Lazydays RV and Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) have reached agreement on the sale of the Lazydays RV Campground in Tucson, Ariz., to KOA.
According to a press release, the campground will now be known as the Tucson/Lazydays KOA Campground. It will join 486 other locations in the KOA system throughout North America.
Lazydays RV CEO Tim Sheehan said the agreement with KOA includes a marketing agreement that allows the two iconic outdoor industry brands to work together to promote both the campground and Lazydays RV, which will continue to operate a Lazydays RV dealership and service center at the Tucson site.
“We are confident that Lazydays RV and KOA, working together, will provide an unparalleled RV ownership and camping experience for guests,” Sheehan said. “KOA and Lazydays will also work together to increase awareness of our businesses among our respective customers.”
KOA President Pat Hittmeier said Lazydays’ culture of “extraordinary customer care” fits well with KOA’s focus on guest service.
“I’m confident that the synergy created by combining our two respected brands will exceed our expectations at all levels, Hittmeier said. “It was quite evident as this transaction developed that KOA and Lazydays have a healthy amount of respect and trust for each other, which allowed us to proceed to this point. We’re looking forward to a very bright future at the new Tucson/Lazydays KOA.”
The agreement on the Tucson property will be finalized in early November, after KOA completes the due diligence process at the campground.
A final judgment order in the protracted litigation involving Lazydays RV and the company’s founder and former CEO allows Lazydays to buy its Seffner, Fla., site for $24.6 million, based on appraisals.
According to the Tampa Bay Business Journal, the Hillsborough County circuit court judge’s final order on Aug. 5 also assessed I-4 Land Holdings $11.4 million for damages to Lazydays, plus attorneys fees, according to court records.
Lazydays, the largest single site RV center in the country, is owned by LDRV Holdings Corp., but was previously owned by Tampa entrepreneur and real estate magnate Don Wallace – the owner of I-4 Land Holdings.
Wallace sold the RV dealership in 1999 and formed I-4, which leased the RV center property along Interstate 4 to Lazydays.
When Lazydays decided to exercise an option in the lease in 2011 to buy the 126 acres, I-4 denied there was an option. The dispute went to breach of contract litigation,and a judge ruled in favor of Lazydays in May, deciding there was an option for the company to buy the property.
During the first quarter, Seffner, Fla.-based Lazydays achieved a year-over-year towable unit sales increase of 73%, according to Statistical Surveys Inc. (SSI) point of sales data.
“We were able to achieve this success through great people, great brands and great commitment,” Jim Lazzarino, Lazydays towable sales manager, said in a press release.
In May of 2012, Lazydays launched a companywide initiative that focused on travel trailer and fifth-wheel products. As part of that initiative, the employees of Lazydays dedicated themselves to providing a high level of customer service. “Everyone from marketing to sales to our delivery team made it a focus,” comments Lazzarino. “It’s been exciting to see how our entire company has been energized by working this initiative and the pleasure that we all receive in making customers for life is the highest reward.”
Lazydays carries some of the nation’s premier fifth-wheel and travel trailer brands, including, Coachmen, CrossRoads RV, Dutchmen, Dynamax, Forest River, Grand Design, Heartland, Keystone RV, Redwood, Primetime, Airstream, Northstar, Lance, Travel Lite, SignaTour Campers and DRV Luxury Suites.
For more information, visit www.Lazydays.com.
The drawn-out court battle pitting Lazydays RV founder Don Wallace against LDRV Holdings Corp., the current owners of the Seffner, Fla., dealership, moved forward last week as a circuit court ruled in favor of Lazydays and LDRV on several key issues.
The dispute, which began brewing as early as 2006, centers on land housing the dealership along I-4 near Tampa, owned by Wallace – bought through I-4 Land Holding Limited Co. – and leased to LDRV. In a statement issued by Lazydays to RVBUSINESS.com, the company noted:
“In 2011, Lazydays exercised the option in its lease to purchase the property on which its dealership is located in Seffner. Its landlord (Wallace) disputed the existence of this option and maintained that Lazydays should remain a tenant. This matter went to trial and last week the court ruled in favor of Lazydays on the issues heard during the trial. This is a multistep process and Lazydays will address the remaining issues as the court requires.”
Court records indicate that Hillsborough County Circuit Court Judge Herbert J. Baumann Jr. ruled that I-4 had breached the purchase contract while also ruling “against I-4 as to all its claims, counterclaims and defenses.”
