Startup Strives to Link Markets

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November 9, 2011 by   Comments Off on Startup Strives to Link Markets

A fledgling Elkhart, Ind., company is creating a free website — — with the goal of connecting campgrounds, consumers, RV manufacturers, dealers and suppliers.

‘There is a disconnect that exists between dealers and campgrounds and manufacturers and campgrounds,” said Mark Lucas, president of Campsmart LLC. ”They all are good at what they do, but nobody has been making a non-brand specific effort to bring everything together.

”With an industry that is fragmented, I thought all of us working together can do greater things, particularly when you bring in the retail owner.” intends to act as a hub where the different RV communities can interact with each other, incorporating ”the best aspects of FaceBook, LinkedIn, Angie’s List and others solely focused on one fragmented industry,” Lucas said.

”I believe the individual aspirations of each segment can be harnessed to passively weave the fiber to connect all these inwardly focused organizations,” he said.

As campgrounds join, the site will offer a nationwide reservation system, which Lucas said does not exist today.

The website initially will be supported by advertising while eventually, Lucas said he hopes to create a database of recreational vehicle VIN numbers registered by consumers that will allow manufacturers, for a fee, to more efficiently conduct recalls.

”In my mind, there are big things on the horizon when we get the buy-in from industry members and consumers,” Lucas said. ”Right now, we are looking for people to give us feedback about what we can do with the site and for them to understand that it’s a work in progress.”

Lucas is the former president of manufacturer CrossRoads RV, Topeka, Ind., and helped launch Gulf Stream Coach Inc.’s Yellowstone RV subsidiary. He and Brad Yoder, a camper and avid fisherman, along with Mark Smith, the former head of IT for Gulf Stream who is now an RV industry consultant, are partnering to operated the website.

With invitations sent to 250 industry members, more than 100 already have joined, Lucas reported.

”I want to get the foundation there so that when the retail consumers show up they can have the interaction that they need,” Lucas said. will have a presence at the 49th Annual National RV Trade Show Nov. 29-Dec. 1 in Louisville, Ky., and plans are to begin marketing the website to consumers in December with ads in retail consumer magazines and websites.

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