Funeral services for Richard Baidas, 58, the principal owner of Michigan-based General RV Center and an RV industry entrepreneur, will be Thursday (June 8) at McCabe Funeral Home, Farmington Hills, Mich. Baidas died Monday night at home after a short bout with liver cancer.
His son Loren Baidas, general manager and co-owner of the dealership with his father, and uncle Rob Baidas, are expected to continue overseeing the business.
Richard Baidas was a high school physics and chemistry teacher in 1971 when he joined his father, Abe, selling RVs at a small dealership that had opened in 1964 in the Detroit suburb of Wixom, where General RV remains headquartered.
Subsequently, the company opened stores in Grand Rapids, Birch Run, Waterford, Mt. Clemens and Brownstown, all in Michigan, and by 2003 had annual sales of more than $150 million.
Besides the RV dealership, Baidas was among the founding investors in Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc., Four Winds International Corp., and Keystone RV Co., all of which are now subsidiaries of Thor Industries Inc.
The family also is the majority owner of Four Seasons Housing Inc., a manufactured housing builder with headquarters in Middlebury, Ind., where another son, Austin Baidas, is president and CEO.
Richard Baidas, who had taken a less active role in the dealership in recent years, was proud of General RV’s decentralized leadership. “We have a real independent staff so we don’t have to have supervisors all over the place and
people can make their own decisions,” he told RV Business in a 2004 interview. “We know people will make mistakes. We just don’t want the same mistakes over and over.”
Baidas found the dealer side of the business to be harder than the manufacturing end. “If I were to start over,” he said, “I’d build one huge lot and advertise a lot more. Manufacturers with a good product can set up dealers and run huge volumes in one plant. A dealer can only sell one RV at a time, and you get involved in all the service issues. Manufacturers are sort of isolated from that.”
Baidas is survived by his wife, Ruth; sons Loren and Austin; and daughter Lanise. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Richard Baidas Memorial Scholarship Fund, 48500 W. 12 Mile Road, Wixom, Mich. 48393.