An Elkhart, Ind., recreational vehicle dealership that was once one of the biggest in Indiana has closed its doors.
According to an Elkhart Truth report, Great Lakes RV was once the state’s third-largest seller of fifth-wheel towable RVs and No. 1 in toy hauler sales, said owner Rob Reid. But several factors converged over the past few years to take the fun out of retailing RVs, he said.
“I’d had enough of being a dealer in Elkhart,” Reid said, noting the business did not go bankrupt. “I felt I had grown as big as I was going to be in Elkhart.”
Reid had left a career with several different RV manufacturers in 2001, most recently Keystone RV Co., to start the dealership. In 2004, 2005 and 2006, he was operating out of two locations – a building he owned on Old U.S. 33 near its intersection with S.R. 19 and a site he rented at 2010 Cassopolis St. Reid is now general manager of Gulf Sream Coach Inc. subsidiary Yellowstone RV, a maker of high-end travel trailers and fifth-wheels in Nappanee, In..
Like most dealers, he suffered a serious blow in the Great Recession of 2008-2009. He was a featured guest when conservative politician-turned Fox News personality Mike Huckabee came to Elkhart in 2009 and shot an episode of his show themed around the city’s efforts to weather the recession despite its 20 percent unemployment rate.
With sales way down in 2008, Reid had closed the Cassopolis Street site and consolidated the business at the Old U.S. 33 property. Then, just as the economy was starting to regain its footing in 2010 and he was sometimes selling up to 60 units a month, the Indiana Department of Transpotation started a project to improve the U.S. 33/S.R. 19 intersection. Reid needed room to grow and moved the business to its present Nappanee Street location.
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