Marcus Lemonis, chairman and CEO of Camping World Inc. and Good Sam Enterprises LLC, and star of CNBC’s The Profit, announced today (June 18) plans to open new AutoMatch USA SuperCenters in Bakersfield, Calif., and Avondale, Ariz., in late summer and/or early fall along with a new location in Ocala, Fla., by the end of 2014.
The expansion news comes on the heels of a recent announcement that additional AutoMatch USA SuperCenters would be opening in Salt Lake City, Utah and Fort Myers, Fla., in late summer 2014 after successful openings in the Chicago and Jacksonville markets.
AutoMatch USA specializes in foreign and domestic preowned cars of all makes and models, along with parts, accessories, service and collision. Customers receive customized Good Sam services such as extended service warranty, financing, insurance and roadside assistance. The first location opened in Chicago in January 2014 and was featured on the hit The Profit. The second location celebrated its grand opening in Jacksonville in April.
“We have the key elements necessary to build a robust preowned car business and increasing our presence in new markets is in alignment with the strategic growth plans we have for the company,” said Lemonis. “We are constantly reviewing our footprint and evaluating where we can strengthen our automotive position across the U.S.”
Lemonis began his career in the automotive industry and eventually became vice president of several auto dealerships in the Miami, Fla., area. Over the past 10 years, Lemonis has streamlined the RV industry, buying more than 100 RV companies from “mom and pop” dealerships across the country and turning them into Camping World RV SuperCenters.
Marcus Lemonis, CEO and chairman of Camping World Inc. and Good Sam Enterprises LLC, said he is interested in purchasing Portillo’s.
The Portillo Restaurant Group said earlier this week it is looking for a potential buyer for the Portillo’s chain, which includes 38 fast casual restaurants selling hot dogs, Italian beef sandwiches and other fare.
“I’m definitely going to be in the mix,” Lemonis told the Chicago Tribune. “It’s going to be a lot cheaper than the (L.A.) Clippers.”
Lemonis has appeared on reality shows “Celebrity Apprentice” and “Secret Millionaire” and is currently starring in CNBC’s “The Profit.”
Lemonis said he would expect to pay a premium for the hot dog chain because it’s “very profitable,” well run and “fast-casual has kind of become en vogue again.”
Fast casual chains sell food at slightly higher prices than fast food chains and typically make food to order. Chicago-based Potbelly went public in 2013. Other chains, such as Noodles & Co. and Zoe’s Kitchen, are also now public. And Chipotle, which priced its 2006 IPO at $22 a share, now trades above $500 per share.
In 2013, sales at the Portillo’s chain topped $300 million.
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The Wall Street Journal reported that Lemonis, 40, is the chairman and CEO of Camping World Inc. and Good Sam Enterprises LLC, a recreational-vehicle and lifestyle company worth more than $2 billion. He is also the star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” a reality show in which he invests his own money into foundering businesses and attempts to them around.
Sound familiar? “The Profit” is a mash-up of reality-TV genres: one part Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, one part Shark Tank and one part Suze Orman Show. Lemonis’s “People, process and product” catchphrase may be the entrepreneur’s riff on Orman’s “people first, then money, then things.”
The show’s second season, which wrapped on Tuesday (April 15), doubled the viewership of the first, according to Nielsen figures. A recent episode was the most-watched original series telecast in CNBC history, the network said.
Unlike the stars of most makeover shows, Lemonis has skin the game. And unlike the investors of “Shark Tank,” who strike deals with entrepreneurs in need of funds to get on their feet, “The Profit” doesn’t intervene until a business is in on its last leg.
“Distressed companies, if fixed, will yield a much higher rate of return than a well-functioning company,” Lemonis says. “Higher risk, but higher reward.”
Lemonis says he has spent $7 million on nine deals over 14 episodes. It’s too early to tell how much return most of them will yield, but Car Cash, a vehicle-buying service he bought in the series’ first episode, has made him $1 million so far, he says.
The ultimate goal, he says, is to roll up all of the “Profit” companies into a holding business—some to franchise, some to sell, others to keep. But it’s Camping World and Good Sam, with nearly 6,000 employees and billions in revenue, that “define me,” Lemonis says.
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Camping World and Good Sam Enterprises CEO Marcus Lemonis of CNBC’s “The Profit” previewed the show’s next episode on the network’s Squawk Box program Tuesday (March 4) morning.
Benzinga reported that the episode revolves around a striving meat packing company in serious debt, and its outcome reveals some of the strategy behind Lemonis’ process.
“Hey, guys. We gotta talk. We got a problem,” Lemonis said in a clip from the episode.
There’s a $3 million hole that the business owners can’t explain with just $30,000 in the bank; and Lemonis originally planned on investing his own money to help them dig their way out.
“Are you guys aware of that?” he continued.
They answer: “No.”
“The deal that we made was based on $2 million in payables. Not $4 [million]. Right?…Guys, this is bad…This business is two weeks away from closing,” Lemonis announced.
