The following is a blog from RVing Examiner’s Julian Gothard offering commentary on Camping World President and CEO Marcus Lemonis’ decision to pull sponsorship from reality show “Celebrity Apprentice” following published photos of host Donald Trump’s sons posing with African game they had shot. To read the entire story click here. RVBUSINESS.com has also received several comments since posting a related story on March 15. To view that article and review comments click here.
Hunters are threatening to boycott Camping World’s 75 nationwide locations after company Chairman and CEO Marcus Lemonis ruled out future sponsorship of NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice TV show. Lemonis who heads up the Good Sam Club (a season 12 sponsor of Celebrity Apprentice) as well as Camping World (a season 11 sponsor) was displeased by photos which pictured brothers Eric and Donald Trump Jr. – judges on the Donald Trump reality show – with their wild animal trophies on a big game hunting safari in Zimbabwe.
In a statement posted last week on the company Facebook page Camping World sought to clarify their position. “Camping World…believes in personal freedom. In this country, people are free to choose. This issue at hand is not about whether people should be able to hunt or not. Our company is neither for nor against hunting. We are for personal choice and having people enjoy the outdoors in whatever fashion they choose. However, if and when the hunting of endangered species occurs, whether in the United States or abroad, it is not acceptable to even the most avid of hunters. We remain strong in our conviction of preserving the outdoors, protecting our great country’s lands and the freedom to choose.”
Comments from the company’s Facebook followers seem almost evenly divided between those who support Camping World and those who believe in an individual’s right to hunt. The real bone of contention seems to be what constitutes an endangered species so the RVing Examiner turned to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species for guidance.
The IUCN also notes that “some community-based conservation programs in which revenue from the sport hunting of elephants reverts directly to local communities have proved effective in increasing tolerance to elephants, and thus indirectly in reducing levels of human-elephant conflict.” This statement tends to support safari organizer Hunting Legends’ contention that they play a crucial role in supporting the local economy. Indeed, however distasteful big game hunting may at first appear to be to an outside observer the most prudent course of action would be to reserve judgement until one has been fully apprised of the facts.
While the Trump brothers may be guilty of a serious PR faux pas they don’t deserve to be vilified for their chosen pastime. Similarly, Marcus Lemonis as CEO of Good Sam and Camping World made a decision that he thought was in the best interests of both companies, as is his right. Of course, regardless of the rights and wrongs of the situation it’s likely that NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice” will be the real winner.
Multi-location dealer Camping World Inc. still holds a commanding lead for new retail sales and continued to see increases in unit growth in both the motorized and towable sales categories in 2011, according to an annual report by Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Statistical Surveys Inc.
• Top multi-lot towable dealer: Camping World
• Top multi-lot motorized dealer: Camping World
• Top single lot towable dealer: RV Wholesalers Inc., Lakeview, Ohio
• Top single lot motorized dealer: Lazydays RV Supercenter, Seffner, Fla.
Statistical Surveys reported that Wixom, Mich.-based General RV Center, Camping World’s nearest competitor in the multiple location category, registered a 16.73% unit sale increase in 2011.
Lazydays continues to be the largest single lot motorized dealer by a substantial margin, while Motor Home Specialist, Alvarado, Texas, was No. 2, gaining an impressive 144.25% for 2011 in unit sales.
Lakeview Ohio,-based RV Wholesalers Inc. ranked as the largest single lot towable dealer for the second year in a row followed by: Holman Motors, Batavia, Ohio (11.04% increase); Cheyenne Camping Center, Walcott, Iowa (40.72%); and Terrytown RV, Grand Rapids, Mich. (21.85%).
Phoenix International Raceway announced that Camping World will be a corporate partner as the NASCAR facility’s official provider of RV rentals, sales and service.
According to a press release, Camping World will provide the thousands of campers, who make ZOOMTOWN, U.S.A. their home for the Kobalt Tools 500 NASCAR weekend, with on-site products and service located at Cotton 3 RV parking lot at PIR.
“Camping World is proud to partner with Phoenix International Raceway as the official provider of RV and camping accessories, parts, service, sales and rentals,” said Camping World chairman and CEO Marcus Lemonis. “It’s our chance to give back to the racing community, allowing us the privilege of providing the gear and supplies that race fans need when they are at this premier racing venue in their RVs.”
