Camping World Inc. today (June 5) announced its position as the largest retailer for Winnebago Industries Inc. with over $150 million in sales.
According to a press release, Camping World is currently the overall top motorized Winnebago retailer, accounting for 25.5% of the builder’s net revenue as stated in the Forest City, Iowa-based company’s most recent quarterly filing.
Camping World was also recently recognized for receiving 22 Circle of Excellence awards, three Partners in Excellence Awards for top market share in their respective regions, 15 Top Rank Sales Awards and the Itasca Dealer of the Year Award.
“We are pleased to be recognized as Winnebago’s top retailer of the year in addition to recently accepting multiple top achievement awards from Winnebago,” said Marcus Lemonis, chairman and CEO of Camping World. “Camping World continues to deliver very impressive year over year sales growth delivering 25.5% of the Winnebago net revenues. We are thrilled that Camping World RV dealers made an important contribution in Winnebago’s business growth and we look forward to continued success with this partnership throughout the ongoing year.”
Winnebago’s products are currently available at 56 Camping World dealerships across the country.
“Being awarded and recognized by Winnebago in so many categories is exceptional,” said Roger Nuttall, president of Camping World RV Sales. “We value our partnership with Winnebago Industries and remain committed to the highest levels of customer satisfaction in every level of our business.”
The RV/MH Hall of Fame & Museum announced that during the first month of its fundraiser to raise $100,000 in donations to meet the Ingram family’s $100,000 Challenge, the Hall has received $55,955 in contributions, Darryl Searer, president of the Hall, stated in a news release.
In an act of continuing generosity toward the Hall, the Robert “Boots” Ingram family has offered a $100,000 matching “Let’s Pay off the Bank” challenge, if a like amount can be raised by individual donations before the end of August.
“Boots” Ingram, founder of Teton Homes and former member of the Hall’s board of directors, passed away in 2010, and part of his legacy is his unprecedented support and generosity toward the Hall.
According to Searer, individual donations have ranged from $5 to $25,000.
Searer said, “We are excited about the success of this fund-raising effort so far in trying to reach our goal of $100,000 in donations before the deadline, August 31, 2012. This success, to a large degree, is because of two $25,000 donations — one by Marcus Lemonis, chairman of Camping World Inc. and Good Sam Enterprises LLC.; and the other by Hall of Famer Don Wallace, co-founder of Lazydays RV Super Center.
“We hope other industry members who have become financially able in the RV and Manufactured Housing industries will feel challenged by the contributions of Lemonis and Wallace and step up and do their part in helping us preserve our industries’ heritage.
“And while we need and appreciate these larger contributions, I am inspired by the willingness of individuals, dealers and groups who have reached into their pockets to do their part. We need everyone’s help if we are going to meet this challenge.”
One-hundred percent of the challenge grant contributions will go toward paying down the Hall’s bank loan at 1st Source Bank and all gifts are tax deductable.
Searer added, “While we are encouraged by our early success, we still need to raise $44,045 before the deadline.
For those who would like to make a contribution toward the Ingram family’s $100,000 challenge grant, the Hall has made it easy to contribute. Contributions can be made through the Hall’s secure web site, www.rvmhhalloffame.org or by mail, phone or fax. If paying by check or money order, make payable to the RV/MH Hall of Fame. The Hall’s mailing address is: Ingram Challenge, RV/MH Hall of Fame, 21565 Executive Parkway, Elkhart, IN 46514.
Good Sam Enterprises LLC reported a 5.3% increase in sales for its first quarter, ended March 31, while posting a profit versus a net loss in the previous year.
Revenues totaled $110.1 million for the first quarter, an increase of $5.5 million from the comparable period in 2011. Net income was $4,000 compared to a loss of $2.6 million. The Good Sam report does not include results from its Camping World subsidiary’s rolling stock sales.
Revenue performance among the various sectors included:
• Membership Services revenues of $37.2 million for the first quarter of 2012 increased $2 million, or 5.6%, from the comparable period in 2011. This revenue increase was largely attributable to a $1.6 million increase in member events revenue due to the timing of the Good Sam Club annual rally, which occurred in the first quarter of 2012 versus the third quarter of 2011, an $0.8 million increase in extended vehicle warranty program revenue due to contract price increases, a $0.3 million increase in marketing fee revenue from RV financing, and a $0.2 million increase in emergency road service revenue, partially offset by a $0.6 million decrease in advertising revenue from RV View magazine, which was replaced with Highways magazine in 2011, and a $0.3 million decrease in Coast to Coast and Golf Card Club revenue due to decreased membership and the sale of the Golf Card Club in March 2012.
