The RV/MH Hall of Fame & Museum announced that during the first month of its fundraiser to raise $100,000 in donations to meet the Ingram family’s $100,000 Challenge, the Hall has received $55,955 in contributions, Darryl Searer, president of the Hall, stated in a news release.
In an act of continuing generosity toward the Hall, the Robert “Boots” Ingram family has offered a $100,000 matching “Let’s Pay off the Bank” challenge, if a like amount can be raised by individual donations before the end of August.
“Boots” Ingram, founder of Teton Homes and former member of the Hall’s board of directors, passed away in 2010, and part of his legacy is his unprecedented support and generosity toward the Hall.
According to Searer, individual donations have ranged from $5 to $25,000.
Searer said, “We are excited about the success of this fund-raising effort so far in trying to reach our goal of $100,000 in donations before the deadline, August 31, 2012. This success, to a large degree, is because of two $25,000 donations — one by Marcus Lemonis, chairman of Camping World Inc. and Good Sam Enterprises LLC.; and the other by Hall of Famer Don Wallace, co-founder of Lazydays RV Super Center.
“We hope other industry members who have become financially able in the RV and Manufactured Housing industries will feel challenged by the contributions of Lemonis and Wallace and step up and do their part in helping us preserve our industries’ heritage.
“And while we need and appreciate these larger contributions, I am inspired by the willingness of individuals, dealers and groups who have reached into their pockets to do their part. We need everyone’s help if we are going to meet this challenge.”
One-hundred percent of the challenge grant contributions will go toward paying down the Hall’s bank loan at 1st Source Bank and all gifts are tax deductable.
Searer added, “While we are encouraged by our early success, we still need to raise $44,045 before the deadline.
For those who would like to make a contribution toward the Ingram family’s $100,000 challenge grant, the Hall has made it easy to contribute. Contributions can be made through the Hall’s secure web site, www.rvmhhalloffame.org or by mail, phone or fax. If paying by check or money order, make payable to the RV/MH Hall of Fame. The Hall’s mailing address is: Ingram Challenge, RV/MH Hall of Fame, 21565 Executive Parkway, Elkhart, IN 46514.
Don Wallace, co-founder of Tampa’s Lazydays RV Super Center, has committed $25,000 to the RV/MH Heritage Foundation Inc.’s current pay-down-the-debt campaign for its Elkhart, Ind.-based RV/MH Hall of Fame.
Wallace’s donation comes only days after Marcus Lemonis, chairman of Camping World Inc. and Good Sam Enterprises LLC, headquartered in Lincolnshire, Ill., helped turbo-charge the new fundraising campaign — announced last week – by becoming the first to make a personal $25,000 pledge aimed at helping pay off the Hall’s bank loans.
The goal is to raise $100,000 in voluntary contributions by Aug. 31 to be matched by the Robert “Boots” Ingram family, which has offered a $100,000 challenge grant for the purpose of lowering the Hall’s debt to 1st Source Bank by $200,000.
“Don Wallace was kind enough to call me late Friday afternoon and he wanted to tell me that he saw Marcus Lemonis’ $25,000 and it reminded him that it was time that he stepped up to the plate and matched his $25,000 and that the check was already written,” reports Hall of Fame President Darryl Searer.
“Then he continued to say that he heard a lot of good things that were happening at the Hall of Fame and to keep up the good work and that if there was anything else that he could do to help to feel free to call him any time,” adds Searer, who also serves as chairman of Elkhart-based supplier Ultra-Fab Products Inc.
The campaign’s quick start coincides with a spate of positive publicity the hall’s been receiving lately, including a breaking Associated Press story that’s already been picked up by the regional press and is currently posted on RVBUSINESS.com.
Searer helped AP writer Tom Coyne assemble that story over the past few weeks. “He (Coyne) felt that there was so much interest nationwide because of the fact that Obama was here four years ago when the bottom fell out of everything and, you know, Elkhart had the highest unemployment in the country and now it’s rebounding back and, suddenly, it’s a big story,” said Searer.
Meanwhile, the Hall of Fame’s board is clearly optimistic about prospects for meeting – and perhaps exceeding – the current campaign’s goals. “Absolutely,” said Searer, “we will reach the goal, and I think we’ll reach it long before August. The Ingram challenge – and the subsequent match to the challenge – is a great start at reducing the debt of the Hall of Fame.”
