Leo Merkel, founder of Leo’s Vacation Center in Gambrills, Md., an RVBusiness Top 50 dealership, died Wednesday (March 23) in Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, Md. Merkel was 86.
He started his award-winning dealership in 1972 after a family camping trip.
As recounted to RVBUSINESS.com by Bob Wilson, general manager and a 25-year veteran of the business, Merkel, who owned a trucking business at the time, had purchased a popup for a family camping trip. When the unit developed some issues, he took it back to the servicing dealer. The dealer did not do a good job on the repairs and Merkel figured he could make them himself. He did so and proceeded to buy a dozen popups and truck campers and started his own dealership with his wife, Mary, in Gambrills, located 10 miles south of Baltimore.
The dealership had over 300 units in inventory at the time of his death.
Statistical Surveys Inc. (SSI) recognized Leo’s Vacation Center as the No. 1 retailer of motorhomes for Maryland four years running, 2006 through 2009.
Merkel handed over the reins of the dealership more than 10 years ago to his son, Greg, and his wife, Jacqueline. But Merkel remained active. He was coming to work on a regular basis as recently as early February before becoming ill.
The Singleton Funeral Home in Glen Burnie, Md., is in charge of arrangements. Calling will be on Sunday at the funeral home where the service will be on Monday, followed by burial at Glen Haven Memorial Park.