Editor’s Note: To view a time lapse video showing construction of General RV’s new Tampa, Fla., store click here or scroll to the right side of the RVBUSINESS.com home page.
Michigan-based multi-location dealer General RV Center, the nation’s largest family-owned dealership group, is eagerly anticipating the completion of two major projects over the next few weeks.
Construction of its new Wixom dealership and corporate headquarters is complete and officials will soon be transferring personnel and operations while the company’s Tampa store, its second dealership in Florida and 11th total, will open Oct. 20 in the I-4 corridor — a hotbed of U.S. retail RV sales.
“We’re very excited and see this as a huge opportunity for our company, our employees and our customers in these two great markets,” added Loren Baidas, General RV’s president and grandson of original owner, Abe Baidas. He added that while General RV is always looking at other growth opportunities, for the time being they’re content to concentrate on existing operations.
Management will be relocating to the company’s new corporate headquarters by the end of September, while parts, sales and service will transfer operations at the conclusion of the 25th Annual Fall Detroit Camper & RV Show, Oct. 1-5 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Grand River, south of I-96 between Novi and Beck roads.
The Tampa location is also an 83,000-square-foot facility situated on 30 acres adjacent to I-4 in the Tampa suburb of Dover. The General RV Super Center will feature an RV service center, as well as a parts store and sales showroom.
Dennis Anderson, vice president of marketing for General RV, said the Oct. 20 opening will be low-key, with a grand opening set for the first week of December and an even bigger splash slated for next spring. “We’ve received overwhelming support from our customer base in southeast Michigan, and we’re excited that central Florida RV owners can soon experience the difference General RV makes,” Anderson said.
Wixom, Mich.-based General RV Center Inc. is expanding its Huntley, Ill., property by adding a service and maintenance building.
The Northwest Herald reported that the 14,000-square-foot building will include eight service bays for RV repairs and preparation, two offices and RV washing facilities across five acres. This adds to the existing 35,244-square-foot building and more than eight acres of show lot.
“We started working with General RV in 2009, when they first relocated to the Huntley Automall,” said James Brucato of Principle Construction Corp which is overseeing the expansion.
For the full story click here.
As work continues on its new Wixom, Mich., dealership, General RV Center Inc. is making plans to open a dealership in Florida near Tampa.
Crain’s Detroit Business reported that the 83,000-square-foot dealership will be located on 30 acres adjacent to I-4 in Dover, Fla., and feature a recreational vehicle service center, parts area and showroom.
“That’s a good RV market … one of the best … in the country,” said Dennis Anderson, vice president of marketing.
Meanwhile, construction on the privately owned company’s new site in Wixom, on 34 acres that were once part of the Ford Wixom Plant, is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2014.
The company has added 100 new jobs across its six Michigan dealerships in Wixom, White Lake Township, Mount Clemens, Brownstown Township, Birch Run and Wayland/Grand Rapids and sites in North Canton, Ohio; Huntley, Ill.; Draper, Utah; and Jacksonville, Fla., since January, Anderson said. That’s brought its total employee numbers to about 700.
It plans to add roughly another 100 additional positions in marketing, sales and service across those locations by spring.
General RV did not release what it’s investing in the Florida project, expected to be completed by fall 2014.
To read the entire article click here.
Michigan-based multilocation dealer General RV Center announced plans to open a second Florida location in the Tampa area. According to a press release, construction is scheduled to begin soon with expected completion in fall 2014.
The 83,000-square-foot facility will be situated on 30 acres adjacent to Interstate 4 in Dover. The General RV super center will feature an RV service center, as well as a parts and sales show room and will bring approximately 70 new jobs to the area.
Lance Wilson, executive director for the Florida Recreation Vehicle Trade Association (FRVTA), noted, “We’re pleased that a company of the quality and stature of General RV has decided to expand their footprint in Florida. It will be good for the industry and the Tampa area.”
Family owned General RV Center currently operates stores in Michigan, Florida, Ohio, Illinois and Utah. For more information, call Dennis Anderson at (248) 866-4657.
Needing more space to keep pace with increased sales, General RV Center will be expanding its Huntley, Ill., outlet with construction expected to start later this year.
According to a report by the Northwest Herald, the expansion coincides with announcements that Michigan-based General RV would be relocating its headquarters in Wixom while also opening its second store in Florida at a high-profile site in the Tampa Bay area.
Space has been tight since the Huntley dealership opened its doors in May 2011. The business, which makes up one of 10 outlets owned by the General RV, has been seeing 10% to 20% sales growth each year since that inaugural summer in 2011, according to Operations Manager Keith Lessner.
“I’m out of room,” said Operations Manager Keith Lessner, pointing to the narrow lots and overgrown maintenance area.
