November '19

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76 • RV PRO • November 2019 rv-pro.com D E A L E R S A t a time when some people won't even agree that the sun rises in the east, what's remarkable about 20 Group members is their uniformly positive words about their member organizations. Many have belonged for decades, and some belong to more than one group. A few even can come up with a negative or two about the 20 Group process. Still, they concur that it's helped them make many positive changes for their dealerships, and they can't figure out why not everyone belongs. Andy Heck, dealer principal with Amsterdam, N.Y.-based Alpin Haus, remembers his dad talking about it when he joined a 20 Group in the early 1990s. When the younger Heck came into the business in '92, he started attending the meetings, too. "As part of my group, we have a service 20 Group where we send our service managers," he says. "Now, we also have a leadership development 20 Group. I went to the meeting last month with my son; it was his first meeting with that one." While the groups can help smooth out the bumps as dealer- ships are passed from generation to generation, that isn't the only story. David Tenney, dealer principal of Manteca Trailer and Motorhome in Manteca, Calif., and See Grins RV in Gilroy, Calif., is one who came to the industry from outside. "When I came to work for Manteca Trailer in 1993, the owner was in a 20 Group and he brought me into the group at that time," Tenney says. "He didn't want to manage the business himself, so he needed a successful training plan for me to run the business." Ken Whiting, owner of Outdoor Travel in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, also has known about 20 Groups for a long time. When he first started in the industry back in the 1970s, his employer was a member, but he admits that given he was in sales at the time, he didn't realize just what that meant. Fast forward to the Great Recession, and Whiting found himself lacking clarity with what was going on in business and the economy. "I always thought, 'I'm a real experienced fellow compared to these other guys,'" he says. "But, my son, who had started in the company about five years before, said, 'We need to know what's going on out there. We need some perspective and we should try it, even though it costs quite a bit of money.' And, we started in 2008 or 2009." It isn't even necessary to be a dealer/owner to participate in a 20 Group. Arnold Smith, business manager for Dodd RV on the Peninsula in both Yorktown and Portsmouth, Va., was introduced to the finance 20 Group he's in by the company's owner, Jamie Dodd, when he began working at the dealership five years ago. Having come from the marine industry, Smith says he needed the help with the extra paperwork RVs require. Now, his assistant participates as well. "Jamie participates in the finance 20 Group and an owner 20 Group, as well," says Smith. "Because of the success stories Jamie shared with me about the 20 Group, I was anxious to start." David Newland, business and finance manager at Vogt RV in Fort Worth, Texas, is a relative newcomer to a finance 20 Group, despite being at the dealership 27 years. In his case, Jan Kelly, owner of Kelly Enterprises, was brought in to do a three-day seminar for Newland, one of the sales managers and the rest of the F&I staff. "The principal owners, the president, CFO, COO and the gen- eral sales managers were already in a 20 Group," says Newland. "We wanted a 20 Group that focused specifically on finance and so that's when we sought out Jan." 20 Groups Fine Tune Dealer Ops Regardless of how they got into a 20 Group, these members agree it's helped their businesses. Brian Wilkins, owner of Wilkins RV, with stores in Bath, Churchville, Syracuse and Victor, N.Y., says he joined a 20 Group for owners of multiple dealerships because he wanted to grow his business. While he can't predict what would have happened if he hadn't joined, he says the biggest positive for him is the relationships he's built with his fellow group members. "A good friend of mine and a fellow dealer has said these dealers are like your board of directors," Wilkins says. "They're guiding you; they're holding you accountable, and if you've got an issue, they're a network you can reach out to for help." Looking for something a little more concrete? Bill Mirrielees, general manager of Howard RV Center in Dealers See Value in 20 Groups Tenney Wilkins Mirrielees Newland Patton

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