Dan Gamel, who went from washing recreational vehicles as a lot boy to operating a $300 million-a-year RV empire, has sold his company to a key employee and an associate, according to the Fresno Bee.
“I know when it is my time,” said Gamel, 54. “I don’t have the passion and desire they have,” he said, nodding toward the new owners, Wayne Barnes and Erin McIlhatton.
Barnes is the president of Dan Gamel RV Centers, and McIlhatton is Gamel’s accounting consultant. Together, they assume control of a business that Gamel grew over 27 years from one Fresno location to nine dealerships and 600 employees in two states.
Gamel is considered an innovator in the retail sector, as his business was marked by aggressive expansion and strategic partnerships.
In the past few years, Gamel forged a private label agreement with Los Banos, a small California builder, while also becoming an exclusive Fleetwood dealer. According to the Bee, Gamel RV accounted for 9% of all Fleetwood units sold nationwide and is the Riverside, Calif.-based manufacturer’s largest multilocation dealer.
Financial terms were not disclosed, but the deal includes Gamel’s RV dealerships in Fresno, Modesto, Rocklin, Morgan Hill, Chico and Redding, and in Quartzsite and Yuma, Ariz. It also includes Gamel’s newest concept, the Camp America superstore in a former Kmart building in northwest Fresno.
The facility, which sits on 50 acres, was designated as the first of several “destination-point regional RV centers,” offering RVers a full host of amenities including an accessories store, dumping station and propane fill station.
The dealerships will continue to carry Gamel’s name, but he will not have any ownership interest. Gamel will be a consultant to the new owners and continue to operate other businesses that were not part of the transaction.
Those other ventures are Dan Gamel’s Health and Racquet Club in Fresno, an apple farm in North Fork that last year produced 260 tons of organic fruit for Gerber Baby Food and an advertising firm, ADcetera Integrated Marketing Concepts in Sacramento. Gamel also is the landlord to all the dealerships.
“I’m going to be busy; I just won’t be as busy,” Gamel said. “I’ll be devoting a great deal of time in 2005 to enhancing the wellness services at my health club, implementing new farming procedures at my ranch and growing my marketing company.”