Camping World Inc. and Good Sam Enterprises LLC today (Oct. 21) announced their 2014 forecast for expansion and future development to meet customer needs for product and service in new markets. According to a press release, the new markets will raise the total number of supercenters to just shy of 120 nationwide. Additionally, the company is under contract with land owners and existing dealerships actively pursuing new markets and acquisitions that will be announced over the next six months.
“Camping World and Good Sam cater to travelers from all over the United States seeking quality outdoor products and services. We are proud to continue our commitment to the U.S. market with the opening of these new supercenters and look forward to having customers in these regions visit their new one-stop location for everything outdoor and RV,” said Marcus Lemonis, chairman and CEO of Camping World. “As part of Camping World and Good Sam’s growth strategy, the brand is making major investments in the quality of its dealer network. From facility upgrades to new store openings, the company’s network will continue to expand and evolve while serving our customers’ outdoor, RV and camping needs.”
Plans are underway to expand the company footprint with additional locations in high-traffic, outdoor-centric markets within the following areas: Pittsburgh, Pa.; Lexington, Ky.; Erie, Pa.; Des Moines, Iowa; Rapid City, S.D.; Minot, N.D.; and San Antonio, Texas.
These new markets are in addition to highly visible locations slated for first quarter 2014 that include:
• January 2014 – Coburg (Junction City area), Ore.
• January 2014 – Fresno, Calif.
• January 2014 - Lake Park, Ga.
• February 2014 - Saukville (Milwaukee area), Wis.
• April 2014 – Rossford (Toledo area), Ohio
This new market expansion is on the heels of new supercenters that have opened and /or had major renovations or relocations in the last year in the following markets:
• October 2012 – Kingston, N.Y. (new location).
• October 2012 – Spokane, Wash. (new location).
• February 2013 – Hanover, Pa. (new location).
• February 2013 – New Port Richey, Fla. (new location).
• May 2013 – Kansas City, Mo. (new location).
• June 2013 – Columbia, Mo. (new location).
• July 2013 – Lubbock, Texas (new location).
• October 2013 – Cedar Falls, Iowa (new location).
• October 2013 – Panama City, Fla. (new location).
• October 2013 – Berkley, Mass. (new location).
• August 2013 – Tampa, Fla. (relocation).
• April 2013 – Jacksonville, Fla. (relocation).
• September 2013 – Ocala, Fla. (relocation).
• September 2013 – Tucson, Ariz. (relocation).
All new locations will offer a wide array of RV sales, service, collision, parts and accessories for the outdoor enthusiast. It will feature motorhomes and towables from the finest manufacturers and brands including Winnebago Industries, Fleetwood, Thor Motor Coach, Itasca, Coleman, Heartland, Keystone, Forest River, Crossroads, Monaco, Holiday Rambler, Jayco, Starcraft, Coachmen and many more.
On the accessory side the new locations will feature new and innovative products including interactive displays and customer experiences from the top vendors such as Dometic, Honda, Thetford, Goodyear, Winegard, ADCO, Camco, Roadmaster, Husky, Reese, Cequent, Exide, Ultra-Fab, Coleman, Valterra, Dicor, Champion, Rand McNally, Max-Air, BAL, Furrion, Select Comfort, ASA Electronics, Cummins, Onan, WFCO, Weber, HWH, Presto-Fit, Stromberg-Carlson, Atwood, RDK Products, Magellan, King Controls, Charbroil, Amerigas, Exxon Mobil products, Norcold and many more. Camping World also carries and creates its own private label lines of exclusive products for the RV, outdoor and home markets.
“This is an exciting announcement not only for those of us who love the outdoors, but also for the community members of these great cities. These recent acquisitions not only increase our presence in existing markets and new territories but are also in alignment with the strategic growth plans we have for the company,” continued Lemonis. “We are constantly reviewing our footprint and evaluating where we can strengthen our position within each of our markets.”