The customers behind those increased sales have battled makeshift lanes and traffic delays along since last year, when construction started on the $61 million tollway project.
Once complete later this fall, the project will open the Route 47/I-90 interchange to both east and westbound traffic from one of the state’s busiest interstates.
Both the sales growth and the anticipated demand from a nearly constructed interchange has now forced Lessner and his 48 employees to add more space.
“Once this tollway project is complete, I think the floodgates will open,” Lessner said.
Lessner expects construction to start later this year on a $500,000 maintenance area expansion that would add 10 service bays and 85 more parking spaces. The expansion would give technicians 24 total service spaces, allowing the Huntley RV business to service more clients at a faster pace.
Those clients primarily have come from the Chicago and Rockford areas to take advantage of a business that promotes friendly customer service and products tailored to campers and traveling families.
To read the entire article click here.
General RV announced its future growth plans with a move from its current headquarters in Wixom, Mich., to the previous Ford Wixom plant site, according to a news release.
While repurposing the former plant’s site, General RV will be maintaining current jobs in the Wixom area, and adding roughly 75 new employees. The dealership said that the new site will become the largest RV retail facility in the Midwest and expects the facility to become a draw to bring RV buyers and campers to Michigan.
Construction is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2014 with 1,200 feet of frontage on I-96. General RV President Loren Baidas stated, “This move will ensure our customers and employees the best possible experience with RVing.”
The relocation will help General RV Center to better service customers and RV enthusiasts with larger showrooms and service areas to meet the needs of the growing RV community. The plans for the new space include an 83,000-square-foot facility on 34 acres, nearly three times the size of the current office.
General RV’s facility will feature 40 bays for service with widened space for RV maneuverability, a spacious showroom and parts store. The corporate offices will be located on the second floor. The company said it is responding reports showing the continued growth of RV sales and travel.
For more information visit http://www.generalrv.com/ or call Dennis Anderson at (248) 866-4657.
Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts is now offering one free night of camping to anyone who purchases a towable or motorized RV from General RV Center through Nov. 30.
“We are excited to offer this special promotion in partnership with General RV because it gives us a unique opportunity to introduce Jellystone Parks to both new and existing RV enthusiasts across the country,” Lauri Hart, who manages the Club Yogi Rewards program, said in a press release.
Customers who purchase an RV from any of General RV’s 10 locations between now and Nov. 30 will receive 6,000 Club Yogi Rewards points, according to a news release.
General RV customers who are not already Club Yogi members will be directed to www.jellystonerewards.com, where they can enroll in the program and enter a code that enables them to collect their Club Yogi Rewards Points. General RV customers will have until Dec. 31 to either redeem the points for a Tier E Free Night Certificate or enroll in the Club Yogi Rewards program so they can save the points for later use.
The Tier E Free Night Certificate is good for a free night of camping at Jellystone Parks across the U.S. and Canada.
General RV Center, based in Wixom, Mich., is ready to start construction on a new dealership at a planned site in the Tampa, Fla., area, according to a report in the Tampa Tribune. The facility, representing General RV’s second outlet in the Sunshine State, will employ 70 people.
There’s no targeted opening but “they are anxious to get into this great RV market,” said Ron Weaver, the Tampa attorney who represents General RV.
Hillsborough County commissioners last week approved rezoning to clear the way for the RV dealership on the former site of ASAP heavy equipment, west of Plant City.
County records show that the plans include an 80,000-square-foot building. The entrance would be off U.S. 92 near Moores Lake Road. General RV, founded in 1962, is the largest privately owned RV dealership in the nation, Weaver said. The company has 12 locations, including one in Jacksonville.
The dealership will be a short distance from at least two other RV dealers, Bates RV and Camping World, located at the I-4-McIntosh Road interchange. General RV is also in the planning stages to relocates its corporate headquarters in Wixom, Mich.
Michigan-based General RV Center appears to be heading to a second Florida location, a 26-acre site in the Tampa Bay area.
The Tampa Bay Business Journal reported that on Tuesday (July 23), Hillsborough County commissioners rezoned the property on the south side of Interstate 4 between the McIntosh and Branch Forbes roads west side of Plant City.
Plans call for an 80,000-square-foot sales and service building that will employ 70 people, said land development attorney Ron Weaver.
Wade Stufft, vice president of operation at General RV, said the deal is “still in process” and the company is about two weeks from an official announcement.
General RV Centers currently has 10 store locations nationally, including six in Michigan, one in Ohio, and new locations in Florida, Utah and Chicago.
While the project isn’t “a done deal” General RV Center Inc. is working on opening a $10 million, flagship dealership and national headquarters in Michigan’s Lyon Township.
