For the eighth consecutive year Camping World RV Sales was ranked as America’s No. 1 seller of towable and motorized RVs by Statistical Surveys Inc. for 2012.
“Our 2012 award indicates we continue to head in the right direction with a solid foundation and business plan in place,” said Roger Nuttall, president of Camping World Retail Group. “While we are pleased with our results, we are looking forward to continued sales improvement and are excited about our opportunity for continued growth for 2013.”
Camping World RV Sales projects it will surpass 40,000 total new and used RV sales in 2013. Coming off a strong 2011 sales year that saw unprecedented sales increases, Camping World RV Sales increased towable and motorized sales in the double digits over 2011 and dramatically increased market share in nearly every Camping World retail market.
“We are very pleased with our strong 2012 results which capped off a terrific year for our team,” said Marcus Lemonis, chairman and CEO of Camping World Inc. and Good Sam Enterprises Inc. “As evidenced by our aggressive acquisitions in 2012 and continuing in 2013, we look to take advantage of the improving market, our enhanced inventory offering, and continue to be laser focused on improving our customer experience. We are confident in our ability to produce robust sales growth across our RV enterprise in 2013.”
Statistical Surveys reports are based solely on unit volume according to independent data gathered annually.
Camping World Inc. and Good Sam Enterprises LLC announced the relocation of the Camping World of Ocala dealership to a new 85,000-square-foot facility in Summerfield, Fla. According to a press release, the new facility is just south of its existing location and will feature one of the largest indoor showrooms on the eastern seaboard.
“We initially acquired our Ocala location in November 2011 as part of a multi-store chain acquisition. We have realized great success, however, have not been able to execute our companies’ full offering,” said Marcus Lemonis, chairman and CEO of Camping World and Good Sam. “We knew that by binding both the retail and dealership locations in our network, we would get closer to achieving our goal of truly being the one-stop shopping location for the RV and outdoor enthusiast across the country.”
Camping World expects to open the new SuperCenter in Summerfield in June 2013, which is a short drive from The Villages, a retirement community with over 75,000 residents. The Villages offers 33 golf courses, eight country clubs, a wide variety of family and adult recreational areas as well as activities like archery, painting, pickleball, quilting, scrapbooking, synchronized swimming, tae chi and yoga. In 2012, Forbes magazine ranked The Villages as Florida’s fastest growing small town. Lemonis commented, “This close proximity to the Villages is a match made in heaven.”
Ocala is also known as one of the largest equestrian communities in the country. Camping World’s existing partnership with the annual Winter Equestrian Festival in Florida, coupled with this new SuperCenter located in one of the nation’s most treasured equestrian locations, further solidifies Camping World’s position as the leader in serving the horse-loving communities.
As the expansion begins, Camping World/Good Sam will add additional positions for seasoned and professional RV sales associates, technicians and retail support to assist at this new location to aid its existing employee base. Camping World’s goal is to add more quality manufacturers and brands, increase their presence in the market, and grow the workforce.
Camping World of Ocala will feature motorhomes and towables from the finest manufacturers and brands including Winnebago Industries, Fleetwood, Thor Motor Coach, Itasca, Coleman, Heartland, Keystone, Forest River, Cross Roads, Monaco, Holiday Rambler, Jayco, Starcraft, Coachmen and many more.
On the accessory side the new location 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, 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 their own private label lines of exclusive products for the RV, outdoor and home markets.
“After a thorough search in this part of Florida, which included Ocala, Gainesville, Leesburg, and Inverness we landed on Summerfield because we felt this location best served all of the aforementioned communities,” said Johnny Sirpilla, Chief Business Development Officer for Camping World and Good Sam. “Camping World has a strong history of customer service and we look forward to serving the Greater Ocala area in the near future.”
Camping World is the nation’s largest RV and outdoor retailer while Good Sam represents the world’s largest RV owners organization.
ITC Inc., an RV lighting manufacturer based in Holland, Mich., has partnered with Camping World to bring its aftermarket division, Manufacturers’ Select, to a 90-retail store launch for 2013.
