Mon Jun 3, 2019
Author: RV News Staff
Blue Dog RV’s mascot, a Chinese crested named Ginger, has had some recent health issues, but she’s still hanging in there. The 13-year-old dog inspired the name of the company.
“We were trying to figure out a name for the company, which wasn’t easy,” Blue Dog Owner John Asplund says. “When our Chinese crested, Ginger, was little, she was literally blue. And that’s how we came up with the name.”
Blue Dog opened its first dealership in 2008 in Post Falls, Idaho. Now, the company has more than a dozen locations in Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California and Nevada. After more than a decade of rapid growth, Asplund says, Blue Dog is focusing on improving its stores, instead of further expansion.
“Expansion is more difficult now than it was 5 or 6 years ago because the real estate market is not always good,” Asplund says. “This year, we are focusing on doing a better job with the current stores than we have in the past.”
The recent relaunch of Blue Dog’s yearly leadership summit, where sales, service, parts, human resources and finance and insurance managers meet to review best practices and get to know each other, was part of that plan.
“Most importantly, everyone is getting to know everyone personally and you can put a face with the voice,” Asplund says.
He credits the leadership and optimism of Chief Operating Officer Marc Hauser, who recently came back the company after a stint as Jayco’s vice president of towable sales.
“Marc helps drive our culture. He’s super positive and that’s what you need in this business,” Asplund says. “His leadership makes all the difference in the world. When you have 12 stores, you can’t do it all yourself.”
Blue Dog’s biggest challenge is attracting and retaining employees, Asplund says. Even finding entry-level workers has been difficult so, he says, the company has to “grow its own” skilled service and sales managers. To help keep them, Asplund has been adding employee benefits, including a 401K with matching contributions.
Asplund says he’s optimistic about 2019 despite a sluggish first quarter.
“Normally, we start cooking in February and March but snow affected a lot of our northern stores,” Asplund says. “We are having a good second quarter.”
Meanwhile, Ginger, the blue dog, can usually be found napping on a couch in Asplund’s Idaho office, content that all is well.
Pictured above are Blue Dog Owner John Asplund and Chief Operating Officer Marc Hauser.