• Media revenues of $11.8 million for the first quarter of 2012 decreased $3.6 million, or 23.2%, from the comparable period in 2011. This decrease was primarily attributable to a $2.2 million revenue reduction resulting from the sale or closure of non-core media businesses in 2011, a $0.7 million reduction in annual directory revenues due to reduced marketing and phasing out the cd-rom version, a $0.3 million reduction in consumer show revenue, and a $0.4 million reduction in magazine revenue.
• Retail revenues of $61.0 million for the first quarter of 2012 increased by $7.1 million, or 13.2%, from the comparable period in 2011. Store merchandise sales increased $4.7 million from the first quarter of 2011 due to a same store sales increase of $3.7 million, or 9.3%, compared to a 1.4% decrease for the first quarter of 2011, and a $1.4 million increase due to the opening of ten new stores over the last fifteen months, which were partially offset by decreased revenue from discontinued stores of $0.4 million. One store was closed in the last fifteen months in order to consolidate operations within that area. Same store sale calculations for a given period include only those stores that were open both at the end of that period and at the beginning of the preceding fiscal year. Also, mail order and Internet sales increased $3.2 million, installation and service fees decreased $0.5 million, and supplies and other revenue decreased $0.3 million.
Earnings per segment showed:
• Membership services segment profit of $16.0 million for the first quarter of 2012 increased $1.9 million, or 13.4%, from the comparable period in 2011. This increase was attributable to a $0.7 million increase in segment profit from the Good Sam Club primarily due to cost savings resulting from the combination of the President’s Club and the Good Sam Club on January 1, 2012, a $0.7 million increase from Camp Club USA, a $0.5 million gain on sale of Golf Card Club, a $0.3 million improvement in Coast to Coast Club, and a $0.3 million increase from RV financing, partially offset by a decrease in segment profit of $0.6 million from member events.
• Media segment profit of $1.8 million for the first quarter of 2012 increased by $0.1 million, or 3.7%, from the comparable period in 2011 due to $0.4 million of cost savings from the sale or closure of non-core media businesses in 2011, and a $0.3 million increase from the annual directories, partially offset by a reduction in segment profit of $0.6 million from our magazines.
• Retail segment loss of $2.9 million for the first quarter of 2012 favorably decreased $0.4 million from a segment loss of $3.3 million for the first quarter of 2011. This reduction in segment loss resulted from a $1.5 million increase in gross profit and a $0.3 million reduction in depreciation expense partially offset by a $1.4 million increase in selling, general and administrative expenses.
To view the entire report click here.
A personal $25,000 donation from Marcus Lemonis, chairman of Camping World Inc. and Good Sam Enterprises LLC, helped kick off a new fundraising campaign launched earlier this week aimed at helping pay off the RV/MH Heritage Foundation Inc.’s bank loans on the RV/MH Hall of Fame & Museum in Elkhart, Ind.
The goal is to raise $100,000 in voluntary contributions by Aug. 31, all of which is to be matched by the Robert “Boots” Ingram family, which has put up a $100,000 challenge grant for the purpose of lowering the Hall’s debt to 1st Source Bank by $200,000.
“After seeing the information on what the Ingram family did and the attempt to pay down the bank – and knowing that the Ingram donation was really a match, not a guarantee from what I understand – yesterday (May 9) I made a contribution of $25,000 in the hope that other people will fill the gap and put this issue to rest,” said Lemonis, whose 5,000-employee, privately held firm based in Lincolnshire, Ill., operates 78 RV dealerships and 93 Camping World parts and accessories stores.
“You know,” he told RVBUSINESS.com, “they’re not asking for a lot, this organization (the Hall of Fame) that we’ve talked about in the past, and we need to know that it survives. It was as simple as that for me. I made a commitment a year and a half ago to do something, and this is a good gesture to ensure that other people feel the same level of responsibility.”
Hall of Fame President Darryl Searer, a former inductee appointed to his new post in March, says the Lemonis donation should help expedite the debt-reduction drive and give the Hall a leg up in reaching its stated goal.
“We need to reach the goal by the end of August to match the Ingram’s $100,000,” reported Searer. “And this is certainly a great start towards that, and I really appreciate the fact that Marcus Lemonis has stepped up to be the first significant donor toward meeting that goal. We’re 25% of the way there, as of now.”