According to a press release, lighting display rollouts have already begun in Camping World stores across the U.S. and are scheduled to continue throughout the year. By April of 2013, all Camping World service center stores will display ITC’s Manufacturers’ Select offerings including dinette lights, pendant lights, pin-up lights, overheads and LED options.
“Working with Camping World is a great way for us to bring our passion for lighting to the RV owner,” said Patrick Weiss, RV and marine sales manager for ITC. “These products are the same ones you would see in a Winnebago or Jayco unit direct to the customer. Camping World is the only RV accessories retailer who can say they offer this level of service and quality for our products.”
• LED options available to help RV owners transition to greener travel.
• OEM quality products direct to consumers.
• Modern finishes and glass globe options.
• Camping World assistance with installation.
• Access to the company’s entire product line through in-store merchandise and special order catalogs.
For more information visit http://www.itc-us.com/.
Marcus Lemonis, chairman and CEO of Good Sam Enterprises LLC and Camping World Inc., will be among the presenters participating at the Deutsche Bank 20th Annual Leveraged Finance Conference, slated for Oct. 9–11 at The Phoenician in Scottsdale, Ariz.
According to a press release, the agenda for the conference has been designed to provide a balance of informative keynote sessions, interactive panel discussions and one-on-one meetings to address the key themes facing businesses around the world.
Lemonis will deliver his presentation on Oct. 10 at 8:10 a.m. Keynote speakers will include former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
Camping World, the nation’s largest recreational vehicle retailer, today (July 2) announced their position as the world’s largest Thor Industries Inc. retailer, generating over $355 million in the last 12 months.
Thor Industries is the world’s largest manufacturer of recreational vehicles and their Thor Motor Coach is the No. 1 selling brand of motorhomes in North America. According to a recent Thor Industries SEC filing, Camping World makes up close to 20% of the company’s business.
Camping World, historically recognized as the world’s largest RV retailer currently approaching 100 locations, has Thor Industries as its primary offering.
“We are pleased to be recognized as Thor Industries’ Top Retailer,” said Marcus Lemonis, chairman and CEO of Camping World. “Camping World continues to deliver very impressive year over year sales growth combined with explosive new store growth and acquisitions. We are proud that we are able to hitch our wagon to a great company like Thor.”
“We feel strongly that the Thor products bring great quality to our customer following,” said Roger Nuttall, president of Camping World RV Sales. “We know that service after the sale is imperative and we share that vision with them. The relationship works well for us as we develop into new untapped markets when you are dealing with a known quantity. We see significant growth opportunity for both companies in the coming years as RV sales trend upward.”
Camping World is quickly revving up a drive to take over the RV market in the Tampa Bay region.
The Chicago-based camping store and RV dealership chain is buying the Long View RV dealership property on Interstate 4, just a few miles down the road from archrival Lazydays RV SuperCenter, and executives boast that they’ll soon take employees and RV brand lines from Lazydays, too, The Tampa Tribune reported.
“We’re consolidating the market,” said Marcus Lemonis, chairman and CEO of Camping World. “This is just one of three deals we’re announcing in a week.”
The next move will be taking over a not-yet-disclosed RV dealer site in Clearwater, he said, where Camping World plans to bring in new RV and trailer brand names. After that, Camping World will take over an RV dealership in Holiday, just north of Tarpon Springs.
The company did not disclose the names or financial terms of any of those deals.
Perhaps the most extensive transformation will be at Long View RV in Seffner.
Camping World plans to overhaul much of the 17-acre site, add 40 service bays and build its largest retail store site — a 14,000-square-foot facility that will sell accessories, parts and equipment for outdoor life. The property sits almost exactly across I-4 from the Bates RV site that specializes in shiny aluminum Airstream trailers.
The Long View dealership employs about 30 people and Lemonis said they will likely expand to 70 to 80. The product lineup will range from $10,000 trailers to $500,000 motorhomes.
The deal only came together two weeks ago when Lemonis walked into the dealership and asked to see owner Frank Roberts, who started the dealership there in 2006.
“I planned on retiring here,” Roberts said. “I never thought anything would happen like this … My next move is to try and figure out how to sell all these units in the 10 days I have left.”
