Camping World RV Sales announced that 22 of its RV dealerships across the U.S. were recognized as Winnebago Industries Inc. Circle of Excellence dealers for 2012.
According to a press release, the Circle of Excellence award is given to select dealers throughout the country who have earned the highest rankings in customer satisfaction as it relates to the customers’ sales and service experience with the dealer.
“Being awarded the 2012 Winnebago Circle of Excellence for 22 of our RV dealerships is exceptional,” says Roger Nuttall, president of Camping World RV Sales. “We remain committed to the highest levels of customer satisfaction in every level of our business and it is rewarding for our team members to be recognized for their efforts.”
Dealerships earning the coveted Circle of Excellence status receive an award featuring three concentric circles that symbolize the interconnected relationship between the customer, dealer and Winnebago Industries. The award has been given out annually since 1986.
“Our plan is to work tirelessly to continue the level of excellence we expect from ourselves,” Nuttall remarked. “This achievement reaffirms our commitment to receive this award next year for 100% of our Winnebago and Itasca affiliated dealerships.”
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.
Outlets earning No. 1 positions included:
• The Spartanburg, S.C., location was the leader in Class A motorhome retail registrations statewide. “We want to thank all of our Spartanburg team members for their tireless work ethics,” said Josh Erickson, regional vice president of Camping World RV Sales. “We strive to be an RV dealership committed to quality customer service.”
• Camping World RV Sales in Myrtle Beach, S.C., ranked as the No. 1 seller of fifth-wheels in the state for 2011. “We’re fortunate to have an extraordinary team at Camping World of Myrtle Beach and it’s the people in our company that make all the difference,” said Roger Nuttall, president of Camping World RV Sales. “We’re very proud of our team’s hard work and how they continuously strive to deliver outstanding service to our RV customers and the outdoor community.”
• The Meridian, Idaho, Camping World location was recognized as the top seller of Class A, Class B and Class C motorhomes in the state last year. “The sales and service team at our Meridian location are consummate professionals, who work tirelessly to help their customers’ fulfill their RV and outdoor needs,” said Scott Jensen, western regional vice president of Camping World RV Sales. “Exceeding our customers’ expectation is a priority for us and we look forward to increased growth next year.”
Despite competing with another RV show in DeLand, Fla., organizers said last week’s Jacksonville RV SuperShow was one of the most successful in the show’s 25 years, The Florida Times-Union reported.
Alan Dulberger, regional president of the Florida RV Trade Association and general sales manager of Camping World RV Sales in St. Augustine, said Wednesday )March 2) that attendance dropped by about 300 to 400 people. He also said that organizers of the DeLand show reported reduced attendance.
“I was told every dealer did as good or better than last year,” Dulberger said, adding that Camping World had its best show ever in sales.
“This really was a very positive show,” Dulberger said.
Another participating dealership agreed.
“I don’t think it could have gone any better,” said Steve Fogle, general sales manager of General RV Center on Wells Road in Orange Park.
Fogle said the dealership, now in its second year of operation, topped last year’s show sales with a reported 80 units sold.
Even with the slightly lower turnout, the show remains one of the largest in Florida. Dulberger credits much of the SuperShow’s success to the facilities at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center.
Having the show at a permanent structure allows for a much simpler show to run and makes it friendlier to show-goers, compared to the parking lots at EverBank Field, where the show was held until last year, or other impermanent locations used by other RV shows.
The Jacksonville SuperShow annually displays more than 350 RVs or various sorts, from popup trailers to massive diesel RVs.
“I expect it to be even bigger next year,” Fogle said, expressing hope in a recovering economy.
Fogle also said he continues to see RV sales pick up. General RV has even seen fit to begin a massive expansion of their dealership in response to growing sales.
Dealerships specializing in recreational vehicles turned a corner in the second quarter of 2010, and the dealers expect the uptick in sales to continue well into the new year, The Florida Times Union, Jacksonville, reported.
“I anticipate 2011 will be an extremely good year for us,” said Scottie Manson, general manager of Camping World RV Sales in St. Augustine. “Our inventories are in line with what our customers are wanting today. The manufacturers are responding to the market, and are actually building more RVs that are available for less money.”
Beyond the RV industry as a whole, Manson’s dealership has experienced a record year in sales compared to the other 47 Camping World locations nationwide. His St. Augustine location ranked No. 1 in sales in November.
