By Machelle James
It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon when AJ opened his email and he received a BOMBSHELL email from our General Contractor. Here it is: “We would like to thank you for the opportunity to look at your project. Looking further into the documents that the bank requested, we are unable to meet their performance bond requirements. We are going to have to respectfully decline moving forward with your project.”
WAIT! WHAT? You’ve had our project for MONTHS! You had every piece of needed information since summer and now, NOW you inform us you can’t take on our project? You came out to our property three times with your contractors. You sat at our table and came up with a timeline and how we can proceed to open for business by May 1st. We were set to have the funds in about 30-45 days so we could REALLY break ground. AND YOU LEFT US HANGING?
The signs were there. We trusted this GC to do the job and they said they dealt with SBA loans all the time. They never gave the bank their P&L’s, their actual bid, the insurance requirements, nothing. They couldn’t vet them out as they wouldn’t submit the required information. How many times have I written about waiting for this company to submit the numbers to the bank. They kept saying, “We need it to be accurate so we can finish the project and not be short of funds. Then we will submit everything to the bank.”
We trusted them to do this project for us and AJ and I feel like we’ve been kicked in the stomach … the wind knocked out of our sails … the rug pulled from under our feet. It is devastating that they could let us down this late in the project. I thought AJ was going to be sick – he was crushed. You could see the hope drifting away from his soul. I was ANGRY. Angry that they strung us along for so long. Angry that they hurt my husband as he thinks our DREAM was falling apart. Angry that the signs were there for their numerous delays – and we trusted this was just part of the process.
So I did what any wife would do. I prayed and I got to work. I asked for guidance on who I should call for help. Who knows people that we could trust and work with? Who do we know that we could borrow funds from? Strangely, I get my best ideas and answers in the shower. So I take a shower not only to listen, but to stifle my tears as they run down my cheeks. I cannot let AJ know I am also scared – as I HAVE to have faith.
As I let it all out to the man above, I heard my answer loud and clear: “Talk to Dan.” I jumped out and immediately texted our septic guy, Dan. I messaged him: “Dan, I’m sorry it’s 7 p.m. on a Sunday. Our GC quit on us today and we need help. Can you talk?”
Dan called me within minutes and listened to me as I talked privately to him. I didn’t dare have AJ join in on the call yet, unless I heard a voice of hope. I couldn’t bear to have more bad news delivered if Dan couldn’t help us. He said, “Yes, I can help.” I smiled, took a deep breath and ran outside so AJ could hear what Dan was going to say. Dan said: “I think him quitting was a blessing. I have trusted people that can do the work. Let me make some calls and I’ll call you back.”
As we hung up the phone, we had HOPE again. OK, so we need a new team and a new plan. We can work with that. Our dream will still come to fruition, just by different people. Dan called us back at 8:30 p.m. with good news. His guys will come on board and help us build our campground. I think I was holding my breath as I waited for him to speak. AJ and I looked at each other and let out a HUGE sigh a relief. YES! We can still move forward!
As Dan explained who we would be working with, I was intrigued. One gentleman is from Germany and has an engineering brain and thought process. He can “see” what the project will look like from our Site Plan. He already has ideas to save us on costs and will present them all to us in the next week. These guys are all very successful in their fields. Septic, excavating, grading, plumbing and engineering. My cousin is still on board for all of our electrical needs as well.
There is only one problem with all of these talented, successful men. None of them are General Contractors. How on earth are we going to get a loan through SBA without a GC, as they require one to oversee the construction process.
We finished our call with Dan, floating on Cloud 9. Then reality hit. We need to brainstorm on how we could raise funds privately and bypass the bank. The following days, we looked at our 401K, our savings and our house. We already took out funds from our 401K for the septic system last year. (Thank you CARES Act!) We are also in the middle of refinancing our home on the property. Housing prices have exploded in our area, so we hope this will help.
We also had a candid conversation with a family member who is going to loan us partial funds. I will admit I burst into tears after they said they would help. It was a HUGE weight off my shoulders as I was having a hard time asking for help. This is not something I am used to doing and for them to see our vision and support it, I was overwhelmed with gratitude.
We are getting our final numbers from our new team and I should have them in a week. We don’t know how much more we need, but we know it will be considerably more than what we have now. We did decide to not have the store built yet. This will save on MAJOR costs so we can open up and start generating revenue. The fencing alone has tripled in price since we had quotes given to us a year ago. So, friends, we are asking for help. Who do you know that can help cut costs on cedar fencing? Who do you know that offers wholesale pricing on lifetime picnic tables, fire rings, basalt rock or ramadas?
Who do you know that would help support us so we can open our campground this season? Please feel free to email me at Machelle@ajsgetawayrv.com if you have any ideas, if you want to see what materials we are using or if you want to make a donation to Lowe’s, Sam’s Club or even Zelle on our campground’s behalf. We would be so grateful and will honor you, here at our campground with a bench, a plaque or engraved bricks around our community fire pit.
I cannot thank you enough for following our journey as YOU get to really see what it takes to build a campground from the dirt up.
We appreciate you and See You in the Trees! And please leave a comment!
Update Saturday from the editor: Due to overwhelming advice from our wonderful readers in response to this post, Machelle has now set up a GoFundMe account. If you want to help these hard-working folks open AJ’s Getaway RV Park this year, please click here.
Read previous articles here.
Machelle James and her husband, AJ, are building, from the ground up, a 15-acre RV park in Heber-Overgaard, Arizona, in the beautiful White Mountains 140 miles from Phoenix. Follow them on Facebook @ AJ’s Getaway RV Park or on Instagram at ajsgetawayrvpark.