June '21

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8 • RV PRO • June 2021 rv-pro.com Editor's NOTE P.O. Box 1416, Broomfield, CO 80038 (800) 669-0424 • (303) 469-0424 FAX (303) 469-5730 • rv-pro.com NATIONAL BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. PRESIDENT Dave Pomeroy VICE PRESIDENT / FINANCE Kori Gonzales, CPA DIRECTOR OF CONTENT Regan Dickinson VICE PRESIDENT / AUDIENCE & EVENTS Lori Farstad DIRECTOR OF TECHNICAL SERVICES Wolf Butler CEO & OWNER Robert H. Wieber Jr. PUBLISHER: Chris Cieto (800) 669-0424, ext. 253 ccieto@nbm.com EDITOR: Bradley Worrell (800) 669-0424, ext. 299 brad@nbm.com MANAGING EDITOR: Mike Clark (800) 669-0424, ext. 246 mclark@nbm.com DIGITAL CONTENT EDITOR: Tony Kindelspire 800-669-0424 ext. 213 tkindelspire@nbm.com SALES SUPPORT: Sara Dorheim-Davis (800) 669-0424, ext. 256 sddavis@nbm.com ART DIRECTOR: Linda Cranston ADVERTISING DESIGN/PRODUCTION: Iveth Gomez MULTIMEDIA PRODUCER: Alison McDonald CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Steve Bibler, Bruce Hampson, Rob Merwin, Linda Cahan and Chuck Marzahn SENIOR ADVISOR: Mike Wieber Independents Still Matter O n an otherwise quiet morning, I received three press releases in rapid succession announcing that Campers Inn, Camping World and Lazydays were all acquiring additional deal- erships – and in that moment I knew what I would be writing about for this month's column. Acquisition activity is proceeding at a brisk pace this year. As of early May, Campers Inn, Camping World and Lazydays have all made multiple acquisitions, while RV Retailer led the way with the purchase of 20 stores across several different states. One person who is not surprised by this recent activity is Kevin Nill, a partner with Haig Partners, a leading buy-sell advisory firm to auto and RV dealerships in the U.S. His firm has offered its services on a number of those deals. Nill says the RV dealer market is starting to mirror the automotive market, where a few years back the emergence of "consolidators" – dealer groups focused on growing market share through strategic acquisitions – re-shaped what had previously been largely independently owned, family-operated auto retailers. When I asked Nill for his take on what this recent wave of consolidation means for RV dealers, he was remarkably blunt, saying, "I would say smaller mom and pops are going to find the business much harder to compete against the scale of the larger consolidators." Not everyone shares that opinion. I've spoken with a number of medium-size and even smaller dealers this year who say they believe they can successfully compete with dealership chains by offering better, more personalized customer service. However, those dealers add an important caveat: that RV manufacturers treat independents and consolidators equitably. Whether that happens remains to be seen. One promising development occurred recently, when Newmar President Matt Miller pledged at the RV manufacturer's April dealer event that his company would address the subject of RV allocations per dealer- ship amid strong demand for product and limitations due to supply chain issues. Be sure to read more about what Miller said on that topic in our coverage of Newmar's dealer event in this issue. Of course, RV industry consolidation also has accelerated in the past year among sup- pliers and manufacturers, perhaps most notably with THOR's $300 million acquisition of Tiffin Motorhomes in December. That may give some companies cause to ponder, but the executives running family-owned Gulf Stream Coach are not among them. In this month's cover story on Gulf Stream, company President Phil Savari and board Chairman Dan Shea make the case that the company's decision to chart its own, independent course is paying dividends for the longtime manufacturer. You will want to be sure to read our exclusive interview to see what they had to say. As always, thanks for reading. Bradley Worrell EDITOR brad@nbm.com

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