LazyDays RV king Don Wallace has sold his South Tampa mansion for $6.75 million.
Wallace and his wife Erika transferred the 15,396-square-foot estate Thursday to Carmen and Harry Barkett, president of Amalie Oil Co., county property records show, The St. Petersburg Times reported.
Realtor Toni Everett listed and sold the five-bedroom, 12-bathroom home at 1801 Bayshore Blvd. Wallace’s asking price had been $10.5 million.
The sale of Wallace’s mansion is among Hillsborough County’s priciest homes transactions in recent years: In July 2010, Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik bought a $6 million South Tampa home as well as an adjacent lot for $2.5 million.
New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter paid $7.7 million for a Davis Islands property covering three lots and millions more to build and design a home.
Don Wallace’s relationship with the giant RV dealership he founded has reached a new low, according to a report in the Tampa Tribune.
Wallace and Lazydays RV SuperCenter are now locked in a suit and counter suit over the fate of the land underneath the dealership.
Through a company called I-4 Land Holding Limited Co., Wallace still owns the land under the dealership he founded in 1976, the largest single-site dealership in the nation.
After selling off much of his ownership stake in the dealership, Wallace leased the land underneath to Lazydays, which at one point was paying at least $4.2 million per year in rent.
That lease gave the dealership an option to purchase the land if specific conditions are met. Wallace could not be reached for comment.
LDRV Holdings Corp., which operates the Lazydays dealership, tried to exercise that purchase option in May this year for an undisclosed price.
Wallace countered that LDRV was in default on its lease after missing monthly rent payments, thus voiding LDRV’s option to buy the land.
Clouding the entire issue is the question of how the contract was complicated when Lazydays filed bankruptcy in 2009, and whether the successor company was assigned the lease correctly and with Wallace’s permission.
Both parties filed suits in Hillsborough County’s Thirteenth Judicial Circuit — Wallace on June 1 and LDRV on June 7 — neither asking for money, but both asking the court to clear up the matter and declare which party has what rights.
Wallace is represented partially in the case by Tampa lawyer Barry Cohen, who has handled other matters for Wallace, including an attempted case of extortion against Wallace by Wallace’s extended family members.
Randy Lay, chief financial officer of Lazydays, said their motive for owning the land is purely strategic, not personal.
Big RV dealers like theirs typically use a lot of land, he said, but also make significant investments in showrooms, perks for guests, service bays and even restaurants and campgrounds. “It makes a heck of a lot of sense to own the land,” Lay said.
That’s what the company did in purchasing a large dealership in Tucson this year, Lay added.
While Lazydays just went through the Chapter 11 process, Lay said the current majority owners, Wayzata Investment Partners, extended $10 million to the company for such investments, and the dealership has enough collateral to access more capital for purchases.
Twenty miles away from would-be gawkers and the hubbub surrounding Derek Jeter’s Davis Islands digs, a sprawling, castle-like structure is taking shape on the edge of central Florida’s Lake Thonotosassa.
A gate partially shields the view of a vast lawn that leads to the beige stone exterior of the third-largest mansion in the county. It will be home to Lazydays founder Don Wallace and his family, according to the St. Petersburg Times.
The posh features of this 27,008–square-foot behemoth, detailed in building plans, are enough to make McMansions blush in shame.
Two pools? Check. Sauna and steam rooms? Uh-huh. An elevator? Of course. And don’t forget the bar, billiard room and bowling alley.
Plans for this mega-mansion sound like an episode of VH1′s The Fabulous Life or the classic Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Now, channel your inner Robin Leach.
When the rich and famous move to the country for more space, they really know how to use it. Drawings show plans for a croquet lawn and baseball diamond.
When Wallace and his wife, Erika, want to relax, they can head down to their basement to visit the massage room, or for a little activity, they can hit the gym.
Outside, the couple can dip their toes into one of their pools or grill steaks at their outdoor kitchen. Nearby, giant garages will shelter the Wallaces’ extensive luxury car collection.
The first floor features plenty of room for them to entertain. There will be a game room, men’s lounge, his-and-hers offices and a parlor.
