Bill Wolkoff has found greener pastures outside of Silicon Valley.
Wolkoff, owner of Sky River RV, moved his dealership from Sunnyvale, Calif. – located in the heart of the information technology Mecca – south to Paso Robles, a community in the farm, ranch and vineyard country about halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
The move occurred during January. Wolkoff described his sales during February as very good, although he said his business in March was flat.
However, Wolkoff believes Sky River, an Airstream, Itasca, Rialta, Carriage and Trail-Lite dealership, has more potential in Paso Robles.
Silicon Valley is the area at the south end of San Francisco Bay that includes the cities of San Jose and Palo Alto. “I won’t bad-mouth that market, there are dealers who are successful there,” Wolkoff said. “But it’s becoming crowded and towns are passing laws banning people from parking RVs in front of their homes.”
Also, the astronomically high cost of housing in “the valley” made it difficult to retain employees without paying “exorbitant wages” beyond what Wolkoff said he could afford.
“And people there (Silicon Valley) are so busy, they don’t have the time (for the RV lifestyle),” he continued. “They are younger and they don’t have families.”
The customer base in the Paso Robles market is not older, but a higher percentage of couples have children, which makes them stronger candidates for buying RVs, Wolkoff added.
Until recently, the Paso Robles market was “under-dealered,” but Wolkoff said that changed because “a few more have sprouted up.”
Sky River had to deal with a “rolling (power) blackout” recently, and Wolkoff believes the 40% increase in the cost of electric power passed on to California businesses and consumers during March will have a slightly negative impact on the RV market.
But Wolkoff, a New York native, added, “We’re used to earthquakes and floods (in California). And it’s not as bad as snow.”