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In the first episode of the second season of The Profit, which aired Tuesday night (Feb. 25) on CNBC, Marcus Lemonis worked with Athans Motors, a former Morton Grove, Ill., luxury pre-owned car dealership, and developed a new business model called AutoMatch USA. Lemonis is chairman and CEO of Camping World Inc. and Good Sam Enterprises LLC.
According to a press release, the new auto dealership model will specialize in foreign and domestic pre-owned cars of all makes and models; parts, accessories, service and collision. Customers will receive customized Good Sam services such as extended service warranty, financing, insurance and roadside assistance.
Former real estate investor and car enthusiast, Pete Athans, sunk his entire life savings into building a high-end pre-owned car dealership, but financing a fantasy dealership left him short on cash and he struggled to fill his lot with cars.
Lemonis, the new owner, stated, “We’re open for business and our first objective is to change the way customers shop for quality, pre-owned cars by offering a full service auto buying experience with sales, service and accessories.”
Lemonis began his career in the automotive industry and eventually became vice president of several auto dealerships in the Miami area. Over the past 10 years, Lemonis has acquired more than 100 RV dealerships across the country, turning them into Camping World RV SuperCenters.
At the end of the episode, with a new management team in place, the dealership had converted to the first of many AutoMatch USA locations, specializing in cars for every budget and lifestyle.
To read the full release click here.
CNBC has greenlit a second season of the original reality series, “The Profit,” ordering eight new episodes. The popular entrepreneurial series features Marcus Lemonis, chairman and CEO of Camping World Inc. and Good Sam Enterprises LLC, who saves struggling businesses while investing his own cash in the process. Broadway World reported that season two of “The Profit” premieres Jan. 21 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
“The Profit is deeply rooted in entrepreneurship, a hallmark of CNBC Prime,” said CNBC President and CEO Mark Hoffman. “The Profit quickly proved to not only entertain viewers but Marcus Lemonis became a go-to for America’s small business owners looking for expert advice.”
When Lemonis isn’t running his multi-billion dollar company, Camping World, he goes on the hunt for struggling businesses that are desperate for cash and ripe for a deal. In the past 10 years, he’s successfully turned around over 100 companies, according to CNBC. Now he’s bringing those skills to CNBC and doing something no one has ever done on TV before … he’s putting millions of his own money on the line.
In season two, Lemonis continues to make offers impossible to refuse; his cash for a piece of the business and a percentage of the profits. And once inside these companies, he’ll do almost anything to save the business and make himself a profit; even if it means firing the president, promoting the secretary or doing the work himself.
Marcus Lemonis, president and CEO of Camping World Inc. and Good Sam Enterprises LLC, will risk $2 million of his own money in the CNBC show “The Profit” during this week’s episode, and invested a company called Eco-Me that’s in debt, poorly marketed and inefficient.
According to a report by the Mother Nature Network, Lemonis “found a void in the marketplace for all natural cleaning products” and believed in the company’s founder, Robin Levine. “But what needed to change was their broken sales and distribution process, and the supply side of the business—manufacturing and distribution,” Lemonis said. “I changed the packaging and branding, creating an identifiable brand. And I cleaned up the balance sheet, which ultimately changed the way they operate.”
The environmentally friendly aspects of Eco-Me appealed to Lemonis. “Green products work for everyone whether you are truly green or not. Who wants chemicals in their products? These products aren’t as niche as the original packaging made it out to be,” he said, noting that he uses them at home. “Sales are up tremendously since the episode taped, “but I do see small tweaks that could make it even better.”
Not all of his “Profit” deals work out as well. “I don’t invest in every company featured, but I wish all the companies well whether I invested in them or not,” Lemonis said. “My biggest success actually with this series is meeting new people and helping them change their process and business for the better.”
Looking ahead beyond the two remaining “Profit” episodes this season, he adds, “While I am not specifically looking for green companies, if a company meets my criteria then I would definitely consider for Season 2.” He has already invested in natural manufacturers like organic snacks and gluten-free products.
In an effort to expedite delivery of some 30,000 units a year from RV manufacturers to Camping World Inc.’s 90-plus rolling stock stores, CW Chairman and CEO Marcus Lemonis says his Lincolnshire, Ill.-based company has decided to enter the RV transportation business — in a big way.
And although there are still plenty of details to be publicly fleshed out, CWRV Transport – in the planning stages for nine months now – has already done a wave of driver surveys in preparation for launching a billboard campaign this week (Aug. 12-16) around the RV-building center of Elkhart, Ind., to begin recruiting drivers in anticipation of a “game-changing” Sept. 1 launch.
The new transport operation is exclusive right now to CW dealerships, but, Lemonis says, could include other independent retailers at a later date.
“We are getting into the transportation side of the business, the logistics business, for the single purpose of improving our inventory turns,” Lemonis, also CEO of Good Sam Enterprises LLC, told by RVBUSINESS.com. “So, today, it’s not anybody’s fault, but the process of getting inventory from the manufacturer to the dealer has really slowed up. And there’s a shortage of drivers, and there’s an increase in shipments.
