September '14

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62 • RV PRO • SEPTEMBER 2014 rv-pro.com Riefenstahl, is the invaluable history they have of a company over time. "Having worked in different depart- ments, this leader can ask employees to explain to them, 'Why is it like this?'" she says. "You can ask better questions." A focus on communication skills can empower an employee to ask even better questions and hold employees' feet to the fire, she adds. "I've also seen it where a person who has been promoted internally had to win back the trust of the people," Riefenstahl says. "A communications course can help an owner clean up processes and learn how to say when there is an elephant in the room." Zugec says a communications course also can help employees discover where they might have a communication concern, identify what they may be saying that they don't know they are saying, and even learn to rephrase communication to remove a possible blaming tone. Other skills potential owners can work on include strategic thinking – an ability to determine and envision where an orga- nization is going in order to align work efforts with company goals and objectives – and partnership building – a skill that empowers employees to decide who they can best partner with in order to achieve desired results. Diversified Experience Before Manny Carlson became vice presi- dent of operations for Holiday World RV Supercenters in Katy, Texas, he did stints at several dealerships across the country. After emigrating from Mexico to the U.S. with his family in 1982, Carlson got his first job in Shreveport, La.'s Kamper's Korner as a service technician. In the decades that followed, Carlson's career in the RV industry took him to Albu- querque, Portland (Ore.), and Sacramento and Bakersfield, Calif., and from technician to service manager to service advisor and, ultimately, to parts and service director at Holiday World. In 2008, Carlson operated three of Hol- iday World's stores, in Katy and League City, Texas, and in Las Cruces, N.M. Sub- sequently, he ascended to the vice president position, overseeing parts and service managers for all of the store's locations, ensuring that all stores operate the same way under the policies and procedures set forth by the company. Carlson also is responsible for developing and revising budgets for each of the five stores Holiday World now operates, including a store in Dallas and another soon to open in Willis, Texas. "The best advice I can offer for employees wanting to rise through the ranks is to have a career track in mind," Carlson says. "People who are just looking for a quick change in pay that are jumping from dealership to dealership are doing themselves a disservice. e only way a dealer can see what you can do is by sticking with it." For his part, Carlson made a positive impression early on with Michael Peay, owner of Holiday World and son of the owner of the dealership he worked for in Albuquerque. Peay helped Carlson to secure jobs in San Francisco and Bakersfield before luring him over to Holiday World. With a career track in mind, Carlson says he moved to different dealerships over the course of his career to see how dealer principals run their businesses. "You learn from some that you don't agree 100 percent with how they do it," he says. "en you come to work for a place like Holiday World, and you see that there's no funny business at all. Everything is on paper and set in the right perspective for everybody. Everyone has the same rules and expectations." Previous owners also gave Carlson the freedom to implement new ideas and to bear the brunt of feedback to those ideas. One successful idea he carried forward to Holiday World was implementation of flat rate pay instead of an hourly rate for technicians. "e way we did it was we started people hourly and then over time transferred them Rising Through the Ranks to a flat rate," Carlson says. "It promotes continuous work so people are not standing around, and it allows them to – if they want to work extra hours – be more available, be more involved in training and to make more money." In the end, Carlson says employees hoping to rise through the ranks must learn that everything in the RV industry is related to people – employees and customers. "I'm a true believer that in any business, taking care of the customer is the main thing," he says. "You have to impress the customer, and then they will continue to refer business to you." Manny Carlson got his first job in the RV industry working as a service technician in Shreveport, La. Today, he is the vice president of the five- store Holiday World dealership based in Katy, Texas. With a career track in mind, Carlson says he moved to different dealerships over the course of his career to see how dealer principals run their business.

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