RV PRO

September '18

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106 • RV PRO • September 2018 rv-pro.com D E A L E R S with the eastern half of the Canadian province situated in the prairie and the other half located in the Rocky Mountains. Redmond immediately set out to hire people who knew the RV business and selected the product lines he wanted to have. "If we were having trouble with a product line, we got rid of it," he says. "At the time, the Canadian dollar was weak compared to the American dollar, so we concentrated on Cana- dian-built products." Redmond also brought in a dealership management system and gradually transitioned the business from a small rented facility to a new building and location, which gave him the ability to inventory more products and better serve his customers. The Importance of Mentorship Like O'Brien, Redmond took advantage of dealer meetings and 20 Groups to advance his knowledge of the RV business. The key to any career change, according to Jordan Rayboy, president and CEO of Rayboy Insider Search, is the ability to learn from the successes and failures of others. "If you're looking at being an entrepreneur and owning your own company, it's important to have a mentor," Rayboy says. "And, if you're looking at advancing in any field, it's important to develop relationships with executive recruiters in that field who can help keep you abreast of opportunities in the marketplace." It's also important, as a business leader focused on growing an organization, to become well-versed in the business of recruiting, hiring and firing, according to Rayboy. Success as a business owner involves many transferrable skills, but the ability to effec- tively recruit and obtain high-level talent, to make solid hiring and firing decisions, also is important. Redmond says these days RV dealers also look to one another for support – a key change from when he first entered the business. "When I first got into the RV business, I found that dealers really didn't talk to each other. They were secretive," he says. "It's changed a bit now. I've gone around and introduced myself to my competitors." Redmond says he thinks the strength of the RV Dealers Association has changed the climate, as has the sophistication of the industry, which it has transitioned from mom-and-pop operations to a more corporate-type environment. Today, as Redmond initially planned, his sons now run and continue to grow the family business. Following a Passion Brian Bent grew up in the recreational boat business with his family and always thought he might like to launch an RV dealership. Still, after he graduated with his degree in accounting and finance, he went to work for accounting powerhouse Arthur Andersen and later as a comptroller for some smaller companies. Today, Bent and his brother, Greg, are partners in one anoth- er's businesses – an RV dealership and a marine boat dealership. The brothers originally shared space at their marine dealership in Metaire, La., and then in 2013 bought an 11-acre facility that gave them the option of adding another 11 acres. The Bent brothers slowly developed that land, opening at the end of April 2014 in Boutte, La. Bent's move to Boutte, was an educated calculation. "For years, I would see the stats of what was selling down in Thibodeaux, and I wondered why those customers wouldn't come to my dealership in Metaire, but they were going to my competitors an hour north in Hammond," Bent says. Between Hurricane Katrina, the Great Recession and then the BP oil spill, Bent says he couldn't "get his legs under" him enough to become comfortable with expansion, so he waited. When he saw the opportunity, Bent used his financial and busi- ness sense to bet on a piece of land along the I-310 corridor. Around the same time, a competitor in nearby Houma sold Bent his inventory and came to work for him. Reflecting on his past, Bent says it's been an interesting turn of events. In college, he initially wanted to be a dentist and then afterward he pursued a career in accounting. Still, perhaps because of his experiences working for his dad's boat dealership, it seemed natural enough to open his own dealership. And in the end, Bent says he feels his accounting background gave him an edge many business leaders don't have. "It's great to have the basics of accounting – to know how to read financial statements," he says. "But also, growing up in the recreational boating business gave me the guts and encour- agement that told me I know how to do this." "If you're looking at being an entrepreneur and owning your own company, it's important to have a mentor. And, if you're looking at advancing in any field, it's important to develop relationships with executive recruiters in that field who can help keep you abreast of opportunities in the marketplace." Jordan Rayboy, president and CEO of Rayboy Insider Search

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