“Race fans are loyal to their driving teams and to their RV lifestyle,” added Lemonis. “That’s the kind of passion that Camping World has for meeting their needs, whether they are camping at the track or on their way to the next racing event with their family and friends.”
Camping World President and CEO Marcus Lemonis had a hand in turning the ZCenter’s 10th Annual “Have A Heart/Heal A Heart” Casino Night fundraiser on Oct. 1 into the most successful dinner fundraiser in the agency’s history – netting $209,000 for their children’s advocacy and counseling programs.
Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center, based in northern Chicago, provides survivors of sexual assault or abuse with comprehensive, confidential, services at no charge including: medical and legal advocacy, emergency room and police sensitivity training, 24-hour crisis hotline and crisis intervention services, and counseling for both individuals and groups. The center’s Community Education department also provides prevention education to thousands of area school children each year.
“Marcus was absolutely phenomenal,” said ZCenter’s Director of Development Joe Howard. “He pushed the auction to record numbers and strengthened people’s participation to the cause every step of the way. He made everyone who is connected to our organization very proud.”
In addition to bringing two tables full of guests, Camping World and Good Sam donated numerous RV rentals, VIP ticket packages to concerts, racing and entertainment events.
“Marcus is passionate about doing everything possible to support ZCenter’s vital programs and services for survivors of rape and incest, and we at Camping World and Good Sam are looking forward to welcoming the evening’s winning bidders to our signature events, including ‘The Tim McGraw Tour’,” said Zrinka Allen, executive vice president of Camping World and Good Sam, and longtime ZCenter supporter.
Camping World today (Oct. 26) announced a series of store openings in new markets over the next 12 months, according to a press release.
“Camping World is poised for growth in every segment of our business with a goal of 100 stores by 2014,” said Marcus Lemonis, Camping World’s chairman and CEO. “A larger store base will allow us to better serve our 4 million customers nationwide and our 1.3 million Good Sam members. As our ecommerce business continues to explode with record traffic, page visits, and sales, we will continue to invest in our brick and mortar business units with the addition of over 200 service bays nationwide in the next 12 months including more paint and collision centers, accessory stores and RV dealerships.”
Retail accessories store expansions are currently planned in Fort Myers, Fla., Detroit, Nashville, Tenn., Las Vegas, Tucson, Ariz., and Knoxville, Tenn., including RV sales offerings in select locations. Additionally, new store openings are on tap in Florida including Orlando, Ocala, Cocoa Beach and South Florida, along with locations in Oklahoma, the New England states, Virginia, Texas and Washington State. Openings are also slated for Raleigh, N.C., and Harrisburg, Pa.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to grow our business through stand-alone new store openings as well as partnering with quality RV dealerships in strong RV markets,” said John A. Sirpilla, president of Camping World’s accessory division. “This strategy not only supports our consumer base but provides a great value to our vendor partners. As our national network continues to expand our brand value increases and the traffic benefits we offer a dealer partner multiply.”
Camping World currently operates 81 Super Centers nationwide.
Camping World Inc. and Good Sam Enterprises LLC today (Sept. 27) announced the expansion of the company’s executive team through the appointments of Jim DeBruzzi as CFO and Zrinka Allen as executive vice president of human resources, social responsibility and communication.
The two companies also announced several key promotions: Tom Wolfe to executive vice president of operations for Good Sam; Tamara Ward to chief marketing officer of Camping World and Good Sam; and Mike Siemens to president of Good Sam Club, the largest RV Club in the world with over 1.3 million members.
Prior to joining the company, DeBruzzi was CFO for Kerasotes Showplace Theatres, one of America’s largest movie theatre chains. He was responsible for the company’s accounting, finance, treasury, risk management, reporting and compliance, M & A, human resources and IT.
Allen comes to Camping World and Good Sam with over 20 years of human resources experience, most recently as director of human resources for Wolters Kluwer where she led the development and implementation of key business strategies focused on talent acquisition and development, compliance, diversity/inclusion and social responsibility.
