Ventura, Calif.-based Affinity Group Inc. (AGI) announced today (Mar. 3) that it has completed the refinancing of its senior bank debt. Affinity has entered into a new $144 million loan agreement that allows the company to restructure its existing debt, which was set to mature on March 31.
“We’re very pleased with this direction and the stability it gives Affinity as we grow our core business to new heights,” said Affinity CEO Mike Schneider. “As we begin to exit a major financial downturn, this financing puts us in a strong position to capitalize on new revenue growth opportunities and continue our commitment to leadership in the outdoor recreation marketplace.”
A multi-media company, Affinity manages several membership clubs including the Good Sam Club, the world’s largest RV owner’s organization, and operates numerous consumer and business websites, publications and shows for RV, powersports, marine and outdoor enthusiasts.
The company also owns Camping World, the largest aftermarket retailer in the RV industry with more than 75 locations throughout the United States.
Moelis & Company acted as exclusive financial advisor and sole placement agent to Affinity in connection with the refinancing.
The Affinity Events division of Affinity Group Inc. (AGI) has welcomed the winter season with back-to-back successful powersports shows. The 16th Annual Big East Powersports Show, Oct. 2-4 in Syracuse, N.Y., and the 24th Annual Rocky Mountain Snowmobile Expo, Oct. 10-11 in Denver, Colo., both boasted increased attendance and strong sales.
The Big East Powersports Show, sponsored by Camping World and Snow Goer magazine, featured the latest snowmobile and ATV models from Arctic Cat, Polaris, Ski-Doo and Yamaha alongside aftermarket products, open and closed trailers, clothing, accessories and resort information. The excitement surrounding the debut of the 2010 sled models along with attractive prices on gear and accessories led to a 7% increase in attendance from last year’s show.
“Enthusiasm was evident and energy on the show floor was high as attendees shopped the new models and found great deals on everything they need for the coming winter season,” said show manager, Laurie Hallowell. “The exhibitors were thrilled to see such large, enthusiastic crowds and all agreed that the success of the show is a positive sign of things to come in 2010.”
Robin Ingles, owner of Ingles Performance of Phoenix, N.Y., agreed. The company celebrated its 14th year of participation in the show and reported strong sales and increased booth traffic this year. “The show attendees were excited to get back on their sleds,” Ingles said, “and our sales were better than they’ve been in over two years.”
The Rocky Mountain Snowmobile Expo, also sponsored by Camping World and Snow Goer magazine, took place at the Denver Merchandise Mart and saw the second best attendance in the history of the event. The chilly temps and snow showers on Saturday did not deter the crowds from visiting the Expo to see the newest 2010 snowmobile models and shop the popular Swap Meet Extravaganza. In fact, the line to participate in the Swap Meet formed three hours before the Expo opened.
“The snowfall added to the atmosphere of the show,” said show manager, Dianne Seymour. “The attendees were excited at the thought of another great snowmobiling season and it showed. Our exhibitors sold more than they have in years.”
Tom Gaither, senior VP of Affinity Events, pointed to the close relationship Affinity Events maintains with powersports enthusiasts as the main reason for the continued success of the shows. “Our connection to ATV and Snow Goer magazines gives us an intimate understanding of the powersports world. The enthusiasts who attend the shows are our friends. We know and love the powersports world as much as they do,” he said. “That continued relationship we maintain with the show attendees, combined with the great variety of local exhibitors featuring new products and services continues to generate amazing interest from local powersports enthusiasts.”
AGI is the owner of RVBusiness and RVBUSINESS.com
Following a review of the new capital structure at Affinity Group Holding Inc. and its operating subsidiary, Affinity Group Inc., Standard & Poor’s Rating Services today (June 22) raised its rating for AGI back to “CCC.”
On June 19, the rating service had lowered its corporate credit rating on the Ventura, Calif.-based company to “SD” (selective default) from “CCC.”
AGI is the parent company of RVBusiness magazine and RVBUSINESS.com.
The Good Sam Club has chosen Warrantech Corp. as its exclusive provider of extended service contracts sold through participating Good Sam Authorized Dealers.
Warrantech is a provider of warranty products and administrative services. For more that two decades, Warrantech has been a source for manufacturer, retailers, dealers, distributors and other sales organizations.
Warrantech is backed by Wesco Insurance, an “A” rated insurer with many years of experience in the industry and a subsidiary of AmTrust.
“This was an easy choice for the Good Sam Authorized Dealer Network,” said Larry Chandler, director of the Good Sam Authorized Dealer Division. “In our 12 years of experience developing service contracts for the RV market, I believe that we have found the perfect partner to represent the Good Sam brand which of course is critical to our continued success.”
Good Sam Authorized Dealers now include 73 locations across the U.S. In addition to extended service contracts on new and used RV’s, Good Sam Authorized Dealers offer Roadside Assistance, Certified Pre-owned RVs and other Good Sam branded products.
“Good Sam Authorized Dealers now offer the only extended service plan with unlimited mileage for motorized RVs. Participating dealers also have state of the art on-line contract and claims management service,” said Chandler.
“We look forward to partnering with Good Sam,” said Joel San Antonio, CEO of Warrantech Corp. “Over the years, Warrantech has established a solid reputation for handling customer service claims with fast, courteous service. With state-of-the-art technology to manage claims, and an extensive network of mechanics on call to handle needed repairs in a timely manner, Good Sam customers have access to extended service plan protection that is unmatched. Dollar for dollar, we take pride knowing Warrantech’s service combines good value with the most comprehensive coverage in the RV industry.”
