Retiree welcomes RVs and the guests who bring them

Jim Davidson mixes business with pleasure.

On a sunny spring afternoon, he sits in his office at Lake Norman Motorcoach Resort in Sherrills Ford, waiting for guests to arrive.

A couple on their way home to Ohio plans to stay one night at Lake Norman before hitting the road again.

"The nice thing about this kind of job is that when people come in, they're in a good mood," Davidson says.

A retired engineer with IBM, Davidson and his business partner opened the 8-acre RV resort in 2008. Davidson designed the park's layout, which has 58 campsites, a 4,500-square-foot deck with an open-air bar, a pet park and a modern bath facility.

Thanks to its tiered structure, the campground boasts 32 sites with unobstructed lake views.

Around 3 p.m., the Ohio couple's huge motorcoach pulls into the resort's entrance off N.C. 150. Davidson walks out to meet the driver, then directs him to his campsite. Each guest is assisted with parking their motorcoach and then led on a golf-cart tour of the facilities.

After seeing the resort, the couple decides to book an extra night.

"They liked the views, being on the water and how clean the resort was," Davidson says.

After spending some time sitting on one of the resort's docks, the couple rented a pontoon boat to explore the lake a bit.

The open-air bar, casually named "RV Bar," is accessible to the public. Just north of the N.C. 150 bridge in Sherrills Ford, it offers wine, beer, snacks and much-needed shade for weekend boaters. The low-traffic cove is popular with kayakers.

Davidson himself doesn't take much time to relax.

"Before I retired, I knew I didn't want to retire," he says. "I'm just an old retired man that likes to work."

Instead, he has created an environment where he can interact with people who are on vacation. Other guests at the park include race fans, contract workers with Duke Energy and retirees visiting grandchildren while touring the country in style.

The resort is especially attractive for the latter, or anyone who's turned RV-ing into a lifestyle. The marble-tiled bath house is what wins the ladies over, Davidson says. But guests also appreciate the gated entrance, security cameras and full-time on-site manager. The resort has received top ratings from Woodall's and "Trailer Life" magazine.

For serious RV'ers, such ratings are important and with good reason. People come in with million-dollar motorhomes, Davidson says. Since opening the campground, he has become much more familiar with popular brands such as Prevost. These impressive vehicles, designed for full-time use, can expand to 14 feet or more in width.

That's plenty of room for a typical guest, which, he says, is two adults and a dog.

Others travel in groups of two to three vehicles, perhaps as a family reunion.

"I enjoy meeting and talking with them. It's a pleasure to have opportunity to work in such an environment," Davidson says.

For a man who mixes business with pleasure, Davidson meets a lot of people on the move. He's just glad they pause for a night or two on Lake Norman.