In her new role, she will focus on streamlining the company’s employee management systems as well as talent procurement. Additionally, she will oversee social responsibility for the company, maintaining the Good Sam Club’s charter established in 1966 of “people helping people.”
“Good Sam and Camping World have always attracted talent of the highest caliber, but this is a whole new level. We are focused on growing the company through precision and experience. As we evolve to the next level we must continue seeking out individuals with proven track records. I am confident Zrinka and Jim will be tremendous assets as we continue to build our company with a focus on profitability and social responsibility,” said Marcus Lemonis, chairman and CEO of Camping World and Good Sam.
Wolfe recently served as the CFO for Good Sam Enterprises. In his new position, his primary focus will be on the media business as well as rapidly growing the products and services venture group. Ward’s core focus will be advancing Camping World and Good Sam’s marketing efforts, including expanding its brands. She has been with the company over 22 years. Siemens will be charged with improving the overall experience of the Good Sam Club members, bringing new benefits to the club and improving the retention and acquisition of RVers nationwide. He brings over 25 years experience with the company.
“Marcus and I are thrilled to add new members to our team and announce these well deserved promotions. Over the last year we have worked hard to shed our non-core business and are poised for dramatic growth. It’s paramount to have the right people in the right positions and we have clearly achieved that,” said Brent Moody, chief administrative and legal officer of Camping World and Good Sam.
The Good Sam Club, the world’s largest RV owners community, and Atlanta Motor Speedway announced the sponsorship of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The Event will be titled the Good Sam Club 200 and is scheduled to run Sept. 2.
Home of the biggest Labor Day party in the USA, the Atlanta Motor Speedway 1.54-mile track vies for the title of the “fastest track in NASCAR” and consistently delivers exciting racing. “We are proud to partner with Atlanta Motor Speedway,” said Marcus Lemonis, chairman and CEO of Camping World and Good Sam Enterprises. “Atlanta is a great market for Good Sam and Camping World, and we look forward to sharing in the race excitement while exposing the fans to our brand, products and services at our on-site store.”
“Labor Day weekend is a great time for camping and our fans come from all over the country to enjoy the events here at AMS, so this partnership is the perfect fit,” said Ed Clark, president and general manager of Atlanta Motor Speedway. “The presence of the Camping World store on-site for the weekend will serve our fans well.”
Mobileye Inc., a leading producer of collision prevention and mitigation technologies and driver safety systems, today (Aug. 29) at the Mobile Electronics Retailers Association (MERA) Knowledgefest announced a retail distribution and installation agreement with Camping World Inc., the nation’s largest retailer of RV supplies, accessories, services and new and used RVs.
According to a press release, Camping World joins Mobileye’s distribution network in offering its aftermarket C2-270 Collision Prevention System, which includes pedestrian collision warning, forward collision warning, headway monitoring warning and lane departure warning.
As part of the agreement, Camping World will offer customers Mobileye’s C2-270 at its 80-plus store locations nationwide, as well as online. Camping World found Mobileye’s single camera-based safety solution as the most robust and trustworthy collision avoidance product for its customers.
“Camping World is always on the lookout for products and services that will benefit our customers. Nothing is more important than the safety of our customers, so bringing this technology to the RV consumer is in perfect alignment with our product mission,” said John A. Sirpilla, president of Camping World. “RVers trust and rely on Camping World for product innovation and will drive safer under the watchful eye of the Mobileye Collision Prevention System. We are excited to welcome Mobileye to our expansive product offering.”
Camping World is putting a focus on safety, and joining Mobileye’s global 35-plus distributor network, showcasing the company’s mission to engage and partner with top retailers with a shared focus on making roadways safer for the drivers and passengers who frequent them.
“Mobileye is dedicated to educating consumers on the benefits that advanced driver assistance systems provide, and aims to drive further awareness through partnerships with retailers like Camping World that are similarly committed to making America’s roadways safer,” said Skip Kinford, Mobileye CEO.
With its eye on broadening its presence in the retail sector, Mobileye recently hired Jack Travis as its director of retail sales for North America to continue to educate retailers on the various benefits solutions like Mobileye’s provide. Travis previously served as vice president of sales at Harman, a leading global provider of premium audio and infotainment solutions, with a focus on mobile and computing products, and as director of the iBrand division at SDI Technologies Inc.
