October 2022 Newsletter

“How Can We Make It Better?”

The Recent History of Silveridge and the The Resort

By Dale Dauten

From talking with so many long-time residents of Silveridge and The Resort, I know that both parks were once dusty, half-empty outposts with few of the amenities we see today. How did it come about that the sister parks are what they are today – that is, get-on-a-wait-list, sought-after residences? 

Some of that has to do with the spirit of the parks, the family ethos among the residents, most of whom travel south with the shared values of Midwesterners or Canadians. But it also has to do with changes in the facilities, ones that spring from the philosophy of the parks’ management. Spend some time with Al LaCanne and George Igualt and you’ll hear this question: “How can we make it better?” It’s a way of doing business, the mindset of constant enhancement and innovation.


It’s been over 15 years since Al LaCanne took over leading the management teams at The Resort and Silveridge, and George has been involved nearly as long. We recently got both to sit down and reminisce about what they’ve seen over those years. But before we get to the parks, let’s hear the story of how each got into the business of leading RV parks.

Al LaCanne and The Roses

Al is from Minnesota but had moved to the Phoenix area in his late twenties to try commercial real estate. He’d noted all the mobile home parks in the area and wondered if he could get involved in their buying or selling. He didn’t have experience or connections, but he had time and an analytical mind, so he began putting together research, creating booklets for park owners showing where they parks ranked in various categories. It didn’t work — no response.


Looking for some sort of breakthrough, Al signed up for to a Tony Robbins sales seminar. The seminar inspired him to get creative in trying to get in front of owners. He targeted the man with the most parks in the area and bought two dozen roses. He then posed as a flower delivery guy to get to his target’s offices atop what was then the tallest high-rise on Central in Phoenix. Although the owner was in a meeting, his daughter happened by and asked Al who had sent flowers to her dad. Al confessed what he was up to and she liked it. She liked it so much that she went into her father’s office and broke up his meeting so that she could escort Al in. Here’s how Al recalls that meeting: “He resented my being there. He just sat with his hands folded on the table, looking down. I’d learned from the sales seminar to emulate the buyer, so I stared at my hands folded on the table. Finally, he asked why I was there and I replied, ‘Do you know how much money you’re throwing away every month?’ That’s when he got interested. He ended up being my major investor as I put together deals to buy parks.”


George Igualt and the Clown Suit

It was years later, after Al had become the area’s expert on mobile home parks, that he created a company to buy and sell individual mobile homes, helping owners keep units in their parks. One day he was visiting with George Igualt, who was himself an entrepreneur, and on a whim, Al said, “Do you want to sell mobile homes for me?” Having no idea what was involved with selling mobile homes, George pictured the sign-spinners outside new residential areas and replied, “What do I do? Get dressed up in a clown suit and hold a sign?”


While Al explained that the job would be mostly getting listings of homes for sale, he saw something in George that led him to believe he would figure it out on his own. So George set out learning the business from the consumer end, and from the ground up. Within months George had sold 28 homes and he remembers Al telling him, “You sold more home in seven months then we did in the past seven years.” After that, George took on more and more responsibilities until he created his own management company that took over multiple parks, including Silveridge and The Resort.

The early days: “We Were in the Plumbing Business”

It was back in ’06 that Al and his company took over management of Silveridge and The Resort, including taking a major ownership position. It was a critical time for the parks, which, having been established in the 1980s, were for due for major infrastructure rebuilds. As Al looked back on that time, “Water, sewer, gas – it all needed to be replaced. We put together a $10 million dollar budget over five years. We were lucky in that the economy was in recession and contractors were eager for work. Plus, we found bargain prices on construction equipment; we started with a trencher, and eventually we had all our own equipment for infrastructure work. If we were to do the same projects today, that $10 million budget would need to be $40 or $50 million.”


The situation was especially dire at Silveridge because the plumbing for the complex was made of clay pipes and there were new breaks and leaks every week. Reflecting back on those times, George says, “We were in the plumbing business.”


But it was also a time for asking that key question, “How can we make it better?” In addition to infrastructure, Al recognized that the parks needed more amenities if they were to compete with larger parks.

Making It Better

So, while solving the water and sewer problems, they also embarked on improvements. At Silveridge, that meant adding a commercial kitchen and re-doing the ballroom, but it also meant adding the theater – a real one with stadium seating, and with the innovative back-wall that opens to the outdoors.


Over at The Resort, it meant adding a large new building, with what became Studio 55 on one end, along with the storage/shop area, the massage rooms, and the carpentry shop.


In both parks, there were also improvements in the pools and landscaping, and the addition of pickleball courts and dog parks. One of the changes that George remembers best is the addition of the softball field at The Resort. “I remember that they were playing softball on an empty field, the sort of field that if you rode your bike across you’d get two flat tires from the big thorns called goat-heads. We acquired the land and put in a real field. I went to a course put on by the MLB – I was there with colleges and high schools learning how to maintain a field. And then we kept making improvements, like adding the sprinklers.”


All those changes, great and small, meant that the parks became more desirable. And, as they did, the homeowners felt more confident about the long-term value. As Al told us, “The parks are places where residents can have pride of ownership. These are places where our residents invest in their homes.” And there’s the virtuous circle: Silveridge and The Resort are places where the parks and the homes in them are constantly being upgraded, places where things just keep getting better.