Editor’s Note: The following article appeared in the Tampa Bay Tribune outlining the ongoing battle between aftermarket parts retailer Camping World Inc. and Lazydays RV SuperCenter. To view the entire story click here.
The Lazydays RV SuperCenter could soon have a new archrival — inside its own complex in Seffner, Fla.
As reported by the Tampa Bay Tribune, the Camping World retail store that sits within the broader Lazydays campus plans to start selling RVs, trailers and other major equipment in direct competition with Lazydays, after a bitter legal dispute between the two.
“We’ll have everything they sell, but for less,” said Marcus Lemonis, who oversees the Camping World chain of 90 stores, plus the Camping World RV Sales chain that includes Dusty’s RV and the Good Sam RV membership club.
The new operation could be up and running within a few weeks, Lemonis said, adding that he can bring more RVs from other dealerships he controls across Florida. The change adds to the long-running legal drama surrounding Lazydays.
Camping World opened a 20,000-square-foot retail store inside the Lazydays compound in 1995, and it remained the best-performing store in the chain until recently.
Lazydays founder Don Wallace sold the RV dealership in 2006, but Wallace still owns and controls the land underneath as landlord.
Wallace and current owners of the dealership remain in a long-running legal dispute, while the dealership has changed hands several times and filed for bankruptcy in 2009. The Wayzata Investment Partners private equity firm now owns the dealership.
Meanwhile, Camping World officials claim that a longstanding contract requires Lazydays to buy its RV parts and maintenance supplies from Camping World, though Lemonis says Lazydays started buying its supplies elsewhere.
“Don and I always had a good relationship,” Lemonis said. “The nature of the Lazydays business now is dramatically different. I’m not going to mess around with these turkeys anymore.”
Lazydays officials tell a different story.
They claim that a series of arrangements with Camping World prohibited Camping World from selling RVs within 50 miles of Tampa, yet several months ago, companies Lemonis controls rebranded an RV supply store 42 miles away in Bartow called Dusty’s Camper World into a Camping World RV store and started selling new and used RVs.
Lazydays RV SuperCenter CFO Randy Lay said that his company brought legal action against Camping World Inc. around two months ago, according to a report in the Tampa Bay Business Journal.
The statement came in response to a press release issued by Camping World, a retailer of RV aftermarket products, on Friday (June 8) stating that the company had severed its “cooperation agreement” with Seffner, Fla.-based Lazydays, citing breach of contract.
Lay told the Tampa Bay Business Journal that some of the agreements with Camping World date back to the mid-1990s when the companies weren’t direct competitors.
“It made sense to assist with each other’s businesses,” he said.
But two months ago, Lay said a Bartow, Fla., RV dealership changed its name from Dusty’s RV to Camping World RV Sales, and that violated the agreement Camping World referenced in its statement.
Lazydays brought legal action in Tampa, which is ongoing, he said. Lay added that the company has a policy of not conducting litigation via written statements, citing a need to be “circumspect in his comments.”
In the Camping World press release, Marcus Lemonis, CEO and president of Bowling Green, Ky.-based Camping World, said, “I will not stand by and watch an agreement that was entered into in good faith between (former Lazydays owner) Don Wallace and my predecessors, and which has worked beneficially for several years, be shamefully violated.”
In an e-mail to the Tampa Bay Business Journal, Lemonis said Camping World does not own or operate any RV dealerships anywhere in the country. Dusty’s was acquired by a sister company in 2003 along with 60 other dealerships over the years, he wrote.
“The sister company simply licenses the name Camping World RV Sales but the legal entity with the DMV and the State of Florida is not Camping World or any company owned by Camping World,” he said in the email.
Camping World Inc., a leading retailer of RV parts and accessories, announced today (June 8) termination of its cooperation agreement with Seffner, Fla.-based RV dealer Lazydays RV SuperCenter, effective immediately.
According to a press release, Bowling Green, Ky.-based Camping World has officially notified Lazydays of its termination of the cooperation agreement that was signed by local Tampa entrepreneur and philanthropist Don Wallace in 1995. During the tenure of the agreement while Don Wallace owned Lazydays, this partnership “not only benefited both companies financially but also directly led to the creation of significant job placement for the greater Tampa community.”
Since Don Wallace sold the Lazydays dealership in 2004, Camping World maintains, the dealership has operated under two separate business owners. Camping World said that these changes to the company, established in 1976, had a detrimental effect over the years.
Lazydays CEO John Horton, when called late Friday afternoon, was unavailable for comment.