General sales manager Alan Dulberger gives much of the credit to the team Manson has put in place at the store, with many of its 11 salespeople boasting years of experience in automotive sales. Manson attributes part of the success to the dealership’s competitive pricing – which has brought customers from as far away as Pennsylvania to the dealership, located next to the Prime Outlet Mall at State Road 16 and Interstate 95.
“Unlike some of our competitors, we also get a great deal because we buy in bulk,” Manson said. “We buy 10 to 40 [RVs] at a time and can pass those savings on to our customers. The savings are significant enough that they result in a widespread customer base.”
Compared to the automobile industry, RV manufacturers responded more quickly to customer demand, retooling their factories to turn out more lower-priced and small-to-midsized RVs.
Consumers have responded. According to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), RV shipments in the third quarter of 2010 were 20% higher than in 2009. The association expects total shipments in 2010 to reach around 236,700. That’s a 43% increase over the 165,700 units sold in 2009 — the most anemic sales recorded by the industry over the last decade.
University of Michigan economist Richard Curtin projects further growth in 2011 with shipments rising by 4% to 246,000. Curtin anticipates growth in every vehicle type.
The resurgence in RV sales led Suncoast RV, located at Beach and Southside boulevards in Jacksonville, to reopen its location up the street at Beach Boulevard and Forest Street two months ago, which was shuttered when the recession began. The company has added salespeople and technicians to support the growth in both sales and service.
Suncoast General Manager Matt Bateh credits the nimble actions of the manufacturers, along with an easing of financial hurdles, for the comeback.
“I have to give some credit to the banks, because the rates that are available now are phenomenally low,” Bateh said. “While it’s not like it was three years ago, when a customer with a 600 credit score could get a loan with no money down — which got us into this mess in the first place — it’s gotten a lot better.”
Bateh notes that RV buyers with a credit score of 700 or better, who will put at least 10% down, can capture a great financing rate.
Just as Suncoast is expanding, so is General RV in Clay County with the addition of another five acres to its dealership on Wells Road.
“We’ll basically be doubling the size of our lot, in addition to expanding our service bays,” said Operations Manager John Dyer. “From the corporate side, we have a total of 37 stores and will be adding another 10 nationwide over the next few months. We’re gearing up for a very big year.”
Unlike previous years, most RV dealers say the growth in sales in 2011 will be in the areas of towable and smaller RVs and not the large 42-foot motorhomes that supported the industry in the early 2000s.
“The trend actually began about eight years ago, well before the recession started,” said Dulberger. “Because of the economy, owning a big motorhome is out of the range of most camping families. The cost difference is significant. You’re looking at $100,000 for a large motor home compared with $30,000 for a travel trailer or towable, which also makes it much easier to finance.”
Also, Dulberger said that many families now own either a sport utility vehicle or crossover SUV, which allows them the flexibility of transporting towables and travel trailers with their own vehicles. This trend has been further aided by RV manufacturers, who are churning out lighter campers that are easier to pull.
“For the novice or part-time camper or camping family, who may go out six to 10 times a year, by far the travel trailer makes the most sense and is the least expensive to own,” Dulberger said.
Depending on the size and amenities, travel trailers range in price from $12,000 to $35,000, with pop-up campers available for even less, ranging from $4,500 to $10,000.
Dulberger and many in the RV industry expect travel trailers will lead the way in sales next year, followed by fifth-wheel trailers, and the three classes of motorhomes and other RV types bringing in the smallest percentage.
“The large RVs are a luxury item, similar to yachts in the boating industry,” Dulberger said. “And it’s going to be awhile before that market rebounds.”
FreedomRoads (d.b.a. Camping World RV Sales), the nation’s largest recreational vehicle retailer, announced Thursday (Dec. 2) that it has closed a $308.5 million multi-year syndicated credit facility, consisting of an amended floorplan credit facility, letter of credit facility and a term loan.
The transaction was led by Bank of America, N.A., which serves as the administrative agent, and included nine additional lenders: Bank of the West, Citizens Bank, Fifth Third Bank, GE Commercial Distribution Finance Corp., JP Morgan Chase Bank, KeyBank, M & T Bank, Suntrust Bank and US Bank.
Roger Nuttall, executive vice president and COO of Lincolnshire, Ill.-based Camping World, stated, “Our company’s double digit return in same-store sales has earned us a multi-year facility. The nearly 34,000 units retailed this year are slightly off the high of 2007. Additionally, we were happy to see new levels of inventory turns, gross margins and EBITDA profitability. Our top line outlook for 2011 remains flat to slightly up however, our tight inventory controls and right sized SGA has us well positioned for another solid financial performance.”
