RV PRO

February '19

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20 • RV PRO • February 2019 rv-pro.com D E A L E R S Editor's note: This article marks the first installment of a two-part series looking back at the 2008-09 Great Recession's impact upon RV dealers. The second installment will appear in the March issue. Ten years ago, the U.S. economy fell off a cliff. The housing market bubble burst, the stock market nose- dived, the unemployment rate shot up, big banks and car com- panies suddenly and desperately needed a bailout, and consumer confidence plummeted. Perhaps no single segment of the economy felt the impact of that downturn more than the RV industry, which saw a number of high-profile manufacturers shutter their doors, several prom- inent banks exit the RV market and hundreds of dealerships close for good (see Figure 1 on page 21). While the Great Recession officially began in 2008, it hit its peak in 2009. In recognition of that defining event and its impact upon dealerships, RV PRO sought out dealers who sur- vived the economic downturn to find out how it impacted their respective businesses, to chronicle their strategies for staying in business and to share their success stories. All Seasons Acts Fast on Inventory Father and son Ernie and Darrel Friesen of All Seasons RV were attending the RVDA Convention/ Expo in October 2008 when impacts from the stock market and housing meltdowns began to reverberate across the economy. The two realized they needed to act fast. "When Darrel and I flew home after that meeting, we had our own meeting on the airplane," says Ernie Friesen, All Sea- sons' CEO. "I said to Darrel, 'we need to reduce our inventory by at least a million dollars in the next 60 days.' Dealers share how the Great Recession transformed their businesses, what they did to survive, and how they benefited from the decisions they made. By Holli Koster Great Recession Survivors Darrel Friesen (foreground) and dad Ernie Friesen (background) got their first sense at the 2008 RVDA Convention/ Expo that the economy was in big trouble and that RV sales at their dealership, All Seasons RV in California, were at risk of being adversely affected by the turmoil. In response, they reduced their inventory and downsized their workforce, difficult decisions at the time. They credit those moves with keeping the company in business while other dealerships perished during the Great Recession.

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