The court will reconvene in approximately 60 days to “consider arguments concerning the price to be given for the purchase option.”
Lazydays has hired Tim Sheehan as CEO, replacing John Horton, who left the company last October.
According to a press release, Sheehan will officially join Lazydays in his new role as CEO on April 22 while Randy Lay will continue his CFO duties for Lazydays after serving as interim CEO.
Sheehan joins the Seffner, Fla.-based dealer after 25-plus years with Best Buy, where he held numerous positions before being named as executive vice president, chief administrative officer in 2009.
Lazydays stated in the release, “Dramatic changes in consumer shopping habits, along with the ever-shifting retail landscape that Sheehan experienced with Best Buy over the past decade make him uniquely qualified to help steer Lazydays through similar shifts affecting the RV industry.”
During his tenure with Best Buy, Sheehan headed U.S. operations, led the company’s services business and drove a number of initiatives to position Best Buy as the largest multi-national consumer electronics retailer. He was also instrumental in expanding the company from $50 million in annual sales to over $50 billion.
“We’re thrilled to bring Sheehan’s expertise in a competitive business environment to Lazydays,” said William Murnane, Lazydays chairman. “Tim’s operational experience, leadership skills and enthusiasm for the dynamic landscape of retail make him the ideal choice. We look forward to him continuing to build the momentum we’re already seeing as the economy recovers.”
“Myself as well as the entire board are deeply appreciative for Randy’s outstanding work as interim CEO,” said Murnane. “He did an exceptional job in maintaining his role as CFO while setting some important initiatives in motion that Tim can step in and capitalize on.”
For 37 years, Lazydays has maintained a grip on the Tampa, Fla., RV market with its ever-growing, expansive headquarters located within eyesight of Interstate 4 in Seffner.
According to a report by the Tampa Bay Times, customers from as far away as Alaska have traveled to the mini mecca to purchase everything from small pop-up campers to toy haulers and luxurious fifth-wheels.
A lot has changed since the days when a gallon of gas was a mere 45 cents. Diesel engines have increased fuel economy in the RVs. Technology, including convection microwave ovens, flat screen televisions and smartphone apps, have boosted the ownership experience. And competition for the leisure time dollar has grown.
As a response to these market trends, Lazydays opened the Better RVing Store on March 15.
Customers can expect to go beyond the car dealer look and find parts, upgrade options, services they have longed for or some they may not have known about.
“We got in the parts and service business not just to be in the parts and service business,” said Bill Tickel, parts and services manager. “We had customers who wanted to buy things that we just didn’t carry.”
Situated on 124 acres with a team of 492 employees, 221 service bays, 299 campsites and three restaurants, a retail store was a natural progression and one Tickel says the Lazydays team batted around for years.
So Lazydays renovated the former customer lounge and turned it into an open-design store. It also renovated a new customer lounge inside near the offices and training center.
Tickel said the layout was customer driven with a good shopping experience in mind, so don’t expect department store aisles or a cavernous warehouse feel. The Better RVing store carries necessities for any coach, as they are called.
It also offers items you might not expect such as outdoor camping accessories, pet owner needs and even some home-grown Florida crafts.
“We did not want to abandon our customers to an operation that could not supply them,” Tickel said.
The Tampa Bay Times reported that a main competitor is Camping World, which has an adjacent location and used to have a cooperation agreement with Lazydays to supply parts and accessories. Camping World terminated that agreement in June 2012.
Tickel said Lazydays wanted to make sure there was something available for every type of customer, right down to the toilet paper on the shelves for those who are visiting for meetings, rallies, educational seminars or vacations.
For every new flooring option, Lazydays also offers safety courses; for every recliner, mattress, cabinet and window shade there are “how to” classes. Lazydays, which operates a second location in Tucson, Ariz., has a pipeline to big manufacturers for special order “hard parts” needed for repairs.
Whether you prefer a Class A RV, or a towable, which Tickel says is the fastest growing coach segment, Lazydays offers its customers a variety of equipment and educates them on how to use it before hitching up and pulling away.
“We have a commitment to the customer experience,” Tickel said.
Indiana-born filmmaker David Anspaugh, who directed sports film classics Hoosiers and Rudy, knows something about crafting inspirational stories that feature ordinary people doing extraordinary things. His latest movie, Little Red Wagon, builds on the veteran filmmaker’s ability to showcase the human spirit by telling the true story of Zach Bonner, the boy wonder philanthropist who, with the help of his family and an RV, set out to show the world the power of selfless giving.
