New York-based Alpin Haus, one of the Northeast’s largest, family owned, independent RV retailers, has announced the promotion of Jonathan Baker to sales manager of the company’s store in Saratoga Springs. According to a press release, Baker is charged with the responsibility of overseeing all sales staff and training at the location.
Baker is the son of longtime Alpin Haus employee Dave Baker, sales manager at the Alpin Haus RV store in Amsterdam. As a teenager, the worked under his father as a lot attendant before attending school at SUNY Buffalo, where he graduated with bachelor’s in business administration in 2006.
Baker returned to Alpin Haus, first as a salesperson, then serving as business manager at the Saratoga Springs store prior to his most recent promotion. He replaces Bob Brundige, who retired in March after a 40-year career at Alpin Haus.
“Jonathan has been part of the Alpin Haus family for most of his life,” said Andy Heck, president of Alpin Haus. “His dedication and passion are as evident today as they were 15 years ago when he began washing and moving RVs at our Amsterdam store. We’re excited to have Jonathan at the helm of our Saratoga Springs location.
Editor’s Note: The following is a blog posted by Mark Grimm Communication recapping an address by Alpin Haus RV President Andy Heck to the Consulting Alliance based in Voorheesville, N.Y.
What does it take to keep a family business going for nearly 50 years? A big part of the secret is good communication.
Alpin Haus began as a little ski shop in 1964 in tiny Amsterdam, N.Y., and is now one of the Northeast’s top outdoor recreation retailers. The dealer’s president, Andy Heck, points to its communication culture as one of the keys to success.
“We out-friendly the competition,” said Heck. “If you’re not outgoing and friendly you can’t work at Alpin Haus.” Employees are expected to share their enthusiasm for their products, which include RVs, skis and boats, with customers.
Alpin Haus has opened up staff meetings to all employees and, with the exception of the most sensitive financial data, all issues are on the table. Heck says he wants employees to ”tell us what we need to hear.”
The same holds true for customers with the retailer’s longstanding policy to “face a crisis head on. Don’t hide from it.”
There is evidence the approach is working. Alpin Haus has grown to more than 200 employees, won numerous “Best Place to Work” awards, and Heck says 20 employees who once left the business for greener pastures have eventually returned.
There are other ingredients in the successful stew, such as being willing to adapt, allowing employees to make decisions on the spot and managing the obstacles well such as the economy and weather. Heck said they “do what it takes” to create a pleasurable experience for those who use their products.
But good communication is always a staple. Hard to argue with success.
Alpin Haus is opening its third RV store, this one in Port Jervis in western Orange County, N.Y.
According to a report in The Business Review, Albany, the Amsterdam-based chain of RV and ski stores operates RV dealership in Amsterdam and Wilton, and ski and outdoor activities stores in Amsterdam and Clifton Park.
Andy Heck, president of Alpin Haus, said the family-owned retailer began exploring a downstate expansion four or five years ago.
“This opportunity came along, and the time was right,” Heck said.
He said the Port Jervis area is a popular destination for campers, making it an ideal location for an RV dealership.
Alpin Haus expects to open the Port Jervis store in March. It will hire 20 people to staff the location.
New York-based Mantelli Trailer Sales Inc. plans to mark its 50th year in business this year with a $1.5 million expansion, according to a report by the Buffalo News.
Mark and Kim Watson, owners of the recreational vehicle dealership, Thursday (Jan. 10) presented their request for a property tax abatement on the new building to the Town of Lockport Industrial Development Agency.
Town Economic Development Director David R. Kinyon said a cost-benefit analysis will be done and, at next month’s meeting, the IDA board will consider scheduling a public hearing on the request.
Kinyon said the application envisions the creation of three new jobs. IDA board member Duncan N. Carlson said he’d like to see some sales tax data from the business, too.
“We have to justify why we’re giving them $135,000 [in tax breaks] over 10 years,” Carlson said.
Kim Watson, the daughter of the business’ founders, Al and Shirley Mantelli, said the company acquired the lot next door last year and plans to use it for a larger store, south of their current location on South Transit Road. “We’re pretty well packed in there,” she said.
He said the three existing buildings would be demolished and replaced by the single new facility.
Kim Watson said the project would be phased, allowing for minimize disruption to the business. She added the new building would also shield the company’s storage buildings from the view of motorists along South Transit Road. “Storage is a big profit center for us,” she said.