September '20

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rv-pro.com September 2020 • RV PRO • 137 leader in (Cousins RV's co-founder) Jim Humble leading the market." Ferrando adds, "We have closed on the acquisition of eight stores in 2020. RV Retailer was built to grow through all cycles, including the downturn. While many companies will be in retrenchment mode, we are well-positioned to continue our strong growth over the next 12 to 24 months. We believe there will be many acquisition opportunities to execute in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic recession." Business Plan Mimics AutoNation's Ferrando says there are a number of key factors his team considers when pondering an acquisition. "We are targeting acquisitions in mar- kets well-suited for us to build out our network of RV sales and service centers. Our primary focus is on large RV markets with favorable demographics for long- term growth. Within these markets, we are looking for the best retail locations and high-quality dealership facilities. "We are also looking for great manage- ment teams to partner with, particularly if it is a platform acquisition to enter a new market," he adds. "The RV product mix offered by the acquisition target is important, along with product brands we can add to the dealership through our rela- tionships. Lastly, we look at the valuation: The purchase price has to be fair for both parties and we have to ensure that we get an appropriate return on our investment." RV Retailer's business model is similar to the plan Ferrando followed at AutoNation, which turned the business from a startup to a $20 billion enterprise. He served as exec- utive vice president/general counsel, corpo- rate development and human resources of AutoNation prior to leaving to form RV Retailer. Fellow AutoNation alumnus John Rizzo serves as RV Retailer's executive vice president, CFO and treasurer. Ferrando concedes he had limited professional exposure to the RV industry prior to 2018, but explains, "Everything we expected about the opportunity to build a great company in the RV dealer industry has been true and we are executing on it already. The fact that we have the best RV retail talent in the industry as partners in our company – and more to join – has helped tremendously, both with the learning curve and our operating performance." Ferrando and his business partners launched RV Retailer in January 2018 with the backing of Hanover, Md.-based private equity firm Redwood Capital Investments. Redwood is "an exceptional investment partner with sufficient capital to fund our long-term growth plans," Ferrando says. "This business also creates significant cash flows that we will reinvest back into growing our company. We don't have a plan to go public." Unlike other private equity firms, which typically exit a business investment after five to seven years, "Redwood takes a long-term ownership view, which allows us to focus on building a great business for the long-term, versus focusing on short-term consider- ations," he adds. "We believe this puts us in a competitive advantage on acquisitions as a preferred buyer, as we can make the right long-term decision for the business, our OEM partners, employees and customers." The arrangement has worked extremely well for RV Retailer, according to Ferrando. "We spend zero percent of our time seeking equity capital for expansion and Family-owned dealership Campers Inn has grown to 30 stores through a combination of acquisitions and new store openings. In this file photo, company CEO Jeff Hirsch cuts the ribbon on a new store in Raleigh, N.C.

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