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RLK Development Builds on Relationships to Provide First-Class Services

February 23, 2024 News

Working with family and building relationships in a county he loves, Randy Knapp has developed RLK Real Estate & Development and Margaritaville into two entities that serve the community in many ways. 

“I have a lot of people involved in the company, and they are so helpful,” said Knapp, the sole employee of RLK. He likes it that way so he can be hands on, hiring local people for projects so everyone benefits, he said.  

“Building relationships and meeting new people all the time is magical for me – getting face to face with people, not having meetings over the phone or through electronics,” Knapp said. “That leads to a lot of repeat business.” 

Knapp, CEO of RLK Real Estate & Development, an Auburndale firm focused on improving sites within Central Florida, has worked on projects ranging from warehouses to residential communities. But one of his favorite projects is Camp Margaritaville RV Resort, a 66-acre site near Lake Myrtle in Auburndale that was first developed as the Cabana Club RV Resort. 

Loving Polk County 

He’s passionate about working in Polk County, the place he’s called home for most of his life. “I like its climate and proximity to the rest of the state. You can get to either coast in a little under and over an hour,” he said, talking from Daytona Beach, where he was preparing to attend his 42nd consecutive Daytona 500.  

And, he said, he likes the hometown spirit. “Polk’s growing at a rapid rate, but I think our municipalities are smart. They are watching other areas of the state grow and figuring out how we can still deliver the charm while we grow. Our economic development leaders are striving to bring good quality growth in all sectors.” 

Knapp was a finalist for the Central Florida Development Council’s 2023 Jim Brantley Economic Development Award – Success in Small Business.   

Opening an RV Resort 

Developing Margaritaville started following a conversation with former Auburndale City Manager Bobby Green, who asked Knapp if he would consider building something like retail on the site, which was permitted for the logistics industry.  

“He wanted something that was complementary to the Lake Myrtle Sports Complex,” Knapp said. “We put our heads together. When you work in a municipality, it’s a partnership.” 

Knapp’s family members – he works with four siblings and four cousins — have a history of RVing, so they had a background to draw upon. “A lot of things we’ve done in residential developments apply,” he said. “We think we do a good job with customer service, and we listen to guest comments. We thought, ‘If we were to do something like an RV resort and some cabins with it, we could be the hospitality arm to keep these teams (those playing at the sports complex) in Polk County, which is the goal. We didn’t want to lose them to Orange, Seminole and Hillsborough counties. If we could keep them in Polk, our local retail and businesspeople would benefit as well.” 

The Cabana Club opened in spring 2021 and was rebranded under the Margarita umbrella in 2022. “It was a real honor to bring Margaritaville to our county/city,” he said. “We won the internal Margaritaville conference for being the No. 1 RV resort globally. A lot comes from Google reviews, social media, what customers think.” 

He’s now working on growth plans in the vicinity. 

And he’s sharing his expertise. “It was a great honor to be asked to speak at the first Business in Real Life speaker series at Southeastern University. I was asked to talk to students in the Jannetides College of Business about what it’s like to do business in the real world. One thing I told them was: Before you enter the work world, pick something you can be passionate about. If you do, you will never work a day in your life.”  

Life at Camp Margaritaville 

Rob “The Mayor” Cornelius and his wife, Nina, are well-known fixtures at Camp Margaritaville Auburndale, said General Manager Dawn Priebe. “The couple came to stay with us years ago as part of our work/camper program and they never left. They have become like family to all of us here at the resort and continue to be incredible ambassadors as to why Camp Margaritaville is a great place to stay and play and in their case … live.” 

The resort received multiple awards in 2023, she said, including: 

  • USA Today’s 10 Best Luxury RV Resorts.  
  • Trip Advisor’s Travelers Choice. 
  • RVShare’s Best Luxury RV Resort.  

“Designations such as these are a testament to our commitment to our guests to provide best-in-class amenities and guest services while providing a beautiful place to make lifelong memories,” Priebe said.  

The 2024 Outlook for RLK Development

Priebe said COVID taught the organization a lot about the importance of connection and community. “The past two years, we have seen so many individuals, couples and families reunite around the campfire, challenge each other in a game of corn hole or simply congregate to sit and listen to our plethora of musicians. We’ve seen strangers become friends and come back year after year, vacationing together. Young or old, we all want to make memories and share memorable experiences with those we love, and that’s what the tourism industry as a whole provides.” 

The outlook is strong, she said. “Our business is guest focused. When our guests are having a great time, business is good. Our guests are having a blast, so business has been very good, and we expect more of the same in 2024.” 

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