Camping World Inc. and its Good Sam Enterprises LLC affiliate apparently made good on a promise this past weekend (Oct. 17-20) to bring thousands of RV enthusiasts together “to experience world-class evening entertainment, warm southern hospitality and to shop for hundreds of new RVs, outdoor products and camping accessories” by drawing 2,717 consumer coaches to the surrounding lots and infield of the Atlanta Motor Speedway.
All things considered, the Rally, which ended last night with a concert by the Vogues, a 1950’s group well suited for the event’s older demographic, also drew about 500 walk-in attendees a day, Vice President of Media and Events Mark Boggess told RVBUSINESS.com.
He said things actually couldn’t have gone much better, especially considering that the Rally drew about 6,000 people for a Friday night concert by the legendary Beach Boys and another 5,000 for Saturday evening’s performance by C&W entertainer Vince Gill. “It was awesome, and we had a great turnout here,” said Boggess as CW/GS’s staff was preparing to wrap things up last night.
“This was our first time here at the Atlanta Motor Speedway and, you know, all the venues are different, and I’d say probably the best part of this event here was the ability to park rigs. I mean, this place was really easy for consumers to access, and we heard it a lot at registration about how easy it was for people getting in and how they didn’t have to wait in line. So, that was a big thing as far as impressions and people came in happy. That was a good thing.”
While consumers, with the exception of the handicapped, were parked outside the speedway facility, all of the supplier and OEM displays were located in the infield, with Camping World alone showing 160 units while the number of commercial rigs on hand in the outdoor displays totaled around 300. Activities during the included about 20 seminars a day plus a veterans’ salute, Huey helicopter rides, dog Frisbee performers plus presentations by Food Network’s “Surreal Gourmet” Bob Blumer and tours of Antebellum homes, the CNN Center and the “World of Coca-Cola.”
From a commercial standpoint, Boggess says the exhibitors at the Rally were pleased with the pace of business.
“We filled two NASCAR garages and a Camping World tent at least 80 feet long with Camping World and Good Sam product,” Boggess reported. “We had over 300 indoor exhibitors sold. We even spilled over into the outside areas. People wanted to be at this Rally, so it was a huge success, and all the manufacturers did very well – Jayco particularly in the towables, as well as Keystone and Heartland.”
He added, “As for motorized, we heard nothing but great comments from Winnebago, Thor, Fleetwood and Newmar. They were all in the infield. So it made it very convenient for the handicapped people in particular to get to their exhibits. Then we shuttled people by tram and bus from all the parking around the Atlanta Motor Speedway venue through the tunnel, and that went very smoothly, too.”
In a move that could have important long-term implications for the RV transportation business, Chicago-based RV retailer Camping World Inc. formally expanded into the RV transport business during a Thursday (Oct. 17) ribbon-cutting ceremony on the west side of Elkhart, Ind., introducing its new CWRV Transport LLC.
“We were actually breathed into life, so to speak, by Camping World, who decided as the largest RV dealership in the country, they wanted to take control of their deliveries. This is a new model in this industry,” said Dave Miller, president of CWRV Transport.
Miller, a former Elkhart mayor, said “most of the manufacturers hire their transportation, and so all of the transportation companies work generally for the manufacturers. Camping World decided they wanted to do it differently. They wanted to control that.”
Roger Nuttall, Camping World retail group president, said, “For us, it’s logistics, trying to make sure we’ve got the inventory in our dealerships as quickly as we possibly can. Having this transportation does that, gives us the opportunity to get them quicker so we can sell more and keep more manufacturers busy.”
Marcus Lemonis, chairman and CEO of Camping World Inc. and Good Sam Enterprises Inc., said, “it was really asset management for us. Can we get our inventory quicker? Can we sell it faster? Can we re-order quicker?”
Nuttall said the transport company has made a significant difference at Camping World dealerships already. “We’ve been able to take off about three to three-and-a-half days on delivery,” he said.
CWRV Transport hired about 120 drivers in five weeks, and the business is on the way to between 600 and 700 drivers by January, Miller said. “We’ve got a lot more to do to grow this little company to meet Camping World’s needs. They buy an awful lot of product that’s made here in Elkhart.”
