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In The News - RV News


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Aug. 8, 2014 - Cautious optimism fuels Holiday World growth
May 28, 2014 - Holiday World enchants New Mexico travelers
Feb 2013 - Sunland RV (Holiday World of Las Cruces)
June 29, 2012 - Keystone Cougar takes No. 1 Fifth Wheel Spot
May 2, 2012 - Priority RV Network aims for $34 million in rebates
May 1, 2012 - Priority RV Network Meets Last Week in Vegas
Feb 3, 2012 - RV Capital Talk with Michael Peay
Sept 21, 2011 - Keystone RV Co. Commemorates 500,000th RV
Aug 8, 2011 - Holiday World of Houston launches mobile-enabled website
June 2, 2011 - Winnebago Industries honors 2011 Circle of Excellence winners
May 25, 2011 - South Texas Premier RV Dealership Continues to Excel Year after Year.
May 16, 2011 - Holiday World's expansion result of top-notch customer service
April 20 2011 - Ruzicka takes helm of REDEX dealer network
Feb. 8 2010 - Fleetwood RV Adds Holiday World & Sunland RV to Dealer Network
Nov. 11 2009 - Holiday World of Houston Takes On Newmar Motorized Brands
Jan/Feb 2007 - A World of Difference -- RV Trade Digest
Dec. 2005 - Different by Innovations Vol.6, No.2
March 2002 - Today and Tomorrow

Cautious optimism fuels Holiday World growth

Holiday World of Katy - Entrance By Greg Gerber - Editor, RV Daily Report

“All boats rise in high tide,” said Michael Peay, president of Holiday World of Houston, noting that business is up at all four of his stores.

The dealership, which is headquartered in Katy, Texas, also has locations in Dallas, League City, Texas; Willis, Texas; and Las Cruces, N.M.

“We saw a surge in sales of towables in 2013, but the inverse is taking place this year,” he explained. “Motorized sales are up and we’re having a lot of success with Class A motorhomes, especially mid-priced diesel products in the $250,000 to $350,000 range.”

The dealership has also taken on a variety of new products in the past year to give it some uniqueness in the market. For example, the dealership took on the Airstream Interstate Class B van, and expanded that offering to include Airstream trailers.

The Katy store also added travel trailers manufactured by Riverside RV, as well as Whitewater retro units.

“The retro units are a nice little product that draws a lot of attention, and all our stores report selling them. Customers think these type of refurbished RVs are cool,” said Peay. “We’re pretty pleased with all our brands. There are plenty of competitive units for customers to compare. Now we’re focused on making the buying experience great.”

The dealership’s mainstay product lines remains towables, with Keystone and Grand Design leading the pack, he explained, noting that both company’s travel trailers and fifth wheels have been performing very well this year.

The dealership struggled with getting RVs transported to its sales lots from manufacturers in Elkhart this spring and early summer, but much of that problem has been addressed, he added.

“We had to work pretty diligently to get units here this spring,” said Peay. “But, the lead time out of Elkhart was much shorter in June than it was in the first of March. At that time, we were looking at 45-plus days for delivery. Now it is less than 30 days.”

One of the things that helped Peay get units to the dealership faster was advertising for delivery drivers on the company’s websites.  That attracted just enough folks who were willing to make a few trips to Elkhart to get product, that he was able to keep the lots stocked during the busy season.

Holiday World of Katy - Repair Shop

“We sort of sweetened the pot by telling the Houston-area drivers that if they picked up another unit in Elkhart within 72 hours of dropping one off, we’d pay them a bonus,” said Peay. “That helped keep them focused on working for us rather than other firms.”

It’s only an 18 hour drive, so it’s not like drivers were endangering themselves in the process, he noted. But it did help to keep up with demand for new trailers and fifth wheels.

Complete market penetration

The dealership will open a new store in Willis, Texas, this fall, which is about 50 miles north of Houston toward Dallas along I-45. The 32-acre property gives the company complete coverage in the Houston market — which is currently home to 6.3 million people, according to the Census Bureau. In fact, the metropolitan region enjoyed a 2.2 percent bump in population from 2013 to 2014.

Holiday World has locations in the west, north and south sides of Houston. With that market wrapped up, Peay is turning his attention to expanding the Dallas-Fort Worth market by building a new store in Alvaredo, Texas, which he plans to open sometime next year. That will complement the store in Mesquite, which is east of Dallas.

The 15-acre lot on I-35 in Alvaredo is about 25 miles south of downtown Fort Worth, and will carry Keystone products.

“We have a much better opportunity to sell and deliver products when we can serve the complete market, be it Houston or Dallas,” said Peay.

Holiday World of Katy - Parts Store

He would open the Alvaredo location today, if he could. However, an expanding oil economy and booming construction market has maxed out the supply of skilled construction workers. “We can’t construct buildings fast enough in that market,” he explained. “We literally need to make appointments to get buildings constructed.”

Warning signs

Right now, historically low interest rates are benefiting dealers in many ways, Peay said. First, buying RVs is a bargain for consumers, but the same low rates also make it possible for RV dealers to add more inventory.

“We have pent up demand throughout our state. Even though the economy is not great, interest rates are low, low, low,” he explained. “That’s allowing dealers to show a nice profit, for now. But, if they had to start paying the average interest rates they were paying seven years ago, their profits would evaporate.”

And that’s coming — probably faster than most people realize, said Peay.

While some dealers may suffer from short-term memory loss regarding the headaches they faced in 2008 as the Great Recession unfolded, Peay remembers very well the pain of having to liquidate 53 Holiday Rambler motorhomes without warranties when that company folded. Inventory management became an obsession for both Peay and Charlie Power, the company’s vice president of sales.

“Dealers who are overstocking inventory and will soon find they have shifted a major expense to the bottom line,” he explained. “Sure, they might show a nicer bottom line than they have in recent years. But, they won’t be able to maintain it once rates go up.”

“It’s easy to bring on inventory when rates are so low,” added Power, who noted that the Fed has already signaled that rates could start increasing later this year.

“When interest rates are low, the penalties for inventory mistakes are relatively low,” he added. “Dealers are under the illusion they are making great money now. But as soon as rates go up, if they have a lot of inventory on their lots, some dealers could be in big trouble.”

Both Peay and Power said that, in general, dealer inventory across the board is probably higher than it should be. And, they don’t see that ending any time soon.

“The yards in Ekhart are still full of inventory. I’ve heard it could be as high as 25,000 units, which the manufacturers aren’t going to want to keep,” said Peay. He noted that figure is down from a high of 35,000 units in May.

“In the normal RV selling cycle, when sales are consistent, having inventory coming on the lot is a good thing,” he added. “However, by August, most RV dealers should be looking at getting rid of aging inventory. Yet, because of the transportation problem in Elkhart, some units already on the dealers floorplan are still waiting to be delivered to dealer lots.”

Holiday World of Katy - Treats

When units are still arriving on dealer lots in August as the selling season winds down, and with interest rates expected to rise within months, dealers must pay extraordinary attention to their inventory this fall, said Peay.

“Many of the dealers in our 20 group are reporting pent up buying demand and low interest rates, but they still have plenty of inventory on hand,” he explained. “If rising interest rates cause consumer confidence to fall, dealers will be glad they cleared their lots of excess inventory.”

Grand Design living up to its promise

Holiday World was one of the early dealerships to secure Grand Design inventory when the company started producing travel trailers a little over a year ago. Bringing on the product line was one of the best business decisions Peay said he has made in recent years.

