RV PRO

March '19

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76 • RV PRO • March 2019 rv-pro.com D E A L E R S control of my company and no idea of what was coming through the door." Andro immediately shifted into a downsizing phase, shed- ding 17 employees by the end of 2007. The dealership didn't attend the annual Elkhart Open House event and began parting ways with manufacturers Andro sensed were not going to survive the Recession. "Anyone who was a small spin-off, we got rid of," He says. "I aligned myself with Keystone and Forest River, and that's where I stayed." As for Hemlock Hill's floorplan, Andro says he received the same letter every dealer in the country received, with the dealership's lender billing for past-due curtailments. "All of these banks wanted to be made whole on curtail- ments that they didn't collect," he says. "I know guys who got $400,000 and $500,000 bills. The bottom line is when the dealers didn't have the cash flow to pay their curtailments, the banks then became part of the problem, instead of part of the solution." Andro leveraged personal relationships and spoke to con- tacts outside the RV business about providing a floorplan line for Hemlock Hill. He also began buying a moderate number of repossessed RVs from sinking dealerships at 40 cents on the dollar and then selling them for invoice. "I was glad we were making money," Andro says. "We were able to stockpile some inventory. We got lucky there. We did some factory directs and, having good, friendly, strong relationships with manufacturers paid off in that timeframe." Andro says as time passed he momentarily forgot the lessons he learned from the Recession, when in 2017, he loaded up on inventory. However, he's decided he isn't going to continue on that path. "Inventory planning is key," he says. "If you don't know how to do it, or you need advice, look to the RVDA. Run your own business – don't let the manufacturers run it." Andro says he senses that the industry is now in a correc- tion period. "I don't feel the bottom will be anything like it was 10 years ago," he adds. "Managing it for us will be much easier. The sting from the Great Recession has taught me well." One of the best pieces of advice Andro says he ever received was to write three budgets – the budget he thought he would achieve, one that was 25 percent higher, and one that was 25 percent lower. "Write that, and by March, April or May – depending on the seasonal trend – you'll know what you have to do and how to do it," he says. "It's important to be prepared and to be smart." Hemlock Hill President Chris Andro says that to keep his dealership in business during the Great Recession he cut some product brands, leveraged personal relationships for financing and bought some repossessed RVs from sinking dealerships at a substantial discount and then sold them for invoice. Today, the lessons Andro says he would impart to his fellow dealers include "inventory planning is key" and "run your own business – don't let the manufacturers run it."

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