The best news out of the Stag-Parkway Inc. 2007 Business Solutions convention last week in Las Vegas came outside the show when it was announced that U.S. consumer sentiment hit a three-year high in January.
Stan Sunshine, president and CEO of the Atlanta-based distributor of parts and accessories to the RV market, said rising consumer confidence and the apparent leveling of interest rates are the key factors that are buoying the spirits of his customer base at present.
The Jan. 16-18 convention at the Paris Hilton Hotel brought together 650 RV dealers and other Stag-Parkway customers. Stag sources from more than 500 suppliers and services a customer base of 2,000 RV dealers and independent service locations.
“We were extremely pleased with the overall level of enthusiasm and optimism for this year,” Sunshine told RV Business. “Dealers were extremely upbeat as they attempt to identify ways they could maximize their selling opportunities and help to maximize the revenue enhancements they could achieve through a full relationship with the consumer.”
Sunshine described the overall marketplace as “somewhat fluid” in 2006, “but we enjoyed a fairly strong year. Provided the economy ‘behaves’ and there are no major bumps, we’re looking for continuation of that type of result this year.”
Stag-Parkway staff made two major presentations to its customers. One dealt with “feedback that our customers had given us and the actions we have taken on that feedback,” Sunshine said. The presentation centered on training, the need for increased efficiency, removing channel redundancy and the desire for greater use of technology, he said.
In the second presentation, the company discussed the Go RVing Committee on Excellence and the task forces that have been formed. Sunshine chairs the task force on communications.
“In that area, we have been researching the viability of industrywide adoption of STAR standards,” Sunshine said, in reference to an electronic format used widely in the auto industry and in various stages of adoption by the marine and motorcycle industries.
As part of that presentation, Debbie Brunoforte of Little Dealer, Little Prices RV, Mesa, Ariz., who chairs a task force on parts availability, talked about four best practices used at her dealership.
“We also talked about the use of the ‘multiplier effect,’ so dealers can execute a variety of marketing plans all related to customer contact and touch points and create a long-term relationship with the customer,” Sunshine said. “The statistics are fairly clear that a consumer on average will purchase an RV every 4 ½ years and stay in the marketplace approximately 11 years. During that time, they’ll purchase 2.3 RVs and come in for service and parts and accessories 3-4 times a year. If you sell one RV to a consumer, you have only realized one-third of the revenue opportunity in a lifetime.”
The goal, Sunshine said, is to remain in contact with the customer by Internet, mail and events on the sales lot so “you have a better chance of realizing that entire revenue stream.”
The company named five recipients of its Partnership Awards. They are: Blue Ox, Pender, Neb.; Camco Manufacturing Inc., Greensboro, N.C.; Winegard Co., Burlington, Iowa; Prime Products, Paramount, Calif., and the N’Awlins Trade Show and Convention Services Inc., Mandeville, La. The Lifetime Value Award went to Russ Dean RV, Pasco, Wash.
In mid-summer, Greenbriar Equity Group LLC acquired a majority interest in Stag-Parkway from Sunshine. He said the acquisition has had “no effect whatsoever with how we do business,” adding, “If anything, it will enable us to have access to additional financial resources and strategic resources.”
Founded in 1968, Stag-Parkway operates 11 distribution centers throughout the U.S. and provides an array of products and services to the RV aftermarket, including merchandising, inventory control, customer contact and Internet functions. The company has been recognized by the RV Aftermarket Association as the distributor of the year for the past four years
Sunshine also announced that the 2008 Business Solutions convention will be in New Orleans.
“We are very pleased we can bring our show and a substantial piece of convention business back to New Orleans and help those fine people in a small way rebuild their city,” he said.
“The reality is we contacted with New Orleans early in 2005. After the terrible devastation, we never even researched to get out of the contract. The downtown is fine. We are extremely enthusiastic about going back to New Orleans,” he said.