Continuing its recent trend, Pocono Raceway announced Thursday (July 21) that Good Sam will provide title sponsorship for its upcoming NASCAR weekend, according to the Scranton Times-Tribune.
Good Sam, the world’s largest RV owners community, will back both NASCAR races at Pocono on Aug. 6-7. The Sprint Cup Series race will be called the Good Sam RV Insurance 500, while the Camping World Truck Series race will be called the Good Sam RV Emergency Road Service 125.
Founded in 1966, the Good Sam Club offers assistance, discounts and other resources to RV owners.
“This is a great opportunity to sponsor the race weekend and to expose race goers to our broad selection of camping and tailgating products,” Marcus Lemonis, chairman and CEO of Camping World and Good Sam, said in a press release.
Beginning in 1997, Pocono chose to promote its facility and the state in which it is located in the names of its two annual NASCAR races: the Pocono 500 and the Pennsylvania 500.
In 2008, Sunoco and the American Red Cross came on as partial sponsors of the Pennsylvania 500.
In June 2010, Gillette Fusion ProGlide sponsored the first Pocono race.
Five weeks ago, when NASCAR made its first visit of the season to Pocono, the race was called the 5-Hour Energy 500 and won by Jeff Gordon.
On Friday, Aug. 5, practice will be held at Pocono for the Sprint Cup, Camping World Truck and ARCA Series cars.
Qualifying for the Sprint Cup and Truck Series will be held Saturday, Aug. 6 in the morning. The Good Sam RV Emergency Road Service 125 race will begin at 1 p.m., followed by the ARCA Pennsylvania 125 at 3 p.m.
The Good Sam RV Insurance 500 will be Sunday, Aug. 7 at 1 p.m.
This is a big weekend for Camping World because the Bowling Green, Ky.-based company is playing a major role in two national events on opposite coasts – The Rally running July 14-17 at the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center in Redmond, Ore., and at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway where the company’s Good Sam Enterprises LLC division joins RCR as the primary sponsor on the No. 33 Good Sam Chevrolet driven by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Driver Clint Bowyer.
“We are excited to partner with RCR and sponsor Clint in the No. 33 Good Sam Chevrolet,” said Marcus Lemonis, chairman and CEO of Camping World and Good Sam Enterprises LLC, formerly known as Affinity Group Inc. “Clint is an avid outdoorsman who understands our business and our customers. Clint’s parents have been members of the Good Sam and the Camping World President’s Club for many years.”
Out in Oregon, where The Rally’s unit count by last night (July 15) was close to 3,000, things have been going well, according to Camping World spokesmen. On hand for The Rally, one of the nation’s three key national consumer rallies for 2011 (along with the Family Motor Coach Association’s upcoming convention Aug. 10-13 in Madison, Wis.), are 361 exhibitors, including 20-plus RV manufacturers, and some 560 motorized and towable display units.
“Camping World had the best sales in one day at a rally they’ve ever had yesterday,” Terry Thompson, vice president of sales for the company’s RV consumer magazine titles, reported Saturday morning. “And guys I’ve talked to at different companies like Newmar, Jayco and Winnebago seem pleased with the initial consumer response early in the game. The early signs are that sales are going to be good for these companies, and the same goes for the indoor displays.”
Good Sam Events Coordinator Sue Bray concurs with the positive assessment, despite torrential rains that surprisingly swept across the area and delayed by an hour a Friday night performance by C&W favorite Vince Gill.
Bray, noting that a Thursday night concert by ‘60’s crooner Bobby Vinton went well, says she’s pleased with a unit count of nearly 3,000 – a decent number, most industry watchers would agree, in the post-recessionary era.
“Yes, we think we’re going to hit more than we had in Louisville in 2010 and more than we had in Albuquerque the year before, but not as many as we had when we were here in ’07 or when we were in Perry (Georgia). We’re pleased,” says Bray, noting that Camping World has three national rallies slated for next year in Phoenix, Louisville and Daytona.
Friday night, Bray added, the club recognized long-term Good Sam Club members by providing them with preferred seating for the Vince Gill performance.
