RV Retailer LLC (RVR), Fort Lauderdale, Fla., announced Friday (June 29) that it has acquired Motor Home Specialist (MHS), a dealership that promotes itself as the “No. 1 volume motorized RV dealership in the world,” from the O’Banion family, according to a release.
Retailing more than 2,200 RVs and generating in excess of $275 million in revenue in 2017, MHS sells new and used motorhomes and towable RVs from its flagship 80-acre RV dealership facility in Alvarado, Texas, in the Dallas-Fort Worth market. MHS also provides service, parts and financial services.
Doug O’Banion, who founded MHS as a small pre-owned dealership in 1999, said he was “extremely pleased” to put this transaction together with the RVR team and noted that his son, Donny O’Banion, will continue to lead MHS as its CEO and will retain an ownership stake in the business.
“While it was difficult for me to retire from the business, it was important for me to secure the future of Motor Home Specialist under the leadership of my son Donny O’Banion and with the right business partners. I am excited for our associates and confident that Motor Home Specialist will continue as the No. 1 motorhome dealer in the world,” he said.
For his part, Donny O’Banion told RVBUSINESS.com that he’s hopeful his father would be able to enjoy his “well-deserved retirement.”
“It’s a great thing for family and for my father. You know, he’s been working pretty much everyday since he was 12. He’s been on his own for a long time and it’s just a well-deserved retirement – and I’m proud to say that. I hope that he takes a little bit of time and enjoys it,” Donny O’Banion said, adding that he’s looking forward to continuing to lead MHS as he’s “still got a lot of years left and a lot left to do.”
“We’re all just so excited to be partnered with RVR and the opportunity in front of us, and about the next phase of Motor Home Specialist and being able to continue to grow,” he continued. “Collectively, we are in a great position to capitalize on significant growth opportunities for the business while providing excellent career opportunities for our associates. I also look forward to continuing our outstanding relationships with our valued RV manufacturer partners. We will continue to drive the business using our industry-leading website with great customer tools, our professional sales and service team, and our transparent customer approach with everyday low prices.
“It’s business as usual. It’s just a Monday morning for me. Let’s go sell some motor homes!” he concluded.
While terms of the deal were not disclosed, Donny O’Banion said the transaction was completed in less than a year and, giving credit to the RVR team, added that the process went very smoothly. “For a deal of this size, they were incredible to work with and it moved along much faster and smoother than I think any of us could’ve thought,” he said.
RV Retailer was founded in 2018, the release stated, to “create a leading recreational vehicle retail company in the United States with a focus on providing an outstanding experience for RV customers in new and used sales, service and parts, and customer financial services.”
The Florida-headquartered company is actively seeking new acquisitions and organic growth opportunities, the release noted.
RV Retailer is led by CEO and President Jon Ferrando and John Rizzo, executive vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer, and its capital partner is Redwood Capital Investments.
Ferrando and Rizzo were instrumental in building AutoNation Inc., America’s largest automotive retailer, from a startup to $20-plus billion in revenue. Collectively, the two have more than 25 years of experience in automotive retail and more than 50 years of experience building and growing industry leading businesses. After a 21-year career with AutoNation, Ferrando retired in 2017 as the company’s executive vice president, general counsel, corporate development and human resources. Rizzo was with AutoNation for four years, serving in executive management roles in corporate development and industry relations.
“We are excited to partner with Donny O’Banion and the Motor Home Specialist management team to continue its run as the No. 1 motorhome dealer in the world from its home base in Texas,” said Ferrando, a Harvard Law School graduate.
“We also welcome Motor Home Specialist’s 140 dedicated associates to the RV Retailer family,” he continued. “They provide an exceptional experience to the thousands of customers that purchase from Motor Home Specialist every year. We will continue to operate the business under the Motor Home Specialist retail brand name which has been built successfully over the past 20 years.
“The high-quality, premium RV product mix across a wide range of brands offered by Motor Home Specialist from its best-in-class facility is outstanding. We look forward to working with all of the manufacturer partners to continue to represent their RV products in a world-class manner,” Ferrando added.
Rizzo mentioned that Doug O’Banion and his wife, Sharon, were “great to work with through this transition. There will always only be one founder of Motor Home Specialist, and it is Doug O’Banion.”
Redwood Capital Investments is the private investment company for the founders of Allegis Group, an international talent management firm headquartered in Hanover, Md. Redwood’s primary objective is to become long-term partners with private business owners and management teams. Redwood has a diverse portfolio of operating company investments across the consumer, transportation, distribution and telecom sectors.
“We are proud to be working with the RV Retailer team to build a premier RV dealership platform,” said Patrick Sissman, vice president at Redwood Capital Investments. “Motor Home Specialist is a unique and differentiated RV retail business which will provide a strong foundation for future growth.”
Kevin Nill, Alan Haig, and Nate Klebacha of Haig Partners LLC served as the financial advisors to the O’Banion family. Daniel Hoops of Shackelford, Bowen, McKinley & Norton LLP served as legal counsel for MHS. Stephen Dietrich of Holland and Knight served as legal counsel and Crowe LLC served as the accountant for RVR.
“I would like to thank the team at Haig Partners for providing invaluable advice and service throughout the process,” Doug O’Banion stated. “They worked with numerous interested parties and helped us negotiate an agreement with the best buyer for our company. It was a complex transaction but we feel RVR will ensure the legacy we created will continue for many decades to come.”
Nill, whose Haig Partners firm has completed more than 180 auto, RV and heavy truck dealership transactions totaling in excess of $3.9 billion since 1996, said he has known the O’Banions for many years and they were “honored to have been selected by the family to advise them on such a critical matter.”
“Given the scale of MHS, we recognized certain financial buyers outside the industry would find the business and its incredible success highly attractive and a foundational component to establishing a new RV dealership organization,” Nill stated. “Structuring a transaction that ensured MHS will continue under Donny’s leadership and vision was crucial and ensures MHS’ customers will continue receiving the selection of RVs and customer service they have received the past 19 years. We would like to congratulate Jon and the team at RV Retailer and welcome them to this great industry.”