A great business starts with one idea, or in the case of Morgan Gliko, one tiny trailer.
After having their first child in 2011, Morgan and his wife Ashley fell into an exhausting routine. They were two ships passing in the night as she worked nights as an ultrasound nurse, and he worked during the day at the American Red Cross. “I would hand off our son and go to work,” he told Yahoo Finance. “We were like two single parents who never had family time until we went on vacation.”
When the couple from Mt. Juliet, Tenn. discovered they were expecting a second child, it was clear that something needed to change. Ashley’s income was enough to support the family, so Morgan decided to leave his job and stay home with the children.
In 2015, the family took their annual vacation to visit family in Montana, and decided to buy a 16-foot red Shasta Airflyte trailer for the trip. It cost $15,000, and they loved the fact that they could travel at their own pace, staying at campgrounds along the way.
What Gliko didn’t expect is that pulling the bright red vintage trailer behind their truck would attract so much attention. “We got a huge response from people at gas stations, campsites, literally everywhere we went,” he said. “We realized we were on to something.”
When they returned home, Gliko took out a loan to buy two more new $15,000 trailers. Today, the couple runs “The Flying Ham,” a small travel trailer rental company specializing in these small and fashionable campers. (The name refers to the fact that the trailers kind of resemble a can of ham!)
“I wanted to stay in the workforce and we’ve always wanted to start our own business,” says Gliko. “We love to travel, so we thought it made sense to give people the chance to experience RV life."
For renters, the RV life comes without any of the responsibility. After reserving the trailer on Airbnb or directly on the FlyingHam website, renters simply have to select a campsite within 30 miles of Nashville (a delivery charge of $1 a mile is charged for anything outside of this distance). Gliko takes it from there, delivering the trailer and setting up the water and sewer lines. He also insures that the trailer is stocked with bath towels, sleeping bags, pillows and cookware.
While small, the units also come with beds, air conditioning, heat, a bathroom, a shower and a 3-burner stove. Shasta originally produced the Airflyte travel trailer in 1961, but re-released 1,941 replicas in 2015 celebrate their 75th anniversary. Gliko bought three of the replicas, and thinks the popularity of his business has to do with the feeling these trailers evoke.
“When these were popular in the 60s, camping was how people spent time together. These days, people have gone back to staying close to home, and these vintage trailers allow them to step back in time,” he said.
The trailers rent for $170-$185 a night, and the company averages about eight reservations a month with an average stay of 2-3 nights. On top of that, people consistently rent the trailers for vintage farm weddings and for photo shoots.
While the company won’t make the Forbes list anytime soon, Gliko says they are profitable. “It’s slow and steady income for my family, and most importantly, it’s something that we can all do together.”
Guess sometimes the biggest surprise in life can come in the form of a teeny-weeny trailer.
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