Central Indiana RV dealer Roger Lee has a tradition of breaking out his bib overalls on special occasions. And the last Saturday in April (April 25) at the grand opening of his second dealership, the owner of Lee’s Country RV was true to his rural roots because he threw hay on the floor and donned bibs for the grand opening of his second storefront, Lee’s Country RV West outside of Indianapolis in New Whiteland.
At the new dealership, located in the former Byrd’s RV Center, which had been vacant for a few months, customers can peruse about 12,000 square feet of showroom space housing about 21 Forest River, Gulf Stream, Starcraft, Coachmen, Cikira, Viking and Heartland lines. In addition, there’s another 4,000 square feet of sales and reception area plus a big aftermarket store. “We have probably one of the largest parts and accessories stores in Indiana,” Lee told RV Business and The Indianapolis Star. “If it’s for an RV,” he says, “I probably have it.”
All corny promotions aside, Lee feels the addition of the New Whiteland store probably makes a lot of business sense. “Johnson County is a very affluent county in RV registrations,” he said. “It’s one of the better counties in the state of Indiana. Two, the facility was already an RV dealership, so we could go in there without too much work. (U.S.) 31 is a busy highway, not too far out of Indianapolis. So there were a lot of good things about it.”
With at least two other large dealerships within 10 miles of his business — Stout’s RV Sales in Greenwood and Indy RV Center in White River Township near Ind. 37 — Johnson County has become a hotbed of RV retailers. “One, it’s very accessible,” Lee said of Johnson County. “If you go to car lots, you see car lots close together. You might as well put yourself on the same street. You just put yourself where other dealers are and it just works. Competition is always a good thing.”
Indeed, he said, competition could be fierce over the next few years. “We look for the next eight to 10 years to be very strong,” Lee said. “I know you’re sick of hearing it, but the Baby Boomers are here. We have an affluent bunch of people with more dollars to spend and more dollars being spent than we’ve ever had because the number of people that have reached Baby Boomer age.”
While sleeping in an RV is different than camping in a tent, the appeal is the same, Lee said. “In the RV industry, people come from all walks of life; it crosses professions and income zones,” he said. “It’s just a real different experience. It’s not camping like it used to be camping… But in the midst of it, campfires and s’mores still exist.”