On the second floor, they’ll have a master bedroom the size of a small apartment. And forget his-and-hers sinks. The Wallaces have plans for his-and-hers bathrooms.
Moving on up
The Wallaces’ 13,033-square-foot Mediterranean-style home on Bayshore Boulevard doesn’t compare to the estate being constructed at 12321 Fort King Highway.
It promises to be Tampa Bay’s very own Hearst Castle.
With 27,008 square feet of heated space (about 40,000 total), it will be the third-largest home in the county, excluding Jeter’s Davis Island home, which the county Property Appraiser’s Office hasn’t measured yet.
The largest home is gold dealer Mark Yaffe’s Avila mansion, at 28,295 square feet, and the second-largest, at 22,898 square feet and also in Avila, belongs to former corporate raider Paul Bilzerian.
We’d love to know the price tag on the Wallaces’ new digs, but the Property Appraiser’s Office hasn’t assessed it.
The Wallaces’ home on Bayshore Boulevard dwarfs all others on the street.
Controversy swirled in 1997 when Don Wallace tore down the historic Swann House to make room for the mansion, much to the chagrin of neighbors.
The house made headlines again in 2009 when records showed Wallace was the biggest water user in 2008 in the Tampa Bay area. He used more than 6 million gallons of water at his Bayshore home, enough to fill the average backyard swimming pool every day for a year.
Wallace didn’t respond to interview requests left with a family spokesman. But in a 2008 interview with the Times, he said that he and his wife wanted a home with plenty of space for their young children to play.
“They can get on a boat and water ski, ride motorcycles and go-carts and four-wheelers, and play ball and ride a horse and watch a cat be born,” he said.
He estimated that construction would likely continue for another 2 1/2 to three years.
Can he afford it?
Well, we don’t know. But the Wallaces sure are rich.
Don Wallace and his family started Lazydays in 1976 with $500, a mobile home and two travel trailers. It grew to a company with annual sales of $800 million, and its 126-acre complex in Seffner became the largest single-site RV center in the country.
The recession hit the business hard. The company laid off more than 200 employees. In September, the company, led by CEO John Horton, struck a deal with bondholders to eliminate its $137 million debt through a prepackaged Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. It filed in early November.
Wallace sold portions of the business in 1999 and 2004 but remains a primary stockholder. Bankruptcy filings show that he’s one of four entities that own 10% or more of the company’s equity.
As Baby Boomers start to retire, Lazydays RV Center in Seffner, Fla., ought to be entering its glory days.
Instead, Lazydays, which bills itself as the world’s largest recreational vehicle dealer on one site, finds itself scrambling to survive the recession, according to the Tampa Tribune.
The company faces a trifecta of challenges:
- It missed an interest payment to its bondholders in November, meaning it could be held in default at any time.
- It is losing millions of dollars as would-be customers are sitting tight instead of buying RVs.
- Three of its suppliers, Monaco Coach Corp., Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. and Country Coach Inc., have sought bankruptcy protection this year.
The most immediate threat may be Lazydays’ bondholders will declare the company in default, although they have held off so far. In such a case, the company could be forced to file for bankruptcy protection.
“Our belief is that we will reach an agreement with our bondholders,” company CFO Randy Lay said this week.
In its most recent financial report, Lazydays announced it lost $6.3 million in the quarter ended Sept. 30. That compares to a loss of $2.1 million in the same quarter of 2007. Revenues fell to $90.1 million in the quarter ended Sept. 30, down from $152.2 million in the same quarter a year earlier.
To reduce costs, the company has cut about a third of its payroll over the past year. So far this year, Lazydays has laid off about 30 people on top of 185 layoffs last year, Lay said. It still has about 470 employees, he said.
The bankruptcies of Fleetwood, Monaco and Country Coach could hurt if they close their RV manufacturing divisions. A search of Lazydays’ website shows about one in five new RVs at Lazydays comes from those three manufacturers.
A spokeswoman for one of the companies, Fleetwood, said it is reorganizing in bankruptcy protection and expects to keep supplyiong motorhomes to its dealers.
Lazydays was founded in 1976 by local businessman Don Wallace. He and his ownership group sold a majority of the company to private equity firm Bruckmann, Rosser, Sherrill & Co. of New York in 2004 for $206 million. Wallace kept a minority stake.