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.
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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.”
A strong turnout is expected Tuesday (Jan. 11) and Wednesday at an open interview for jobs at General RV Center’s new store set to begin operation this spring in Huntley, Ill.
Notices from the Wixom, Mich.,-based company promise “over 30 positions to be filled” in management, sales, service, parts, clerical and billing with nice benefits like medical, matching 401k contributions and paid vacations, The First Electric Newspaper reported.
General RV’s Huntley superstore now under construction south of the Auto Mall is planned as its first entry into the Chicago market. The company claims it’s the fourth largest RV dealer in the nation.
Interviews for jobs at the new center are scheduled from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at West Dundee’s Courtyard Marriott West off Route 31 just south of the cemetery and just before the tollway. Applicants are advised to “dress for interview,” according to one notice.
As FEN reported last month, online applications for a job at General RV are available at http://www.generalrv.com/contact-us-employment.aspx
It’s going to be a good year for recreational vehicle sales, say RV dealers and manufacturers and the RV trade organization.
“We had an excellent year in RV sales in 2010. We feel that 2011 is going to be the best year we have ever seen in the RV industry,” Gary Miller, owner of Wana RV in Shipshewana, Ind., told The Goshen (Ind.) News.
Miller’s expectations are for his growing RV sales business. As a whole, the industry is expecting an increase of 3.9%. That number is based on a consumer survey by Richard Curtain of the University of Michigan. Curtain has been an analyst from the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) for many years.
After three years of declines, the RV industry rebounded in 2010 with a 47.7% gain in shipments. As of November, the year’s total shipments reached 224,000 units.
This month, retail shows are beginning across the country and manufacturers and dealers are trying to gauge if Curtain’s prediction for another year of gains will come true.
“… If I can go by my two days of sales, we are up compared to last year,” said Joe Weider, operations manager for General RV Center in North Canton, Ohio. Weider’s sales staff was at the RV show in Cleveland, the biggest indoor sales event in the country. “My crystal ball says we should have a pretty good year.”
Weider said his sales center is the largest motorhome dealership in Ohio and also sells fifth-wheels and travel trailers. They have added some new manufacturers and products this year. But Weider said the sales year is too young to gauge if there will be any trends this year.
Phil Sarvari, executive vice president of Gulf Stream Coach Inc. in Nappanee, Ind., said the year’s sales will depend on consumers’s attitudes.
“As long as people feel good and they know they are going to have jobs, they will be willing to spend,” Sarvari said.
Americans have embraced RVs, he said, and want to continue camping and using that outdoor experience to bond with their family and friends. “It is a way of life. It is relaxing. They support each other, they tell stories and play games. You know, that is important,” Sarvari said.
At Jayco Inc. in Middlebury, the storage lots have many newly made units ready to be shipped.
“We’ve garnered a lot of momentum with the introduction of new products,” said Jim Jacobs, a vice president at Jayco.
Jacobs said the company has added new products and new price points to generate business. “That is what is going to carry our momentum. You have to be innovative to survive in this industry,” he said.
Motorhome sales dipped drastically when the recession began, and since it has ended the RV segment has continued to struggle. In 2010, Class A luxury motorcoaches averaged around 1,000 units shipped each month. The Class C motorhomes averaged even less.
But if manufacturers offer a quality product, Jacobs said there are buyers wanting them.
“In the Class A line, we have been extremely happy with the performance of the Entegra line,” Jacobs said. “Not only from the response from the dealer network, but the response from the consumer network. There are a lot of consumers out there still buying high-end diesel products. That customer is still there.”
To the east of Jayco’s Middlebury complex, Miller is getting ready for the upcoming RV show at the Century Center in South Bend. He plans to take 24 units and his son Justin will help with sales.
Miller has added units from Forest River Inc.’s Rockwood line made in Millersburg. He also has Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc. and CrossRoads RV products.
He expects a good show in South Bend as financing is more available for buyers this year.
“As far as retail financing RVs, it definitely has gotten better than it was a year ago,” Miller said. But financing has changed. He said two years ago buyers could make a purchase without a down payment. Now a 10% down payment is standard practice.
“It really is a good thing because people will pay that 10% so when they are ready to sell it or trade it in they are not upside down on the unit. They don’t feel like they are taking such a loss,” Miller said.
Robert Jensen figures that sales of recreational vehicles will tell you a lot about the state of the economy: “We lead in and out of recession.”
And the Sportsmen’s Vacation and RV Show at the South Towne Expo Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, is whispering to him that families are spending and credit is flowing once more, according to the Deseret News.
It’s not a flood, mind you. But the credit well’s no longer dry, either.
“In my 30 years, yesterday was the best-ever first day of an RV show in terms of qualified buyers,” Jensen, of General RV Center in Draper, said on Friday (Feb. 19). “Banks are loosening up. And they know that people will (keep up payments) because they want to protect their RVs.”
While the crowd size is about the same as last year, he said, “more people are actually buying.”
“More motivated” is how Shane Kramer of Motor Sportsland in Murray described the shoppers he was seeing. And he believes the recession has played a big role in that. The rough economy has led people to vacation closer to home. Throw in the combination of more credit unions stepping in to provide financing, money in general becoming more available and the RV manufacturers creating lighter, more fuel-efficient rigs and it’s a winner for someone who wants an RV, he said. You can go into the mountains for a nice vacation for the whole family for the equivalent of a single plane ticket.
That doesn’t mean it’s boom town at the show, Kramer noted. He estimated that last year’s show was down about 40% from pre-recession attendance. And it’s still down. But it is looking better.
“I see a lot of optimism,” said Jay Jensen of Sierra RV in Sunset. “Consumer confidence is back.” And while he said credit is still a little sluggish, RVs are moving. He said at a national manufacturer’s show — where dealers go to select the models they want to carry — expectations were for a big bump in business for 2010. And that about describes his expectations.
The last year ended well for his business, he said, with sales and new hires and the opportunity to snag some great deals on pre-owned RVs.
As for what’s selling, Jay Jensen said younger families are going after smaller units, while older shoppers are drawn to motorhomes and bigger fifth-wheels. Robert Jensen has seen great interest in 25- to 32-foot RVs in the $15,000-to-$30,000 price range. And he also noted that manufacturers are introducing new models this year, not just trying to clear inventory. So they’re apparently feeling optimistic, too, he said.
The show also drew browsers like Clyde and Laris Nichols of Farmington. He’s a woodworker, searching for ideas on ways to improve some cabinets he doesn’t love in their 27-foot RV.
They don’t get out in the RV as much as they’d like, he said, but this is the year they’re hoping to go farther — and stay longer.
It’s also the year that Ryan and Renee Woolf of Syracuse hope to add a solar power generation system to their three-year-old fifth-wheel RV.
She noted that the prices have dropped from what they were when they bought their RV. “You can get bigger and nicer for less than we paid,” she said.
The show ended Sunday.