“Grand Design came to the market saying they were going to do things differently from a business perspective, and the owners have delivered on that promise,” he explained. “They manufacture great products and offer a lot of value.”

That company only works with quality dealerships, said Peay, and the Grand Design doesn’t play Internet games, rather the firm enforces minimum advertised prices. He was very impressed to see the owners, Ron and Bill Fenech plus Don Clark, traveling the country talking to dealers about the products dealers wanted to see built.

“We watch quality very closely, ” said Power. “The warranty and parts availability from Grand Design has been excellent.”

“I know they are watching production closely at the factory so they don’t build too many units too quickly,” added Peay. “As a result, they are selling everything they can build. It’s a strong business model.

“I have spent a lot of years working with Ron, Bill and Don, and I know they are strong business people,” he added. “I get calls from Ron frequently just checking in and seeking input. He’s always asking what dealers or consumers would think if the company changed this or that.

“I also know that I can pick up a phone and talk to either of them at any time about anything,” said Peay. “That makes for a very strong business partnership.”

Grand Design’s recent introduction of an iPad app that lists the RVs’ key features and tow ratings, has proven to be an invaluable tool when salespeople are working with customers, said Power. Salespeople like having that data available at their fingertips when they have a customer in one of the units, he added.

Keystone remains strong

While the dealership enjoys a strong relationship with Grand Design, Holiday World has represented Keystone product with great success for many years. The Alpine and Montana fifth wheels have been selling very well this year, said Power.

“Montana has a great reputation and it will be hard to switch customers to another brand because of their level of loyalty to Montana,” he explained.

While Grand Design might have some success in attracting younger buyers and those making their first purchase at that price point, Power said that Montana continues to be the standard among older, experienced RVers.
“Keystone owners are extremely loyal,” he said. “They are our bread and butter, and the company is very loyal to them as well.”

Looking forward to Elkhart Open House Week

Peay said he is looking forward to open house week in Elkhart next month so that he can check out the new inventory. However, he will be structuring his buying so as not to order all his RVs during that event.

“We see the open houses as opportunities to learn what is changing so that we know what to move off our lots to prepare for the arrival of new units,” he explained. “We gather as much information as we can during the open house, then engage in strategic ordering the following week.”

That allows the sales staff to seriously consider which floorplans are most likely to sell in specific markets. It also allows the staff to engage in more disciplined buying based on solid reasoning and not getting caught up in the emotion of the open houses, Peay noted.

Holiday World of Katy - Priority RV Dealer Texas embraces RV lifestyle

Peay said that Texas is often an isolated economy when compared to the rest of the country, thanks to a strong oil market that employs plenty of workers. So, although he is diligent in watching inventory levels, he thinks the market in Texas will be among the last impacted by higher interest rates.

“We are really blessed to be in a state that is very pro business and working with local governments that are pro business as well,” he added.

Still he thinks the state has some issues with campgrounds and RV storage that need to be addressed.

“We have some huge housing developments going up that don’t allow RV parking in the neighborhoods,” he explained. “RV owners not only have to find storage, they are also looking at limited places to camp.”

Many people buy an RV in hopes of traveling the country, said Peay. In reality, most RV owners consider 300 miles to be a long trip.

However, despite the challenges, RV ownership remains very popular due to the avenue it offers families to get away from all the distractions in life.

“At home, kids usually want to go to their friends house or they are out playing soccer, and it’s hard for families to remain connected,” he explained. “With an RV, they can go away for three days and spend time together as a family.

“It really is amazing how simply traveling 30 miles creates a whole new environment that can change everyone’s perspective,” said Peay. “It truly is a vacation.”

One of Holiday World’s biggest challenges is addressing the misconception that people have of the RV industry and the economy. He said that the top misconceptions people have include:

  • The economy is bad, when that’s not necessarily true in much of Texas.
  • Class A RVs are million dollar busses.
  • Payments for RVs are around $1,000 per month, when they are often just $300 to $400.
  • The only people who buy RVs are those who sell their homes and live in them full time.

“We sell travel trailers that families can buy for $99 per month,” said Peay. “Were else can you get that type of quality entertainment for days at a time for just $99 per month? The state and national parks often some of the most beautiful landscapes as well as plenty of recreational opportunities for relatively small fees.”

Peay believes that the popularity of RV clubs is dwindling. He’s seeing participation in clubs among local groups declining and that they tend to attract only older RVers.

“Younger RV owners want their independence. They don’t want to hang out with a group of people,” he explained. “Older buyers remain more club oriented. But, even the Baby Boomers don’t appear to be as interested in club-type activities. They are more active than RVers were in the past when sitting by the pool during the day, and sitting around a campfire at night was a typical RV experience.”

One club is not slowing down, however. That’s the Airstream owners group. It seems to be growing in popularity for some reason, Peay noted.

“I think there is a generational affect on club membership. People use to get an RV when they retired, so RVers were often older,” he added. “Today, younger families are choosing RVing as a lifestyle, and their kids are getting an introduction to that lifestyle earlier as well.”

Holiday World of Katy - Lot with inventory

That poses several challenges for RV manufacturers and dealers alike. The foremost issue is product quality. Peay said RV manufacturers have got to step up and do more to reduce failures in the products they build.

“Today’s RV buyer doesn’t expect failure and won’t tolerate having RVs break all the time,” he explained. “They are not tinkers with a tool box, which is what most RV owners have been for generations. So, product quality is a critical issue facing the industry.

“When you think about it, today’s consumers don’t have enough down time to spend fixing an RV,” he added. “They only get so many days of vacation a year, and if dealers have to spend weeks servicing an RV, that leaves little time for families to enjoy the lifestyle.”

Peay said he thinks it’s okay for RV manufacturers to raise prices a little, if they are producing better quality units with components that aren’t likely to fail or require repair multiple times during the year.

He also thinks RV dealers need to change their mindset when it comes to service by switching from the business model that reacts to failure by repairing a product quickly and getting owners on the road again. Rather, they need to embrace the idea of preventative maintenance.

“I have found that consumers are more willing to spend money on a preventative maintenance schedule to ensure their RVs are always in good shape and ready to travel when an opportunity presents itself,” said Peay.

If the RV industry can address the product quality issue and service problems, Peay believes the industry will enjoy unprecedented success for generations to come.

“If we can deliver quality products to younger buyers and service their needs they way they expect to be serviced, there is no reason to think we won’t see families embracing the RV lifestyle for many, many years,” he added.

For more information on Holiday World RV Supercenters, visit www.hwhrv.com.

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Holiday World enchants New Mexico travelers

Holiday World of Las Cruces - Lot Photo
By Greg Gerber - Editor, RV Daily Report

For many years, Sunland RV had been serving residents and tourists visiting the Land of Enchantment, operating near the Intersection of New Mexico Hwy. 28 and Interstate 10 in Las Cruces. It’s an ideal location considering the dealership is situated along a major east-west interstate and only 3.5 miles from a major north-south interstate as well. The location was so convinient, it attracted the attention of Michael Peay, the president of Holiday World of Houston, who bought the dealership in 2003, but retained the Sunland name. This January, the dealership was officially rebranded as Holiday World of Las Cruces. “We couldn’t use the Holiday World name because it was owned by Holiday Rambler,” said Al Camacho, the dealership’s store manager, who noted the company acquired the trademark when Holiday Rambler went into bankruptcy a few years ago. “We found the name Sunland RV was causing confusion because people were thinking we were located near Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino, near El Paso, Texas,” he explained. “So, to end the confusion, we just decided to change the name and brand our company.”