Camping World, a 1,500-employee company operating more than 90 locations, maintains that its Seffner-based parts and accessories store has been a fixture in the Tampa market and, historically, has been the top-selling retail location for the company.
Camping World said that a principal point of the cooperation agreement was that Lazydays was to only purchase parts and accessories from its Seffner location. On several occasions, the Kentucky-based retailer maintains, Camping World has notified Lazydays of the breach of contract.
Wallace and Lazydays are now locked in a suit and counter suit over the fate of the land underneath the Lazydays dealership. Through a company called I-4 Land Holding Limited Co., Wallace still owns the land under the dealership he founded in 1976, one of the nation’s high profile dealerships.
Camping World Inc. today (June 5) announced its position as the largest retailer for Winnebago Industries Inc. with over $150 million in sales.
According to a press release, Camping World is currently the overall top motorized Winnebago retailer, accounting for 25.5% of the builder’s net revenue as stated in the Forest City, Iowa-based company’s most recent quarterly filing.
Camping World was also recently recognized for receiving 22 Circle of Excellence awards, three Partners in Excellence Awards for top market share in their respective regions, 15 Top Rank Sales Awards and the Itasca Dealer of the Year Award.
“We are pleased to be recognized as Winnebago’s top retailer of the year in addition to recently accepting multiple top achievement awards from Winnebago,” said Marcus Lemonis, chairman and CEO of Camping World. “Camping World continues to deliver very impressive year over year sales growth delivering 25.5% of the Winnebago net revenues. We are thrilled that Camping World RV dealers made an important contribution in Winnebago’s business growth and we look forward to continued success with this partnership throughout the ongoing year.”
Winnebago’s products are currently available at 56 Camping World dealerships across the country.
“Being awarded and recognized by Winnebago in so many categories is exceptional,” said Roger Nuttall, president of Camping World RV Sales. “We value our partnership with Winnebago Industries and remain committed to the highest levels of customer satisfaction in every level of our business.”
Camping World RV Sales reported that several stores earned top ranking in their respective states for 2011 sales in a cross-section of product categories, according to a press release. The rankings were compiled by Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Statistical Surveys Inc. They include:
• Camping World’s Little Rock outlet was recognized as the No. 1 seller of total motorized RVs in Arkansas for 2011. “We are delighted to be recognized as the No. 1 motorized seller of the year and honored to serve the Arkansas community,” said Joey Wilson, general manager of Camping World RV of Little Rock. “Our team has put tremendous effort in customer service and offering the best RV selection and service in our community.”
• Camping World’s Albuquerque, N.M., location was recognized as the top seller of Class A and Class C motorhomes in the state. Dane Wyatt, general manager of Camping World of Albuquerque, said, “We appreciate the continued support of our sales team and our dedicated customers. We will work hard to receive this honor from Statistical Survey again next year.”
• Camping World’s Woodstock, Ga., ranked as the No. 1 seller of Class C motorhomes in the state for 2011 by Statistical Surveys. “Receiving the top dealer award in Class C motorhomes is a very high honor in our industry and we’re excited for our dedicated staff to receive this recognition,” said Julie Cox, general manager at Camping World of Woodstock. “The bar is set very high for next year and we looking forward to continued success.”
Camping World Inc. announces plans to open a new facility in Fresno, Calif. According to a press release, the new location will join 90 other Camping World locations, including nine in California.
With expected support of city officials, Camping World is in the final stages of planning the new location, which will encompass both a Camping World retail store and Camping World RV Sales dealership while generating tax revenue and new employment opportunities to the community. The release stated that early discussions have “shown strong support and interest from multiple manufacturers, suppliers and vendors looking for additional expansion in to this growing market.”
“Our growth plans across the country are consistent with Camping World’s philosophy of commitment to enhance our customers’ total RV experience,” said Marcus Lemonis, chairman and CEO of Camping World. “By increasing the growth of both the retail and dealership locations in our network, Camping World is getting closer to achieving our goal of truly being the one-stop shopping location for the RV and outdoor enthusiast across the country.”
Fresno is the second new market identified in the California area in 2012 with the recent Redding location announcement with plans to open in May. The company expects to open the new Supercenter in the Fresno area later in 2012 and to hire about 25 to 30 new employees to reinforce their sales, service and support needs for this local dealership and accessory store.
“Our goal is to expand our business into new areas, and we are very excited about serving the Central California community,” said Lemonis.
