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Cruise America to Open Pennsylvania Outlet

July 12, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

RV rental firm Cruise America will hold the grand opening of its newest location on July 13, located at Capitol Rentals & Sales located in Carlisle, Pa., according to a press release.

Cruise America said it has extended its coverage in the Harrisburg, Pa., area – home of the region’s busiest airport – because of the high demand for RV travel this year.

“People are striving to save money where they can in this economy, yet they don’t want to give up the family vacation,” said Mike Smalley, vice president of operations for the Mesa, Ariz.-based company. “By renting an RV, they are saving money in several areas, so the rental virtually pays for itself.”

The company said families around the U.S. are saving dollars and travel expense by renting RVs and taking road trips, rather than flying to destination locations. The press release stated, “By doing this, they no longer have to book airline flights, rent motel or hotel rooms, and continually eat out in restaurants. Many find that the savings accumulated is more than enough to cover the cost of the rental, which is surprisingly affordable.”

At their new location, Cruise America will be offering rental motorhomes of different sizes, including their standard and large RVs. Depending on the model, there are comfortable sleeping accommodations for up to seven people. Because each unit includes convenient kitchen designs, cooking is a popular money saving option.

Cruise America also offers their inventory of fully equipped, self-contained RVs, as well as an extensive list of their locations online, which enables the public to make their selection according to their needs. On the site there are informative videos, featuring the many accommodations and convenient amenities that come with each model.

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Gas Hurts N.C. Dealer’s Sales, Rentals Rise

May 25, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

The parking lot of Tom Young RV in Kings Mountain, N.C., should be packed with potential buyers this time of year.

“We should be over-the-top busy,” owner Tom Young told WSOC TV, Charlotte.

Young said instead, there are lots of RVs and no takers. “It’s almost like a perfect storm,” he said.

He said skyrocketing gas prices have had the biggest impact on his business. Young wouldn’t say how much business he’s lost, but said it’s also cost him good workers.

“At one time, we had about 30 employees,” he said. “Now we have only half of that.”

In stark contrast, when WSOC TV went to Quality RV Rentals in nearby Belmont, workers were turning away clients. “It just blows our minds,” owner Terry Jenkins said.

Workers said they expected rentals to drop, but instead, they’re through the roof. Jenkins estimated a 50% to 75% increase over the previous year.

John Youngerman, who has a towable RV that he’s taking on his family vacation, said that staying in the RV is cheaper than staying in a hotel.

Quality Rental workers think that’s what’s driving their sales. And now, Young is hoping the same logic will catch on at his business.

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Tourism Holdings Boosts Earning Forecast

May 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

New Zealand-based Tourism Holdings is boosting its earnings forecast after better-than-expected United States vehicle sales and improved rentals following the Christchurch earthquake.

The New Zealand Herald reported that the tourism operator – which is the target of a takeover attempt – upgraded its forecast operating earnings before interest and tax (ebit) for the year ending June 30 to $4 million from break-even. Its operating loss after tax is now put at $1.4 million, compared with a previously expected $4 million loss.

Tourism Holdings’ assets include car and motorhome rentals in Australia, New Zealand and the U.S., Waitomo Glowworm Caves, motorhome manufacturing in Hamilton and Kiwi Experience backpacker transport.

The improved outlook included better-than-expected vehicle sales volumes and margins in the U.S., which would result in a small earnings gain for the six months ending June 30 for the Road Bear RV Rentals and Sales business bought last year.

New Zealand rentals improved primarily because of motorhome use after the earthquake in February.

Costs had also improved compared to the previous forecast.

Tourism Holdings forecast earnings for the 2012 financial year of about $17 million, with net profit after tax of $6 million.

Chief executive Grant Webster said: “We’re happy that that’s a good step forward from where we are and it’s a realistic step forward and then we’ll be looking for further gains the following year.”

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Festival Means Brisk Biz for El Monte RV

August 6, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

El Monte RV logo Burning Man, the fabled celebration of art and self-expression in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, creates a big  bump in business for El Monte RV Rentals.

Long linked to the Burning Man festival as a supplier of RV rentals to attendees of the event, the Los  Angeles-based RV rental firm has learned to prepare for the rush, according to a news release.

This year’s Burning Man festival runs Aug. 30 to Sept. 6. Tens of thousands of participants bring in everything necessary for survival on the playa. Festival goers create “Black Rock City,” with fantastically decorative camping villages and spectacular expressions of art. A “leave-no-trace” festival, Burning Man culminates in disassembling the entire temporary community and clearing away all traces of the festival.

