RV PRO

September '20

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16 • RV PRO • September 2020 rv-pro.com with detailed information on how to reach each U.S. dealer- ship from major Canadian cities like Winnipeg and how to pur- chase a vehicle in the U.S. duly. In addition to online marketing, Nelsen says the business advertises in the local area to help keep the word-of-mouth reputation of the business going strong. In addition to a robust online presence and top-notch customer service, Bob Fielder, general manager at the Omaha store, points to other strengths that keep A.C. Nelsen thriving. "I think what has set us apart is that Forest River Cherokee private labels their product for us and they're the biggest manu- facturer of travel trailers now, and have been for a couple years," he says. The manufacturer builds a private label Patriot edition for the location. Fielder says that the dealership is exclusive to Forest River products at the Omaha and Iowa locations. In Minnesota, Fielder says the business also carries some motorized Thor units. The dealership has seen success with other products as well. In Minnesota, where the below-zero pastime of ice fishing is a longtime tradition for scores of residents, ice houses are a well-known structure. The Shakopee dealership offers up a vast selection of new and used ice houses that range from a simple 16-by-8-foot shell to a spacious to 25-foot Forest River Cherokee Ice Caves that sleep five. With the RV edition of the Ice Cave, Fielder points out that "It's something you can use camping in the summer and drop it onto the ice in the winter." When it comes to the parts and accessories department, the Omaha location has an ace in the hole, thanks in part to the fact that super-regional parts and accessories distributor Arrow Distributing also is based in Omaha, which can mean quick turnaround times for needed supplies. Changing with the Times Undoubtedly, things have changed significantly since A.C. Nelsen opened in 1919, and Andy Nelsen says he's seen a more recent shift in buyer trends as well. "It's definitely moved from the older (demographic) to the younger," he says. In 2007, the dealership moved away from focusing on motorhomes and shifted to towables. Nelsen says this move has been beneficial, given the appeal travel trailers generally have for younger buyers – particularly those with children. Fielder says he's seen younger buyers coming through as well, but also first-time buyers from all walks of life crop up in recent times. "Our demographics are people that are in the retirement age to first-time campers in all demographics," he says. "The learning curve is a bit different for them, which has created a new customer base for us. It doesn't matter what age group, we're seeing people in their 20s, people in their 80s, that are buying for the first time. They're enjoying the outdoors and the RV lifestyle. I think that will increase the industry for years to come." While beneficial, Fielder says the shift to first-time buyers has affected the trade-in market for the business, given that these newcomers aren't typically trading units as part of their transac- tion. Even so, he says the shift has been exciting and he sees it as a promising trend. The dealership has seen strong sales compared to last year, and he says numbers are up. "Last year was a good year for us, but it was still down because we had a lot of flooding in our area, which affected our busi- ness and lots of campgrounds, and the industry as a whole in the Midwest," Fielder says. In June, Fielder says the company has sold more than 400 units across all locations. Leads con- Technician Gene Brazeal does repair work on a stove vent. A.C. Nelsen's talented techs at the Omaha store currently work out of six service bays, but the dealership has plans to purchase land in order to grow its service operation to 18 service bays.

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