-built and must be ordered in advance. One $100,000 model has a Revcon chassis and is designed to be a luxurious highway cruiser with four-wheel-drive traction for bad weather and special situations. The over vehicle which Novelli calls the Goliath, is the most rugged of the company’s models and features such creature comforts on the leather upholstery. All Three models are built with durable aluminum frames and bodies, as opposed to the less-expensive RV’s in the industry that are made with wood and fiberglass.

When: Novelli in 1989 began working with Fountain Valley-based Revcon Motorcoach Corp. to create the world’s first off-road RV. The result was a prototype for the Goliath. Revcon ceased production of all its models in 1990, and Novelli’s group later acquired the company so Off Road Motorcoaches could use the established Revcon brand name. Novelli officially founded Off Road Motorcoaches last fall.

Where: The company began production at a small larger facility in Irvine last month. Novelli plans to sell his four-wheel-drive RVs through Ford dealers around the country and at his 45 RV resorts and a leased space at Traveland U.S.A. in Irvine. One tool for marketing Off Road Motorcoaches will be a magazine that Novelli sends to the 100,000 members of his RV resort system. Novelli said he expects Southern California to be his strongest market, as this region accounts for about 20 percent of the nation’s RV sales.

Why: Novelli said he got the idea for four-wheel-drive mobile homes from personal experience. He said he’s been driving RVs for 20 years, and he grew tired of getting stuck when he parked his mobile home at a campsite.

How: Novelli expects Off Road Motorcoahces to have 100 employees at its Irvine factory and be producing at least one RV a day within four months. He said he believes the company will eventually sell about 1,000 units a year, generating gross annual revenues of about $75 million. He said his target market is middle-and-upper-income men between the ages of 30 and 60, especially hunters, skiers and other sportsmen. Although the vehicles start at $69,000 – which compares with about $30,000 for an entry-level RV – Novelli doesn’t expect all of his buyers to be wealthy. He said that with 15-year financing available for such a vehicle, payment on his $69,000 model would be about $550 month.

Lesson Learned: Novelli said not to be in a business that relies on a few people for its survival, such as a development company that is at the mercy of a banker and a real estate broker. He said he believes it’s easier to succeed making a small profit form a lot of customers – as he does with his 100,000-member RV resort system – than trying to gouge a few customers.

Ray Novelli, with one of his 4×4 recreational vehicles from Off Road Motorcoaches.