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One of the most active RV rental units in the Midwest this summer has been a 24-foot Winnebago Access leased by MB Thomas RV Sales of St. Louis, Mo., to the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama.
The unit started out in Missouri in late August and has already taken campaign workers to Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota, according to campaign spokesman Nick Kimball.
“The Missouri Democratic Party called us because we had rented to other candidates in the past, including Sen. Clare McCaskill’s campaign,” explained Lonnie Hall, owner and manager of the dealership. McCaskill, also a Democrat, was elected last fall.
“They called about a one- to two-week rental,” Hall said. “When they were talking about the vinyl wrap, I talked them into considering a longer-term lease because of the cost of the wrap.”
The committee ended up renting the unit for more than two months.
The unit has logged many miles since mid-August and given the Obama campaign great exposure with its red, white and blue design and “Heartland Change Tour” logo.
Hall considers himself “non-political” in business matters and has leased units to both parties through the years, he said. “The Democratic Party was getting a donation from us for their ‘Guns and Hoses’ charity. I assume that is why we got the first call,” he said.
The Thomas dealership, which was founded nearly 60 years ago, has been renting RVs since 1972 and now has a fleet of 38 motorized and eight towables. Hall said his business has seen a 20% to 22% increase in the number of rental customers so far this year but because they’re taking shorter trips, revenues are down 3% to 4%. However, with some pending commercial rentals and late-season NASCAR business, he anticipates revenues for the year will fjnish up 6% to 7%.
He sells strictly motorized and ranks among the state’s top five motorized dealers each year.