Otherwise, Roberts said, he has to ship them to his other location in New England.
This move puts into play the fate of the current Camping World retail store that’s located inside the Lazydays RV campus down the road. That site has operated there for years, even as the Lazydays RV dealership changed hands, because Lazydays founder Don Wallace still owns the land underneath and technically is the landlord to both the RV dealership and the Camping World store.
That relationship between Lazydays and Camping World recently turned sour, and the two remain in a legal tussle over that store.
Though Lemonis declined to offer details about the retail site in Lazydays, he did say “It wouldn’t make sense to have two facilities that close.”
The RV sector is on the road to recovery after being decimated by the recession, losing 260 dealers and three big manufacturers nationwide.
“We’re probably having the best year we’ve had in several years and we’re trying very hard,” said Bo Beaubrixey, general manager at the Camping World dealership in Valencia, Calif. “People want to use their RVs and go camping. All the campgrounds are full (this season). Even high gas prices are not stopping people from using their RVs.”
The Los Angeles Daily News reports that the store’s sales have increased between 25% and 30% from the recession low, Beaubrixey said. He declined to provide specific numbers.
After the economy tanked, people were still coming into the store looking to buy but could not get financing, he said.
Buying an RV is similar to buying a car, but banks want a 20% down payment and the payments are stretched over 10, 12, 15 or 20 years, Beaubrixey said.
This sector measures its strength in shipments of travel trailers and motorcoaches from manufacturers to dealers. It has been on the upswing since 2009, said Phil Ingrassia, president of the national Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA).
Through the end of May, RV shipments increased 8.6%t to 127,454, compared with 117,352 in the first five months of 2011, he said.
For all of this year the industry is forecasting a 6.9% increase in shipments to 269,700. That’s an increase of 62.8% from the recession low of 165,700 in 2009.
“It’s definitely on the rebound,” Ingrassia said. “RVs are a discretionary purchase. One of the things we look at is consumer sentiment. When consumer sentiment takes a dive, usually RV shipments drop as well.”
Camping trailers dominate the market, but coach sales have been on the rise, too.
The association does a dealer census every five years and there were 3,000 nationwide in 2007. He expects the figure to be significantly lower when the 2012 figure is released, though business is starting to recover.
“Now we’re seeing some expansion and consolidation. We’re not seeing dealers close like they did in 2008 and 2009,” Ingrassia said.
Niel’s Motor Homes on Sepulveda Boulevard in North Hills has been in the RV industry since 1953, making it the oldest dealer in Los Angeles County.
Dealership general manager Jim Royal said business began perking up about a year ago, but he did not provide specific numbers.
“Sales (levels) are not what they were in ’07 and ’08. This business was doing very well, and pretty much overnight it changed,” he said.
But the dealership got a bump in its service business.
“People were keeping their motorhomes longer and keeping them up rather than trading them in on a new one,” Royal said.
Sales of used RVs are also gaining strength as the economy slowly recovers.
“I used to ask the (buyer) do you want a new one or a used one and he’d say `New, I never buy used.’ You don’t hear that anymore,” Royal said.
Eighty percent of the store’s customers are repeat buyers, he said.
One of those is Gerald Knight of Agua Dulce, who currently owns a Fleetwood 40-foot coach. It’s the third RV he’s bought at Niel’s.
Knight brought his rig in for service last week because he’s planning a trip to Big Sur over the holiday with his two sons.
His coach has a rear-mounted diesel engine with a 125-gallon tank, according to Fleetwood’s specification sheet, and a fill-up would cost $487 at Friday’s prices.
That not a deterrent to Knight, who takes about six trips in the coach each year.
Knight, a driver in the entertainment industry, likes the flexibility offered by an RV.
“If you really like a place you can stay longer. You’re not tied into a hotel. You’ve got so many options here,” he said. “The state parks with the woods or the beaches.”
The price range of motorized RVs covers a broad spectrum. Campers on pickup truck bodies start in the low five figures and bus-style coaches can reach the high five figures or more.
