August '20

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24 • RV PRO • August 2020 rv-pro.com PJ Buerger General Manager PRINCESS CRAFT RVS PJ Buerger and her husband were looking to make a change when they bought a manufacturing business that produced truck campers. "Through trial and error, we decided we wanted to do retail," says Buerger. The couple purchased their business on July 3, 1996, and by 1998 they were straight retailers. "We sold horse trailers, utility trailers, grill guards and we even did some RV repairs at the time. We started selling other brands of camper shells and truck campers," says Buerger. "We figured out the RV business had the nicest people, so we eliminated everything else and started just carrying RVs. We took on A-liners, teardrops and other small trailers. That's really how we became known as lightweight dealers." To truly get to know the industry, Buerger worked with the Texas RV Association, where she says she learned a tremendous amount and met lots of people. "We are fortunate to have a good group here in Texas where I can learn a lot from other dealers. When I didn't know anything, I went to TRVA meetings, found a lot of professional people and learned a lot. RVDA, TRVA, Spader and the new RVWA have been a great resource for me." Beyond learning from TRVA, Buerger has jumped in and embraced multiple roles, such as chapter pres- ident and member of the executive board. "Just getting to know people has been probably the most rewarding part," she says. "It's easy to find people who really do want to help your dealership grow if you'll just ask them questions." Other memorable moments have been winning the Top 50 Dealer Award their very first year, and winning the Blue Ribbon, Top 50 Dealer Award a few years back. As for being a woman working in a male-dominated industry, Buerger has a few thoughts. "It is more difficult being a leader when you are a woman, not for any other reason than we are all judged by what people expect. There was a conversation yesterday on my amazing skills of backing up a trailer (who knew that was amazing, right?). As a woman with a petite stature, my driving skills seem to be sur- prising to people even though that has absolutely nothing to do with being a 5-foot-tall woman. It is a learned skill that I have practiced out of necessity for decades," says Buerger. "It would be more surprising if I wasn't able to back up a trailer after all this time! Although it's a simple analogy, I find this to be the same struggle faced by women working toward successful leadership positions. There is an assumption on where you fit in and what your skills are." Buerger says she's been encouraged by both men and women who have followed their own path, but adds that many of her women friends in the RV industry she admires are ones who have created business based on their own vision, such as Diana LeBlanc, Peggy Johnson-Lee, Kate Dunbar and Janine Petit. Regardless of gender, Buerger's advice stays the same: "Commit to learn at every opportunity. Be confident, and be determined. When there is a setback, it's a huge learning opportunity and a time to lean on those that will encourage you and put the situation in perspective as a setback, not a final judgment. "Success is gained the same way for men or women: with hard work, determination and overcoming obstacles." Profiles of Remarkable Women

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