One of New Jersey’s larger recreational-vehicle dealers is growing when most other businesses are shrinking, according to a report in the Press of Atlantic City.
Driftwood RV Center in Ocean View decided last year to expand its inventory even though that meant carrying more debt and risk, sales manager Robert Androckitis said. He credits this decision with helping the company to buck an industrywide recession.
Nationwide, sales of RVs began to decline with the recession in 2007. Sales continued to fall by 30% in 2008, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).
The trade group’s 2009 forecast envisions fewer shipments of RVs as banks tighten lending and dealers cut inventory.
But Driftwood had a great 2008, marketing director John Worthington said. The company normally ranks fifth in New Jersey in RV sales. He said that Statistical Surveys Inc. found that Driftwood sold more RVs and motorhomes than any other New Jersey dealership.
“We put a big push on finding out what our customers wanted,” Androckitis said.
The company found buyers are interested in recreational vehicles that weigh less, are easier to tow and offer amenities such as full bathrooms. The company focused on those criteria with success. They also invested in more recreational park trailers.
Worthington said the stereotype of RVs toting retirees is fading. More of his customer base is made up of families with small children.
“They want to keep their family time,” he said. “It’s the last thing people are willing to cut.”
Driftwood, which has a second dealership in Egg Harbor Township, opened a new indoor showroom last year in Ocean View. The retailer also plans to rebuild one of its two campgrounds to cater to the larger park models. Its application is pending before the local zoning board.
Worthington said RVs are still considered an economical investment compared to a typical shore vacation.
“It’s all about affordability. It might be $95 per month or $65,000 for a summer home at a campground,” he said.
With 10,000 campsites, campground living is a staple of Cape May County tourism. But Driftwood pulls customers from surrounding states through word of mouth, Worthington said.