At the moment, CWRV Transport is strictly moving models from Thor’s companies to Camping World’s 100 U.S. stores, which currently account for somewhere between 18% and 22 % of total U.S. retail sales.. “We aren’t even scratching the surface of how much they buy,” Miller said. But as they ramp up he expects CWRV to handle units from all manufacturers and to pick up transport between Camping World stores.
“Once we’ve taken care of Camping World, we anticipate expanding further and serving other dealers,” Miller said.
Miller, who formerly worked at Horizon Transport, said they’re working hard to recruit drivers, but “we’re not here to rob transport companies.” In fact, Horizon is helping CWRV Transport get off the ground, Miller said.
Miller said the new venture is drawing drivers from the membership of the Good Sam Club, an affiliate of Camping World’s, as well as from the ranks of Camping World’s rolling stock and aftermarket parts & accessories customer base. “We have some locals, but there’s people from Oregon, Texas, Alabama,” Miller said.
CWRV Transport pays higher rates than the industry average, has no Canadian deliveries, no washing requirements and guaranteed drop-off times that vary no more than 30 minutes at Camping World stores, Miller said.
“This thing is only going to get bigger, and I’m glad people are buying RVs,” Miller said.
CWRV Transport LLC, an affiliate of Camping World Inc., announced the grand opening its corporate office in Elkhart, Ind. According to a press release, Marcus Lemonis, president and CEO of Camping World Inc., will be on hand and speaking during the event scheduled for Oct. 17 at 4 p.m. EDT.
CWRT Transport began official operations in September in response to a growing need among RV dealerships to exercise some control over their deliveries. “Not wanting to establish their own transportation and trucking companies, dealerships compete with each other not only for sales but for product deliveries so having a fleet of drivers dedicated solely to moving their products enables them to better control their inventory allocations and at the same time control costs,” the release stated.
CWRV Transport is run by a team of experienced RV professionals including its President Dave Miller, former two-term mayor of Elkhart. Recently, he established CWRV Transport upon invitation by Camping World to become its exclusive transporter nationwide.
CWRV already has hired 11 in-house team members and anticipates adding 600 contract drivers to deliver RVs to the nearly 100 Camping World dealerships across the United States. Camping World said CWRV boasts higher pay than the industry, no Canadian deliveries, no wash requirements and quick deliveries.
“CWRV was created and exists to serve the Camping World family of stores and customers,” said Miller. “Though many RVs are transported from the factories as dealer pick-ups, no one has attempted it on this scale. Fortunately for our beloved RV industry, Camping World sells a lot of RVs. Not only do we get to help Camping World and their many customers, I am especially thrilled we get to help our community, the RV Capital of the world.”
He added, “You can meet my boss every Tuesday night at 10 p.m. on his reality TV show, “The Profit” on CNBC. Marcus Lemonis is a dynamic, inspirational leader. I feel fortunate we are tied to his strong company and we’re proud to be part of his incredible team.”
Camping World, the nation’s largest RV and outdoor retailer, and Marcus Lemonis, chairman and CEO of Camping World and Good Sam, announced today (Sept. 30) that effective Oct. 1, Don Wallace — RV Hall of Famer, co-founder and former CEO of Lazydays RV Super Center — joins their management team. The company has assigned Wallace the responsibility of overseeing the company’s efforts in the Tampa market.
Lemonis commented, “We are pleased to bring on board an RV executive of such business acumen and accomplishments as Don Wallace. His reputation as a groundbreaker fits our requirements for leadership. I look forward to having Don assist Roger Nuttall, Camping World retail group president, on our continued growth of the RV market starting in the Tampa market. Not only does he bring the depth and breadth of financial and management expertise that will be instrumental in our expansion, he also already has an extensive knowledge of the organization and our core values.”
“After 37 years in the RV industry, I’m excited to get back in the game,” said Wallace. “I see the developments that the Camping World brand has made throughout the entire country and their vision is one I believe in. I look forward to helping Roger Nuttall execute his plan and strengthen our relationships with our loyal customers and manufacturers.”