The coach the Clemenses bought cost about $130,000, and has flat-screen televisions, including one mounted outside the coach, a roaming satellite antenna and it can sleep seven.
Considering all the features, it was a bargain, the Clemenses said.
The Clemenses have taken the Thor Challenger to Las Vegas and Lone Pine. This is their first extended trip, and the couple likes the ride.
The coach has 10-cylinder truck engine and runs on regular gas and the fuel gauge on the 80-gallon tank was only at the halfway mark by the time they reached Kingman Ariz.
They planned to arrive in Owensboro, Ky., on Sunday after stops in Albuquerque, N.M., and Oklahoma City, Okla.
They will eventually cover about 4,000 miles on the trip that includes a stopover in Branson, Mo., and Norman, Okla., before arriving back at their home in Tehachapi.
“The trip’s been great, although I-40 is clearly in need of resurfacing,” Mark Clemens said.
Seeking to build stronger business relationships with affiliated parks, the Good Sam RV Park and Resort Network hosted the inaugural meeting of the Good Sam Park Advisory Council April 23-25 at the Grand Hyatt Dallas Fort Worth in Texas.
Made up of representatives from 12 Good Sam Parks, the council shared input with Good Sam executives on network programs designed to increase membership and generate revenues for all 1,700 Good Sam Parks, according to a news release.
“The mission of the council is to determine how to be better business partners with parks,” reports Bruce Hoster, vice president of the Good Sam RV Park and Resort Network. “We want our programs to be more effective.”
Council members are Gaye Appelman, Azalea Acres RV Park, Robertsdale, Ala.; Chuck Hayes, Far Horizons 49er Village RV Resort, Plymouth, Calif.; Patrick O’Neill, Camping on the Gulf, Destin, Fla.; Kris Freedman, Hi-Valley RV Park, Boise, Idaho; Jeff Lawson, Cave Country RV Campground, Cave City, Ky.; Toni Nezat, Lakeside RV Park, Livingston, La.; Randy Packard, Pine Acres Family Camping Resort, Oakham, Mass.; Jim and Sue Alkire, America’s Best Campground, Branson, Mo.; James Livers, Boot Hill RV Resort, Alamogordo, N.M.; Max Hammer, Beaver Lake Campground, Custer, S.D.; Ernie Sims, Colonia Del Rey RV Park, Corpus Christi, Texas; and Selena Littman, Candy Hill Campground, Winchester, Va.
Club Membership Tops 1.3 Million
The council’s formation comes as the Good Sam Club undergoes sweeping changes, with membership swelling from 850,000 to 1.3 million members following the club’s merger with Camping World President’s Club last year.
Good Sam management has made significant modifications to the Good Sam Network’s new member program, in which parks sell Good Sam memberships to guests and keep the revenue. A revamped bonus program rewards parks for selling as few as 25 memberships per year and offers $5,000 for parks whose sales exceed 2,000. Revised signage, updated sales materials and new price points give parks more tools to sell memberships.
On the publishing side, even more changes are in the works. For 2013, the company will debut the Good Sam RV Travel Guide and Campground Directory, the product of a merger of the Trailer Life Directory and Woodall’s Campground Directory.
Hoster says the council’s ongoing feedback should help ensure that Good Sam programs are effective going forward. “Programs only work well when they involve people on the front lines,” says Hoster. “They have to work at the point of purchase.”
The council reflects the diversity of Good Sam Parks across North America, explains Ann Emerson, publisher and vice president of Good Sam’s multi-media division. The geographically varied council membership includes parks of all sizes, from mom-and-pop campgrounds to resorts run by ownership companies. Some of the members are longtime Good Sam Network affiliates, while others joined recently.
“The meeting was a way to get acquainted with what Good Sam is doing,” says Patrick O’Neal, general manager of Florida’s Camping on the Gulf. “It was good to hear that Good Sam wants to listen to the parks.”
Hoster says that council members are generally receptive to the company’s new combined directory. “They met it with open arms,” he adds. “They like one set of reps, one marketing purchase. They like that we’re focusing one directory on the total audience.”
Good Sam rating system, which will be used in the 2013 directory, also received kudos from the group. “They’re supportive of the Good Sam rating system,” says Hoster. “They brought honest feedback and showed us areas we can improve upon.”