Preparing for Burning Man means planning for water, food, shelter and fuel during the event. Few vendors are allowed within Black Rock City and disposal of wastewater and sewage is tightly regulated by BLM. Recreational vehicles have become popular as festival goers have learned the rigors of life on the desert without adequate preparation.

In addition to renting motorhomes for the event the company offers luxury RV rental packages that include a fully outfitted and provisioned deluxe motorhome delivered to the attendees campsite at the event.

“We begin moving in inventory early for Burning Man rentals to our Burning Man departure campground location in Reno, as well as others on the West Coast. This has become a major camping event, something we many adventurous RV campers want to experience,” says Joe Laing, director of marketing for the nationwide RV rental firm.

Laing noted that area El Monte RV Rentals locations start taking reservations immediately after one Burning Man event for the next year. Festival planners expect that nearly 50,000 people will attend in 2010.

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Cities’ Leaders Embarrassed by RV Rental

August 2, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

It wasn’t planes, trains or automobiles, but a 29-foot rented motorhome that carried Oak Lawn and Chicago Ridge officials to Springfield on a day trip in April.

Now the recreational vehicle’s rental is causing a minor flap around Oak Lawn’s village hall after the owners of rental company Bridgeview RV contacted Mayor Dave Heilmann earlier this month to help them collect the $275 bill, the Southtown Star reported.

That was the first that Heilmann, who didn’t attend the day trip, said he had heard of the rental.

Village manager Larry Deetjen; Oak Lawn Trustees Tom Duhig, Tom Phelan and Bob Streit; and Chicago Ridge Trustees Mike Davies and Brad Grove used the RV to travel to Springfield for Legislative Day, an annual opportunity for local officials to pitch their wish lists to state leaders.

Heilmann, who said he provides legal help occasionally to Bridgeview RV when they have to collect outstanding debts, called it “embarrassing” for the village to lag on its bills. What’s more, Heilmann said he can’t figure out why the village would need an RV in the first place.

“If you need to go to Springfield, you get in your car and go,” he said. “This wasn’t a camping trip to Springfield, it was a Legislative Day. … It sets a bad example.”

The bill since has been paid for the RV, a Winnebago equipped with a bed, couch and dinette that seats 10 people and can sleep six or seven, Bridgeview RV owner Evelyn Wingo said. The company received a check for the full amount July 16, three months after the April 14 rental.

Village manager Larry Deetjen chalked up the missing payment to an administrative mix-up but defended the decision to rent the RV for the day. Officials put in a 20-hour day, leaving village hall at 6 a.m. and returning at 2 a.m. the next morning, and using an RV gave them a chance to clean up and change before meetings, Deetjen said.

“It comes down to a very economical trip,” he said.

Oak Lawn covered $200 of the tab, Deetjen said, and Chicago Ridge covered the remaining $75. The village uses the standard Internal Revenue Service reimbursement rate of 50 cents a mile for approved travel, so if Oak Lawn’s officials had car-pooled in a personal vehicle for the 195-mile trip, the cost to the village would have been approximately the same.

Still, Heilmann said, the village could have been on the hook for much more money if the RV had been involved in an accident. The vehicles can be hard to drive, he said, and their reputation as traveling party buses gives the wrong impression to village residents.

“I think everyone knows why you take RVs,” he said. “It’s not a lot of money; it’s just a dumb thing to do.”

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El Monte RV Meets Summer Rental Needs

July 30, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

El Monte RV logo Until this summer, El Monte RV Rentals’ locations across the country found themselves turning away late July  customers hoping for August rentals. This year, thanks to the firm’s new purchasing strategy, lucky last-minute  rental clients will be driving away in rented RVs, according to a news release.

Keeping adequate rental inventory at more than 50 locations is always a bit of a chess game, according to Joe  Laing, El Monte RV Rentals director of marketing. “We know which areas will create the highest number of late summer rentals and begin shifting inventory to meet the need. In years past, however, last-minute rentals for August might not be serviced.”

Laing went on to explain that late-summer vacations are especially attractive to families soon to enter the school year. RV camping is also experiencing a resurgence thanks to cash-strapped travelers unable to afford international destinations.

Timely fleet purchases of new rental units this year have changed the landscape for this giant recreational vehicle rental company. Recognizing an upswing in RV camping earlier this summer, the company stepped up purchasing in time to meet additional late summer rental needs.

“We never like to say ‘no’ to a client, especially since we’re recognized as one of the world’s largest RV rental companies,” Laing said. “We’re happy to see people camping again, and are working hard to supply adequate inventory for their late summer vacations.”

