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After a 31-year career at Camping World, President Thomas A. “Tad” Donnelly is leaving the RV aftermarket retailer to join the lifestyle he has enthusiastically promoted.
“Now it’s time for me and my family to practice what I’ve been preaching about the wonderful RV lifestyle. I just purchased a new RV and I’m ready to roll,” Donnelly said.
Donnelly started with the national retail chain in 1971, spending his summers installing Coleman air conditioners and Carefree awnings at Beech Bend Park in Bowling Green, Ky. He was one of the first employees at the fledgling company when it opened in 1966.
In 1984, Donnelly was named senior vice president and two years later assumed the title of president at the age of 29.
Donnelly, 45, looks back on a career in which Camping World grew to become the dominant player in RV aftermarket sales. With 30 retail stores in 18 states along with a growing catalog, Internet, and membership sales business, Camping World enjoys a 97% recognition rate among RV owners, according to its parent company, Affinity Group Holdings Inc. (AGI).
The retailer’s success hinged on Camping World’s original business philosophy, established by company founder David Garvin, which states, “No Unhappy Customers … not even one.”
According to Donnelly, the philosophy has guided every decision made and every Camping World employee is empowered to carry out that belief. “The strength in these simple words is etched in stone at Camping World and is why my leaving will have little effect on the continued growth and prosperity of the company,” said Donnelly.
Camping World was acquired by AGI in 1997. AGI President and CEO Joe McAdams said, “Donnelly made Camping World the leader in the RV accessory industry by combining retail supercenters with catalog, Internet, and membership sales. His exceptional marketing skill, understanding the needs of the nation’s 10 million RV enthusiasts, and his unwavering commitment to customer satisfaction were the keys to Camping World’s incredible success.”
“I’ll surely miss all my friends at Camping World, AGI and in the RV industry,” Donnelly noted, “but now it’s time to take a break and then get ready for new challenges. With the incredible synergies and assets of the Affinity Group partners, Camping World is on the threshold of meteoric new growth. For everyone at Camping World, AGI, and the entire RV industry, the future has never looked brighter.”
McAdams said a search is under way to find a new President of Camping World. Donnelly will be leaving the company at the end of May.
AGI is a member-based direct marketing organization with complementary retail outlets across the country. The Company sells products, services, merchandise and publications targeted to the recreational interest of members, RV owners, campers, other outdoor enthusiasts and golfers.
AGI’s three principal lines of business are: Club membership and related products, services, and magazines; specialty retail merchandise sold through supercenters, catalogs and the Internet; and subscription magazines and other publications including directories.
RV Business and RVBUSINESS.COM are AGI products.