May '16

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60 • RV PRO • MAY 2016 rv-pro.com five, 50-foot bays, which will allow techs to work on 10 vans at a time. With that expansion, Wagon Trail will need to add techs. There are four now and Chelist says he expects to ramp up to 10. "What's nice about our business model is that because we work on Class B's, we can get a tech in and train them pretty easily," Che- list says. "A lot of the problems we get with Class B's are pretty minute. We don't get a lot of service, so the worst thing about selling Pleasure-Way and Leisure Travel is that you sell them, and you hardly ever see them again." Chelist said he expects the bays to keep busy, however because the dealership does service work on others RVs and will be able to take on more jobs in its new digs. Service includes maintenance, appliance work, and the "regular type of service for all RVs," Chelist says. In addition to hiring more techs, Wagon Trail is looking at increasing its sales staff, from three to six. Such changes are expected to boost sales in the Las Vegas area's market, Chelist says, which tends to be upscale. "We deal with a little bit more affluent customers," he says. "There are a lot of retirees here. Our price point, because I don't sell $12,000 trailers, is higher, but there's a wide variety." New vans start around $90,000 and can run as high as $200,000. The Power of the B Chelist adds that he is seeing younger customers who are increasingly being drawn to the Sprinter vans. "If you have four or five kids, there's no better van to drive around in. You always have snacks for kids in the fridge. We have customers here locally that just use them as every-day vehicles." In the face of all the change, one thing will remain constant. Wagon Trail will remain dedicated to the Class B market. No changes are expected in the brands it carries now, including Leisure Travel, Plea- sure Way, Roadtrek, Airstream, Renegade and Coachmen. "We believe in them," Chelist says. "I've got all the major brands tied up. Leisure Travel is our bread and butter. Pleasure- Way is very strong for us. But I represent all good products. Roadtrek, for instance, has the brand recognition like Coca-Cola in the marketplace. I'm fortunate to have all of them that I have." Wagon Trail likes Class B's for several reasons, Chelist says. They are nimble, easy to drive and get good gas mileage. They are ideal for retirees who want to downsize from their larger motorhomes. "You can take them anywhere and they are not a lot of work. They are designed to be simple and they are easy to drive," Chelist says. "So a husband and wife who have been traveling for years, as they get up in age and decide to downsize to something easier that they both can handle, these are perfect." The focus on Class B's also is good for Wagon Trail's sales staff. They don't have to know details about other seg- ments such as Class A motorhomes and fifth wheels. "Instead of having to know all the prod- ucts of a candy store that sells everything, my guys can focus on a couple of different brands and they can become experts. They have the knowledge and use it; 99 times out of 100, we have the answers." Deep Roots in Vans It's a long way from Wagon Trail's start as a humble hobby for Rizzio, who signed Chelist in 2003 as the chief architect for the dealership's growth. When Chelist was brought on, Rizzio was a tiny operation with only four motorhomes. In the summers, he sold his motorhomes in Kalispell before the winter set in. By October or thereabouts, he was gone. In Service tech Ryan Fairman checks the Cummins Onan electrical system on a Class B motorhome. Wagon Trail's techs are capable of tackling nearly any repair job on compact motorhomes. DEALER PROFILE

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