“And when you have that confluence of issues, you know, we’re seeing delays that could be 10 to 15 days from the time the manufacturer actually has the unit ready to the time we get it.
“What that means for us is we’ll buy over the course of the year almost $800 million dollars of inventory, and when we look at missing one week, that’s an appreciable cost. What we hope to do is cut the lead time from 14 days to seven or eight, and pick up that inventory, those dollars, and redeploy them at our new stores. We’re opening 11 new stores in the next eight months. And as we look at ways to better manage our company, we know that we have to cut down on the lead times between the manufacturer and us.”
In the final analysis, Lemonis claims CW’s bold move into RV transportation ought to relieve pressure on manufacturers, his dealers and the other transportation companies who are “being yelled at and harassed to get stuff delivered.”
A real key to the whole gameplan, meanwhile, is CW’s plan to recruit drivers all over the country through its 1.5 million Good Sam Club members as well as four million Camping World RV and parts & accessories customers to whom CW will offer decent remuneration, fuel discounts and memberships.
The end result, Lemonis added, should be a greater pool of drivers for the entire industry, including other transporters.
“It’s really a logistics business,” he said, “and what we’re doing is we’re providing a pool of people from the Good Sam Club and current customers of ours who are looking for work. Retirees are looking for work; they like to get out on their own. And we’re using our existing database to populate additional drivers for the industry.
“We think that Good Sam members and Camping World customers are perfect candidates for part-time transport work because they live the lifestyle – they understand it – and they’re always looking for something to do. So, we really thought it made sense to kind of bring the RV consumer and the RV transport company together.”
Although there will be an Elkhart office, Lemonis says Camping World is not setting up an entire infrastructure to facilitate its new transport initiative, but instead is “partnering with a number of people to kind of facilitate it.” He declined to discuss further details about how this whole thing might work from an operational standpoint.
“This whole process is being run by people who understand the transportation business, not by Lincolnshire or Bowling Green (where CW runs its parts and accessories business),” said Lemonis. “This is a process that’s being administered by people who know the space – out of Elkhart – people who know the transportation business and have really been recruited and positioned to help because shipments, in my view, are going to continue to go up.”
After a decent premiere a week ago, CNBC’s new weekly primetime business-makeover reality show “The Profit” took a tumble in the ratings Tuesday (Aug. 6).
Variety reported that Nielsen estimates that “The Profit,” in which entrepreneur Marcus Lemonis pumps his own cash into a struggling business in a bid to turn it around, averaged 56,000 viewers in the adults 25-54 demo in its second episode — down a steep 64% from the 157,000 it pulled for its premiere. It held up better in total viewers, but the show’s overall audience of 173,000 still represented a 32% decline from the premiere’s 254,000.
By comparison, in the month of July, stripped weeknight series “American Greed” averaged 112,000 adults 25-54 and 252,000 viewers overall in the same 10 o’clock hour for CNBC. And in the 11 p.m. hour during July, “Mad Money” averaged 41,000 adults 25-54 and 103,000 viewers overall.
“The Profit” is CNBC’s latest attempt at finding an unscripted hit, having yanked “Crowd Rules” in May after just two low-rated outings. “Crowd Rules” premiered to a mere 47,000 viewers, though, so by that low bar, “The Profit” is still looking OK.
The Joffrey Ballet announced that Marcus Lemonis, chairman and CEO of Camping World Inc. and Good Sam Enterprises LLC and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” has made a substantial leadership gift to support and enhance the ongoing work of the Joffrey’s Bridge Program, a dance education residency in Chicago Public Schools.
In recognition of this gift, the program will now be known as The Joffrey Ballet Lemonis Bridge Program, according to a press release. The Joffrey Ballet is led by Artistic Director Ashley Wheater and Executive Director Greg Cameron.
The Bridge Program provides Chicago Public School students in grades 1 and 2 with a highly structured dance experience where they develop life skills such as listening, following directions and respect; engage in creative expression; and practice physical awareness and healthy lifestyle choices. This program serves primarily African American and Latino children with more than 90% of the young students coming from low income households. It is designed to introduce children, who normally would not have any opportunity to explore classical dance, to the basic elements of classical ballet and may ultimately identify and train the next generation of dancers.
Lemonis’ gift will guarantee that the Bridge Program – which currently reaches over 400 students each year – will continue to engage Chicago’s children for the next decade while at the same time expanding the number of teaching artists, schools and students served annually.
“In light of the recent school closings and budget cuts in the Chicago Public School system, so much of the basic structure that the children need in their lives has been altered. Giving our youths a solid beginning can make a huge impact in his or her life and it has been proven that the arts positively impact our young people’s physical health, discipline, focus and social skills,” said Lemonis. “As a child, I was given an opportunity that enabled me to pursue my passions and I am honored to offer assistance to the Joffrey’s Bridge Program as it is undeniable how valuable – how crucial – programs like this are to maintaining a balanced education and having a long-lasting positive impact for the children, who are truly our future. I encourage the community members and businesses to embrace and support this program.”