The Recreation Vehicle Dealers Exchange (REDEX), a 50-dealer buying cooperative with 88 stores and annual sales of more than $1.5 billion, intends to introduce a high-end private-label towable RV line early next year.
REDEX founder and President Paul Skogebo, president of Robert Crist and Company RV, Mesa, Ariz., said the plan to create a private-label RV brand will be presented to REDEX members for final approval during a meeting Nov. 30 at the 42nd National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.
“The board has approved it, but we have not unveiled it to the members for their thinking,” Skogebo said. “We need to make sure we have the number of dealers we need to make it viable.”
Skogebo said participation from half of REDEX members likely would be enough to proceed with the private-label project.
An unnamed manufacturer in late October already was designing a highline towable for the yet-to-be-named brand, Skogebo said. “We explored the price-competitive units and we felt that just didn’t fit our image,” he said.
Skogebo said among the challenges was developing a towable line that would appeal to members but not conflict with brands they already carry.
“Among the keys is to not be in conflict with other dealers who might be selling product from our manufacturers,” he said. “It needs to be a fair deal for everyone. And we want to be careful not to try to replace products that already are on our dealers’ lots.
“It became more complicated than we thought it would be going in.”
Texas-based REDEX’s board of directors earlier also approved a membership provision requiring members to give priority service to consumers buying RVs from other REDEX dealerships.
“It won’t be often that a customer will take advantage of the service,” said REDEX Director Ron Wheeler, principal of Wheeler Advertising, Arlington, Texas, which provides management to REDEX. “But as a resource, when someone is driving across the U.S., it is a confidence booster.”
Wheeler said he expected that with the service reciprocation and the new private-label line, REDEX would become an important marketing tool.
“As we move forward, REDEX is going to be a significant part of how members market themselves to their customers,”he said. “That is one of the advantages in belonging to REDEX that people are seeing. REDEX is working beyond how everybody hoped it would work.”
REDEX was founded in 1996, primarily to provide floor financing for dealers with annual revenue in excess of $15 million. Dealers are assured that no other REDEX member will be located closer than 100 miles from their dealerships.
Initially pegged to have 40 members, REDEX’s membership began to swell after restrictions imposed by the floor financing source were eliminated by shifting to a different company.
Currently REDEX provides members with discounts on 21 services, including commercial and retail banking, sales training, insurance, parts, supplies, package shipping and corporate management.
Most recently, REDEX struck a deal to provide open-lot insurance.
REDEX, which last year distributed more than $550,000 in rebates to its members in addition to $10 million in bottom-line program savings, expects to have 65 to 70 dealers with 100 to 125 locations by the end of 2005.