Lazydays celebrated the 2010 “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day” in style. Family style, that is. More than 80 daughters and sons of Lazydays employees recently took part in an all-day event filled with fun and learning at the company’s 126-acre campus in Seffner, Fla., according to a news release.
“For the fourth year in a row, Lazydays has encouraged employees to bring their daughters and sons to work so the children can see the dedication and passion we have for our jobs,” said Debbie Dube, director of human resources at Lazydays. “This year, more than 80 children had a fabulous day full of fun, learning, food and entertainment. They went home with smiles on their faces and goody bags in their hands.”
The day began with breakfast for the children and their parents at the Lazydays Café. The children were photographed for real Lazydays ID badges and posed for photos with their parents.
The children learned how Lazydays operates on a daily basis by viewing demonstrations by Lazydays technicians on how to troubleshoot electronic devices, how electricity flows through a circuit and how a propane system works. In addition, employees from various departments within Lazydays shared information about what their jobs entail.
They also participated in a Customer Service Training session and watched videos explaining how passionate Lazydays is about providing excellent customer service while maintaining an atmosphere of energy and fun.
The children had a great time testing their creative cooking skills by making their own pizzas for lunch and ice cream sundaes for dessert. Later, it was time for a golf cart tour around the Lazydays property and “RV-101,” where they learned about the different classes of RVs.
At the end of the day, the children received goody bags and left Lazydays knowing a lot more about what their parents do every day at work.
Lazydays RV was recently named one of Tampa Bay’s Top Work Places 2010 by the St. Petersburg Times. Lazydays was nominated by its employees, who were then surveyed about a variety of topics.
One of only 20 mid-sized companies to achieve such an honor, the survey was designed to objectively assess the desirability of a given workplace and focused on company culture, leadership, compensation and training, workplace flexibility, diversity, community benefit through charity work and how Lazydays handled the recent economic downturn.
“This report is significant because it is an unprecedented effort to understand how Tampa Bay’s companies are creating strong, productive work environments, even in difficult economic times,” said Neil Brown, Times executive editor and vice president. “We share the stories of the employees and offer an inside look into what’s working and where there’s opportunity to grow.”
Lazydays CEO John Horton told Lazydays employees, “The road our company has traveled upon in the recent past has been a rough one; yet each of you has risen to a level of excellence. You’ve come together as an unbreakable family in a way that should be the envy of our community. Your determination, dedication and passion have made certain that the Lazydays family will remain strong and committed to our customers for years to come.”
When Wanda DeLaRosa, executive director of It’s All About Kids, needed help transforming a 6,000-square-foot space in Tampa’s University Mall into a state-of-the-art afterschool learning lab for underprivileged kids, she placed a call to Lazydays, an RV dealership in nearby Seffner, asking for any aid the RV dealership could spare.
Lazydays responded by sending the “Dream Team,” a dedicated and diverse group of employees who voluntarily donate their free time and labor to construction and renovation projects that benefit needy kids throughout the community, according to a news release.
Despite the event taking place during Lazydays’ busiest time of the year, the Dream Team members were more than willing to donate their free time toward what they collectively believed was an important project.
“I don’t have a lot to give so I give of my time to help others,” said Lazydays Glass Shop Technician and Dream Team volunteer Richard Rainey. “It’s very rewarding to know that by putting my technical skills to use I can benefit many of our community’s disadvantaged children.”
Skills are not the only asset Rainey brought to the job; he also brought a trailer packed with his personal tools to aid his team of fellow volunteers and craftsmen in completing the renovation.
Upon taking in the finished results, DeLaRosa fought back tears as she acknowledged the role the Lazydays Dream Team played in helping her organization realize a long awaited dream.
“It’s overwhelming to see so many people stop their lives to give,” she said. “The Lazydays Dream Team volunteers work hard to support their families by day and by night they take time away from their loved ones to help make our community a better place. It means so much to us all.”
Fleetwood RV Inc. was awarded best motorized outdoor display during the Florida RV SuperShow, which ran Jan. 13-17 in Tampa, Fla.
Fleetwood’s display was co-managed by one of its top dealers, Lazydays, and featured a variety of 2010 products including American Eagle, Discovery, Tioga as well as the brand new Encounter, Fleetwood’s first crossover motor home, according to a news release.
