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.”
CrossRoads RV Inc. announced today (Jan. 4) its partnership with Lazydays RV, a long-time dealer based in Seffner, Fla, with an outlet in Tucson, Ariz.
According to a news release, Lazydays will be offering CrossRoads RV’s Cruiser, Cruiser Air, Cruiser Sahara, Cruiser Patriot, Zinger and Z-1 product lines at its Florida store. The Arizona location will carry the Cruiser, Cruiser Air, Cruiser Sahara and Cruiser Patriot.
“Lazydays is a well established and respected RV dealership, offering first class sales and service,” said Don Emahiser, president of CrossRoads RV, a Topeka, Ind.-based Thor Industries Inc. subsidiary. “It really rocks to join with this great organization and offer their customers our ‘New Generation Vehicles’ designed to appeal to a new generation of RVers.”
Lazydays has been in business for over 35 years and features an award winning service department with experienced factory-trained technicians.
“We’re very excited to partner with CrossRoads RV,” said John Horton, Lazydays president and CEO. “The company has assembled a very creative, innovative team. We’re confident that the products they’re creating will be highly sought after by our customers.”
CrossRoads RV will also be displaying its products in booth #740 at the Florida RV SuperShow Jan. 11-15 in Tampa.
Lazydays RV SuperCenter in Seffner, Fla., has been named Tiffin Motor Homes Inc.’s No. 1 dealer for 2011 as the Red Bay, Ala.-based motorhome manufacturer announced its top dealers today (Aug. 1).
Lazydays RV opened in 1976 in a mobile home on a leased 1.75-acre lot with two travel trailers in inventory and $500 in capital. In 1996, Lazydays RV moved into its 126-acre SuperCenter, which has more than 1,000 motorized and towable RVs on display, 273 service bays and a 300-site RV park.
The other top Tiffin dealers for 2011 are: Mike Thompson’s RV Super Stores in Santa Fe Springs, Calif.; La Mesa RV in San Diego, Calif.; North Trail RV Center in Fort Myers, Fla.; Dixie RV Superstores in Hammond, La.; Vogt RV Centers USA in Fort Worth, Texas; Bankston Motor Homes in Huntsville, Ala.; Colton RV in North Tonawanda, N.Y.; Horizon Lussier, Montreal, Quebec, Canada; and DeMontrond RV in Houston, Texas.
Tiffin Motor Homes, founded in 1972, received one of three prestigious 2010 Quality Circle Awards presented by the Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) to Class A motorhome manufacturers for design, reliability, quality, value and competitive price. The company will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2012.
Tiffin has earned the Quality Circle Award 12 of the 15 years it has been presented by the RVDA in connection with its Dealer Satisfaction Index (DSI). The 2010 survey included 2,125 brand ratings from 423 dealers. Quality Circle Awards are made to manufacturers receiving at least 15 dealer responses and scoring at least 80% in overall dealer satisfaction.
In addition to the consumer-related categories of the survey, Tiffin also was recognized with the Quality Circle Award for exemplary warranty, parts, sales and communications support to dealerships.
For additional information, including dealer locations, visit www.tiffinmotorhomes.com.
A bankruptcy court judge in Arizona has verbally approved the sale of assets of Beaudry RV Co. to Lazydays RV Center Inc. for $9,550,000, RVBusiness has learned.
Seffner, Fla.-based Lazydays, the nation’s largest single-site RV dealership, is acquiring Beaudry’s sales and service facilities, collision center and RV park, all located in Tucson, Ariz.
The purchase was court-approved Thursday (March 31), and the judge’s order is to be signed on Monday, according to an unnamed source.
Lazydays’ management declined comment.
This week’s development climaxes a long struggle for the former leading Southwest dealership, which filed for Chapter 11 reorganization bankruptcy more than two years ago.
A group of investors led by Greg Harrington and Peter Workum completed a series of transactions in mid-September to acquire Beaudry RV’s properties and operations in Tucson and Chandler. Harrington said at the time the new investors had plans to expand the company.
However, those plans quickly hit a snag and the turnaround proved impossible because of Beaudry’s current legal situation, the RV market and budget constraints.
Beaudry RV Co. subsequently suspended operations in October as bankruptcy creditors say the company’s recent sale forced its real estate loans into default. All the company’s employees were laid off and the inventory was cleared from its sales lot on East Irvington Road near I-10.
Attorneys for Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Comerica Bank — creditors in Beaudry’s 2008 bankruptcy — then filed a motion in U.S. Bankruptcy Court asking for immediate appointment of a liquidating trustee, arguing the sale violated loan documents and real estate loans in default.
Judge James Marlar of U.S. Bankruptcy Court then appointed Robert Burnand of Colliers International the liquidating trustee for Beaudry’s real estate collateral. The order gave Burnand “exclusive possession and control of all the real property and personal property” that comprises that collateral.
Burnard brokered the deal, which was revealed today.