As reported by the Observer and Eccentric, Detroit, company officials expect the headquarters would employ about 130 people, mostly coming from the Wixom location, which will be closed if the Lyon deal is finalized. General RV has been in Wixom for more than 20 years.
The Lyon Township board of trustees recently gave special use approval and initial site plan approval to General RV amid complaints from potential neighbors, including Henrob, a rivets manufacturing company planning to move nearby. The property is zoned light industrial and those in opposition said they believe General RV’s use is more of a commercial use than industrial.
“We still have a lot to go through — we still have a lot of hurdles,” said Chris Davis, General RV finance director.
If everything goes as plan, however, the Lyon location could open as soon as 2014.
To read the entire article click here.
General RV Center’s ribbon cutting at its new Huntley, Ill., store had the traditional trappings of a grand opening, but Wednesday’s (June 8) ceremony was more significant and signals what officials hope will be an economic boom along the Route 47 and Interstate 90 corridor.
According to the Huntley Patch, the fact the village is holding ribbon cuttings – despite an economic downturn – shows how great it is for new businesses, said Margo Griffin, business development coordinator.
“I think it’s a sign of good things to come,” she said.
General RV, a Michigan-based company with a 50-year history, built a 33,280 square foot showroom on 8.28 acres along Route 47 and Interstate 90 in the Auto Mall. It will be celebrating its grand opening throughout the weekend with deals and free hot dogs.
“We had a good run, we had a good start,” said Hal Hall, sales manager. General RV sent out fliers throughout the Chicago region and sold 14 RVs even before it officially opened, he said.
The RV dealership hopes to sell between 50 to 70 vehicles this weekend, he said. General RV sells every brand of vehicle and is expecting more inventory in the next few days, he said.
Huntley was chosen as the company’s Illinois first dealership for many reasons, including the location and the market, Hall said.
General RV’s location not only works for the dealership, it will help create more business opportunities for the Auto Mall and to the Route 47 corridor, Trustee Harry Leopold said.
“We expect renewed interested” in the area as a result of General RV moving in, he said.
Huntley created a TIF district in 1992 to attract the Huntley Outlet Center and it remains in effect to attract new businesses. But Leopold said the board has “very high standards” and works with solid, financially sound businesses.
A business like General RV helps create a buzz among other businesses considering locations, Griffin said.
There’s a lot of buzz surrounding Huntley lately with Centegra Health Care System proposing a hospital off of Reed and Haligus Roads, a new auto tech center, a new Goodwill store on Kreutzer and a new tenant in its industrial park.
This month, the Huntley Chamber of Commerce has two other ribbon cuttings, which have been steadily increasing over the past year, chairman David Veath said Wednesday.
The chamber has a total of 310 members and is looking to add more, he said. It’s great to have an organization like this, it’s tremendous,” Veath said as he stood in the middle of the showroom.
General RV’s new showroom also created a buzz with customers who traveled from across the area to the grand opening. Heather Kahl, her children Blake, 5, and Katelynn, 7, got a free cooler/tote for signing up for more information. Kahl said they love camping but were just looking Wednesday.
“Oh, look at that. Isn’t this awesome,” said Walter Larsen of Woodstock. He looked at a Fuzion Touring Edition RV that featured a pop up porch and ramp to haul motorcycles or other small vehicles.
He, too, was just looking Wednesday.
There were many RVs to look at, with more than 100 on display. Many had bright colored signs indicating sales.
The 10 a.m. ceremony drew Huntley leaders, businesses and employees out to the parking lot where Mayor Charles Sass said a few words.
“Thank you for your commitment to Huntley,” Mayor Charles Sass said after presenting General RV with a plaque commemorating the day.
But one manager wrapped up the ceremony with “Let’s start selling some RVs.”
General RV Center, headquartered in Wixom, Mich, recently opened its first Illinois location with the addition of a dealership in Huntley.
The Northwest Herald, Crystal Lake, Ill., reported that the new store, located at the intersection of Interstate 90 and state Route 47, is 33,280 square feet and has about 60 employees.
The store opened its doors May 9 and will host a grand opening celebration June 8, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony slated for 10 a.m. with the Huntley Area Chamber of Commerce.
The company has six dealerships in Michigan, where it is based, and one each in Florida, Ohio and Utah.
The store’s hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday and Thursday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
Rob Groover, general manager of Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc.’s Komfort and Infinity divisions, announced today (Jan. 19) that General RV Center of Akron, Ohio, received delivery of the first Komfort fifth-wheel produced in Indiana.
The unit arrived earlier this month and was debuted at the recent Cleveland RV show.
According to Groover, “We are extremely excited to welcome General RV to the Komfort dealer group. General RV Center is one of the nation’s premier RV dealerships. We are honored to be able to present the Komfort line to their generations of loyal customers.”
