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Great Outdoor Cottages plans expansion in Georgetown

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Great Outdoors Cottages is already expanding its plant at the Delaware Coastal Business Park in Georgetown to meet its growing sales. | DBT PHOTO BY KATIE TABELING

GEORGETOWN – Less than four months after officially opening its Delaware plant, cabin manufacturer Great Outdoor Cottages is already working on a site expansion to allow for increased production capacity.

Founded by Ocean City, Md., hospitality group Blue Water Development, the company also led by CEO Todd Burbage began operations in late 2020 and has since grown to 120 employees with plans to add at least 30 more by the end of 2024.

Great Outdoor Cottages Delaware Coastal Business Park Georgetown Sussex County

Great Outdoor Cottages cut the ribbon on their new facility in the Delaware Coastal Business Park in December 2022. | PHOTO COURTESY OF CYPHERS AGENCY

The plant builds prefab, 400-square-foot, coastal-vibe cabins that are fully equipped with plumbing and electric. Each includes two bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchenette, a sitting area and a screened-in porch, and the standardized layouts ease the assembly line at the plant.

While it is a vertically integrated manufacturer for Blue Water and another campground owner-operator, Sun Communities, Great Outdoor Cottages is also increasingly looking toward the open retail market.

After working out of temporary space in Millsboro for about a year, Great Outdoor Cottages built a 45,000-square-foot facility on 7 leased acres in the Delaware Coastal Business Park. Now it is leasing the neighboring 4 acres and plans to build a 18,300-square-foot addition onto its plant.

That is necessary to consolidate all materials under one roof and allow additional assembly space. Right now, the plant can comfortably produce about two to three units per day, but the company aims to increase that to three to four per day this year with the additional space, Great Outdoor Cottages Chief Financial Officer John Longino told Delaware Business Times.

“The changes we’re making are driven toward the future and being able to ramp up the production eventually to six units or so a day,” Longino said.

While most of the units produced in the early life of the company went to partnering campgrounds, Great Outdoor Cottages is now increasingly looking to third-party retail sales to continue growing the business. Sales agents have been meeting with retailers and supplying show units to help build brand awareness.

“We think the retail market itself is going to create a significant demand,” Longino added.

To date, Great Outdoor Cottages has shipped units to Maine and Key West, Fla., covering the entire span of the East Coast, and as far west as Texas and Wisconsin. It considers its market to be east of the Mississippi River, with a principal focus on the East Coast.

The company isn’t limited to land either, building units that can be outfitted on pontoons and floated on water like tiny houseboats. It is building 25 such units for Blue Water, successfully delivering its first in recent weeks.

The groundbreaking on the expansion should come soon, with completion tentatively scheduled for early next year, Longino said.

The expansion is another win for the Delaware Coastal Business Park, which also boasts current tenants like injection-molded plastics manufacturer Atlantis, flooring supply company Creative Floors South Inc. and international lighting company JAYKAL LED Solutions. Custom signs manufacturer JennyGems moved her Harbeson shop to the business park as well.

The expansion will increase Great Outdoor Cottages’ annual lease at the county business park by $11,500 to a total of $56,500, according to the lease agreement. It will also pay a $142,000 reimbursement of engineering and stormwater costs prorated over a decade – although half of that sum would be forgiven if the company can hold an employment target of 150 people.

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