One of the insights gleaned from council members was the need to reconsider the description of road and pad surfaces in RV parks. “A lot of composite surfaces are better than pavement in some ways, such as being greener,” says Hoster. “Because pavement doesn’t allow the ground to absorb water, there are some areas where the government discourages paving in favor of composite surfaces.”
Revenue generation by Good Sam Parks also took up a good portion of the discussion. “We showed the council the first draft of a webinar they can use to train their staff on selling Good Sam memberships,” says Emerson. The finished webinar is now available for viewing on the Good Sam Network home page.
Also discussed were potential partnerships between Good Sam Parks and Camping World stores, where Good Sam Club members enjoy a member discount. “We talked about how we can use Camping World as a wholesale outlet for campground stores,” says Emerson.
“Good Sam Parks are passionate about the RVer experience,” Emerson continues. “They’re saying, ‘Let us work with local Camping World stores. Let’s help new RVers come to our campground and have a great initial experience.’”
Good Sam Parks also were eager to forge stronger partnerships with the 1,500 Good Sam Club chapters. “They told us, ‘We’d love to see more chapters and have closer relationships with them and the state directors,’” says Emerson.
The council plans to meet each April as well as in November during the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds’ (ARVC) Outdoor Hospitality Conference and Expo. Good Sam will also maintain open channels of communications with the council throughout the year. “We’ll reach out via emails and other communications,” confirms Hoster, “so we can enlist parks’ help with all our initiatives to grow their business and ours.”
For more information, please contact Katelyn Smith, coordinator, Good Sam RV Park and Resort Network, email@example.com, (877) 202-2342.
Good Sam Enterprises LLC reported a 5.3% increase in sales for its first quarter, ended March 31, while posting a profit versus a net loss in the previous year.
Revenues totaled $110.1 million for the first quarter, an increase of $5.5 million from the comparable period in 2011. Net income was $4,000 compared to a loss of $2.6 million. The Good Sam report does not include results from its Camping World subsidiary’s rolling stock sales.
Revenue performance among the various sectors included:
• Membership Services revenues of $37.2 million for the first quarter of 2012 increased $2 million, or 5.6%, from the comparable period in 2011. This revenue increase was largely attributable to a $1.6 million increase in member events revenue due to the timing of the Good Sam Club annual rally, which occurred in the first quarter of 2012 versus the third quarter of 2011, an $0.8 million increase in extended vehicle warranty program revenue due to contract price increases, a $0.3 million increase in marketing fee revenue from RV financing, and a $0.2 million increase in emergency road service revenue, partially offset by a $0.6 million decrease in advertising revenue from RV View magazine, which was replaced with Highways magazine in 2011, and a $0.3 million decrease in Coast to Coast and Golf Card Club revenue due to decreased membership and the sale of the Golf Card Club in March 2012.
• Media revenues of $11.8 million for the first quarter of 2012 decreased $3.6 million, or 23.2%, from the comparable period in 2011. This decrease was primarily attributable to a $2.2 million revenue reduction resulting from the sale or closure of non-core media businesses in 2011, a $0.7 million reduction in annual directory revenues due to reduced marketing and phasing out the cd-rom version, a $0.3 million reduction in consumer show revenue, and a $0.4 million reduction in magazine revenue.
• Retail revenues of $61.0 million for the first quarter of 2012 increased by $7.1 million, or 13.2%, from the comparable period in 2011. Store merchandise sales increased $4.7 million from the first quarter of 2011 due to a same store sales increase of $3.7 million, or 9.3%, compared to a 1.4% decrease for the first quarter of 2011, and a $1.4 million increase due to the opening of ten new stores over the last fifteen months, which were partially offset by decreased revenue from discontinued stores of $0.4 million. One store was closed in the last fifteen months in order to consolidate operations within that area. Same store sale calculations for a given period include only those stores that were open both at the end of that period and at the beginning of the preceding fiscal year. Also, mail order and Internet sales increased $3.2 million, installation and service fees decreased $0.5 million, and supplies and other revenue decreased $0.3 million.