Camping World recently relocated its facility and renovated their new McIntosh Road Tampa SuperCenter on exit 14 on I-4 to be the largest retail facility in the company’s 100-location dealer network. The Camping World of Tampa underwent an expansion to expand and renovate into an 80,000-square-foot facility including 40 additional service bays, a new 17,000-square-foot Camping World retail store and a state-of-the-art collision center. The new facility is hosting a VIP event with Lemonis on Oct. 4 from 5pm to 7pm and then hosting its grand-opening event Oct. 9-19 with door busters and special prizes for customers.
A major recreational vehicle dealer in Cedar Falls, Iowa, is going on permanent holiday — but the business is going nowhere but up.
The Waterloo Cedar Falls-Courier reported that Jim Fogdall concluded 50 years in the RV business last week by closing the sale of his family business, Ace Fogdall RV, which was named for his father. The company is going to Camping World of Lincolnshire, Ill., which is launching a $1 million renovation of the Cedar Falls location and hiring staff.
Virtually all the employees will be retained, according to Fogdall. He is retiring because of his wife Judy’s health, however, and their daughter and general manager, Sara Fogdall Miller, is stepping away from the business. She intends to devote more time to her family, including two sons ages 7 and 11.
“I’m thankful for all the opportunities we’ve had,” said Fogdall, whose family has been in the automobile and RV business for 80 years.
Ace Fogdall started in RVs in 1963 and Jim worked alongside his father for 20 years.
“When the time came to retire and sell the business, I was fortunate to find a buyer that … would employ all my present staff,” Fogdall said. “One of my biggest objectives was to sell the business with a good feeling.”
Don King, a Fogdall employee for 28 years, is now the store general manager.
“I personally have a lot of admiration for the Fogdall family,” King said.
Camping World signs are on the business. A liquidation sale of Fogdall inventory is underway — parts and RVs — to make room for the new owner. The parts, sales and service departments are open.
The reconfigured sales area boasts 9,000 square feet of floor space, according to King.
“We retained 95% of the employees, plus we have already hired nine new employees,” he added.
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In an effort to expedite delivery of some 30,000 units a year from RV manufacturers to Camping World Inc.’s 90-plus rolling stock stores, CW Chairman and CEO Marcus Lemonis says his Lincolnshire, Ill.-based company has decided to enter the RV transportation business — in a big way.
And although there are still plenty of details to be publicly fleshed out, CWRV Transport – in the planning stages for nine months now – has already done a wave of driver surveys in preparation for launching a billboard campaign this week (Aug. 12-16) around the RV-building center of Elkhart, Ind., to begin recruiting drivers in anticipation of a “game-changing” Sept. 1 launch.
The new transport operation is exclusive right now to CW dealerships, but, Lemonis says, could include other independent retailers at a later date.
“We are getting into the transportation side of the business, the logistics business, for the single purpose of improving our inventory turns,” Lemonis, also CEO of Good Sam Enterprises LLC, told by RVBUSINESS.com. “So, today, it’s not anybody’s fault, but the process of getting inventory from the manufacturer to the dealer has really slowed up. And there’s a shortage of drivers, and there’s an increase in shipments.
“And when you have that confluence of issues, you know, we’re seeing delays that could be 10 to 15 days from the time the manufacturer actually has the unit ready to the time we get it.
“What that means for us is we’ll buy over the course of the year almost $800 million dollars of inventory, and when we look at missing one week, that’s an appreciable cost. What we hope to do is cut the lead time from 14 days to seven or eight, and pick up that inventory, those dollars, and redeploy them at our new stores. We’re opening 11 new stores in the next eight months. And as we look at ways to better manage our company, we know that we have to cut down on the lead times between the manufacturer and us.”
In the final analysis, Lemonis claims CW’s bold move into RV transportation ought to relieve pressure on manufacturers, his dealers and the other transportation companies who are “being yelled at and harassed to get stuff delivered.”