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Shasta Brand Thrives at Retro RV Rentals

July 27, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

orange-Logo1 Darci Schapansky has carved out a niche in the RV rental business in central  Saskatchewan.

Schapansky, owner and operator of Retro RV Rentals in Emma Lake, 30 minutes north of  Prince Albert in the center of the province, not only rents trailers, but depending how far  her customers are headed, she will also tow it there and get it set up. Lakeland, Waskesiu  and Candle Lake are common destinations, the Prince Albert Daily Herald reported.

“You just kind of show up and are ready to go,” she said.

Schapansky likes to stay within a 60-mile radius of Emma Lake,which is located north of Saskatoon.

“It’s been a big hit,” she said, explaining it is something she has seen in Alberta, but not in Saskatchewan.

The trailers she offers are the Shasta, Trillium and Max Sport. They can accommodate anywhere from two to six people and range in price based on a weekly rate.

The Shasta is her pride and joy. The unit is based off one built in the 1950s and she said it has a following.

“It is brand new but they made them look like they did in the ’50s,” she said, explaining that is where the name for her company came from.

The lightweight trailer is very small, but has a kitchen, dining area and queen-size bed. It is even fully electric with 30-amp service, she said.

“It is great for couples whose kids have left home,” she said.

Schapansky only opened the business this year and has hit a couple of learning curves. She has realized she cannot be everywhere at once.

She knew she wanted to open up her own business and this is something she could do with kids in tow.

So far, rentals have not been for more than two weeks.

She has already had a couple of requests from snowbirds — Canadians who spend their winters in the warmer U.S. — but is not too sure how that will work if they plan to take them out of the country.

For right now, Schapansky plans to keep the company small, but is open to expanding in the future.

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RV Rental Firm Ensnarled in State Oversight

July 22, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Summer isn’t proving too sunny for Lompoc, Calif., business owner Brad Pellegrin, whose trailer rental company, Earl’s RV, will lose more than $50,000 this season because it’s no longer allowed to deliver camping equipment to state parks in Santa Barbara County, the Santa Barbara Independent reported.

It’s been a full year since Pellegrin — who started working for his father, the Earl of the company name, at age 15 and took it over in 2006 — found out that California State Parks had given an exclusive regional contract for RV delivery to a new outfit called Vacation Trailers 2 U, but it hasn’t gotten any easier to stomach.

“It’s a really unfair situation, a really messed up deal,” said Pellegrin, who said the move occurred “without any forewarning” and with no option for Earl’s RV to offer the services instead, despite having done so for 23 years at Carpinteria, Refugio, El Capitán and Gaviota state beaches.

“I asked why, and the only answer was, ‘We didn’t know you existed,’” explained Pellegrin. He doesn’t believe the response, pointing to his 15 years of advertising the service in the campgrounds’ main magazine and noting that he knew most of the camp managers by name due to delivering so much. “What really frustrates me is the state’s lack of a reasonable answer,” said Pellegrin. “To allow us to slip through the crack for 23 years? It just seems a little far-fetched. I can’t imagine anyone being allowed to break the law for 23 years.”

But Richard Rozelle — who took over in May 2008 as director of the State Parks’ Channel Coast District, which extends from Ventura County up to Point Sal near Santa Maria — maintains that Earl’s RV was indeed news to him, even if some of his on-the-ground employees were familiar with the service.

“While we do our best to educate employees about the rules and policies, they’re not always cognizant of everything that goes into running the state parks,” said Rozelle of these often seasonal staffers, who were first to mention Earl’s RV when the new contract was announced last summer. “When we started finding out about it, we asked them why they hadn’t come and asked for permission,” he said, noting that Pellegrin’s ignorance of the situation is not an excuse for breaking the law. “They’ve been operating illegally in the state parks for over 20 years.”

So when Rozelle was approached by the owner of Vacation Trailers 2 U (VT2U) nearly two years ago, he thought it was a great idea — given the rise of “glamping,” or luxury camping — and a green one, especially since so many people buy RVs but then only use them once a year. But most importantly, said Rozelle, “It provided an opportunity to generate revenue at a time when state parks are cash poor.”

Specifically, VT2U pays 10% of its first $300,000 in gross revenues to California State Parks, and then 12% when the revenues top $300,000; there is also a $6,000 minimum payment in case of a slow year.

Since it’s officially a new venture for the region, state law allows Rozelle to enter into a two-year agreement with any vendor — rather than host the typical bidding process for government contracts — to determine whether it’s a viable long-term opportunity. “It’s turning out to be,” said Rozelle, who was not obligated to contact other vendors but said that he would have done so if he’d “known there was interest.” The contract expires next May, and will then be put out to bid for all interested companies.