“We’re honored to have been recognized as the best motorized display,” said John Draheim, president and COO of Fleetwood RV Inc. “We had a great location, traffic was better than expected and our products were well received. All of this combined with the great sales leadership of our dealer partner, Lazydays, helped make the SuperShow an excellent way to kick off the retail show season.”
“The success of Fleetwood’s SuperShow display is a tribute to the strong relationship Fleetwood and Lazydays has maintained for over 20 years,” said Snow Chamberlain, event coordinator for Lazydays. “We worked together to not only showcase Fleetwood’s high-quality products, but to also give our customers the best experience possible. The result was a very successful show for everyone.”
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.
A woman claims her husband burned to death inside his truck because a poorly installed television set in an oncoming motorcoach fell from its mount, bonking the driver on the head. The driver’s wife tried to steer the vehicle but it struck the truck, which burst into flame, killing the truck driver.
The widow, Roxane Rodriguez Leal, sued the retailer that provided the motorcoach, Lazydays in Seffner, Fla., according to the Courthouse News Service.
She claims Monaco Coach Corp. designed and built the 2004 motorcoach with a defective TV mount over the driver’s seat. “Monaco received customer complaints regarding televisions falling out of the area in which they were installed, but the company failed to address those complaints,” she says in the suit.
She did not, however, sue defunct Monaco Coach. Instead, she sued Lazydays, from whom Don Tolner and his wife bought their motorcoach. The Tolners are not named as defendants either.
Leal claims the Tolners’ motorcoach drifted onto the median on southbound U.S. 77 in Texas, which dislodged the TV and dumped it on Don Tolner’s head, “rendering him unable to drive the vehicle.” His wife tried to regain control but failed, and “steered it into the tractor unit that Jose Luis Leal was driving northbound on U.S. 77. As a result of the collision, the tractor unit caught fire, and Jose Luis Leal burned to death,” according to the complaint.
Leal and her two minor children seek damaged for medical and funeral expenses, loss of her husband’s income, and her husband’s death, pain and suffering.
They are represented by Robert Ammons of Houston.
Lazydays announced today (Jan. 12) that it has taken on the newest line of motorhomes by Monaco RV LLC.
Lazydays CEO John Horton said in a news release that Seffner, Fla.-based Lazydays and Monaco share a passionate dedication to RVers that has resulted in scores of happy customers in the past and will continue to grow as the RV industry moves into the future.
“Over the past decade, Lazydays and Monaco have cultivated a strong relationship built on trust and the mutual devotion to helping RVers fulfill their dreams,” said Horton. “We look forward to building on this relationship. As a longtime top Monaco dealer, we are confident that Monaco RV will be a market leader for many years to come.”
Monaco RV President Kay Toolson asserted that Lazydays’ commitment to its customers is extraordinary and that both Lazydays’ and Monaco’s tremendous devotion to the RVer is a sign that the future is bright for those who love RVing.
“It has always been our goal at Monaco, as it has with Lazydays, to take care of our customers better than any competitor ever could,” said Toolson. “The bond between our two companies is going to make the experience for our mutual customers the best it can possibly be. We look forward to many successful years together.”
Lazy Days RV Center Inc., doing business as Lazydays, today (Dec. 22) announced it has successfully completed a court-supervised financial restructuring process that began on Nov. 5.
As a result of the restructuring, Wayzata Investment Partners LLC, through the funds it manages, has become the majority and controlling shareholder of Lazydays and its subsidiaries.
“We are very pleased to have wrapped up our financial restructuring in a relatively short time — and to have done so without any disruption to our business, without breaking any commitments to our business partners, and without sacrificing the level of service our customers have come to expect over the past 33 years,” said John Horton, president and CEO of the Seffner, Fla.-based RV dealership. “We never wavered from our promise to strive to provide our customers with the perfect RV purchase and ownership experience.”
In response to increasing retail activity and the company’s improved financial position, the dealership has recently increased the size of its work force by 65. “At a time when jobs are difficult to find in our community, we are thrilled to have been able to create jobs as well as recall some of our past employees,” said Horton.