Searer, chairman of Elkhart, Ind.-based Ultra-Fab Products Inc., reports that things are going well. “Yes, phenomenal is the best way to put it,” said Searer. “The people who are coming forward and offering assistance have just been more than I could expect.”
Upgrading the website has been a major priority for Searer, a former Hall treasurer and board member who has a “lengthy list” of things he wants to do this year in taking over the reins at the Hall, which houses a museum and library as well as rental facilities. That list includes “meetings with the mayor, newspapers and county officials.”
Meanwhile, Searer said he was pleased to have received a donation of 20 tables and 200 chairs from Elkhart’s Matterhorn Conference Center Banquets Catering, which provides catering services. The Hall of Fame previously had to arrange for rental tables and chairs for events held at the north side Elkhart shrine to the locally based recreational vehicle and manufactured housing industries.
Tax-deductible gifts, adds Searer, may be made by mail, in person at the Hall, by phone at (800) 378-8694, or through www.rvmhhalloffame.org.
Editor’s Note: Good Sam got plenty of air time Sunday night (April 29) on national TV as NBC’s popular “Celebrity Apprentice” contestants performed a task centered around the RVing icon. A summary of the show, courtesy of NBC, follows:
Star Donald Trump introduced Marcus Lemonis, chairman and CEO for Good Sam Enterprises, the RV owner organization. Lemonis described the task: the celebrities must write a 90-second jingle for Good Sam and then perform it for a live audience.
The celebrities will be judged on the following criteria: 1) the actual jingle, 2) brand messaging and 3) the performance itself.
Trump points out that Forte has a great singer in Clay Aiken, and Unanimous has Aubrey O’Day. Arsenio Hall takes over as project manager (PM) for Unanimous. He knows Aubrey will try “stealing his thunder” but he doesn’t care. Dayana Mendoza steps up as PM for Forte. Trump is surprised, having expected Clay to take it. But Dayana says it’s her turn. Trump offers $20,000 to the winning PM, and Lemonis adds to that $25,000 from Good Sam and 100 percent of the proceeds from the Good Sam mascot.
It’s performance time. As the teams are getting ready, Clay overhears Aubrey singing her jingle and listens through the curtain. Aubrey tells Dayana that she likes their jingle better. Then their ’50s themed performance goes off. While the performance goes well, Dayana is upset still that Lisa and Clay weren’t “professional” enough to include her on the task. But Clay thinks that both he and Lisa did a great job with the performance, since it’s what they do well. Lemonis was pleased with the energy of the performance, but thought that they played it safe with the material, and he was disappointed that when Dayana came out at the end of the performance, she wasn’t dressed in the Good Sam colors. Overall though, he thought they did a good job.
Unanimous does their performance. Teresa Giudice and Arsenio do their bit of being a couple stranded on the road. Arsenio thinks they did a great job and that Teresa “killed it,” while Aubrey thinks they were awful and comments on how painful it is to work with people who just aren’t as used to performing. Then, when Teresa “calls” Good Sam, the jingle starts, ending with Arsenio’s rap and Aubrey jumping into Good Sam’s arms. Afterwards, Lemonis thinks they nailed it. He loved the energy; he thought they hit the brand messaging; he thinks it looks very well-rehearsed; he can’t get the jingle out of his head, and he liked how they used the mascot. He wasn’t however crazy about the cheerleader’s outfit.
Ultimately, Trump selects Unanimous as the winner and Dayana Mendoza, who has faced elimination on at least six prior occasions and endured the wrath of several of her fellow contestants throughout the series, is fired.
Good Sam today (April 25) announced their selection in the fifth installment of NBC’s “The Celebrity Apprentice,” featuring American business mogul Donald J. Trump.
According to a press release, Good Sam was chosen among several Fortune 500 companies to be featured as a task sponsor on a 2012 segment of the popular NBC reality series. The episode will highlight some of the many benefits and services Good Sam provides to the community.
The latest season of “The Celebrity Apprentice” debuted Feb. 19 and the Good Sam featured episode will air April 29 on NBC at 9 p.m. (Eastern) and will include footage of Good Sam Chairman and CEO Marcus Lemonis.
Donald Trump commented, “Good Sam, one of the world’s largest lifestyle organizations, provides a wide and wonderful array of products and services, and we are very pleased to have them on our show. I think the episode is exciting and definitely a great fit for our audiences.”