Holiday World of Las Cruces - Outside Logo

It has an indoor showroom and a rather large inventory of accessory items on the 7-acre property, which houses between 125 and 150 RVs, depending upon the time of year. The acid-stained concrete floors give the dealership an upscale appearance.

There are eight service bays staffed by several certified technicians. However, all the other technicians are going through training every Tuesday night.

The market has changed significantly in recent years, Camacho explained. Las Cruces used to be a major snowbird destination, but after a few especially cool fall and winter seasons, most of them have migrated further west.

“We used to be very busy from October to November, now we seem to be picking up more business in the spring and summer months,” he added.

The dealership use to supply the “Copper Canyon caravans,” groups of RVers who would head to El Paso and put their RVs on trains headed for a rugged, but spectacularly beautiful area deep in Mexico. But fears of violence in the area put an end to much of the travel there, he said.

Camacho, who is nearly a lifelong resident of Las Cruces and got into the RV business after helping is father run a parts store in 1982, doesn’t understand why the snowbirds are opting to go elsewhere.

“Those of us who call Las Cruces home love living here because of the mild winters and the fact that we do experience different seasons,” he said.

Holiday World of Las Cruces - Parts Store

There are several challenges to running an RV dealership in Las Cruces, said Camacho. First of all, the level of income earned by people in the area is significantly less than what people earn in the Houston area. In Dona Ana County, the average income is $29,000.

That makes credit more difficult to get. It really becomes an issue in the spring when people want to use their income tax refunds as down payments on a new RV.

Finding and retaining quality help is also more challenging, although he said he’s been fortunate to develop a strong team of sales and service professionals. But, he could always use a few more technicians.

Camacho’s biggest challenge by far is getting inventory from the manufacturers in Indiana to New Mexico. Deliveries are now running nearly 45 days behind schedule. That’s forcing him to explore ways to get drivers up to Elkhart to bring the units back to Las Cruces.

“It’s very hard for me to forecast sales when we have so much inventory sitting in the manufacturer’s yards,” he explained.

Road construction has also been a hassle for Holiday World customers, although the exit leading into the dealership has finally reopened. Over the past few years, his team had become quite adept at giving directions to callers as road conditions changed almost daily.

“Through all that mess, our guys kept a good attitude and found ways to get the customers into the lot,” he said. “We kept each other motivated.”

Holiday World of Las Cruces - Interior Showroom

Today, business is steady, and that’s good, said Camacho. Over the years, his team has focused more on marketing RVs to local residents through the Internet, which was especially helpful during construction. They’ve redesigned their site to make the web pages more user friendly, and the dealership has been rewarded for the effort with increased traffic.

Camacho said the dealership has virtually eliminated all forms of print advertising, but network television spots remain effective in reaching potential buyers. Even with the increased presence on the Internet, Camacho said that most of his customers remain local, within 100 miles or so of the dealership.

To help him manage the store, Camacho relies on Charlie Power, the company’s vice president of sales, and Manny Carlson, the vice president of fixed operations. Both men travel to Las Cruces twice a month to review reports and offer suggestions. Together, they run a pretty lean operation paying especially close attention to aging inventory.

“A few years ago, we sensed the market was changing and started trimming our inventory to make sure it stayed in line with sales,” he explained. “Ironically, our competitor though we were going out of business when we made the reduction. In the end, we survived and they didn’t.

Holiday World of Las Cruces - Lot

“We have a good mix of products and sales are evenly split between motorhomes and towables,” he explained. “Our toy hauler sales have been helped by having a Harley Davidson store across the street. Our motorhome sales have always been strong, and now they’re picking up even more.

“Our best selling towables are often the less expensive stick and tin models, but that’s okay,” Camacho said. “Our goal is to create exceptional RV life experiences so that we can trade them up in a few years.”

For more information about Holiday World of Las Cruces, call 800.388.5995 or visit hwhrv.com/las-cruces/index.php.

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Sunland RV (Holiday World of Las Cruces)

By Ceci Vasconcellos for the Las Cruces Sun News

If you give a mouse a cookie, he might just be at Sunland RV where they bake fresh, chocolate chip cookies for everyone visiting their showroom. Voted Reader’s Choice: Best RV Dealer of 2012, Sunland RV carries an excellent line of RVs and motor homes, and a veteran staff with unsurpassed experience.

Holiday World of Las Cruces (dba Sunland RV) is a proud member of Priority RV Network, an 80+ dealer network exclusive to dealers who meet strict criteria. This ensures the best products and services will be offered to all customers. To qualify as a Priority RV Member Dealer, Sunland RV must have quality of personnel, exceptional customer satisfaction, superior parts and service facilities, and outstanding reputation with manufacturers, suppliers and customers. Says Sunland RV Store Manager Al Camacho, “We take great pride in being able to meet the criteria and be a part of this group.”

Al says their clientele is made up of folks from the baby boomer generation to young couples who like to camp. Visitors are treated “like an honored guest in their home; every time, every day, without fail, with no exceptions! We really appreciate being voted best RV dealer in Las Cruces,” expresses Al.

Sunland RV is committed to giving their customers “A World of Difference” by matching their lifestyle with the right vehicle. And if you give a customer a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie…who knows what they may want next?

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Keystone Cougar takes No. 1 Fifth Wheel Spot

GOSHEN, Ind. -- According to latest Statistical Surveys, Inc. retail registration report, Keystone RV Company’s Cougar Division has claimed the No. 1 ranking in fifth wheel sales year-to- date. This is the first time Cougar has earned No. 1 ranking in the brand’s 14-year history.


Cougar product manager Jeff Kloska (left)
and group general manager, Jeff Runels

"Team Cougar is thrilled to have achieved this milestone," said Jeff Runels, Keystone group general manager. "We feel we have absolutely the best dealers in the industry. Their enthusiasm and commitment to the product have translated into ever increasing sales. Congratulations to our dealers for making this possible."

According to Runels, one of the keys to Cougar’s popularity is the continuous innovations Cougar brings to market. "By listening to our dealers and our retail customers, we have kept the product hot and fresh. Cougar introduced, and in many cases patented, first to market features like Hitch Vision, the Cougar Ottoman, and the E-Z Camp Remote. We will continue to reinvent the product to give our dealers even more to sell," he explained.

Cougar Product Manager Jeff Kloska also credits the variety of Cougar product offerings and floorplans for Cougar’s success.

"For example, our half-ton towable Cougar X-Lite and our Cougar High Country are hitting a sweet spot as buyers look for a full-featured, full-sized fifth wheel they can tow with their everyday pick-up truck," he added. "And, our new Cougar 331MKS floorplan with 'executive chef rear kitchen' offers over 24-square feet of kitchen counter space making it ideal for informal dining and entertaining. Our goal is to provide our dealers with a great Cougar product for every customer walking through the door.

For more information, visit Keystone Cougar, Cougar High Country, or Cougar X-lite.

SOURCE: Keystone press release

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Priority RV Network aims for $34 million in rebates

By Greg Gerber  

ARLINGTON, Texas -- At their 14th annual meeting last week in Las Vegas, the Priority RV Dealer Network, formerly known as REDEX, unveiled an opportunity for its dealer members to add $34 million to their bottom lines this year.

