May 6, 2010, was a day that shook the RV industry in Texas as well as the nation. That is the day that FunTime RV, the largest volume dealer in the US, closed their doors. In the midst of a struggling economy, 115 employees were left without jobs. The impact was felt immediately in the small Texas town that had become an RV shopping destination since 1987, as well as in Indiana where many RV manufacturers had to scramble to distribute the hundreds of units left in FunTme’s massive inventory.
“It was definitely a dark day to those whose livelihoods depended on it,” said Jarrod McGhee, former employee of FunTime RV and current owner of Fun Town RV. “We had many good employees at FunTime, and I knew I had to do something to help.”
McGhee contacted Bill Brown and Basil EL-Masri, owners of Angelo RV in San Angelo.
“I had done business with Jarrod at FunTime over the years, purchasing units wholesale to take back out to San Angelo to sell,” said Brown. “I was shocked when FunTime closed, and asked Jarrod if there was anything we could do to help.”
Brown and El-Masri helped McGhee get another lot started across town in Cleburne. While some RV manufacturers were gun-shy about placing another dealer in Cleburne, they were able to secure product lines from Forest River, the largest RV manufacturer in the US and a Warren Buffet owned company.
“I had a relationship with the folks at FunTime from the late 1980’s from when I was a sales rep with another RV company,” said Doug Gaeddert, current General Manager at Forest River, Inc, and current Chairman of the Board of the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association. “These people were customers, but they were also friends. We knew immediately that we would do whatever we could to help the new Fun Town RV get off the ground.”
With a total staff of 13 and a much smaller inventory in place, Fun Town RV was officially opened on August 1, 2010. With a nod to the past, but a fresh commitment to providing a great product at a low price and offering each customer a superb buying experience, Fun Town RV was an instant success.
“We were just getting off the ground as winter was approaching, and that is traditionally a slow time for the RV industry as a whole,” said Raul Ramirez, General Manager at Fun Town RV. “But we never slowed down. We kept on cranking out the units all the way through until the spring. It was unbelievable. We were hiring back old FunTime employees just to keep up with the demand of how many we were selling. “
By December of 2010, Fun Town RV had already become the largest volume dealer in Texas. In 2011, McGhee, Brown, and EL-Masri opened a new location in Waco and within a year it was the 6th largest dealer in Texas. This brought the number of locations in the Fun Town RV family to 3. And there are no plans to stop there. By November of 2012, they purchased the old FunTime location, adding extra land and 85,000 square foot of indoor showrooms. The cross town location still holds Fun Town RV’s Pre-owned inventory. By June of 2013, they had become the largest volume dealer in the whole United States. Now employing nearly 150 employees at 3 locations, Fun Town RV has clearly exceeded its predecessor.
“How can you take 3 dealerships in smaller, out of the way towns like Cleburne, San Angelo, and Waco and make almost 15% of the sales in the whole state of Texas,” said EL-Masri,” without doing what is right for the consumer? Sixty three percent of our business is from repeat customers and referrals. This is what we want to replicate in new dealerships around the state, and then the country.”
“I think there are many reasons for our success,” offers McGhee. “We offer some of the lowest prices in the US, not to mention Texas. We offer choices because, unlike many online dealers, we actually stock units. We are the largest single location dealer for Forest River, the number one RV manufacturer in the world with an extensive stable of proven products. And most importantly, we will do what it takes to make sure every customer that does business with us has a 5 star experience.”
When asked if there were any lessons he had learned from FunTime’s demise, McGhee smiled, “Many, but I think the biggest thing is to not worry about the sales. Not everyone had a good experience at FunTime, and the management there probably didn’t do enough to make it right. We are trying to do what we can to make each customer experience the best. We know you can’t please everyone, but if we can at least try, the sales will take care of themselves. And so far, that has proven to be correct.”