Warrantech Corp. administers and markets service contracts and after-market warranties on RVs, automobiles, automotive components, appliances, consumer electronics, homes, computer and computer peripherals, jewelry and furniture for retailers, distributors, Internet providers and manufacturers. Acquired by H.I.G. Capital, Amtrust Financial Services Inc. and Stanwich Capital Corp. in 2007, the company continues to expand its domestic and global penetration, and now provides its services in the U.S. and Canada.
Good Sam Authorized Dealers is headquartered in Ventura, Calif., and is a subsidiary of Affinity Group Inc. (AGI). AGI also publishes RV Business magazine and RVBusiness.com.
Affinity Group Inc.’s (AGI) annual rally — know nationally as ”The Rally” — drew 3,112 registered motorized and towable RVs April 16-20 to an encampment at Balloon Fiesta Park in Albuquerque, N.M., and to exhibits at the Expo New Mexico fairgrounds several miles south.
”We had a big drive-up crowd which really helped — over 200 units,” said Terry Thompson AGI vice president of advertising and sales. ”That was more than we usually get. Some people just procrastinate.”
The weather was semi-cooperative and snowfall on the second day was unexpected, but not necessarily unusual, with Albuquerque being located in the high desert at more than 4,900 feet above sea level.
Attendance was off by about 10% from The Rally held last March at the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Expo Center in Perry, Ga. ”It was better than we expected because today’s market is difficult,” Thompson said.
About 400 suppliers manned indoor booths and 30 manufacturers and dealers brought about 500 display units to The Rally with some reporting relatively good sales. The indoor booths were particularly popular with packed aisles, especially the day it snowed.
”When the weather is lousy, it’s a homerun for the indoor exhibitors,” Thompson said. ”It was shoulder-to-shoulder on Friday. People were happy to be there and they were buying product. They weren’t shuffling their feet complaining about not having any money and how bad the economy is. And for a lot of people, this was the first time they were at The Rally.”
The Rally next year will be held July 22-25 at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky., the same location where the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) stages its annual national RV trade show.
The Pomona RV & Travel show, originally scheduled for April 23-26, will now be held June 19-21, and is partnering with Summer Fest ’09.
In addition to the RV show, visitors will be able to attend the Boat, Home & Backyard and Computer Spectacular all for one price, according to a news release. The show will run Friday, June 19, from 12 noon to 7 p.m.; Saturday, June 20, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Sunday, June 21, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Pomona Fairplex in Pomona, Calif.
Comedians with a love for life on the road, Pat Mac and Mike Faverman, will delight attendees with their outdoor cooking tips and easy recipes as they present “Ultimate Camp Cooking” on stage at the Show. They have several years of professional cooking experience and even more years performing to audiences as stand-up comics. They get crowds fired up about the outdoors and especially talking about great food.
Other events at the Fairplex during the weekend will include the 45th Annual LA Roadster Show and Wine and Cars Under the Stars events. (Separate admission is required for these two events.)
Show attendees will be able to register to win one of four Keystone RVs in the “Live Your Dreams Sweepstakes.” Other prizes include “The Rally 2010” dry camping reservation, a one-year Good Sam Emergency Road Service membership, a one-year RV Handyman Club membership, a Woodall’s North American Campground Directory and a one-year Good Sam Club membership.
The Pomona RV & Travel Show is produced by Affinity Events a division of Affinity Group Inc. (AGI). Call (805) 290-2203 for more information or visit www.agievents.com.
A city of recreational vehicles is growing at Balloon Fiesta Park in Albuquerque, N.M.
Thousands of RVs have set up camp for “The Rally,” the largest gathering of recreational vehicles in the nation, which opened at 10 a.m. local time today (April 17).
Temperatures were in the 50s this morning and were expected in the 60s and mid-70s by the end of the weekend, according to Terry Thompson, vice president of sales for Affinity Group Inc. (AGI), the event sponsor.
“What we need it to be is dry and a little bit warmer,” he said.
But Thompson, who is overseeing the commercial exhibits at ‘The Rally,’ and many others have already found one example of something “hot” at ‘The Rally;’ the Keystone RV exhibit which features a free trailer give-away.
“They were jammed with people yesterday coming in to register for the show,” he said. “There was a huge line of people – attendees – picking up their registraiton packets. They walked past the Keystone display and put their names in a barrel.”
The sea of RVs that began converging on the city by mid-week inspired at least five vendors who decided at the last minute to display their products at the show. “That’s been kind of cool,” Thompson added.
Overall, “The exhibit buildings look great, the outdoor exhibits look great. These guys are hoping for a good show,” he said.
The RV city could grow to 10,000 by Friday, with people coming from just about every state in the nation.
For some people, travelling the country is more than just a past-time, reported KOB.com, Albuquerque.
“We do not have a home. This is our home,” said Larry Sockwell of Oakwood, Texas, one of ‘The Rally’ attendees. “It’s not so much as how far you go, it’s what you get to see.”
Most of the events for the rally will happen at the State Fairgrounds, with a bus service taking people to and from Balloon Fiesta Park.
The event is hosted by the Good Sam Club, the world’s largest RV owners’ group with more than 1.5 million member families nationwide, along with Camping World President’s Club, Camp Club USA, Coast to Coast Resorts, Woodall’s and Trailer Life and MotorHome magazines. All the organizations are either owned by or affiliated with AGI, the nation’s largest provider of outdoor recreation clubs, services, media and events, headquartered in Ventura, Calif.
RVBusiness magazine and RVBUSINESS.com are also owned by AGI.
RVBusiness.com will provide frequent video direct from the event.
The festivities end on Monday.