Good Sam Enterprises LLC (GSE) is relocating its executive headquarters from Ventura, Calif., to Lincolnshire, Ill. The planned move was announced today (March 8) by chairman and CEO Marcus Lemonis.
“Our Chicago facility provides a centralized location for all our vendors, lenders and our nationwide Camping World SuperCenter network,” said Lemonis in a press release. “Plus, it is closer to the heart of the RV industry in Elkhart, Ind.”
Lemonis said Good Sam will still maintain regional offices in Denver, Colo.; Ventura, Calif.; Minneapolis, Minn.; and Bowling Green, Ky.
Good Sam Enterprises and its wholly owned subsidiaries, which include the Good Sam Club and Camping World Inc., serve the safety, security, comfort and convenience needs of the North American outdoor and recreational vehicle market via various companies, brands, products and services.
Camping World Inc. will be opening its newest retail location in Anderson, Calif., according to a press release.
Camping World of Redding will be located at exit 670 off I-5. This new 37,776 square-foot facility will encompass both a Camping World retail store and Camping World RV sales dealership in addition to an RV collision center on-site.
“Our company branching in to the Redding, Calif., market makes perfect sense,” said Roger Nuttall, president of Camping World RV Sales. “Redding is known for its abundance of national and state parks, lakes, rivers, and streams which makes our new location ideal to serve the needs of outdoor and camping enthusiasts.”
The tentative grand opening celebration is slated for May 2012. The company is looking to employ between 30 to 35 employees to increase their sales, service and support needs for this local dealership and accessory store. Nearby Camping World SuperCenter California locations include facilities in Vacaville and Roseville.
“We are always looking to expand our business into new areas, and we are very excited about serving the Northern California community,” said Marcus Lemonis, Camping World chairman and CEO. “Our knowledgeable and trained team looks forward to providing one stop shopping RV conveniences to the Redding area in the near future.”
Camping World Inc. will be opening a new store in Washington State’s Spokane-Coeur d’Alene area, occupying a fomer Mastercraft building, according to a report in the Spokesman Review.
Camping World is one of the nation’s bigger sellers of RV equipment, camping equipment and RV merchandise. It’s taking over the building used by Mastercraft as its main area showroom and RV dealership.
Camping World will lease the 10,800-square foot facility from Oppidan Investment, a Minnesota firm that will be the project developer. Oppidan paid about $1.8 million for the building, said Chris Bell of NAI Black. Bell represented the seller, Wayne Sorensen, in the transaction.
This will be the first store operated by Camping World in the Spokane-Coeur d’Alene area. The company has more than 75 stores in more than 30 states.
It was an act of God that turned Camping World in Bellemont into a makeshift junkyard just before dawn on Oct. 6, 2010.
As reported by the Arizona Daily Sun, the two tornadoes that touched down in the tiny community before 5:30 a.m. derailed train cars, blew semi trucks off the highway and destroyed nearly the entire inventory of the RV dealership. Bill Coverdale, the general manager of Camping World, said only two of the RVs were spared.
“Thirty-two were a total loss,” Coverdale said, remembering standing over the shredded remnants of the recreational vehicles in the days following the storm.
The tornadoes also tore down the fence between the dealership and the highway and damaged the main roof.
“There were a lot of leaks,” he said, noting the rooftop-mounted heater was eventually found in the parking lot.
Coverdale declined to answer how much damage the storms cost or how much was covered by the insurance company.
Camping World is scheduled to reopen the Bellemont store on March 15, offering with a larger inventory of vehicles, bigger staff and a new roof after being closed for 17 months.
The company temporarily opened a sales lot in Flagstaff last summer while repairs of the main location continued, but Coverdale is glad to be back home in the location he helped to open in March 2009.
“It is pretty exciting,” Coverdale said.
The phone was uncommonly silent earlier this week as employees began unpacking pallets of inventory for the showroom.
“There have been so many people who are excited about the grand opening,” he said.
The company has increased the size of its staff from 15 employees to a total of 23 for the grand opening in mid-March.
Coverdale is optimistic that the RVs — which range in price from as little as $4,000 for a small trailer to more than $150,000 for a decked-out model — will sell in the current uneasy economic market.
“The bottom line is that people are having fun again,” he said.
Company officials have decided to nearly double their pre-tornado inventory to 60 new RVs. But RV sales are only one aspect of the company’s offerings. Coverdale said they are the “Walmart of camping supplies” — stating they have everything the person would need to raft down the Colorado River, hike down to Supai or go camping in the Coconino National Forest.