January '18

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76 • RV PRO • January 2018 rv-pro.com D E A L E R S Dodd joined her siblings in leadership roles at the company. With all the pieces in place for succession, George Dodd was reluctant to yield control. He had given 44 years of his life to the business. Adding to his unease was the knowledge that the younger Dodds had ideas they were eager to implement, including the addition of a second location in 2004. "This was the hardest time of my life," George Dodd says. "I went through almost a crisis myself because I didn't want to give it up, but I know it was the right thing to do." George Dodd wasn't the only person wary of change under the new leadership. With the fate of the family business in their hands, the stakes were high for the Dodd siblings, too, according to Susie Dodd. "Because we are family and because that's our name on that building, where our dad worked his butt off his entire life, it gives us that drive and that push to make him prouder," she says. Unlike their father, the siblings were not categorically opposed to debt, if it could be justified. Upon arriving at the dealership in 2000, Jamie Dodd saw an opportunity in adding a second location some 35 miles north, in Newport News, across the Hampton Roads harbor. Though two interstate highway bridge-tunnel systems make a link to the peninsula, Jamie Dodd suspected that the harbor hemmed the Portsmouth dealership's scope and market, blocking the company's access to customers in the peninsula. "We were unable to serve the RV customers that lived on the north side of our market, our town" he says. "It didn't take long; I could see that quickly." Data from buyer registrations, Statistical Surveys and OEM buyer maps, along with other indicators, quickly confirmed his suspicion, and in 2004, the dealership opened Dodd RV of the Peninsula in Newport News. In 2009, the dealership expanded to a larger facility in nearby Yorktown. At first blush, the expansion would have seemed impractical to Operations Manager Brian Doss, who joined the company several years after the expansion in 2014. "No dealership in their right mind would put two of the same dealerships 35 miles apart from each other," Doss says. "No other (RV) dealership down here does that." In addition to unlocking the peninsula market, Doss cites the recent growth of the Yorktown location as the primary factor behind Dodd RV's back-to-back Dealer of the Year awards from DealerRater, a consumer rating and review website scoring RV and automotive dealers across the country. "Jamie had enough foresight to say, 'To really service our customers well, we need a dealership on each side of the water,'" Doss says. "We've made it convenient for (consumers)." Finding Stride for the Long Haul Under the leadership of the Dodd siblings, Dodd RV had grown from a single-location dealership and service shop with a staff of three to nearly 50 employees spread across two full-ser- vice dealerships in the span of a few years. But despite the early growth trajectory under Jamie's lead- ership, he says the business has kept to the cautious outlook that George instilled. "We're continuing to grow and expand, but cautiously," he says. "We're not going overboard." Though skeptical of the new business practices his children applied, George Dodd is proud of the success his children have had. "When Jamie took over, he had new ideas, which I was kind of questionable of then, but now I realize that the ideas he had accumulated from going to college and worked out great," he Dodd RV Product Specialist Scott Hudgins (left) dealership General Manager Michael McNeil discuss how to help a customer. Customer service is a top priority for the business, which has won back-to-back Dealer of the Year awards from DealerRater, a consumer rating and review website.

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