“Marcus (Lemonis) last night talked to the crowd and wound up giving away a lot of stuff,” she said. “For instance, he gave away Pilot Flying J gas cards to people who had driven the farthest. We also presented RVers of the Year Don and Marilyn Buller from Fresno, Calif., with their award and a donation to their project. And Marcus actually is loaning them a fifth-wheel and gas and a Camping World shopping spree as part of what they have won as the Good Sam RVers of the Year.”
“You know,” she added, “one of the interesting things here has been using some social media. We’ve been posting a lot of stuff on the Good Sam Facebook page and, oh my gosh, did we get responses. I mean, as soon as we put it up, somebody’s on it, talking about the rally – you know, mostly people who aren’t there asking questions and that sort of thing. So, we’ve had a lot of chatter going on there.”
On tap today is a show by early rocker Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits. Bray says attendees will also attempt to break the Guinness Book of World Records standard for the most people simultaneously doing “high fives.”
The event concludes on Sunday evening.
“All things considered,” says Bray, “we couldn’t ask for much better. The weather has been generally gorgeous. People are happy. You know, there is snow on the mountains; you have that gorgeous view of the Three Sisters (mountains). Oregon is really putting on a show for us.”
Camping World celebrated the opening of its fourth store in Alabama on July 14 with a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony, according to a report in the Shelby County Recorder.
The Calera store, located in the showroom of Suncoast RV, has more than 8,000 items. “We’re the No. 1 RV retailer in the country,” said Greg Skinner, general manager of the Calera Camping World.
The store is the chain’s 80th store nationwide. Other Alabama locations include Anniston, Dothan and Robertsdale.
The opening of the Calera location “came about rather quickly,” Skinner said. The store opened June 25, within three weeks of signing a lease agreement with Suncoast RV.
“That’s quite a bit quicker than a typical Camping World store,” Skinner said, “but things were in place where we could do this.”
Suncoast RV first approached Camping World about the venture, Skinner said. “I’m sure the company was looking at this market at some time, but didn’t have an opportunity until this came open,” Skinner added.
Skinner said setting up shop inside Suncoast RV is a win-win for both businesses. “Their customers become our customers, and we actually bring in a lot of traffic,” Skinner said.
Any repeat Camping World customer is considered a President’s Club member, Skinner said. There are 13,000 President’s Club members within a 100-mile radius of Calera.
“That actually surprised me,” Skinner said. “I didn’t know we had that many members that close. We’re proud to have loyal customers.”
During the month of May, all associates will have three opportunities to participate in our monthlong military appreciation event, according to a news release from Mary Ellen Spedale, Camping World and Good Sam Cares chairwoman:
- Letters for soldiers in partnership with a www.amillionthanks.org.
- Cell phones for soldiers in partnership with www.cellphonesforsoldiers.org.
- Our salute to our military members or veterans working for Camping World and Good Sam.
Letters for Soldiers
During the month of May, each Camping World/Good Sam location has a collection box onsite for both associates and customers to submit a written letter to a soldier expressing their gratitude for their service. Pen and paper will be available near the collection box for you to write your letter. Many times soldiers respond to letters they receive, so don’t be shy and include your mailing address or e-mail address.
Cell Phones for Soldiers
In addition to the letters for soldiers, each Camping World Good Sam location will also have a collection box for cell phones for soldiers. The old cell phones collected are refurbished and sold with the proceeds collected from the sale being used toward purchasing calling cards. The calling cards are distributed to our military personnel serving overseas. This services allows our military personnel to stay connected with their loved ones back home.
Our Salute to Military Associates both Current and Veterans
She added, “We will be preparing a military salute to all our brave associates for their service at the end of the month of May. If you have or are serving our in our nation’s military, we would like to recognize and honor your service within our company. If you would like to participate in this voluntary honor, please e-mail your name, military branch, and a picture of yourself to email@example.com by May 13. If you need assistance scanning or sending your pictures or need your picture taken, please see your location’s Camping World and Good Sam Cares Champion to assist you.”
June is National Great Outdoors Month, which is a wonderful time to enjoy fun outdoor activities with family and friends.