Earnings per segment showed:
• Membership services segment profit of $16.0 million for the first quarter of 2012 increased $1.9 million, or 13.4%, from the comparable period in 2011. This increase was attributable to a $0.7 million increase in segment profit from the Good Sam Club primarily due to cost savings resulting from the combination of the President’s Club and the Good Sam Club on January 1, 2012, a $0.7 million increase from Camp Club USA, a $0.5 million gain on sale of Golf Card Club, a $0.3 million improvement in Coast to Coast Club, and a $0.3 million increase from RV financing, partially offset by a decrease in segment profit of $0.6 million from member events.
• Media segment profit of $1.8 million for the first quarter of 2012 increased by $0.1 million, or 3.7%, from the comparable period in 2011 due to $0.4 million of cost savings from the sale or closure of non-core media businesses in 2011, and a $0.3 million increase from the annual directories, partially offset by a reduction in segment profit of $0.6 million from our magazines.
• Retail segment loss of $2.9 million for the first quarter of 2012 favorably decreased $0.4 million from a segment loss of $3.3 million for the first quarter of 2011. This reduction in segment loss resulted from a $1.5 million increase in gross profit and a $0.3 million reduction in depreciation expense partially offset by a $1.4 million increase in selling, general and administrative expenses.
To view the entire report click here.
A personal $25,000 donation from Marcus Lemonis, chairman of Camping World Inc. and Good Sam Enterprises LLC, helped kick off a new fundraising campaign launched earlier this week aimed at helping pay off the RV/MH Heritage Foundation Inc.’s bank loans on the RV/MH Hall of Fame & Museum in Elkhart, Ind.
The goal is to raise $100,000 in voluntary contributions by Aug. 31, all of which is to be matched by the Robert “Boots” Ingram family, which has put up a $100,000 challenge grant for the purpose of lowering the Hall’s debt to 1st Source Bank by $200,000.
“After seeing the information on what the Ingram family did and the attempt to pay down the bank – and knowing that the Ingram donation was really a match, not a guarantee from what I understand – yesterday (May 9) I made a contribution of $25,000 in the hope that other people will fill the gap and put this issue to rest,” said Lemonis, whose 5,000-employee, privately held firm based in Lincolnshire, Ill., operates 78 RV dealerships and 93 Camping World parts and accessories stores.
“You know,” he told RVBUSINESS.com, “they’re not asking for a lot, this organization (the Hall of Fame) that we’ve talked about in the past, and we need to know that it survives. It was as simple as that for me. I made a commitment a year and a half ago to do something, and this is a good gesture to ensure that other people feel the same level of responsibility.”
Hall of Fame President Darryl Searer, a former inductee appointed to his new post in March, says the Lemonis donation should help expedite the debt-reduction drive and give the Hall a leg up in reaching its stated goal.
“We need to reach the goal by the end of August to match the Ingram’s $100,000,” reported Searer. “And this is certainly a great start towards that, and I really appreciate the fact that Marcus Lemonis has stepped up to be the first significant donor toward meeting that goal. We’re 25% of the way there, as of now.”
Searer, chairman of Elkhart, Ind.-based Ultra-Fab Products Inc., reports that things are going well. “Yes, phenomenal is the best way to put it,” said Searer. “The people who are coming forward and offering assistance have just been more than I could expect.”
Upgrading the website has been a major priority for Searer, a former Hall treasurer and board member who has a “lengthy list” of things he wants to do this year in taking over the reins at the Hall, which houses a museum and library as well as rental facilities. That list includes “meetings with the mayor, newspapers and county officials.”
Meanwhile, Searer said he was pleased to have received a donation of 20 tables and 200 chairs from Elkhart’s Matterhorn Conference Center Banquets Catering, which provides catering services. The Hall of Fame previously had to arrange for rental tables and chairs for events held at the north side Elkhart shrine to the locally based recreational vehicle and manufactured housing industries.
Tax-deductible gifts, adds Searer, may be made by mail, in person at the Hall, by phone at (800) 378-8694, or through www.rvmhhalloffame.org.