“If each of the 85 locations would use the vendor partner programs, they could add on average $400,000 to their bottom lines, which would enhance the dealership’s profitability significantly,” explained Priority RV Dealer Network Executive Director Corey Ruzicka.

To illustrate the $34 million opportunity, Priority RV Dealer Network board members threw seven buckets of $1 bills through the air as members jumped from their chairs to grab a piece of the $1,000 giveaway.

“The purpose of this fun exercise was to show the dealers there are dollars floating through every dealership every day, and the dealer isn’t grabbing for them. Develop a process and and get your employees to get into the habit of using the programs,” said Priority RV Dealer Network President Michael Peay. Peay is also president of Holiday World of Houston and Dallas and Sunland RV.

“You’re grabbing for $1 bills right now. But, you could be grabbing for thousands of dollars flying in the air every day from the programs we offer,” he noted.

More than 20 vendor partners met with 52 dealerships representing 85 locations nationwide individually and presented volume buying programs for the next 12 programs.

“Whether it’s bank financing, parts and accessories, roadside assistance, F&I products, IT products, the greater the volume, the better the discounts and rebates. When you have 85 locations, you can buy on volume. We provide the dealers with more money and better deals for them and their customers. It’s one of the big reasons we sell more RVs every year than anyone else,” said Ruzicka.

Priority has about 25 markets yet to fill. Key states include:

  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • South Dakota
  • Wyoming

Key metropolitan areas include:

  • Amarillo, Texas
  • Bakersfield, Calif.
  • Baltimore
  • Boston
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Des Moines, Iowa
  • Fort Myers, Fla.
  • Kansas City, Mo.
  • Louisville, Ky.
  • Lubbock, Texas
  • Miami
  • Midland-Odessa, Texas
  • Nashville, Tenn.
  • Norfolk, Va.
  • Providence, R.I.
  • San Louis Obispo, Calif.
  • Shreveport, La.
  • Spokane, Wash.
  • Tyler, Texas
  • Wilmington, Del.

"The nice thing about the Priority RV Dealer Network is that noe of us gets a bigger share than the others. We are a true co-op with each member having an equal share," said Paey. "We just want to give our members a competitive advantage by pooling our buying power and moving members toward our select vendors. When dealers participate in the program, they should get back rebates, membership fees and additional compensation."

Paey said the network has worked diligently over the past year or two to cut expenses in half to ensure even more money flows back to members. "We are on a different track now, and our dealers are happier," he added, noting that the network best serves dealerships with annual sales between $10 million and $100 million.

Priority RV Network provides innovative, convenient, value driven programs to an exclusive nationwide dealer network creating a competitive advantage for its members while providing value to their customers. Priority RV Network, a strong network of 52 independently-owned RV dealers with 85 locations, is run by a seven-member dealer board of directors.

Along with Peay, the seven member board of directors consists of: Mark Bretz, president of Bretz RV & Marine; Earl Stoltzfus, president of Stoltzfus RV & Marine; Brian Wilkins, president of Wilkins RV; Greg Lala, president of Dixie RV Superstore; Steve Plemmons, president of Bill Plemmons RV and Mike Regan, president of Crestview RV-Buda and Georgetown.

SOURCE: Priority RV Dealer Network press release

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Priority RV Network Meets Last Week in Vegas

by RV Business

The Priority RV Dealer Network, formerly known as REDEX, recently was named the No. 1 RV Dealer Cooperative Group for retailing the most new RVs in 2011 by Statistical Surveys Inc.

According to a press release, the awards ceremony was held April 24 in the special events center at the Monte Carlo Hotel & Resort in Las Vegas as part of the network’s 14th Annual Meeting that drew more than 150 dealer and supplier attendees.

Statistical Surveys President Tom Walworth presented a trophy and certificates for all 52 dealers to Michael Peay, president of the Priority RV Network’s board and president of Holiday World of Houston, Dallas and Sunland RV.

Tom Walworth (center) presents a trophy to the Priority RV
Network board, including (L-R): Mike Regan, Brian Wilkins,
Greg Lala, Michael Peay, Mark Bretz, Steve Plemmons
and Corey Ruzicka. Earl Stoltzfus is not pictured

“We thank our great dealers and vendor partners for making this happen. I’m receiving this honor on behalf of our great dealers,” said Peay. “From the time we started our group with Paul Skogebo and just a few other dealers, we’ve built this network into a great organization. We’re working with our vendor partners so they can sell more and provide us a competitive advantage in the marketplace.”

Priority RV Dealer Network Executive Director Corey Ruzicka added, “It’s great to have our dealers and vendor partners No. 1 in the industry and also in the eyes of our customers. The road to the campground goes through one of our dealerships. Our dealers will sell between 33,000 and 40,000 new and used RVs this year.”

Also during the meeting, the Priority RV Dealer Network outlined the benefits of its vendor partner programs. “If each of the 85 locations would use the vendor partner programs, they could add on average $400,000 to their bottom lines, which would enhance the dealership’s profitability significantly,” said Ruzicka.

To illustrate the $34 million opportunity, Priority RV Dealer Network board members threw seven buckets of $1 bills flying through the air to it

In addition, more than 20 vendor partners met with 52 dealerships representing 85 locations nationwide individually and presented volume buying programs for the next 12 programs.

“Whether it’s bank financing, parts and accessories, roadside assistance, F&I products, IT products, the greater the volume, the better the discounts and rebates, when you have 85 locations, you can buy on volume,” said Ruzicka. “We provide the dealers with more money and better deals for them and their customers. It’s one of the big reasons we sell more RVs every year than anyone else.”

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Video Segment - RV Capital Talk with Michael Peay

by RV Business

On RV Capital Talk we team up with our content providers, RV Business (www.RVBusiness.com) to bring you special guests within the RV industry. On this episode we are joined, as always, by Mr. Sherman Goldenberg and joined by special guest Michael Peay of Holiday World of Houston, head of the REDEX dealer network, the formal name of which is The Recreational Dealer Cooperative Association Inc.

 

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Keystone RV Co. Commemorates 500,000th RV

by RV Business Holiday World of Houston Management and Keystone RV Management

Keystone RV Co. marked a milestone Monday (Sept. 19) as the builder rolled its 500,000th unit off the assembly line through its headquarters in Goshen, Ind., and its facilities in Pendleton, Ore. Fittingly, the landmark RV was a Sprinter travel trailer, the company’s original brand. Founded in 1996 by six industry veterans, including Cole Davis, Keystone has grown to become the number one manufacturer of towable RVs. A quick ceremony was held in Goshen to commemorate the event, attended by members of the Holiday World of Houston management team and Keystone personnel. Shown in the photo are (L-R) representatives of Holiday World of Houston: Al Camacho, Las Cruces, N.M., location: Lenny Martynowicz, Michael Peay’s business partner; Michael Peay, president of Holiday World of Houston; Bob Martin, President Keystone RV; Charlie Power, general manager; Kevin Hoffpauir, general sales manager, Matt Zimmerman, group general manager Keystone RV.

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Holiday World RV has successfully launched its new mobile website, the company announced today.

by Greg Gerber | RV Daily Report

HWHRV.com will now auto-detect Internet browsers used by I-Phones, Androids, Blackberrys and Windows phone and automatically format to the specific devices. Holiday World recognizes the smart phone and mobile pad revolution is changing how consumers shop and obtain information.

"Our mobile site will enhance the customer’s RV shopping experience before and during the sale process and enable our customers to quickly access our customer support staff when traditional PC are not accessible," said Charlie Power, general manager. "Our traditional site will always have its place in providing more in depth information about RV products and RV lifestyle. It’s our hope the mobile segment will complement the customer’s overall RV experience."