A real key to the whole gameplan, meanwhile, is CW’s plan to recruit drivers all over the country through its 1.5 million Good Sam Club members as well as four million Camping World RV and parts & accessories customers to whom CW will offer decent remuneration, fuel discounts and memberships.
The end result, Lemonis added, should be a greater pool of drivers for the entire industry, including other transporters.
“It’s really a logistics business,” he said, “and what we’re doing is we’re providing a pool of people from the Good Sam Club and current customers of ours who are looking for work. Retirees are looking for work; they like to get out on their own. And we’re using our existing database to populate additional drivers for the industry.
“We think that Good Sam members and Camping World customers are perfect candidates for part-time transport work because they live the lifestyle – they understand it – and they’re always looking for something to do. So, we really thought it made sense to kind of bring the RV consumer and the RV transport company together.”
Although there will be an Elkhart office, Lemonis says Camping World is not setting up an entire infrastructure to facilitate its new transport initiative, but instead is “partnering with a number of people to kind of facilitate it.” He declined to discuss further details about how this whole thing might work from an operational standpoint.
“This whole process is being run by people who understand the transportation business, not by Lincolnshire or Bowling Green (where CW runs its parts and accessories business),” said Lemonis. “This is a process that’s being administered by people who know the space – out of Elkhart – people who know the transportation business and have really been recruited and positioned to help because shipments, in my view, are going to continue to go up.”
Since June, Monsour “Marty” Hanoud has been wrapping up a 42-year run in the retail world of recreational vehicles — the past 22 of which were dedicated to owning and operating Marty’s US RV in Berkley, Mass.
The Taunton Daily Gazette reported that Hanoud, 66, sold the business to Marcus Lemonis, chairman and CEO of Camping World Inc. and Good Sam Enterprises LLC. The store has been closed since then for extensive renovations.
Camping World, which bills itself as the nations’ largest RV retailer, is a subsidiary of Good Sam Enterprises, an organization for RV owners that offers roadside assistance, technical tips, extended warranties and other services. The 39-year-old Lemonis, who also hosts a weekly reality show on CNBC called “The Profit,” said he’s known Hanoud for well over a decade.
“He’s created a pretty amazing legacy in the RV industry. He’s a real pioneer,” Lemonis said.
Hanoud said Lemonis made an offer in 2004 to buy his business. “But business was great, and my daughter said ‘No, I want to run daddy’s business,’” Hanoud said.
Danielle Hanoud, who was in college at the time, along with brother Marc went on to help her father run the business.
Now that her dad is stepping aside she’s been named general manager of what either will be called Camping World of Boston or Camping World of Berkley, the latter of which she strongly favors.
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RV industry executive Marcus Lemonis last night (July 30) offered a primer on how to run a business in CNBC’s new business-based reality show “The Profit.”
Lemonis, the 39-year-old chairman and CEO of Camping World Inc. and sister division Good Sam Enterprises LLC, wasted little time in the show’s season premiere in throwing his weight – and money – around in helping to fix a struggling Manhattan used car buyer called Car Cash.
Run by brothers Jon and Andrew Baron, whose father, Bruce, founded the business in 1977, Car Cash was near bankruptcy when Lemonis entered the picture with bold new ideas for how to turn it around. The brothers grossed $13 million in sales in 2012 but posted a loss of $200,000 and are $200,000 in debt.
“I’m here to fix this business,” said Lemonis, who’s shown driving his red Jaguar at one point in the episode along a picturesque stretch of oceanfront. “If you want people to listen, you put money on the table.”
And that he did, writing a check for $200,000 and providing a line of credit for up to $300,000 at 7.5% interest – a rate that represents a compromise between the 5% offer from overbearing brother Jon Baron and the 10% Lemonis initially requested.
Lemonis, a well-known figure in the recreational vehicle business, noted early on in “The Profit” that he was selling cars by the time he was a teenager, and he takes an instant liking to the concept of buying used cars at the West 55th Street location and then turning around and selling them to car dealers. But the brothers’ policy of selling them through car wholesalers doesn’t sit well with Lemonis who wants to eliminate the middle man and improve on the average margin of $500 per sale.
