RV PRO

February '19

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24 • RV PRO • February 2019 rv-pro.com D E A L E R S As Dodd took a shrewd approach to inventory, he also had to make the tough decision to downsize staff. "It was difficult with the relationships we had with many of our employees and their families," he says, estimating the dealership's head count was reduced by about 40 percent in a relatively short time frame. One area the dealership didn't cut was its service and parts department, as customers who previously traded in their RVs every three to four years prior to the Recession began holding onto their units longer and needed to get them serviced. Dodd also made a decision for customer relations reasons to continue making uncompensated warranty repairs on RVs for manufac- turers that had closed their doors, even though those units were no longer eligible for warranty reimbursement. "It was a decision we felt was the right call," Dodd says, "but it was tough, because we still had to pay our techs to perform that work and buy parts from our suppliers." Throughout the Recession, Dodd says he and his team felt blessed that his father has continued to be a coach, mentor and advisor to the business. "Throughout the Recession, he reinforced to us to always speak the truth in everything that we did," says Dodd. "He said when this ship turns around, some players will be gone, but the ones still standing will be swamped. And, he was right." Mid-State RV Downsizes, Leverages Relationships When Lee Pickard reflects on the three years prior to the Great Recession, he says he feels a sense of déjà vu. "The economy we're in today reminds me of the years prior to 2008," says the co-owner of Byron, Ga.-based Mid-State RV. "Our revenue is in a similar place." Pickard and his wife, Mid-State RV co-owner Tina, had expe- rienced their share of economic ups and downs over the years, but the Great Recession was entirely different in its magnitude. When the Recession took hold in 2008, the dealership's yearly revenues shrank from $40 million to $12 million. To survive, the dealership – located about 90 miles south of Atlanta in the central part of the state – closed one of its two locations and downsized from a staff of 110 to 28 employees. For Mid-State RV, the warning shot for the Recession was Wachovia's exit from the retail lending market. (Wachovia was the fourth-largest bank holding company in the U.S. in 2008, before a government-forced sale to Wells Fargo to avoid its failure.) "We began liquidating assets, but we couldn't down cycle our Mid-State RV owner Lee Pickard had to make some difficult choices for his business when the Great Recession struck. He closed one of the dealership's two stores and downsized his staff. He also sought assistance with financing from friends, RV manufacturers and GE CDF when many of the dealership's traditional lending sources dried up.

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