Holiday World's four locations sells and services motorhomes, travel trailers, fifth wheels, and toy haulers from manufacturers including Keystone RV, Heartland RV, Fleetwood RV, Newmar, Jayco, and Winnebago. The dealership has locations in Houston, Dallas and Las Cruces, N.M. (doing business as Sunland RV).

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South Texas Premier RV Dealership Continues to Excel Year after Year.

by Thomas Tucker - Cron.com | Business

Holiday World of Houston has been the #1 volume RV dealer in Houston for many years now, (Source: Stat Survey). This has been backed up, year-by-year, dating back to 2003.

“We are the number one volume dealership in Houston,” said Charlie Power, General Manager of Holiday World. “Our incredible volume allows us to offer our customers a great value for their money. Our success comes down to having key RV manufacturer partners, such as Fleetwood RV, American Coach, Newmar, Winnebago, Jayco and Keystone RV and quality employees who seek to give a quality service.

Holiday World’s quality customer service and high sales records go hand-in-hand. No one likes doing business with someone who seems to be out for personal gain and nothing else. Holiday World works with customers every step of the way, finding the perfect RV to meet their budget, their needs and their tastes.

Holiday World is a member of the Priority RV Network which is the nation’s largest RV volume group, representing over 60 dealership nationwide.

“As a member of the Priority RV Network, we have to meet a strict criteria of being financially solid, high RV sales volume, and quality service before we are allowed to join,” said Power. “We also need to be sure our parts and services facilities are excellent and have to maintain an outstanding relationship and reputation with the leading manufacturers and suppliers in the industry. Most of all we have to please the customer.”

Holiday World has locations in Katy, League City and Mesquite. They also do business under the name Sunland RV in Las Curces, New Mexico. They can be reached locally at (281) 371-7200 or by visiting their website http://hwhrv.com/.

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Winnebago Industries honors 2011 Circle of Excellence winners

Winnebago LogoFOREST CITY, Iowa -- Winnebago Industries, Inc., manufacturer of Winnebago and Itasca brand motorhomes, is pleased to announce its Circle of Excellence dealerships for 2011.
Winnebago Circle of Ecvellence Award LogoWinnebago Industries established the industry’s first dealer excellence program in 1986 in order to recognize select dealers for excellence in customer satisfaction. This year, 116 dealers were honored with the Circle of Excellence award in recognition of their excellence in customer satisfaction as it relates to the customers’ sales and service experience with the dealer.

Winnebago Industries is pleased to recognize the 116 outstanding dealers that earned this year’s Circle of Excellence award,” said Winnebago Industries Vice President of Sales and Marketing Roger Martin. “These dealerships have proven their commitment to their customers by providing the total RV experience – knowledgeable sales personnel, qualified service technicians and quality warranty and after-market service support. That commitment to providing excellent customer service is what separates these dealers from the rest – and is why they are deserving of this award.”

Circle of Excellence scoring is determined by rating dealers in four categories:

  • A purchase and delivery satisfaction study which is direct customer feedback after the purchase of a motorhome
  • A customer satisfaction study which surveys customers six months after their purchase
  • A sales and marketing assessment that evaluates a dealership’s sales, market share, stocking levels and participation in product training and the Winnebago Itasca Travelers Club (WIT)
  • A service/parts assessment that evaluates a dealership’s warranty/parts inventory, service training and certified technicians, and traveling customer care

Dealerships earning the coveted Circle of Excellence status receive an award featuring three concentric circles that symbolize the interconnected relationship between the customer, dealer and Winnebago Industries.

(Shortened for space)

TEXAS
Crestview RV Center, Buda (Winnebago)
Billy Sims Trailer Town – Lubbock, Lubbock (Winnebago)
Holiday World of Houston, LP, League City (Winnebago)
Jack Sisemore Traveland, Amarillo (Winnebago)
McClain's RV Rockwall, Inc., Rockwall (Winnebago)
McClain's RV Superstore, Lake Dallas (Winnebago)
Ronnie Bock's Kerrville RV, Kerrville (Winnebago)*
Shady Pines RV Center, Inc., Texarkana (Winnebago)

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Growth of Katy RV shop has to do with quality customer service

May 16, 2011

Holiday World sells more Keystone trailers.From humble beginnings in 1996, Holiday World has grown to recognized as the premier RV dealer in south Texas.

Starting out with two small locations, selling RVs in north and south Houston, the company has quickly spread its wings to elsewhere.

Right off the bat, new customers know that they are dealing with folks who are out to give the best customer service they can. Their growth and expansion is a testament to their years of top-notch customer service.

“We quickly outgrew our small Houston sites,” said Charlie Power, General Manager of Holiday World. “We moved our north location to a 30 acre facility in Katy and then relocated our south Houston location to League City with nine acres of quality RVs.”

In 2003, Holiday World has expanded into Las Cruces New Mexico with Sunland RV and has just completed the purchase of Holiday World of Dallas in Mesquite Texas.

With Memorial Day the unofficial kick-off for summer and summer being the official time for camping and adventuring, Holiday World is celebrating with its Memorial Day Sales Event.

“We have very competitive prices,” said Power. “Come out and see all we have to offer and enjoy some food and fun as well.”

Holiday World locations represents today’s top RV manufacturers, which included Fleetwood, American Coach, Winnebago, Newmar, Jayco and Keystone RV. Currently Holiday World is Keystone RV’s largest volume dealer in America.

So for great deals, friendly folks and a fun time, visit Holiday World today.

Holiday World has locations in Katy, League City and Mesquite. They also do business under the name Sunland RV in Las Curces, New Mexico. They can be reached locally at (281) 371-7200 or by visiting their website http://hwhrv.com/.

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Ruzicka takes helm of REDEX dealer network

April 20, 2011

Priority RV NetworkLeft to Right: John Mancinelli, Michael Peay, Corey RuzickaLas Vegas -- Corey Ruzicka officially took control of the REDEX RV Dealer Network Tuesday when he accepted the mantle of leadership from outgoing executive director John Mancinelli during the group's annual meeting.

More than 30 RV dealers representing nearly 60 locations gathered at the Monte Carlo Casino and Resort to review the group's affiliate programs and renew commitments to select vendors.

After Mancinelli made a closing presentation encouraging the REDEX members to better market their brand to consumers nationwide, Chairman Michael Peay, president of Holiday World of Houston, thanked Mancinelli for his service. Peay credited him with bringing organization to the network and helping to lay a foundation for future success.

Following a standing ovation by members in support for Mancinelli, Ruzicka was then formally introduced to the group as the new executive director. Ruzicka is no stranger to the REDEX network. He had served the group several years ago.

He pledged to contact members to learn more about their specific needs and then work to address those needs while expanding the network to other dealerships.

"Corey brings years of experience in the RV industry and within the REDEX network to helping us grow and stay strong," said Peay. "I'm looking forward to having him on board as our executive director."

Peay said almost two dozen vendors pitched innovative ideas during the conference to help REDEX dealers improve their profitability.

"The dealers are very enthused not only about what we are doing at REDEX, but within their own businesses," said Peay. "They share some concern about market stability and consumer confidence, but the pent up demand they are seeing on their lots has given our members plenty of hope that 2011 will be a great year for the industry."