And this year, private campgrounds, RV parks and resorts that are affiliated withGoCampingAmerica.com will celebrate the occasion by offering a 20% discount on camping during the first three weeks of June, according to a news release.
“We think National Great Outdoors Month is a perfect opportunity for America’s campground industry to encourage everyone to get outdoors, explore nature and have fun with their friends and families,” said Paul Bambei, president and CEO of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).
The Denver, Colo.-based association represents more than 3,300 private campgrounds, RV parks and resorts, which it promotes through the GoCampingAmerica.com website.
In addition to providing discounts on camping, GoCampingAmerica.com will also provide e-coupons that consumers can use to obtain discounts at Camping World stores and RV rentals booked through El Monte RV, which has agreed to provide 500 free miles plus 50 free miles a day to GoCampingAmerica visitors who rent an RV for at least one week during the June 1-25 period.
GoCampingAmerica.com will feature e-coupons for use at campgrounds, Camping World stores and El Monte RV beginning May 15. However, the discounts will be available June 1-25. Campground discounts will be available only at participating parks and on a space-available basis.
“We encourage campers to use GoCampingAmerica.com to locate the campgrounds, RV parks and resorts that are of interest to them and to call at least 24 hours ahead to book their reservations,” Bambei said.
GoCampingAmerica.com is the largest searchable database of privately owned and operated campgrounds, RV parks and resorts in the country, which offer fun family activities as well as rental accommodations ranging from safari tents and teepees to cabins, luxury park model cottages, yurts and RVs.
The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds is the national voice of the outdoor hospitality industry. For additional information, visit www.gocampingamerica.com.
Camping World RV of Syracuse N.Y., will host its 14th consecutive RV show at the New York State Fairgrounds April 28-May 8.
The RV dealership has been a strong community presence for over a decade and is proud to continue its support of the local economy with its 14th annual off-site RV show, WBGH-TV, Binghamton, reported.
The RV show kicks off on Wednesday with over 300 new and pre-owned recreational vehicles on site at the fairgrounds with free admission and parking. In addition to low discounted show pricing they will also be offering free campsite delivery within 100 miles of Syracuse, partnering with local campgrounds to promote the beautiful local parks and recreational campsites in the area.
As part of the Camping World RV dealer network, Camping World RV of Syracuse has the unique position of being able to offer the personal touch of a community involved local business with the resources and expertise of a national retailer. Providing its customers with full RV sales, service and accessories support for every step of their RV journey.
Camping World RV, the nation’s largest recreational vehicle retailer, was for the sixth consecutive year announced as No.1 seller of towable RVs by Statistical Surveys in their recent 2010 Annual Sales Awards. This award comes on the heels of the retailer’s recent ranking of No.1 in motorized sales for the 2010 calendar year.
Camping World RV, the nation’s largest recreational vehicle retailer, was for the sixth consecutive year announced as No. 1 seller of towable RVs by Statistical Surveys Inc. in their recent 2010 Annual Sales Awards. This award comes on the heels of the retailer’s recent ranking of No. 1 in motorized sales for the 2010 calendar year.
“Our 2010 award indicates we are headed in the right direction with a solid foundation and business plan in place,” said Roger Nuttall, president of Camping World RV Sales. “We are looking forward to a double-digit increase in 2011.”
Camping World RV dealerships increased market share over the No.1 ranking in 2009. Companywide, close to 30,000 total new and used towable RVs were sold, including non-reporting states to Statistical Surveys. Camping World RV increased towable sales by 23% over 2009 and gained an 11% increase in motorized units.
“We are very pleased with our strong 2010 results which capped off a terrific year for our team,” said Marcus Lemonis, chairman and CEO of Camping World. “In 2011 we are seeing progressively improved market conditions and we are confident in experiencing robust sales growth across our RV product offering.”
In addition to Camping World RV Sales receiving the top motorized and towable awards for the sixth consecutive year, Camping World RV dealerships received 16 individual No. 1 seller awards for sales excellence in their respective markets.
Statistical Surveys’ awards are based solely on unit volume according to independent data gathered annually. Award rankings are in no way influenced by the opinion of Statistical Surveys or its staff.