December '19

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40 • RV PRO • December 2019 rv-pro.com D E A L E R S "They'll bring us 100 trucks, which we'll upfit with many of those products, as well as toolboxes and fuel transfer tanks," he says. "We've hit that target very well and selling into that market demand. We really capitalize on it." Competing for Workers New technician training for dealer- ship employees is obtained from manu- facturers in Indiana, while seasoned vet- erans attend courses within a 300-mile radius. YouTube, online training and industry articles are additional sources. Sonny's RVs also has hosted training for dealers throughout the state. In addition, the dealership's staff makes an annual pilgrimage to the RV Dealers Convention/ Expo in Las Vegas. This year, Rone took along a salesperson, the shop foreman and a parts department employee. Finding technicians to train can be difficult, however, as there's direct competition for labor from the oil fields. "As I mentioned, they pay a lot of money to bring people on, but the downside for those employees is that the work fluctuates so much that they sometimes never know how long the job will last," he says. "We'll bring them into the dealership, fresh with very little skills, and we sculpt them into an RV technician and help them make a career." Dealership Gives Back The RV industry runs through three family generations, beginning with Rone's grandfather in the 1960s, who intro- duced it to his father, who had arrived in Wyoming to work in the oil fields. In turn, Sonny Rone would employ his then 14-year-old son, Mike, at a dealership he was managing, where he cleaned trailers and soon progressed into other departments, cutting his teeth learning the basics of service and repair and sales. After a career in the medical field, Mike joined his father at Sonny's RVs in 2008. Rone is quick to note that the dealer- ship's success wouldn't be possible without its customers and the surrounding com- munity, so the dealership pays it forward through donations to such organizations as the local Make-A-Wish Foundation and a child development center. "We also set up a foundation in honor of my young stepbrother, Adam, who passed away eight years ago, to support less fortunate children, and it also hosts an annual Christmas dinner for families in need with four to five gifts for each child," Rone says. Sonny's RVs also sponsors a Little League team and provides 4-H scholarships. "If we didn't have our customers, who belong to all of these organizations, then we wouldn't be here, so it's a way for us to give back," Rone says. What's Next After the dealership expanded to its current 15 acres, it's now "land-locked" and further contiguous physical expan- sion isn't possible. So, Rone is consid- ering moving its on-site RV storage to an off-site location to increase inventory space and make way for a service depart- ment expansion. As Rone grows the dealership busi- ness, as well as its contributions to its community, he's also focused on the RV industry at large, having just joined the RV Dealers Convention/Expo board. "I don't know what to expect yet," he says, "but I'm excited about it because it's one more step for me in this industry to make it better." Sonny's RVs proudly displays the awards and recognition it has received from RV manufacturers, business organizations and community groups on one of its walls. The dealership has been repeatedly recognized as the No. 1 dealership for towables in Wyoming by market data firm Statistical Surveys.

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