April '20

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14 • RV PRO • April 2020 rv-pro.com RV P R O LEG ACY S P EC IAL S ECTI O N L ouisiana saw its share of tough times over about a five-year period. And Billy Thibodeaux's Premiere RV – like pretty much every business in the state during that time – took its share of lumps from every event that struck the state. It just so happens that the five-year time frame came just after Thibodeaux had established a new RV service center in New Iberia, La., and was featured in the first issue of RV PRO magazine in April 2005. That fall, Hurricane Katrina came rolling ashore as one of the most destructive storms in U.S. history, dev- astating coastal areas and causing an estimated $110 billion in damage. A storm of an entirely different kind struck Lou- isiana and the rest of the country when the Great Recession of 2008-09 laid waste to the U.S. economy and set the RV industry back a number of years, as many prominent manufacturers, suppliers and dealers shuttered their doors and thousands of industry jobs were lost. Then, in 2010, the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill sent an estimated 4.9 million barrels of crude oil gushing onto the Louisiana shoreline, costing the state an estimated $2.4 billion in tourism revenues and 26,000 jobs. It also led to the loss of many well-paying jobs in the state's oil and gas business, even to this day. As a result of all of those body blows, Thibodeaux's service shop based in New Iberia faltered. However, he went on to found a successful service shop that has since prospered in the small community of Scott, La., located in the south-central portion of the state. "Right after that piece ran (in RV PRO), we moved out of there to north of I-10 in Scott, and that's where we've been ever since," Thibodeaux says. "We got back to what made me famous – and that was RV upgrades and performance. Sub- sequently, we became service centers for the now-defunct Workhorse chassis, Spartan chassis, Tiffin chassis, the Power Glide chassis. Fifteen years after being profiled in RV PRO's first issue, Billy Thibodeaux has seen plenty of ups and downs for his service shop business, but he continues to succeed thanks to a solid reputation, a love of the RV lifestyle and an amazing word-of-mouth network. By Travis O. Pryor Bumps in the Bayou for Premiere RV Phillip Lander, Blake Boulee and Billy Thibodeaux (from left) check out the undercarriage of a motorhome at Billy Thibodeaux's Premiere RV in Scott, La. The small mom-and-pop service and repair shop draws customers from all over North America thanks mostly to word of mouth.

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