Loren Baidas, president of General RV Center, said, “After reviewing the all new Komfort travel trailer and fifth-wheel product at the Louisville RV show, we were so confident that Dutchmen nailed it with Komfort, we added the line at all 10 of our dealerships. We were impressed with the contemporary design of the product, the beautiful decors and innovative floor plans. There is nothing like it in the marketplace. The product is priced right and will be a terrific addition to the product lines we represent.”
Baidas added, “We took our first 38-foot bunk house unit to the Cleveland show and were very pleased with response from customers. We sold 10 coaches with only one floorplan in the show. We knew the Komfort brand was going to do well, but these results exceeded our expectations.”
According to Groover, “The Komfort name is known for quality, innovation, and customer service. We are proud to play a role in growing this highly respected brand name. We look forward to serving the current Komfort dealers and new dealers across North America.
Dutchmen RV is a division of Thor industries. Dutchmen RV produces several brands of towable recreational vehicles that are sold throughout the United States and Canada. Dutchmen RV brands include the Denali, Komfort, Grand Junction, Aspen Trail, Kodiak, Voltage, Rubicon, Aerolite, Coleman and Dutchmen brands. For more information on Dutchmen RV and its brands visit www.dutchmen.com or 574-537-0600.
Despite the past challenging economic climate in Detroit, one RV retailer is preparing for another prosperous year. General RV Center, one of the top RV retailers in the nation, is anticipating continued growth in 2011 and projecting almost $300 million in gross sales.
This year, General RV Center will add approximately 200 new jobs, between all locations and departments, to keep with increasing RV sales numbers, according to a news release.
“New data is showing that young families are the fastest growing group of RV owners,” said Dennis Anderson, General RV spokesman. “I think there’s an overall shift in values among young families, and RV vacations are an affordable way for families to spend time together.”
General RV Center currently has nine locations nationally, and will open its10th location in Huntley, Ill., (a suburb of Chicago) this spring. The new Chicago location is expected to create 60 to 70 local jobs in a variety of positions. In addition, three of General RV Center’s locations — North Canton, Ohio; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Salt Lake City, Utah — are expanding and adding 20 to 30 new positions to each property.
Recreation vehicle shipments are projected to total 236,700 nationally in 2010, a gain of 42.8% from 2009 shipments. This is according to a forecast by RV industry analyst and director of consumer surveys at the University of Michigan, Richard Curtin. RV sales and shipments are undoubtedly rebounding from the economic downturn, and Detroit-based General RV Center is benefiting.
Interested job applicants can visit www.generalrv.com to apply for a position with General RV.
General RV Center is the largest family-owned RV retailer in the country. With its new location in Chicago, the privately held company will have 10 RV dealerships nationally. General RV’s Michigan locations include Brownstown, Birch Run, Mt. Clemens, Wayland, White Lake and Wixom. They also have locations in North Canton, Ohio; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Salt Lake City, Utah. As America’s RV dealer, General RV provides RV parts, same day service, a large rental fleet, RV insurance and financing, and more. Call (888) 436-7578.
Despite the tough Michigan economy, those close to the camping and RV industry say it continues to thrive, WZZM-TV, Grand Rapids, Mich, reported.
“It was two years ago when the industry hit the skids,” says Mike Wilbraham, producer of the 2011 Camping, Travel and RV Show, which concluded Sunday (Jan. 16) at DeVos Place in downtown Grand Rapids. “But last year RV sales picked up.”
Consumers can buy RVs for as low as $5,000, or they can go big and drop $400,000 on one; whatever their budget allows.
“The priorities of folks today have changed,” says Dennis Anderson from General RV Center. “What actually drove the industry down for a while is that people who actually owned RVs weren’t upgrading.”
Anderson says now that the economy is starting to rebound, there has been a huge influx of people trading in and trading up their recreational vehicles.
Michigan Association of Recreational Vehicles and Campgrounds (MARVAC) has compiled some statistics to show how RV sales have increased despite the struggling economy.
“2010 was up 33% in motor home sales over 2009,” says Beth Monicatti-Blank, who is a spokesperson for MARVAC. “We sold 10,000 more recreational vehicles in the state of Michigan in 2010 than we did in 2009.”
Monicatti-Blank believes the renewed interest in recreational vehicles can be directly related to more banks willing to finance with low interest rates.
“More banks are getting involved in the recreational vehicle business,” says Monicatti-Blank. “It’s a great time to buy a recreational vehicle.”
Meanwhile, Andy Cripe, general manager of a Keystone RV Co. division, told RVBUSINESS.com that the show “had great traffic.”
“People were upbeat,” Cripe said. “There are people who want to get into an RV or upgrade the one they have. I think we all wish we might have sold a few more but it wasn’t a bad show. Early buyers are out there to look before they buy.”