Peay said members are eager to implement programs and vendor offers that will give REDEX dealers a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

"Our dealer network retails more RVs than even the largest volume dealerships in the nation," he explained. "We are looking forward to adding even more dealers and vendors who want to improve their market share within the RV industry."

Peay said the dealers were especially happy about the transparency of the REDEX operation in that they received solid financial reports detailing every aspect of the network. "We are dealer owned and dealer run," he explained.

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Fleetwood RV Adds Holiday World of Texas and Sunland RV of New Mexico to its Dealer Network

(Official Press Release)
February 8, 2010

Decatur, Ind. – Fleetwood RV, Inc., a leading producer of Class A and Class C recreational vehicles, today announced that it added Holiday World of Houston, located in Katy and League City, Tex.;  and  Sunland RV, located in Las Cruces, N.M., to its dealer network. Holiday World of Houston and Sunland RV will be full-line Fleetwood RV dealers – carrying all brands from Tioga up to Revolution LE –as well as an authorized Fleetwood RV service center.

“Holiday World of Houston has been a well-respected dealer in the RV industry since 1996, and we are very pleased to add them to the Fleetwood RV dealer network,” said John Draheim, president and COO of Fleetwood RV, Inc. “The professionalism of their service organization and their world-class facilities will certainly serve our customers well for many years to come.”

“We are very excited about our new partnership with Fleetwood RV,” said Michael Peay owner of Holiday World of Houston and Sunland RV. “Fleetwood’s line of motor homes offers something for every RVer; backed by a strong warranty. Combine this with the experience of their sales and service teams we are confident that Fleetwood RV is the right manufacturer to help us grow our business.”

All Fleetwood RV products are backed by a limited one-year/15,000-mile coach warranty and three-year/45,000-mile structural warranty, whichever occurs first, and it is fully transferable for the first 12 months.

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Holiday World of Houston Takes On Newmar Motorized Brands


November 11, 2009

Nappanee, Ind. - Newmar Corporation is proud to announce that Holiday World of Houston has joined its family of high-quality dealers.
"Holiday World of Houston has an impeccable reputation in the RV industry and Newmar is extremely pleased to have them become the newest dealer to take on our core motorhome product lines," said Newmar's Director of Sales, Pat Terveer. "Holiday World of Houston shares Newmar's company principles and vision of offering quality RVs and the best customer service the industry has to offer. They run first-class dealerships and we are proud to be associated with them."
Holiday World of Houston will sell Newmar products at its Katy, Texas location. The Bay Star Gas, Canyon Star Gas, Ventana Diesel Pusher, and Dutch Star Diesel Pusher Motorhomes will be offered.  
"Holiday World of Houston is proud to become a partner with Newmar," said Michael Peay, Holiday World of Houston president. "Our company looks forward to offering our customers quality, innovative products that provide high value. Our customers are very important to us at Holiday World of Houston and we want to offer them the very best RV products on the market. The long term success of Newmar and their ability to manage their success through the ups and downs in our industry matches up well with our company management style. We truly believe Newmar understands the philosophy of partnering with dealerships."
Holiday World of Houston is the number one volume RV Dealer in the greater Houston area.

The Katy, Texas location is a state-of-the-art dealership that sits on 30 acres and is one of the largest in the nation. Forty service bays are available to give customers more efficient service, and a full-size paint booth makes exterior paint jobs quick and easy. The parking lot has been specially designed to accommodate RVs of all sizes and offer overnight accommodations.

Established in 1968, Newmar is an innovator and leader in the RV manufacturing industry and recognized nationally for its excellence in quality. Newmar is privately owned and has a dealer network that spans across the United States and Canada. Newmar is located at 355 N. Delaware Street, Nappanee, Indiana. Newmar:  When You Know The Difference.
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A World of Difference -- RV Trade Digest

January/February 2007

Strong vision, discipline and accountability separate Holiday World of Houston from other RV dealerships.
In a state that takes pride in being the biggest and best at everything, Holiday World of Houston, while large, is relatively modest in size. But nobody can dispute its tremendous level of growth.
In 13 years, the company has grown from $10 million in 1993 with two locations to $42 million in 2000 and then to $83 million last year in three locations.
Owner Michael Peay has been in the RV industry since he was a teenager working for his father's dealership in Albuquerque. Wayne Peay owned Wayne's Recreation Vehicles and instilled values of business management by requiring his son to learn the industry from the ground up.
"I started washing trailers for my father in the fall of 1975. Then, in college, I worked different jobs at the dealership from the parts counter to selling folding campers with my sister, Cherilyn," Peay explained.
A native of the Sunshine State, he attended the University of New Mexico where he earned a business degree with a concentration on finance — something that helped him greatly in mastering the business' financial side.
The magic of a mentor
After graduation, Peay worked two years as the service manager, an experience that taught him about the expectations of customers and his associates in the sales department. "Besides my father, Bill Gorman was one of my greatest mentors. After I graduated, he came to the dealership to meet with my dad. They called me into the office and told me I would be running the service department. I really wanted to run sales, but Gorman insisted that I stay in service," Peay explained. "It was a very wise move that gave me the background I needed to run my own business later."
After a stint managing the finance and insurance operation and then serving as general manager, Peay left the dealership in 1989 to work for Gorman's operation. He spent three years traveling around the country, helping to train staff at some of the best-run dealerships in the nation. "Bill was an amazing forward-thinker. He was very direct and conveyed a high level of urgency that I found inspiring," Peay explained.
"I learned more than I taught. I was teaching a specific curriculum on parts and service, and they taught me their uniqueness and what excited them."
Peay first encountered Holiday World of Houston during the 1.5 years he worked in sales for RV Soft, the company that eventually became IDS. At the time, Holiday World was owned by Harley-Davidson and Holiday Rambler. He was asked to be the general manager of the two corporate stores in Houston in February 1993.
The door opens
Then, in January 1996, the managers of all the Holiday dealerships met at the RV Dealers Association convention/expo. Harley CEO Richard Teerlink announced the corporation would be selling off the Holiday Rambler division. Peay was given an opportunity to buy both the 2-acre Houston locations.
But Newt Kindlund was also interested in expanding his market of Holiday RV Superstores. While Peay was working with investors to put together a deal of his own, he was tasked with selling the idea of buying the stores to Kindlund. It was an awkward position for sure.
"Newt and I spent the day looking at the business and talking about the potential I saw in the dealership," Peay explained. "In the end, he announced he would give me the first shot at putting together a deal. Newt and his wife, Joanne, operate with great integrity."
Peay brought in two partners: Lenny Martynowicz, his former direct supervisor at Holiday Rambler; and Tom Daulton, a self-employed venture capitalist. Together, they developed a vision for dominating the Houston market. Peay was tasked with overseeing the daily operation, but the three retained a team approach for making major decisions.
For example, Peay had to convince his partners to take a huge risk by purchasing 57 acres of land in Katy — 30 miles west of Houston. At the time, the dealership was operating on 2 acres of property near downtown Houston.
"We strategically looked at where the people with the best buying demographics were moving and, based on our vision, we selected Katy," Peay explained. "The soundness of our joint decision was confirmed when another national dealer chain built a new facility two blocks away.”
The key to a successful partnership is honesty, said Peay. "Nobody can keep secrets from the other partners. We don't have a corporate jet, antique cars in the garage or country club memberships on the books," Peay said. "We pride ourselves in showing a healthy bottom line. We see a nice net profit as a reward for our efforts."