According to a press release, Bonner has a connection with Seffner, Fla.-based Lazydays RV. In 2010, Bonner’s passion for homeless youth inspired the Lazydays Employee Foundation to create the Lazydays Homeless Youth Program, which has helped hundreds of homeless kids in the Tampa Bay area. The Lazydays Employee Foundation also partnered with the University of South Florida College of Medicine to create the Ybor Youth Clinic, the first medical facility in the Southeast dedicated to serving homeless and street youth.
Scheduled for release this October and November, Little Red Wagon tells the story of Bonner’s inspiring quest to end youth homelessness in America. The cinematic journey begins with six-year-old Bonner gathering supplies for hurricane victims in his little red wagon and culminates with eight-year-old Bonner, his mom and sister piling into an Itasca Suncruiser Class A motorhome – provided by Lazydays – as he begins what will ultimately become a walk across the entire country to raise awareness about the plight of homeless kids.
Bonner hopes the film will resonate with audiences and be instrumental in raising global awareness of the issue to which he’s dedicated his young life. “I really want this film to bring a lot of awareness to youth homelessness,” said the now 14-year-old about the film’s prospects, “Hopefully the film will find a huge audience in theaters and educate people on this issue.”
Seffner, Fla-based Lazy Days RV Center Inc. today (Oct 4) announced that CFO Randall R. (Randy) Lay will assume the additional role of interim CEO, effective Oct. 12, succeeding John Horton. According to a news release, the Lazy Days board will conduct a search for a permanent CEO assisted by a national executive search firm.
“This is the right time for me to step down and for the company to move forward with this transition,” Horton said. “I am confident in Lazy Days’ position and ability to deliver outstanding performance. We have a talented and knowledgeable management team in place to build on our success, dedicated employees who are passionate about serving their customers, and a loyal and growing customer base that will always consider Lazy Days their RV home.”
William P. Murnane, Lazydays chairman, noted, “On behalf of the board, I’d like to thank John for his numerous contributions and service to the Lazy Days family over the past 11 years. His hard work and dedication are truly appreciated by us all, and we wish him success in his future endeavors. We are confident that Randy and the Lazy Days team are well equipped to continue executing our operating and strategic plans during this period.”
Lay, a summa cum laude graduate of Boston University where he received his undergraduate degree and MBA, has been CFO of Lazy Days since September 2007. He led the successful financial restructuring of the company and brings significant operational expertise and leadership skills to his new role. In addition to his financial responsibilities, he is responsible for managing Lazy Days’ retail finance and insurance operations, human resources and purchasing functions. Previously, he held senior level operating and financial positions throughout his 30-year career, serving as the president and CEO of telecommunications services provider Universal Access Global Holdings, as well as senior positions with International Specialty Products, United Technologies,and the Xerox Corporation.
“This an exciting time for Lazy Days as we further strengthen our relationships with our thousands of loyal customers,” said Lay. “Under John’s leadership, Lazy Days has expanded to the western U.S., established a strong financial foundation and transformed our operations to improve performance and our customers’ experience. Today Lazy Days is well positioned for growth and continued success. I look forward to working with my colleagues to maintain Lazy Days’ positive momentum with a strategy that is resonating in the marketplace. Our goal is to further enhance long-term value for our customers and their families, our employees and our communities. Together, we will uphold Lazy Days’ promise to strive to provide our customers with the perfect RV purchase and ownership experience.”
Lazydays RV has partnered with Born Free Motorcoach to sell the company’s line of luxury Class C motorhomes at its dealerships in Seffner, Fla., and Tuscon, Ariz. According to a press release, the “Factory Direct Plus” partnership will make Lazydays the only RV dealership in the country from which customers can purchase Born Free products.
While Born Free will continue to sell to their customers directly from its factory in Humboldt, Iowa, the company stated in the release that the partnership provides convenient access to its products. It also gives customers “the expert service of Lazydays RVIA and RVDA certified and master certified RV technicians, as well as all the amenities that have made Lazydays one of the most beloved RV destinations in the country.”
Born Free Motorcoach’s President and CEO John Dodgen, noted: “We are delighted to be able to enhance the services and experience we provide our customers through our Factory Direct Plus partnership with Lazydays.”
Lazydays CEO John Horton added, “Both Born Free and Lazydays share many of the same values when it comes to doing the right thing for the customer. We are proud to be associated with the team at Born Free, who for more than 40 years have built a quality product and trusted brand and helped RVers fulfill their dreams.”
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.”