September '15

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100 • RV PRO • SEPTEMBER 2015 rv-pro.com "One day I had my fifth wheel down at my shop and was working on it when an elderly gentleman pulls up and yells, 'Hey, you work on RVs?'" he recalls. "No, not really," Bowyer responded, "but let's see what you got." Bowyer ended up fixing the man's fifth wheel for him. Two days later, two other men showed up with their RVs. One of them said, "A friend of ours says you are real good at fixing RVs." Again, Bowyer responded, "No, not really, but let me see if I can help you." Within six months and many more RVers bringing him their units for service, it became clear to Bowyer that there was a real void in businesses providing RV service in his community. In retrospect, maybe he shouldn't have been surprised, based upon his own experi- ences as an RVer. "What I experienced the whole time owning an RV is that everybody wants to sell you one – but nobody really cares about fixing it," he says. Seeing a demand and sensing opportu- nity, in 1996 Bowyer launched Lone Star RV Center with a focus on RV service. "At that time," he recalls, "We were in an old, tiny shed and boasted one mechanic. I was answering phones, running for parts (with our new baby in tow), and hand- writing invoices. However, some things never change: Today I am still answering the phone and occasionally running for parts, but I do now have a computer for invoices. And that baby I had in tow is now in college." As the business grew, he needed more space, so in 1999 Bowyer built a 15,000-square-foot facility on 16 acres alongside U.S. Highway 190 in Harker Heights, Texas. Lone Star RV Center had settled com- fortably into its new home when, three years ago, United Rental Corp. came to him and said they absolutely had to have Lone Star RV Center's facilities. "I told them I didn't want to sell or rent it. Then, the senior vice president of the United Rentals for America came in. He put a 3 by 5 card on my desk with a number on it. "My comment was, 'I'll need 60 days to move,'" Bowyer says with a good- natured laugh. Bowyer didn't reveal the number. How- ever, he remembers telling his wife, "Retire- ment will not be an issue." Lone Star RV Center is unique in several ways, including its target market. A Strong Focus on (Military) Service Bowyer's military background is an advantage given that the area where his business is located is a hotbed of active-duty and retired military personnel. Located nearby is Fort Hood, the largest single military base in the United States, hosting some 45,000 active-duty personnel and an additional 8,900 civilian employees. Additionally, many veterans who served at Fort Hood chose to live in the area when they retired, and live in the nearby Lone Star has a well-stocked parts department that covers the gamut of offerings, including cleaners, hardware, hitches, lighting, sanitation and trailer wiring.

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