The best way to do that, Peay said, is to focus on developing a good budget and then maintain discipline to stick to it. Otherwise, it's easy to let emotion take over the decision-making process — and that can spell financial disaster for any business.
One way to maintain the required discipline is to become a transparent member of an industry 20 Group. While Peay cut his managerial teeth with Dwayne Spader's groups, he is currently involved in an ADP Performance group. "It's good to be challenged and to be held accountable," Peay explained. "Twenty groups create an environment where the beautiful get humbled and even the most successful business owners can learn something."
Running an RV dealership is a difficult business. If it weren't, everyone would be in the industry. It's even more difficult to be very good in all aspects all the time. Strong dealers constantly work on continuous improvement, he said.
"As we reach a certain level of achievement or whenever the staff improves, we tend to crank things up a notch or two," Peay said. "Good dealers learn to enjoy the journey because they never arrive at their destination. They are always moving on to the next goal."
A matter of trust
Peay imported five values from Holiday Rambler and Harley-Davidson: tell the truth, keep promises, be fair, respect the individual and encourage intellectual curiosity.
"We tell new employees if they do their jobs and follow these values, everything will be great," he said. "But if anyone violates these values, we treat it as a violation of trust. These values relate to all our stakeholders from customers and suppliers to OEMs, bankers and even delivery drivers."
That trust also extends into maintaining long-term relationships with key suppliers. While there may be times when tough communication is needed to sort out issues, Peay said Holiday World is often more forgiving than other dealers may be in sticking with partners during tough periods.
"Any business can have a bad year. It might be management or even a personal problem affecting the ability of one of the principals to concentrate on the job," said Peay.
"We strategically select the manufacturers we work with in order to ensure a diverse product offering. We look at the company history and its current leaders because that determines the firm's direction," he added.
Holiday World will stick with troubled companies for two to three years in hopes of helping them turn things around. Regardless of the situation, Peay said his staff must treat vendors with the utmost of respect.
"It's a small industry. My dad taught me early that the person I am dealing with today from one company may be working for another company later when I'm trying to get their product," he added. "You can't afford to burn bridges."
Recognize trends
The ability to recognize trends and jump on them early is what separates good businesses from the super successful. By the time everyone recognizes a trend is underway, it's too late to fully capitalize on that momentum.
"We watch several trends, including expenses, margins and sales," said Peay. "But watching trends is one thing. Having the fortitude and guts to take action is entirely different."

Timely, good financial reporting is essential in identifying trends. Peay routinely examines three reports:

  • A daily report that provides a snapshot of the prior day's sales and deliveries. It's more an accountability tool for the staff and managers to make sure sales fundamentals are being followed.
  • The weekly operating control sheet that shows progress toward monthly sales and expense goals.
  • Monthly operating sheets show progress toward annual sales and expense goals. This report determines trends.

"A one-month variation is a blip and two months is a concern, but three months is a trend," said Peay.
The staff doesn't rely on chance. The dealership plans its advertising a year in advance so managers know what inventory must be stocked before they launch a major push to bring customers on the lot.
Tremendous discipline was required in coordinating the dealership's reaction to the 2005 hurricanes. "We worked hard to sell down summer towable inventory, so when FEMA called, we didn't have inventory to give them," said Peay. "Yes, we had towables on the lot, but we needed them for our own customers. Our dealership supports 140 families. If I sold all my inventory to FEMA, what would my sales and service staff live on? Rather than selling units to FEMA, we sold them to area contractors and business owners who needed temporary offices to serve customers in the affected areas.
"We still make mistakes, but we have a plan and budget in place and the discipline to follow through with it," he added. "We push to reach our sales goals and try not to do anything on a whim or based on emotion. It has worked well for us."
Peay said he surrounds himself with really good people from the general manager to the office staff to the sales staff and service department.
Although the people have different personalities, some of them were chosen specifically because they brought different ideas and personalities to the business.
"Sometimes I have to tug at the leash," said Peay. "But, if I tried to do everything in the dealership by myself, I'd be smaller and tighter. I want to keep turning it up a notch to keep stretching everyone, even myself, to become better."
Charlie Power, Holiday World's general manager, is a good example of the type of people Peay likes to surround himself with. He's an idea generator who is quick to propose new ways of reaching or serving customers. Peay may not embrace all the ideas, but the environment in which the dealership operates gives people like Power freedom and permission to challenge the status quo. The staff can then polish the real gems of an idea before rolling them out.
"It's good for me to be challenged by people, I'm not really looking for hybrids, just polish to make what's already good even better," said Peay. "I want managers to understand and follow our core values, my philosophy and our policies and procedures. But, within that framework, we want people to step out and attempt new ways of getting things done."
Some examples of innovation at Holiday World of Houston include:

  • Placing a basket of snacks in the waiting room for visitors to enjoy.
  • Letting employees use used units to familiarize themselves with the RV lifestyle. "A technician who hasn't been stranded doesn't really have respect for customers who are," said Peay. "Sales people can also learn our brands' unique points."
  • Working with another large dealer for a joint promotion. The plan for a "battle of dealerships" combined ad budgets and more than doubled the results.
  • No individual offices around the showroom. Sales staff makes calls from workstations near the sales desk, but meet with customers at tables in the showroom.
  • Creation of an Internet sales office, which implemented technology from Redzia to manage leads.
  • A plate of freshly baked cookies at the reception desk as an alternative to messy popcorn.
  • A big parking area with a separate truck lot for big rigs.
  • A customer service ombudsman who acts as a primary contact and intermediary between customers and the sales/service staff to quickly resolve issues.
  • A production desk in the service area that allows the service manager to monitor activity in the trenches. A big screen TV also broadcasts daily Paul TV segments.
  • An on-site fueling station saves staff considerable time driving miles to truck stops to fuel motorhomes before delivery.
  • A year-end bonus program pays all staff a percentage of profitability based on wages earned and weighted against commission as way to reward salaried and hourly employees.
  • A barbeque trailer that can be towed to the sales lot or to off-site shows to feed customers and slow down the buying process.
  • Brochures are locked away in a storeroom so the salespeople can hand them out as necessary. This gives salespeople a chance to breakaway to get something for the customer to slow down the process.
  • Units locked on the lot, just like they are at a Mercedes Benz dealership, to protect future owners.
  • Training room with four large whiteboards for idea generation and discussion.
  • Full-time service trainer who also focuses on recruiting technicians.
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Different by Innovations Vol.6, No.2

December 2005

“If you want to get away from it all, Holiday World of Houston may have just what you’re looking for.  It’s Houston’s No. 1 Volume recreational vehicle (RV) dealership, with motorhomes, travel trailers and fifth-wheels.”

“Holiday World of Houston stands out from its competition through people and service.” Company headquarters, just west and outside Houston in Katy, Texas, cover 30 acres, plus there’s another smaller location in south Houston and a sister facility in New Mexico.  In Katy, the large lot and big showroom are filled with more than 400 new RV’s and motorhomes, and there are 40 service bays taking care of about 100 vehicles’ maintenance and repair needs.

It’s a big place, even for Texas standards, so large that employees need two-way radios to communicate with each other.  The facility is far from impersonal, however.  A plate of cookies welcomes visitors as they talk to the smiling receptionists.  A bright and clean parts and accessories department offers everything a customer might want and need to make his RV experience more fun.

There’s a comfortable, spacious waiting room where Nancy King and her little dog make themselves at home on the day Innovations visited Holiday World.  Everyone greets Mrs. King and pet her dog. “My husband and I have purchased 10 RVs and motorhomes here and are full-time RV’ers now,” she says.  “We always come back here for the people and the service.”