When Jon Baron ignores Lemonis’ directive to change the company’s traditional way of doing business and get rid of the wholesalers, Lemonis, who has now taken over the company, declares, “You’ve got to the end of the day: they go or I go!”
Much to Jon’s chagrin, he reluctantly ends his relationship with the wholesalers.
Lemonis, who oversees the $2.5 billion CW/GS operations from his Lincolnshire, Ill., headquarters, then instructs him on how to make the customer feel satisfied with his offer for their car by remaining with the customer and talking him through the deal during the appraisal process.
Lemonis spends another $350,000 for 40 contractors to gut and refurbish the tired old building and bring it up to modern-day standards. To underscore his determination to clean house, Lemonis in one scene throws a chair Bobby-Knight-style across the showroom floor. He’s also seen cleaning a toilet.
Viewers do see a warmer side of Lemonis, who takes an instant liking to brother Andrew Baron. Andrew has allowed his controlling older brother to walk over him on numerous day-to-day decisions and is brought to tears when explaining to Lemonis the brothers’ less-than-ideal relationship. As part of the turnaround, Lemonis urges Andrew to write his own TV commercials, and he arranges with a recording studio to tape them. Andrew surprises Jon with a slick 15-second spot that depicts a bolder version of Andrew trumpeting the merits of Car Cash.
Lemonis’ intervention seems to spark a genuine turnaround in the brothers’ relationship with each other, as well as their business. Viewers soon see Lemonis coaching Jon on negotiating the sale of their newly purchased cars to car dealers and stands by, beaming, when Jon successfully flips a BMW he bought from a couple for $14,000 to a dealer for $17,200.
In the show’s finale, filmed three months after Lemonis entered the fray, the brothers’ reconciliation is complete with sales up 30% and the business profitable – complete with a new mobile site and a fledgling nationwide franchise operation based out of the same West 55th Street location.
The franchise was Lemonis’ idea, and while the brothers realize a return on each new franchise sold, the inference is there that Lemonis’ upfront investment will be recouped several times over through the franchise initiative.
So, while there’s a happy ending for this — the first of the season’s six episodes – various promotional trailers for subsequent episodes suggest their endings may be less copacetic.
Next week, Lemonis, who offers business advice in a staged studio setting throughout the segments and invites businesses that are in over their heads to visit www.theprofitcasting.com, enters the flower shop business.
“I hope anyone who has a small business will learn things from this show,” says Lemonis. “So many small businesses fail when they don’t have to.”
Entrepreneur Marcus Lemonis is willing to share his business knowledge, evident with his new CNBC series “The Profit” that debuts at 10 p.m. EDT tonight (July 30).
As reported by the Fresno Bee, when the businessman, whose companies include Camping World Inc. and Good Sam Enterprises LLC, needs some help with a deal, he thinks of only one person — his mother.
“I do have this very simple philosophy. I do business with one thing in mind. I always think about what my mother would say about how I did business,” Lemonis says during an interview this week at the TV Critics tour in Los Angeles. “It seems overly simplistic, but if my mother would be OK with how I did the deal, I’m good. If she would kind of raise her eyebrows and think it was a little shady, then I would know I’m not doing it the right way.”
His mother died two weeks ago, but her influence lives on in the man who went from living in a Beirut orphanage when he was 9 months old to owning his own lawn business by age 12. Now at 39, he is involved with several companies.
Network and cable channels are filled with programs where an “expert” comes into a business — restaurant, hotel, bar, beauty parlor, etc. — and tries to help fix the problems. In the end, there’s not that much tension because the experts aren’t invested in the business. Even the business sharks on “Shark Tank” can pass on a deal if they see any problems.
Lemonis has a different plan. The self-made millionaire is putting up his own money. It works like this: If the changes he makes to a struggling business work, he gets his money back and possible profit. Failure means he’s out the investment.
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