Perhaps the only one angrier than Pellegrin over the current uproar is Jason Kimbrell, the owner of the official concessionaire Vacation Trailers 2 U. “I’m pretty disgusted with it,” said Kimbrell of what he calls a “big misinformation campaign” about his business and a case of “sour grapes syndrome” on Pellegrin’s part. “We’ve done everything by the book and exactly how we were supposed to do it,” explained Kimbrell, who said that the “lengthy” approval process required loads of paperwork, multiple meetings, upgrading trailers, acquiring appropriate insurance, and waiting nine months for a decision.

Like Rozelle, Kimbrell — a San Diego native who fell in love with Santa Barbara while a UCSB student years ago — “had no idea that Earl’s RV company existed” when he approached California State Parks with his proposal. He soon learned about Earl’s RV and a number of other businesses “flying below the radar screen,” including a number of folks who seemed to be subsidizing their RV ownership with occasional weekend rentals. When he heard about Pellegrin’s complaints, Kimbrell said he went to Lompoc to “extend the olive branch” and allowed Earl’s RV to fulfill the rentals that had already been commissioned through last summer. In return, Kimbrell said he got a handshake and a promise to not violate his agreement.

But then, a few weeks ago, Kimbrell’s employee noticed a number of trailers from Earl’s RVs at Refugio State Beach. “We weren’t going to make a big ruckus about them — State Parks has other things to manage,” said Kimbrell of both Earl’s RV and other nonregulated rentals. “But this was so blatant that I called them up.”

Meanwhile, his employee took flyers down to the apparently illicit camp visitors to advertise the now-official concessionaire. That move, according to Kimbrell, led to a verbal assault on his employee by those loyal Earl’s RV renters.

But according to Marell Brooks, a county planning commissioner and annual Earl’s RV customer for 20-plus years who was on the scene that day, they were the ones who felt “really uncomfortable” because the VT2U employee was “hassling everybody.” Said Brooks, “Rather than a nice enjoyable stay, that first day we were all being accused of doing something illegal.”

The incident became a nonissue when a Vandenberg firefighter disappeared nearby while kayaking that same day, so maybe that’s why Pellegrin fessed up to the act weeks later without being prompted, explaining, “We’ve bent the rules a couple times.”

Rozelle didn’t view it as lightly, explaining that he’s been “investigating a recent incident” in which Earl’s RV may have brought trailers into a park. “We’ve been reasonable in seeking compliance,” said Rozelle. “We may turn this over to the district attorney if we find this is an ongoing activity.”

Of all the charges being thrown on the wall, the one that’s stickiest is the price discrepancy between the high-end trailers offered by VT2U and the wider range of options rented by Earl’s RV, particularly the popup tent trailers that go for a fraction of the price of an RV.

“We don’t want those big RVs — we just want a tent trailer,” said Brooks. “By doing this, the state is telling local people, ‘Sorry, you have to spend $200 a night if you want to rent a camper.” Even Kimbrell — who stills refers customers to Earl’s RV but complains that Pellegrin lies about the existence of VT2U and tells customers that no company is allowed to rent in the state parks — sees the rationale in this argument. He agreed to let Earl’s RV deliver those trailers over the course of his contract, but said that California State Parks didn’t want to “reward bad behavior” by granting any such concessions.

Rozelle has also taken note of the valid complaint. “When I go out to bid, we’re going to be looking at providing a range of camping experiences,” he said. “The pop-up trailer could be part of that.”

That request for proposals will be hashed out this fall and put out for bid sometime before the VT2U contract ends in May. The State Parks review panel can certainly expect both Kimbrell and Pellegrin to be at the table next year. Said Kimbrell, “I’ve got a $650,000 bet on this business.” Said Pellegrin, “I do intend on putting my name on the list. I am very much interested. I want it back.”

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RV Renter Feels the Pain of LeBron’s Miami Move

July 12, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

LeBron James' move to Miami hurts Ohio-based RV firm.

LeBron James' move to Miami hurts Ohio-based RV firm.

Click here for a video presentation on the following story.

In December 2006, Neff Brothers RV in Lorain, Ohio, got a phone call — Nike needed three motorhomes to accommodate LeBron James, his entourage and a production staff.

The first phone call started a business partnership that earned the business anywhere from $80,000 to $125,000 during the four-year partnership, Angela Dudziak, Neff Brothers RV general manager, told Lorain’s The Morning Journal.

