Judy Bolster was a kid in the 1960s when her father moved his family from Pennsylvania to western Massachusetts.
“I wasn’t a happy camper,” Bolster said. “I didn’t want to leave Pennsylvania.”
As reported by Mass Live, after her graduation from Minnechaug in 1971, the Bolster family moved to Vermont. Judy attended and was graduated from the University of Vermont, then began a peripatetic life that took her across the country with significant stops in California, Arizona, South Carolina and Florida.
In Fort Lauderdale, she was introduced by a mutual friend to Alan Shapiro, a local businessman whom she married in 1983. Alan Shapiro had been involved in nearly a score of different businesses, starting with restaurants on Long Island and in Queens, N.Y. He moved to Florida in the late 1970s to operate music stores, one of which evolved into a large music-distributorship followed by ventures that included another restaurant in Florida, a couple of real-estate investment firms, a manufacturing company, car museum, black Angus cattle farm and the restoration of an historic plantation in Georgia.
When the American economy was on life support in the late 1980s, the Shapiros saw opportunities.
They took a big chance in September 2009, buying the former Monaco Coach Factory Service Center in Wildwood, Fla. Their investment saved at least 50 jobs, Alan Shaprio said, mostly those of RV technicians who had been trained by the recently bankrupt Monaco Coach Corp., once the largest producer of diesel-powered motorhomes in the United States.
“The first year was hard,” Judy said, because they had to reorganize a failed business. For two years, the Shapiros lived in their own motorhome on the property and oversaw a turnaround. “The second and subsequent years have been good.”
The Shapiros’ venture evolved into Alliance Coach, an RV sales and service facility employing about 115. Early this month, the Shapiros broke ground for a $2 million expansion that will put the Alliance Coach RV sales operation on one of the busiest roads in central Florida, right at the edge of The Villages, among the fastest-growing communities in the Sunshine State.
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