When Kelly and Neil Bonds took the reigns as Managing Partners of Indian Mound RV and Fish Camp in 2016, the business was in need of a modern facelift and a new marketing strategy. Despite a rich history – the fish camp has been around for nearly a century – the campground was underutilized and the customer-base primarily consisted of permanent residents. Not longer after the Bonds’ took over, the business saw a rapid turnaround. Kelly shared the story behind their entrepreneurial journey and how their efforts to transform an iconic southeastern Volusia County business have led to happiness and a new destination for RV enthusiasts from around the country.
“My parents, Tom and Barbara Pentz, bought the business in December 2000,” Kelly shared. “At the time, their plan was to use the business as a way to ‘retire’ without actually retiring. They did well, but Neil and I always knew the business had way more potential. We also thought it would be a great way to get our kids involved in the family business.”
Kelly, an HR Manager by trade, and Neil, with a background in Telecom, both left well-paid, full-time and secure careers to take over the business. Neil was the first to leave his job, while Kelly was fully onboard six months later. By re-investing what little revenue the business was generating – and without the assistance of outside capital – they got to work on rehabbing the business.
“We built new cabins, a Tiki deck and a new bait shop,” Kelly said. “We upgraded the RV facilities with better power and water systems and added gates to create a safer environment for our guests. We both love to fish and camp so we created a place where we would want to go – complete with free boat slips.”
In addition to advertising through social media and doing contests and giveaways, the Bonds’ also advertised the business as operating under new management. They even added apparel. According to Kelly, these efforts made a big difference and ultimately led to new customers.
Working through a handful of challenges – including multiple hurricanes that destroyed the bait shop and took down several large trees – Kelly and Neil have restored Indian Mound RV and Fish Camp to its former glory.
“We’ve seen so much growth,” Kelly said. “We now have return guests come year after year. We’ve created a true destination for campers and anglers in the heart of the Mosquito Lagoon.”
From live and frozen bait and tackle, to lures, ice, beverages, snacks and more, Indian Mound RV and Fish Camp has it all. They even offer kayak, canoe and paddle board rentals, as well as family cabin rentals for nightly or weekly stays.
“We are the only campground in the area that has an onsite campground store and bait shop located directly on the Mosquito Lagoon/Intracoastal waterway,” Kelly said. “Neil and I also built a home on the property and have two clerks that live here as well. Our teenagers even help with the business when they’re home from college.”
Watching the family business flourish has brought so much joy and happiness to the Bonds’. They love meeting new people and sharing their special place with tourists and locals – many of which never knew such a business was directly down the road from their homes.
Kelly shared their future goals and offered some great advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. “Looking ahead, we want to continue reaching new customers through innovative marketing and hit the niche of up-and-coming new RV owners that have sky rocketed in the last few months,” she said. “We want to have them stay with us, as we have guests that love helping others and most folks make new friends the moment they check in. We also want to continue cultivating new relationships.”
Kelly added, “Regarding advice for new entrepreneurs, find the business and industry you love and make it yours,” she said. “The sky is the limit with fresh ideas that you can bring in, and you can make it better every day, every month and every year. Take time to listen to what your employees and customers want and make the changes to better your business as quickly as you can afford to do it. If you put your heart and soul into it and you do something you love, you’ll find success.”