When the full depth and extent of the “Great Recession” became clear in 2008, few industries dried up faster than recreational motor sports — boats, RVs and ATVs.
According to a report by the Great Falls (Mont.) Tribune, the calculus was simple: If the national economy is in doubt and your investment portfolio has taken a dive, if you owe more on your home than it’s worth and unemployment rates are spiking, then you probably won’t be spending a whole lot on a new boat or recreational vehicle.
But after half a decade, the recreational/motor sports industry is in resurgence. Industry sales analysis from across the spectrum is reporting the highest year-to-year increase in sales since 2006.
As with most things, Montana is charting its own course in this economic upswing. Over the past week, several dealerships from across the industry spoke about their optimism for the future and how the industry has changed in the intervening years.
“Our business slowed down a little bit in 2008 and 2009, but we didn’t have a significant decrease by any means,” said Andy Piccioni, marketing director for Pierce RV Supercenters.
With dealerships in Billings, Kalispell and Great Falls, Pierce is one of the biggest players in RV sales in Montana. It is also the model of a business that defied national trends in the RV industry.
In the depths of the crisis, some industry analysts predicted RV sales would not return to prerecession levels until 2020 or later. But Pierce viewed the market downturn as an opportunity, expanding its Kalispell store in 2009 and entering the Great Falls market in 2011 after buying McCollum Modern RVs.
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