Now that James is headed south to Miami, Cleveland-based productions of Nike commercials featuring the former Cavalier will likely come to a halt, costing the business about $25,000 next year, Dudziak said.

“Clevelanders may be heart-broken and upset about LeBron’s leaving,” said co-owner Ralph Neff, “but the fact of the matter in the small business communities around the city is that his leaving will lose all of us a whole lot of money.”

The RV rental company has its peak season during the summer bringing in “hundreds of thousands” of dollars in revenue, Dudziak said.

The commercial production companies usually do shoots in the fall, during the rental company’s off-season, providing a boost in revenue.

“I don’t see us going bankrupt over it, but I see it hurting us in our off-season,” Dudziak said.

“When we need that good shot in the arm, it’s not going to be there.”

The production companies, for one shoot, rent at least three motorhomes, six at the most, outfitting James with a 40-foot luxury motorhome complete with a television, kitchen and bedroom.

To rent one of the luxury RVs for a production shoot — the typical production duration is one to three days — costs $900 per day, Dudziak said.

Neff Brothers also does work with production companies shooting commercials or campaigns with Cavaliers center Shaquille O’Neal and Cleveland Indians center fielder Grady Sizemore.

“When Shaquille O’Neal came to Cleveland last year, Neff Brothers commercial shoots soared even more,” Dudziak said.

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Loaned RV Becomes Nevada Campaign Issue

May 18, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Sue Lowden, U.S. Senate candidate from Nevada

Sue Lowden, U.S. Senate candidate from Nevada

The use of an RV by a U.S. Senate candidate is surfacing as a campaign issue in Nevada, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

One of Sue Lowden’s top rivals in the U.S. Senate race questioned Monday (May 17) whether she violated campaign contribution limits by using a donor’s luxury RV to travel the state, making the allegations five days before early voting starts in the hotly contested Republican primary.

The Lowden campaign said it broke no laws and provided documentation to show the bus is leased from its owner, Carl Giuduci, who with his wife, Elsie, donated “in-kind” contributions for the vehicle’s use that were under the $2,400-per-person limit for the primary campaign.

GOP candidate Danny Tarkanian’s campaign said it accused Lowden of exceeding the limit because she recently said on a TV news program in Reno that a supporter donated the RV to her. Tarkanian did not file any formal complaint with the Federal Election Commission.

“She talked about her bus being donated, and so that would violate campaign finance rules,” said Tarkanian campaign manager Brian Seitchik. “Like government bailouts, taxes and immigration, Sue Lowden says one thing and tries to change her position once the going gets sticky.”

Lowden’s campaign fired back, saying Tarkanian was lobbing allegations to gain attention and traction before the June 8 primary as polls show him behind Lowden in the crowded GOP field with a dozen contenders battling to face Democrat U.S. Sen. Harry Reid in the fall.

“Today’s desperate attack by Danny Tarkanian alleging that a lease agreement on a nearly decade-old RV is a campaign violation is absolutely false and absurd,” campaign manager Robert Uithoven said. “The fact is that career candidate Danny Tarkanian has a campaign that is crumbling around him with sagging poll numbers and time running down.”

The 2001 Monaco motorhome wrapped with Lowden’s picture has become a signature of the GOP front-runner’s campaign as she has traveled some 25,000 miles, including by car, bus and plane.

According to Lowden’s campaign accounting:

  • Carl Giuduci donated $2,200 on Nov. 18 as an in-kind contribution for the RV’s use.
  • Elsie Giuduci donated a total of $2,360 as in-kind contributions for the vehicle’s use as a campaign bus, including $1,885 on Nov. 18 and another $475 on Jan. 26.

The Lowden campaign said it spent its own money to fix up the RV, which has a bedroom, kitchen and bathroom, including $9,496 on Feb. 18 and $1,585 on Feb. 25.

The campaign wouldn’t say how much the luxury RV is worth. Similar 2001 vehicles can be found for sale in the $60,000-to-$100,000-plus range, depending on their conditions.

Lowden’s campaign refused to say how much it was leasing the bus for on a day-to-day basis when she is using it on the road. The campaign said it doesn’t pay when it’s parked.

According to a redacted lease agreement released by the campaign that did not provide any dollar figures, Lowden must return the vehicle after she is done using it during her bid for public office.

“Possessory right shall be forfeited upon the termination or expiration of this agreement,” said the one-page document, which also states Lowden has no ownership rights to the RV.

Both Giuduci and Lowden are listed on the vehicle title and registration with the Department of Motor Vehicles, according to the campaign, which said that was necessary to obtain insurance.

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