April '21

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26 • RV PRO • April 2021 rv-pro.com I n defiance of the world-wide retrenchment and retraction of just about everything, 2020 was a year of expansion in the RV industry, including for RV dealers. RV PRO asked dealers across the country what caused them to choose this time of uncertainty to increase their physical footprints. Here's what they had to say: Jim and John Lenzo, co-owners Colonial Airstream & RV Millstone Township, N.J. "Over the course of five years – from initial land acquisition to completion – we built an all-new 50,000-square-foot state-of- the-art facility, taking us from eight service bays to 20 and adding a large retail store offering mainstream RV parts, including hitch displays, solar panels, and electronics, as well as a full line of Airstream- and Winnebago- branded items, along with our own Colonial-branded apparel. "Moving from Lakewood to Millstone increased the size of our property from 3 to 12.5 acres and put us in a much more acces- sible location in central New Jersey. The new location – which opened on Feb. 3, 2020 – offers easy access to the popular north/ south I-95 corridor. "The old location did not allow us to offer indoor showing of units at all. Now we have room for eight – four of each brand – which allows us to showcase both products very well, and people love our willingness to let them explore our in stock-units freely without feeling 'hounded.' "The expansion affords so many more opportunities to serve the RV community. Now we can offer service not only to our Air- stream and Winnebago customers, but to owners of all RV branded units. We do not turn anyone away if we have the ability to help them. We might not have sold them the unit they own now, but having the chance to deal with our team, may – and many times does – enables us to sell them a unit next time. It makes RVing a more palatable option because people need to have confidence that they have a dealership to turn to when/if they need it. And it's just the right way to do business. "The growth we have been witnessing over the past decade prompted us to step up our service offerings, and that was mag- nified during 2020 with the whole idea of being away from others serving as a big driving force. Unlike 9/11, the pandemic turned travelers away, not only from airline travel but hotels, cruises, restaurants, etc. For this reason, being able to travel with your own family, safely and comfortably, has been a well-received notion. We are seeing first-time RVers who most likely would not have given RVing a second thought if it were not for the pandemic. "When we look at the timing of the move, we are very grateful. We had the chance to approach COVID-19 issues in a much safer way. Keeping safe distances for employees and customers became our top priority, and we have followed all CDC guidelines including but not limited to, stepping up our cleaning services, wearing masks, daily temperature checks, and constantly talking with staff about best practices. "The RV industry needs to continue on the path of taking care of consumers both before and long after the sale. They are counting on us to keep them on the road in as trouble-free con- dition as possible. If we can all stay on this path, there should be no reason the growth and interest in our products and services cannot continue for many years to come." Jim Blumenthal, president Trailer Source Denver, Colo. "In 2020, we added a new store in northern Colorado. The demand is so great – our northern Colorado customers had been asking us to provide them a location closer to Longmont or Fort Collins – that we opened right next door to a Camping World. We chose Longmont, where I purchased a property that had been a boat dealership. "I had wanted to expand for a number of years and decided 2020 was the right time to pull the trigger. We were open 30 days later, with access to an entirely new market in the fastest-growing county in the state. "We have six new service bays and the opportunity to add numerous new lines at all our locations. As we picked them up for the Longmont store, many manufacturers allowed us to carry the same products in our other locations, so we can sell and service specific brands regardless of where in the state they were purchased. "Among the additions are more fifth wheel products and Class C's. We chose these because the demographics in northern Col- orado are different than those in the southern or central parts of the state and we wanted to be able to meet their specific needs. Our more northerly customers want larger units, while in Denver smaller units sell better. RV D E A L E R S Dealer Trends: Opening New Stores By Lisa Dicksteen

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