RV Renovation Business Turns Montana 5th Wheels Into Stylish Tiny Homes
Cortni Armstrong’s RV renovation company, The Flipping Nomad, was a creation that came to fruition after a rags to riches journey. With the help of her mother, Patti, the duo has built a profitable business purchasing used RVs and redesigning each with a modern flair before reselling.
An uncertain beginning
Around the end of her college career, in 2014, Armstrong found her life spiraling out of control. Her father had suffered a stroke and she was helping out by keeping two of his businesses afloat. She was not receiving any income with these duties, plus her roommates were moving out of her rental apartment. There was no money coming in.
She reached out to a family friend who owned an RV park. He offered her a used, vacant RV to live in at the campground while she helped out in the front office. Desperate for a roof over her head, she agreed. Each day continued to be a struggle as Armstrong scrimped and scrapped for income, some nights struggling for her next meal.
Finding an appreciation for the RV lifestyle
Armstrong recalls her first few months of the RV lifestyle as rather grim, “I was a recent college grad, all of my friends were buying houses … and here I am living in this trailer park.”
Her outlook on her situation would change, however. She eventually became acquainted with other RVers in the park and experienced the comradery that comes with many RV communities, the willingness of fellow nomads to help out with RV troubleshooting and day-to-day living.
“Being so immersed in the culture helped me shift my mindset,” she said. “I felt bad. I made false assumptions about it when I first moved into the RV. During that summer and the following winter, I really started falling in love with the lifestyle. It was really freeing.”
Her first attempt at an RV renovation
Now fully embracing the lifestyle, Armstrong decided to upgrade to a “new-to-her” RV but had trouble finding one that suited her decor preferences and layout. She instead settled on a 2006 Sedona for $12,500, mainly due to the layout. She then set out on a 6-week RV renovation project with help from anyone and any source she could get her hands on.
Her renovations gave her more insight on RV living and left her wanting to learn and grow more with the industry. “It was a changing point,” she said. “I was owning this new lifestyle.”
Finding her niche in the RV lifestyle
After a couple of years, Armstrong was earning an income that allowed her to purchase used RVs. She’d deep clean each unit after purchasing and then resell for a profit. She eventually incorporated her personal RV renovation experience in the process.
Her clientele has grown since her first custom renovation with a young couple that followed her progress on her Instagram page. Many customers appreciated Armstrong’s creativity, trustworthiness, and hard work. Instead of simply redesigning the interior of a unit, she makes sure to pre-inspect each RV before committing to a purchase. That includes inspecting from roof to underbelly, more particularly for water damage.
Her mother, Patti, has joined and the duo have taken off in sales and customers. “It’s pretty empowering to be this female team, slinging these giant trailers around and handling the mechanics of them. It’s not something you see very often,” mentioned Cortni.
To date, profits range from $8,000 to $10,000 per RV renovation, and they have a 200-person waiting list. They only renovate RVs they have purchased and inspected and focus primarily on Keystone Montana fifth wheels.
Cortni no longer lives in the 2006 Sedona. She and her mother partnered with Keystone to redesign a 2021 Ultimate Montana. The RV includes three fireplaces, a free-standing tub, and a pizza oven. This unit, which is quite possibly the most luxurious RV on the market, is Cortni’s new home.
“I really want to encourage people to take the plunge and not be afraid to try this lifestyle,” she said. “It can be intimidating, but it is so worth it. I met some of the best people I ever met in my entire life. It scares me to think what would have happened if I didn’t move into that first RV. I would’ve missed this lifestyle entirely.”
See inside her ultimate Montana RV renovation in this Do It Yourself RV article. For the latest on this duo’s RV renovations and upcoming projects, be sure to check up on Cortni and Patti at The Flipping Nomad.
Natalie Henley is a freelance writer and has also been full-time RVing with her husband and pets since 2015. She covers a wide range of topics from RV lifestyle, RVing tips, DIY projects, RV news, and more.