Floorplan financing is a line of credit that allows dealers to borrow against their inventory, and then repay that debt as they sell their inventory or borrow against the line of credit again to add new inventory.
About Camping World RV Sales
Camping World RV Sales operates a network of well-established local and regional RV dealerships engaged in the retail sale, finance and service of recreational vehicles, with over $270 million of new and used recreational vehicle inventory representing over 13 RV manufacturers and 150 brand names. Today Camping World RV Sales serves over 4 million RV enthusiasts. Visit www.CampingWorld.com for more details.
Attendance at the 2010 Florida RV SuperShow continued to pleasantly surprise exhibitors Thursday with an 18% increase over last year, according to the sponsoring Florida Recreation Vehicle Trade Association (FRVTA)
“And we are having a strong day today,” said FRVTA Executive Director Lance Wilson, who reported that 12,375 people passed through the gates on Thursday at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa. According to FRVTA, 26,059 people attended the show the first two days.
Rain predicted for late Saturday wasn’t expected to put a damper on attendance, Wilson said. “We should have a good day on Sunday, too,” he told RVBUSINESS.com.
Marcus Lemonis, president of the Camping World RV Sales dealership chain, said traffic during the early stage of the pivotal Florida show has been ”unbelievable.”
”We are surprised,” said Lemonis, who reported selling 72 RVs — including 19 Four Winds and Damon motorized units — during the show’s first two days. ”It feels like ’06 and ’07 as far as traffic. We only did 98 (units) last year through five days.”
”We’re not just talking (to customers),” said Bill Fenech, president of Four winds International Corp. and Damon Motor Coach, both of which are divisions of Thor Industries Inc. ”We’re selling motorhomes. In fact, we’re selling a ton of diesels. What’s really nice is that there’s just very upbeat attitudes at the show. Customers are listening. They’re showing up, and they’re buying. It’s not doom and gloom. It’s very encouraging. We anticipate blowing away last year’s numbers.”
Customers are both newbies and seasoned RV enthusiasts with trade-ins, says Fenech, and his staff is seeing more demand for diesels than gas at the moment — in the Damon Tuscany and Four Winds Montecito price range on the diesels, generally in the high $100,000’s to the low $200,000’s. “It’s just exciting to hear the optimism again and the fact that people are getting out there again and buying,” added Fenech.
Lemonis said that national retail lenders Bank of America and Bank of West, which have booth space — along with regional lender BB&T — seem to have eased their lending policies some.
”They seem a little hungrier to do business,” Lemonis said. ”And customers aren’t scared to put cash down.”
Terry Elias, president of Canada-based Class B and C manufacturer Leisure System Travel Vans Ltd., also reported strong sales during the opening days of the show. ”We sold six or seven the first day,” Elias said.
Lemonis said that early shows in Cleveland and Syracuse, N.Y., also were generating good sales.
”I’m not going to tell you that the world is fixed and that everything’s in a good place again,” Lemonis said. ”But the bar got set pretty low last year, so everything feels better right now.
”With everybody having fresher inventory and the customer not thinking that everything is falling apart, its seems that things are trending back toward normal.”
Lincolnshire, Ill.-basedf FreedomRoads, the nation’s largest recreational vehicle retailer, announced today (Dec. 22) that it has closed a $314 million syndicated credit facility, consisting of an amended floor plan credit facility, a letter of credit facility and a term loan.
The transaction was led by Bank of America N.A., which serves as the administrative agent, and includes eight additional lenders: Bank of the West, Citizens Bank, Fifth Third Bank, GE Commercial Distribution Finance Corp., JP Morgan Chase Bank, KeyBank, M & T Bank and US Bank.
“The amended floor plan facility provides our company with the flexibility, stable capital structure and capacity to continue to execute our operating strategy,” stated Roger Nuttall, FreedomRoads executive vice president and CFO. “The terms and conditions of the amended facility allow the company to meet our objectives and further solidify our position as the industry leader. We are appreciative to our lenders, associates, partners and other constituencies for assisting the company through the process. The last 18 months have been difficult for the RV industry. However we feel confident that our reduced cost structure along with continued consumer demand will lead us to historical type success in this marketplace.”
FreedomRoads operates a network of local and regional RV dealerships, RV maintenance/repair centers and RV rental stations. The FreedomRoads operating entity, which does business under the Camping World brand, engages in the retail sale, finance, service and rental of recreational vehicles, representing leading manufacturers and industry suppliers. FreedomRoads today serves over 4 million RV enthusiasts. For more information, visit CampingWorldRVSales.coms.