Mark Meyer, president of Caledonia, N.Y.-based Meyer’s RV Superstores – formerly Meyer’s Campers – thinks big.
Even as Meyer opened a $3 million, 44,000-square-foot dealership on I-690 in suburban Syracuse near the I-90 interchange earlier this year, he already was working on plans to open the company’s fifth store in Upstate New York.
“We’d like to build a 24-bay service center and a 15,000-square-foot showroom with overnight camping as well in the Rochester market,” said Meyer, who has expanded the company from a single store in 1997 to four stores. “It’s a done deal if the zoning comes through. We hope to have that happen next year.”
Even more recently than opening the new Syracuse store, Meyer designated his nearby Lakeland store to sell Coachmen RV Co. units exclusively.
The new 44,000-square-foot Syracuse dealership, which opened in January, has 12 indoor service bays, seven overnight hookups for units waiting to be serviced, a 10,000-square-foot showroom and an 18-acre paved lot.
A customer lounge with picture window views of the 4,000-square foot parts store, service department and main showroom is equipped with home-style furniture, a convenience kitchen and a large TV with video games for children.
“We tried to create an open atmosphere,” Meyer said. “There is a vaulted ceiling in the showroom and we used a lot of glass inside so that everybody can see where everybody else is. When somebody calls, the receptionist can pretty much see where the sales staff or the sales manager are. At Lakeland, that always was a problem for us. We basically just outgrew Lakeland.”
Meyer stocks an inventory of about 450 towables and motorhomes at the Syracuse store including units built by Winnebago Industries Inc., Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc., Adventure Manufacturing, Keystone RV Co. Inc., Damon Corp., Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. and the Trail-Lite Division of R-Vision Inc.
Steady company growth in recent years convinced Meyer the time was right to expand, despite the economic slowdown in 2000-2001.
The company was founded in 1967 in Caledonia as an automobile body and fender shop by Meyer’s father, Michael Meyer, who soon began to sell folding camping trailers and truck campers.
Mark Meyer, 41, joined the company in 1983 and became president when his father retired in 1997. That also was the same year the company first expanded by acquiring an dealership in Lakeland. In 2000, Meyer expanded again by buying another dealership in the Buffalo suburb of Hamburg.
With the opening of the new Syracuse facility, the company began operating all its stores under the Meyer’s RV Superstores name.
Sales in 2001 were about $70 million, and Meyer said the dealership is on track for sales of between $90 million and $100 million this year.
“If business throughout the industry was off more, expanding definitely would have been more of a chance,” Meyer said. “When interest rates dropped, we decided we couldn’t not go ahead. We’ve had steady growth, and the whole management team was part of putting the new store together. It wasn’t just me deciding what I wanted to do and telling my employees to deal with it.”
Meyer said that rather than closing the Lakeland store, he decided to convert it to a Coachmen-only dealership, which will typically have 100 Coachmen trailers and small- to medium-sized motorhomes in its inventory.
“We felt that we didn’t want to give up the location that we had in Lakeland, but we wanted something more manageable,” Meyer said. “Coachmen is a company that covers its bases really well and has done very well for us.”
Meyer employs about 150 people, including 50 technicians, all of whom are expected to become certified within the first year of their employment.
Meyer recently designated two of the company’s top technicians to provide full-time service to RVers at campgrounds within a 100-mile radius of any of the company’s stores, all of which are within a 100-mile radius of Meyer’s Caledonia headquarters.