Gas prices might be surging and the economy might be tanking, but Bill Plemmons RV World plans to travel in a different direction.
Scripps News reported that the recreational vehicle dealership wants to expand its operations in Rural Hall, N.C., and build on to an existing customer base that extends throughout the country.
Owner Steve Plemmons recently purchased 34 acres behind his dealership, bringing his complex to about 50 acres. He wants to use the additional land to construct a service building of up to 30,000 square feet and create the Bill Plemmons Memorial Rally Park, which will have 330 sites for RVs to park.
“It’s for the future,” he said.
The dealership wants to grow its business with the overall expansion; it has 75 employees, including those at its Raleigh location. But the service addition – expected to add up to 25 jobs – is out of necessity.
The dealership needs more space as its service side is growing, Plemmons said.
The rally park also will “bring people to the state of North Carolina and to Winston-Salem,” he said. The dealership is host to several rallies during the year. Its biggest – an annual rally in October – is on a much smaller scale than the proposed rally park would accommodate.
The city-county planning board has recommended approval of the proposed expansion and rally park. The proposal is expected to go before the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners in October.
RV World’s expansion plans come at a time when retail registrations and shipments of motorhomes and towable RVs are down significantly in the industry.
“RVs are discretionary purchases and when we’re in the kind of economy we’re in right now with some uncertainty in the housing market, Wall Street and other financial things, people are holding their money a little closer,” said Phil Ingrassia, vice president of communications for the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA).
But, Ingrassia said, every market is different. Some dealers have been hit hard by the country’s housing issues while others have not. He described Bill Plemmons RV World as a bright spot in the industry, citing Steve Plemmons’ honor as the dealers association’s 2007 Top Quality Dealer of the Year.
Plemmons declined to give sales figures, but he said that his new and potential customer sales are down 25% to 30%. Offsetting some of that decline is that sales from existing customers and service work is steady.