“We are pleased to partner with Mr. Trump with his pop culture phenomenon, ‘The Celebrity Apprentice,’” said Lemonis. “Both Good Sam and ‘The Celebrity Apprentice’ have a similar focus on charitable works and Good Sam is focused on providing customer assistance in a multitude of channels. Look forward to seeing Good Sam reveal a new image to the audience.”
Good Sam Enterprises LLC, an affiliate of Camping World Inc., appears to have hit a home run this past week in hosting a bustling consumer rally Mar. 22-25 at the Phoenix International Raceway that was busier than anything the industry has seen in years.
Good Sam spokesmen report that the total coach count at The Rally – 3,370 units comprising about 7,500 people – was amplified by 9,000 to 10,000 day pass visitors during the four-day event. The result was an impressive crowd that drew heavily from the Southwest region and from an established base of Arizona snowbirds and spring baseball training fans.
Participating in outdoor displays were some 27 manufacturers. The indoor exhibits included about 350 10-by-10 booths, and both areas were sold out, reports Terry Thompson, vice president of sales for Good Sam.
Not since a Redmond, Ore., rally in 2005 had Illinois-based Good Sam, then known as Affinity Group Inc., seen traffic like this. “It was a great rally,” said Thompson, whose firm started hosting rallies in 2000. “It’s the biggest rally we’ve had in a number of years. In addition to the 3,370 rigs, we had a lot of drive-ups that came in and, fortunately, not a lot of cancellations. And so we haven’t had a rally like this in years, quite frankly.”
Beyond the social and commercial aspects, and the seminars and frontline entertainment — including Bill Cosby and Martina McBride – the Arizona location was the biggest factor in attracting a crowd, Rally Director Sue Bray maintains.
“It went really well,” said Bray. “People were very happy, and Phoenix is a great destination. We worked really hard to try to do some grassroots marketing to bring in the day traffic. We went around to all the campgrounds and left two-for-one coupons for day passes. We did some TV advertising and we also promoted at the local Camping World stores. That was all stuff that we had not really done before, and so I think it paid off. But also I think that people really want to come to Phoenix and I’m glad that we finally found a place that can accommodate the event.”
Bottom line, Bray agreed, the basic show formula with some tweaks seems to have survived the economic downturn – a fact that might be confirmed in subsequent Good Sam rallies this year as the company expands its consumer-centric rally schedule for the first time from one to three events. Upcoming venues are June 21-24 in Louisville, Ky., and Nov. 2-6 in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Good Sam/Camping World Chairman Marcus Lemonis says the biggest difference in opting for a racing facility in Phoenix vs. traditional show sites like Redmond and Perry, Ga., is that they had to build their own infrastructure.
“There was nothing here other than asphalt,” said Lemonis, “and I think we’ve proven that we can go into major metropolitan markets and not only serve the RV community and the snowbirds that were there, but also we were expecting a lot more people over five days in terms of day passes compared to Redmond, which was 2,000, because you have a base of four million people in Phoenix.”
One other noteworthy twist at Phoenix from an industry perspective was the rather surprising participation of rolling stock dealers not affiliated with Camping World RV Sales, a sister company to Good Sam and the nation’s largest RV retailer.
“You’ll notice that the Camping World presence was not that predominant here,” Lemonis told RVBUSINESS.com. “You don’t really see it. There were 19 dealers other than us in Phoenix, and that was a really important priority for me. You know, La Mesa, Lazy Days, Paul Evert’s, McMahon’s, Robert Crist and Orangewood were involved. The point is that this was not a Camping World event. This was a Good Sam event, and they really are different. Yes, Camping World had a (parts and accessories) store (at the Phoenix Raceway), like they do at a lot of events like FMCA rallies, and the Camping World dealership had a display along with 19 other dealers. So, it was really a Good Sam event.”
How did Lemonis, a controversial industry figure who had all but secluded his company from the rest of the industry a year ago, succeed in convincing those independent dealers to participate in a function sponsored by a Camping World affiliate, an arch-rival in effect for several of them?
“We didn’t really talk dealers into coming,” added Lemonis. “We gave the manufacturers our word that it would be fair and free enterprise. They are the ones that actually buy the space. They’re the ones who took the chance. They seemed extremely pleased. At the end of the day, if you (manufacturers and dealers) come and you have a good experience and sell product – whatever your opinion is — you don’t care. Selling RV’s is what matters.”
The following is a blog from RVing Examiner’s Julian Gothard offering commentary on Camping World President and CEO Marcus Lemonis’ decision to pull sponsorship from reality show “Celebrity Apprentice” following published photos of host Donald Trump’s sons posing with African game they had shot. To read the entire story click here. RVBUSINESS.com has also received several comments since posting a related story on March 15. To view that article and review comments click here.