The implementation of the financial restructuring plan eliminates all of its bond debt, significantly reduces its annual cash interest costs, provides new equity financing and puts the company on strong financial footing for the future, Horton said. None of Lazydays’ business partners were adversely impacted by the financial restructuring.
Horton added, “Lazydays has benefited from Wayzata’s commitment to our successful restructuring, and we look forward to working with Wayzata to grow the company and increase shareholder value.”
Putting the changes in perspective, Horton emphasized what has remained the same: “For the last 33 years, the men and women who comprise the Lazydays family have worked tirelessly to fulfill our customers’ RV dreams. Today, with the financial restructuring process in the rear view monitor, Lazydays is poised to face the future with an even stronger passion and commitment to our customers than ever before. With unbridled determination, the Lazydays family has stood together through a difficult time and is starting to grow again. The future is bright, and the place RVers call home has become even better.”
Since filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this month, Riverside, Calif.-based RV maker Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. has received the court’s go-ahead to pay what it owed utilities, workers compensation benefits and employees, among other items, according to the Riverside Press-Enterprise.
The company also has been granted permission to honor its warranties and dealer incentives — good news for the company and the company’s largest dealership, Lazydays RV Supercenter in Tampa, Fla., which has $15 million worth of Fleetwood inventory on its lots and $1.2 million worth of warranty claims on its books, according to statements at a recent bankruptcy hearing.
What remained uncertain as of late last week was the company’s efforts to obtain debtor-in-possession financing — a key that would allow Fleetwood to continue operating while officials try to find someone to buy the company.
A budget submitted in court filings forecasts the company’s sales and expenses from March 15 through June 14. According to the budget, Fleetwood expects to sell $81 million worth of products in that time.
But the company’s purchases, payroll, operating costs and more would cost it $103.3 million.
Fleetwood also needs $8.7 million to secure a bond to build military housing at Fort Bliss in Texas — part of a multi-million Defense Department contract.
The difference could be paid with debtor-in-possession financing — essentially a line of credit to keep it operating while a buyer is sought.
That’s where Bank of America, which has been a lender to Fleetwood, stepped in to offer an $80 million line of credit. However, it proposed charging Fleetwood $2.4 million in closing fees.
Hamid Rafatjoo, an attorney representing creditors, called the fee “outrageous” during last week’s bankruptcy hearing.
Wording in the more than 200-page financing proposal also indicated that the bank or Fleetwood could raise the $80 million credit limit at will without informing anyone else, Rafatjoo said.
“The committee isn’t going to support giving away the entire business to the bank,” he said.
A final proposal is due to the court by April 21.
Upon learning that 325 Country Coach International members were notified that their March owner’s rally was canceled, Lazydays RV Center Inc. has offered to hold a complimentary rally in its place.
In a press release, Lazydays said that the club’s registration fees of $50,000 weren’t being refunded. Country Coach, which has not been in operation since December and recently filed for bankruptcy, stated in a Jan. 28 announcement on its wesbite that it would be holding an East Coast rally in June to replace the March event.
The Lazydays rally will take place April 27-30 at the dealer’s “RallyPark” on the company’s site in Seffner, Fla. The event will also include breakfast, lunch and RV seminars daily as well as a farewell dinner and bingo tournament on the last night.
Additionally, Lazydays said it will provide emergency repairs and offer a special discounted labor rate to members requiring service work while at the rally.
“Soon after discovering this unfortunate situation, the employee partners of Lazydays felt compelled to provide these members an alternative rally experience,” said Pat Overby, Lazydays general sales manager.
Seffner, Fla.-based Lazydays RV Center Inc. dealer achieved 10.4% national market share in the class A diesel motor home category, according to Statistical Surveys Inc., an independent firm based in Grand Rapids, Mich., that tracks RV registrations.
Statistical Surveys recently announced retail sales performance for new RV registrations for calendar year 2008. During this time period, Lazydays gained national market share in each category that it represents; Class A diesel motorhome, Class A gas motorhome, Class C motorhome, travel trailer and fifth-wheel.
“I am very proud of our sales professionals and our entire company,” said CEO John Horton. “Having one out of every ten new diesel motorhomes in the United States sold by Lazydays is a result of the relationships we build with our customers and the industry leading products we offer them.
“We will continue growing our market share by maintaining our focus on making customers for life.”