With heavy machinery moving asphalt and earth in the background, management and staff of General RV Center, along with a slew of local government officials, broke ground Tuesday (July 17) on a new retail location for the family-owned and operated dealership.
Located on the corner of Interstate 75 and Dixie Highway just outside Clarkston, Mich. — the heart of the rapidly developing 70-mile stretch between Flint and Detroit — the 20-acre property is about nine miles north of the smaller, outdated store in White Lake that it will be replacing and 21 miles north of the company’s retail location and corporate headquarters in Wixom.
When taking into account the company’s recently announced plans to open a 100,000-square-foot location in Ocala, Fla. — as well as the soon to be announced plans of a larger store in Richmond, Va. — by the end of the year General RV operations will include nearly 2,000 employees and 13 retail stores in Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Utah and Virginia.
“Our White Lake facility was definitely an older facility, limited by size and scope of what we could do for our customers and our employees. We just felt like it wasn’t giving our people and our customers the General RV experience they deserve, so we wanted to reinvest back into a new facility somewhere. We actually had looked for a number of years until we found this piece of property that checked all the boxes for us,” General RV President Loren Baidas told RVBUSINESS.com, adding that the combined cost for all construction projects, including an office expansion at the company’s corporate headquarters, is $30 million.
This growth boom comes after the “Nation’s Largest Family Owned Dealership” – a claim General RV proudly declares – had quietly been going about its business, seeking to shore up existing operations over the last few years before turning its attention to expansion.
“For us, we want to continue to keep ourselves at the forefront of the industry,” Baidas said. “We want to continue to make ourselves the obvious choice for our consumers, for our employees, and for our manufacturers. And it’s not necessarily about getting bigger, it’s about getting better. We want to do all the things that make us better, and in turn, eventually that will make you bigger. But we want to focus on the ‘better’ part, and that’s what we do every day.”
The Clarkston store is a prime example of “getting better,” Baidas added. Slated for a December opening, the store will add 30 jobs and house 16 service bays and more than 300 RVs on its lot. Additionally, the front of the new store will feature a low-profile, prairie-style architecture reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright. The extensively landscaped store will be accentuated with a split-rail fence and vintage street lighting, along with a sidewalk and bench for pedestrian traffic. There will also be a trail in the back of the property near a natural pond, with I-75 beyond that.
Noting that General RV opened the White Lake store in 1984 with 12 employees and 50 RVs, Store Manager Bill Brown said the facility is “bursting at its seams” as it has grown to 55 employees and 240 RVs.
“Our store has been in the White Lake/Waterford community now for over 34 years. We have built great relationships within the community, and with our customers. But it’s time for an upgrade. We are very, very happy to move into the Springfield Township location with this new state-of-the-art supercenter store,” Brown said.
“With the new superstore facility, we will have more capacity to better take care of our customers – all under one roof – and to create a better RV experience with that,” he continued. “But the most important thing that we want to bring to this new location is the personal service that we have developed at the General RV Center in White Lake. Our store has a motto; It’s a store where everybody knows your name. Our employees work very hard to create great relationships with our customers. We treat them like family, and we’re going to continue to do that in the new location.”