RV PRO

July '18

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rv-pro.com July 2018 • RV PRO • 151 Meanwhile, Bontrager offers this to those just starting out in the industry: "Learn the business. Build relationships. … Focus on relationships and focus on building your reputation as an honorable person." Bontrager's induction into the Hall of Fame continues a legacy of induction that started with his late father, Lloyd, his brother, Wilbur, and continues with him. "It's an honor," he says. "It's certainly not something that I or I'm sure many others like me have set out to achieve," Bontrager says. "Hopefully, it's a reflection that I've done some good things along the way to help make the industry better." Gregg Fore It was Gregg Fore's father who initially introduced him to the RV industry. "My father was employed by Coachmen Industries in the very early days, while I was in college," he says. "It was a meaningful change for him from the busi- ness he had been in before, and it ended up being a good change for him and the family. I thought, 'maybe I should look into this.'" In the summer of 1971, Fore became a full-time employee of Coachmen Industries. As a trainee, he says he did whatever anyone told him to do. He was placed in a parts division and, shortly thereafter, as a salesperson in the Kenco division. While he and his father worked for the same company, the rule was they couldn't work together. "He was there 25 years; I was there 20. We stayed apart our whole careers," Fore says. "I think I was probably 40ish, mid-life, when I asked myself, 'Is this what I want to do the rest of my life?' The question came up and the answer was, 'I don't know', so I thought maybe I ought to do something else." Fore says there was no ill will toward his former employer; he was just looking for another opportunity, so he spent a year at a mobile home company that is now out of business, and then bought a small RV company. He ran that for about a year until the oil crisis of the late 1970s struck. "Then, I didn't do anything for awhile. Then I ended up at Dicor Corp. and spent almost 29 years there – a long time," Fore says. He recently retired from the company at the end of 2017, but still stays involved with the industry through his part ownership of an RV trade magazine. During his career, Fore served on numerous industry asso- ciations. He served as a board member on the RV Aftermarket Association (now part of the RV Industry Association), as a board member of the Indiana Manufacturing Housing Association, and in several capacities with the RVIA, including chairman. During that time, he received RVIA's Distinguished Service Award. "Our industry needs industry people to be involved to help lead things that individual companies can't do on their own," Fore says. "Without volunteers willing to put in their time then the industry wouldn't be as far along on certain things such as standards, the RV Learning Center, any number of things the associations can accomplish with member participation." Although Fore says he's honored to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, he's even more honored that it's his peers that nominated him. "It's the same feeling as being the chairman of RVIA. The fact that there are industry peers that feel like you've reached a level of accomplishment that deserves rewarding is the most important part," he says. "It isn't the Hall of Fame itself – it's the people who felt I deserved to be here." Looking back, Fore says he cherishes his time in the industry. "I have been blessed to be in a business community and industry that is full of creative and wonderful people. … It isn't what you do, it's who you do it with and whether or not as a group you've made good things happen. No one does anything by themselves." Dan Pearson Dan Pearson remembers being 11 years old and working at his parent's auto dealership emptying garbage cans and mopping show- room floors. RVers themselves, his parents entered the RV business on the side, but eventually dropped autos and went to just RVs. In 1982, Pearson took over the family business. "I had some other siblings involved and I wasn't sure there was room in the family business, so coming out of high school I toyed with the idea of becoming an attorney. When my other siblings left the company, I took the opportunity and took it over. My parents were stepping back toward retirement. I took it over and here I am," Pearson says. "My parents were incredible people," he adds. "My father always had a saying that he instilled in us kids: 'Be honest to people and nice to them and you'll always have a roof over your head and food on your table. Your integrity is never for sale.'" Pearson credits his father and former RVDA President Mike Molino as being invaluable mentors. Their expertise, along with the knowledge he gained from working in nearly every dealership department, allowed him to grow the business from a single location and about $5 million in yearly sales to five locations and annual sales in excess of $65 million, according to Pearson. Pearson says the dealership's success also came from paying attention to the economic climate and changing trends in the industry's demographics.

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