This personal touch is one of the things that make Holiday World different. “Our attention to customer satisfaction is the reason we’re the largest combined volume Holiday Rambler, Winnebago, Safari, Keystone, Lance, Beaver and Thor dealer in Houston,” Charlie Power, general manager, comments.  “We also sell more No.1 selling brands than any other dealer in Texas.”

A Formula for Success

Power attributes the majority of the company’s success to its people.  “It takes the four P’s,” he says:

  1. “We have a great piece of property here which allowed us to expand from 15 acres and 22 service bays in just five years.”
  2. “We represent high-quality manufacturers with great products.”
  3. “We have a good business plan that should enable us to do $80 million in sales for the three facilities this year.”
  4. “But we can’t make the most of any of these assets or implement the business plan without people.  Our people are really what makes us successful.”

Holiday World focuses on hiring and retaining the very best people it can.  “We give them training and a career track that develops a sense of loyalty on their part,” Power explains.  “We always fulfill our promises to our people, and they, in turn, do the same for our customers.” Buzz Brown, service manager, adds, “We want people who try.  In this industry, some don’t try very hard, but we hire people who will take the extra steps to ensure things are done properly.”

Similar Philosophies

The Houston facilities have a shared fleet of five forklifts.  The two most recently acquired are 6,000-lb.-capacity pneumatic tire FG30N LP-gas Mitsubishi forklift trucks.

“Our selection criteria included forklifts large enough for the loads we move, plus reliability,” Power says.  “And we wanted a supplier who goes the extra mile like we do for our customer,” Brown adds. Power took a high-tech approach in his search for new forklifts.  “While forklifts are my responsibility, I really don’t know much about them, so I did an Internet search,” he recalls.  “I wanted to compare functionalities to see what brands could fit our application of transporting travel trailers and fifth-0wheels outside and moving them in and out of the showroom, plus lifting high enough to access our second floor parts and storage area.”

He obtained pages of specifications and the information he needed to talk more knowledgeably with forklift dealers.  “I was amazed at the amount of data available,” Power relates.  “I put bids out for quotes on the five forklifts that seemed to fit the bill.  The next business day I had responses, and some of the dealers contacted me by phone.”

When he realized that the Mitsubishi Forklift Trucks manufacturing facility was located right in Houston, he began to lean in that direction.  “We knew that Mitsubishi forklifts have a good reputation,” Power says, “but we performed a thorough bid analysis first.  What we determined was that although the Mitsubishi forklift dealer’s price wasn’t the lowest, it represented the best value or our needs.”

He appreciated the ease of the buying transaction.  “I didn’t have to go anywhere to compare forklifts or spend time looking at several dealerships.  The Mitsubishi forklift truck dealer was very easy to work with.

He has delivered on everything he said he would,” Powers notes.  “I felt very comfortable buying tow Mitsubishi forklifts, so comfortable I didn’t even ask for a test drive.”

Satisfied Customers

Brown and Power have been happy with their choice.  “We’ve had no trouble with them although we thought we did once,” Brown recalls.  “A warning light came on and we were about to look in the operation and maintenance manual to see what it meant when the truck ran out of LP gas.  That quickly showed us what was wrong.”

The two were so impressed with the Mitsubishi forklift dealer that they had him recondition another truck in the fleet.  “One day a belt broke on that vehicle, so I called the dealer right before lunch to request service,” Brown says.  “I came back from lunch expecting a return call, but a service technician was here.  I expected a message and I got a truck!  Now that’s responsive service.”

While the in-house mechanics perform routine planned maintenance on the forklifts, Holiday World will rely on the Mitsubishi forklift dealer for repairs on the new trucks (purchased in December 2005) and the three others of different brands.  “We want to move to one brand as we replace the older units,” Power notes.  “That just makes things easier for performing planned maintenance and obtaining parts.”

The company did purchase the extended drive train warranty for the new trucks.  “I’d say the forklifts are moving six or more hours out of every 10-hour shift, six days a week,” Brown says.  “When you only have a small fleet, you can’t afford to have one down and take the chance of displeasing a customer.  That’s never an option.”
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Today and Tomorrow

A report to our dealers, Winnebago Industries.
Volume 18, Issue 2
March 2002

Our sources:
We visited with Michael Peay and Charlie Powers.  Michael is the Dealer Principal of Holiday World of Houston, with stores in Houston and Katy.  Charlie is the General Manager of both locations.  The Holiday World of Houston location in Katy is a full-line Winnebago dealer and an Ultimate dealer.

Dealership history:
Michael Peay began as General Manager of Holiday World of Houston in 1993 and purchased the business in 1996.  “One of my goals since the beginning has been to sell new Winnebago Industries products,” Michael said.  “We have been a Winnebago dealer at our Houston location since 1997 and at our Katy location since it was established in 2000.  We are very pleased to be able to offer these products.”

Dealership features:
“The Katy facility occupies 15 acres, with 42 additional acres for future expansion,” Charlie said.  “It is located on a major freeway.  There is a large indoor showroom-8,000 square feet.  There are also 20 service bays and a 50’x16’ paint booth.  We have full hookups available for overnight stays.  This is a new and very nice facility.  Parts of our building are approximately 40 feet tall.  You can literally see it miles away, rising out of the rice fields of west Texas.”

What makes your dealership special?
“We have revised our hiring process,” Michael said.  “Charlie has put a testing procedure in place which evaluates trainability and personality traits.  We are looking at employees and potential employees differently.  A good location is important.  Good product is important.  But good people are critical.  You cannot be successful without them.”

Advertising strategies:
“We are very heavy into television,” Charlie said.  “We feel that drives traffic well for us.  We have one or two promotions each month, either an on-lot promotion or an RV show or similar event.  These are all supported with television advertising.  We also use some newspaper advertising and some RV trader publication advertising, plus some direct mail and our Web site.”

What’s your most successful promotion?
“We work very hard to make all our promotions successful,” Michael said.  “Our three-day Funship Rally is an even our customers look forward to each year.  It’s a special event where only our customers are invited.  We feed them all three days and provide entertainment each evening.  There are also seminars on RV topics and other topics of interest, such as CPR certification.  We have lots of RV’s on display and factory reps on hand.”

What about shows and the best way to work them?
“We participate in two major RV shows each year, plus several off-lot promotions and on-lot promotions,” Michael said.  “We support this with television ads.  You have to drive home the point that there’s tremendous selection, service and value and the time to buy is NOW.”  Charlie added, “It’s critical to have the sales team really involved.  We provide sales incentives with each promotion.  Salespeople have to be focused on producing sales at the event.  We build a winning attitude among our employees.  The whole store knows about each show and promotion.  Excitement and anticipation builds.  Promoting a show or even properly with your sales team and all other employees will raise their level of excitement and performance and you’ll have good results.”

What do you see as the key to customer satisfaction?
Michael pointed out, “We operate on five values: 1) Tell the truth. 2) Be fair. 3) Keep your promises. 4) Respect the individual. 5) Encourage intellectual curiosity.  Put another way, you have to provide the customer with a great buying experience, followed up by great service, fulfilling what you told the customer you would do.”

One “tip” or piece of advice you’d like to share with other dealers:
Charlie replied, “Deliver more than what the customer is buying-in product, in value, in service and in the purchase experience.  Hire good people and do everything you can to help all your employees grow and do the best possible job.”

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