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Irma: Florida Dealerships Report Minor Damage

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September 12, 2017 by   Leave a Comment

While Hurricane Irma might not have been the Category 5 monster that some media outlets had predicted, it was still a powerful storm that ripped through Florida from the south to the north and on into Georgia and South Carolina.

Still, while much of the state is without power and there have been several reported deaths, RV dealers told RVBUSINESS.com that they came through relatively unscathed. 

Noting that Irma’s ever-changing path eventually went through the center of the state, Ron Fleming, vice president and national general manager of Tampa-based Lazydays RV, said the dealership came through it “extremely well” as most of the hurricane’s damage was 30 miles away.

Ron Fleming

“We were very fortunate. We got a lot of wind. We’ve lost power, of course. We’ve got a lot of tree limbs down and a lot of debris, but minor damage to the building and no damage to the inventory,” Fleming told RVBUSINESS.com. “And, most importantly, we’re not hearing of any injuries. All our folks came through it. I mean, there’s some damage to their homes and everybody has their own issues. But from the employees’ standpoint, we’re hearing that everybody came through it safely and unharmed.”

Fleming said that sales operations would reopen today (Sept. 12), along with support staff such as accounting and insurance that also works with Lazydays locations in Arizona and Colorado.

“The main building is under generator power, but our accessories store and our service departments and buildings and bays are not,” he said. “We’ll reopen the service departments and the accessories and more as our power is restored. It could be this afternoon, it could be tomorrow or it could be a couple of days, but we’ll get back in there and get the cleanup process started anyway.”

Clean-up efforts could take a while, Fleming added, as the property is littered with branches and downed trees and other debris. Plus, moving all the inventory back into place — like other dealers, Lazydays stages towable units in a tight formation and encircles them with Class A motorhomes — will take several days as well.

“We absolutely got lucky and, with the exception of some inconvenience — which is certainly what we’re dealing with — it could have been much, much worse,” Fleming said.

Don Strollo

Don Strollo, president of RV One Superstores Inc., said the dealership’s locations in both Orlando and Tampa came through relatively unscathed. The Orlando store lost its marquee, but it has power. The Tampa store is without power, but suffered minimal wind damage.

“I was in Hershey to assist our marketing crew with their set-up for the Hershey Show this week. I left there early to get down to Florida to make sure the facilities would be prepared, and they were, and to make sure our people were safe, which they were,” Strollo said, adding the company’s chief information officer also made the trip with him to oversee the well-being of information technology equipment.

Marquee was blown off at RV One Superstores in Orlando

“He actually went over to Tampa today and I went to Orlando,” Strollo continued. “We checked everything out with our store managers and we do have some damage, like the Orlando RV One sign was pretty much obliterated and four or five Airstream’s had their windows blown out. But other than that, we’re in decent shape and we’ll actually be open in both locations tomorrow.”

Strollo, who lives in Orlando, noted that the eye of the hurricane passed in between the Orlando and Tampa stores. He said it was “a little nerve wracking” to go through the hurricane.

“You know, you want to have an outlook on these kind of things. You want to think positively; you want to think that you’ll probably get through it. But it is a pretty serious event, and to see the strength of the storm — especially in southwest Florida — it was nerve racking. We were very fortunate,” he said. “We have a little cleaning up to do, but we will be back in full swing very quickly.”

Joe Jackson, sales manager at North Trail RV in Fort Myers, reported that the dealership is “high and dry with no major damage at all.”

“We had a storage trailer flipped and one travel trailer, plus some trees blown over. We were very fortunate. Now we’re trying to clean up around home,” Jackson said.

 

 

 

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