Wed Mar 27, 2019
Author: RV News Staff
Michigan-based General RV has broadened its geographic reach in recent years as it continues to build “superstores” with plenty of capacity for service and parts.
General RV recently held grand opening ceremonies for its Ocala, Fla., superstore. It is the company’s third Florida location and 13th overall. The company now covers six states—Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Utah, Florida and Virginia. A new superstore will open in Richmond, Va., near the end of the year, replacing a smaller existing store. While its footprint has broadened, General RV’s expansion strategy isn’t necessarily based on geography.
“We look at where the opportunities are for us and what makes sense,” General RV President Loren Baidas says.
Overall, General RV employs about 1,800. The company sold nearly 20,000 units in 2018. Used RV sales are an integral part of the company’s business, accounting for 30 to 35 percent of sales.
Baidas says he is observing significant growth in the numbers of younger and first-time RV buyer. This includes all segments—travel trailers, fifth wheels and type C motorhomes.
“We are seeing people continue to upgrade into new models, new features and floorplans,” Baidas says. “There’s definitely a younger buyer walking through the door. They enjoy the camping and outdoor lifestyle, whether it’s B vans or some type of entry-level unique single-axle trailer. They seem to be very interested in those.”
Baidas believes the RV industry is healthy and in the process of right-sizing to adjust to demand.
“We’re seeing manufacturers right size their production, he says. “Over the next quarter or two, you won’t see these big swings in shipments. We will be seeing more of a flat retail business, and that’s something new for the industry over the past several years.”
General RV is in a good position, inventory-wise, Baidas says.
“We are pretty much where we thought we would be,” he says. “Manufacturers are still trying to figure how much to produce and how to produce it. Overall, it’s a very healthy place to be right now.”
Baidas says General RV is committed to building facilities capable of keeping up with customer demand. He says the company’s facility infrastructure is one of its biggest strengths. The company develops its superstores with a large number of service bays, space and capacity for current needs and future growth.
“All of our stores are conveniently located off freeways and all are relatively new stores, either remodeled or built from the ground up,” Baidas says. “Two-thirds of our building size is committed to parts and service after the sale for our customers. That will be important for decades to come.”
Baidas describes the used RV business as being healthy, and he expects it will grow over the next few years as consumers who bought RVs during the heavy production period of the past few years trade in their units for new ones.
Baidas sees General RV’s challenges as providing top-notch service and taking care of customers, whose expectations will continue to climb.
“We as an industry need to be committed to find ways to take care of customers and keep them in the industry,” Baidas says. “That’s one of the reasons we focus on building facilities and getting people in and out quickly and handling a large capacity of customers on a daily basis. I can’t say that the entire industry is committed to this, but there are some dealers and manufacturers who are committed.”