Hunters are threatening to boycott Camping World’s 75 nationwide locations after company Chairman and CEO Marcus Lemonis ruled out future sponsorship of NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice TV show. Lemonis who heads up the Good Sam Club (a season 12 sponsor of Celebrity Apprentice) as well as Camping World (a season 11 sponsor) was displeased by photos which pictured brothers Eric and Donald Trump Jr. – judges on the Donald Trump reality show – with their wild animal trophies on a big game hunting safari in Zimbabwe.
In a statement posted last week on the company Facebook page Camping World sought to clarify their position. “Camping World…believes in personal freedom. In this country, people are free to choose. This issue at hand is not about whether people should be able to hunt or not. Our company is neither for nor against hunting. We are for personal choice and having people enjoy the outdoors in whatever fashion they choose. However, if and when the hunting of endangered species occurs, whether in the United States or abroad, it is not acceptable to even the most avid of hunters. We remain strong in our conviction of preserving the outdoors, protecting our great country’s lands and the freedom to choose.”
Comments from the company’s Facebook followers seem almost evenly divided between those who support Camping World and those who believe in an individual’s right to hunt. The real bone of contention seems to be what constitutes an endangered species so the RVing Examiner turned to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species for guidance.
The IUCN also notes that “some community-based conservation programs in which revenue from the sport hunting of elephants reverts directly to local communities have proved effective in increasing tolerance to elephants, and thus indirectly in reducing levels of human-elephant conflict.” This statement tends to support safari organizer Hunting Legends’ contention that they play a crucial role in supporting the local economy. Indeed, however distasteful big game hunting may at first appear to be to an outside observer the most prudent course of action would be to reserve judgement until one has been fully apprised of the facts.
While the Trump brothers may be guilty of a serious PR faux pas they don’t deserve to be vilified for their chosen pastime. Similarly, Marcus Lemonis as CEO of Good Sam and Camping World made a decision that he thought was in the best interests of both companies, as is his right. Of course, regardless of the rights and wrongs of the situation it’s likely that NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice” will be the real winner.
Good Sam Enterprises LLC, a recreational vehicle membership club and a season 12 sponsor of NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice” reality show, will not be reprising their role on Donald Trump’s show anytime soon, according to a report that ran on the TMZ (Thirty Mile Zone) website today (March 15) and reported by RVing Examiner.
The TMZ report suggests that Good Sam Chairman and CEO Marcus Lemonis was so incensed by photos of an African hunting safari that showed Donald Trump Jr. – one of the Celebrity Apprentice judges – and Eric Trump standing next to their trophy kills that Good Sam Enterprises and Lincolnshire, Ill.-based Camping World will not be supporting the New York based business mogul’s TV show in the future.
Camping World Chairman and CEO Lemonis, who has essentially “fired The Donald,” insisted that “I wouldn’t spend another nickel with them,” according to the TMZ report.
Camping World – Good Sam’s sister company – was a task sponsor on an outdoor recreation segment in the 2011 series of Celebrity Apprentice where competing celebrities vie for a $250,000 check for their favorite charity.
The company was scheduled to be the focus of a celebrity task in April. No word on the status of that episode.
Camping World Inc. announces plans to open a new facility in Fresno, Calif. According to a press release, the new location will join 90 other Camping World locations, including nine in California.
With expected support of city officials, Camping World is in the final stages of planning the new location, which will encompass both a Camping World retail store and Camping World RV Sales dealership while generating tax revenue and new employment opportunities to the community. The release stated that early discussions have “shown strong support and interest from multiple manufacturers, suppliers and vendors looking for additional expansion in to this growing market.”
“Our growth plans across the country are consistent with Camping World’s philosophy of commitment to enhance our customers’ total RV experience,” said Marcus Lemonis, chairman and CEO of Camping World. “By increasing the growth of both the retail and dealership locations in our network, Camping World is getting closer to achieving our goal of truly being the one-stop shopping location for the RV and outdoor enthusiast across the country.”
Fresno is the second new market identified in the California area in 2012 with the recent Redding location announcement with plans to open in May. The company expects to open the new Supercenter in the Fresno area later in 2012 and to hire about 25 to 30 new employees to reinforce their sales, service and support needs for this local dealership and accessory store.
“Our goal is to expand our business into new areas, and we are very excited about serving the Central California community,” said Lemonis.