March '19

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78 • RV PRO • March 2019 rv-pro.com " L ocation, location, location," at least among dealers in the RV industry, often translates to "freeway, freeway, freeway." Yet one Colorado dealership is thriving in a small town far from the nearest interstate. Conventional wisdom is not a phrase in owner Mike Mericle's vocabulary. Consider Mericle RV's 3-acre site in Fort Lupton, a former trading post founded in the 1800s and located about 30 miles north of Denver. Customers on U.S. Highway 85, the main north-south artery through town, will need to go west another block to get to the store. Those who choose either Interstate 25 or Interstate 76 to get there must spend the final 10 miles or so on Colorado Highway 52, just two lanes of asphalt that run east and west. "A lot of people don't drive by us and say, 'Oh, there's Mericle RV, let's go and check it out.' You can't even see our sign from the highway," says Mericle, an RV finance and bank veteran. So, he did what any savvy dealer would do these days: The Colorado native purchased space on two billboards telling pass- ersby how to find him. The signage has undoubtedly helped, as the dealership chalked up $2.1 million in sales in 2018, its first full year in business. Expansion Mode Indeed, things are going so well Mericle is expanding the dealership he owns with his wife once more. "I'm in the middle of negotiating about 3 more acres just across 14th Street from us to put all of our sales over there because we're bursting at the seams right now. We can hold 97 units in our lot for sale and still function on the service side, but right now we're getting overwhelmed with service," he says. "Some of our inventory is not even on our website yet because within the past three weeks we've been so busy with doing stuff we're trying to actively get units on there. We need more space." Mericle, who employs 17 with another four set to come aboard by March, admits the toughest part about opening Mer- icle RV was where to put it. Even though he lives less than a half-hour away in booming Brighton, he never imagined a town of 8,000 would become his address. He attributes his find to a strong faith in God. "I found the location for the dealership in one day," he says. "I prayed and I started driving toward Fort Lupton. The next thing you know, I'm like, 'It's for lease.' I pulled over, got out, I looked at it, and I said, 'This will do.'" Indeed, Mericle believes he found a void in the Front Range RV market: Camping World, Century RV, Lazydays Mericle of Miracles Contrarian dealership Mericle RV finds success away from the interstate by focusing on service work and by retailing truck campers. By Mike Harbour Mericle RV owner Mike Mericle is pictured next to some Travel Lite truck campers on his sales lot in Fort Lupton, Colo. The dealership has become the largest seller of Travel Lite products in Colorado in less than two years. D E A L E R S

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