Dan Gamel Liquidating California RV Dealerships
FRESNO, Calif.--(June 2008)--It was just over six months ago when Fresno businessman Dan Gamel returned to the helm of the corporation that carries his name and the company’s six RV sales and service centers that he had sold off in 2005. Today Gamel announced that he will begin liquidating the inventory of all recreational vehicles in his remaining RV dealerships and he will close the doors for good once the inventory is sold off.
Gamel’s current locations are in Bakersfield, Modesto, Rocklin, Anderson, and two locations in Fresno: his original RV sales center on Central Avenue and the flagship Camp America store that he opened in a former Super K-Mart on Shaw Avenue in 2004.
After resuming his role in January, Gamel quickly implemented many programs that improved performance and the company enjoyed increased sales during the first quarter of 2008. Gamel attributed the increased volume to aggressive value pricing and implementation of the company’s proprietary sales system known as Project 4, which computerizes the entire selling process. Though overall profits have been down over the first quarter of 2007, March and April both showed sharp increases in sales, but those took a fall in May when gas prices continued to climb and the media continued to paint a bleak picture for summer travel and the future of gas automobiles.
“Despite media reports, data shows there are more people RVing now than ever in history. Retirees are still traveling and families are still taking their RVs camping. Unfortunately, they’re also sitting back and waiting to see what will happen before upgrading to a new RV,” explained Gamel. “We’ve been working to educate the consumer about the true cost of RVing and the effect of gas prices on their vacation budget. The fact is that new RVs actually cost less this year than last due, in part, to the reduction in interest rates from as high as 9% last year to about 6% now. That drop means a huge difference in your monthly payment. And, though we’re indeed paying more per gallon for fuel, the gas cost for an average 200 mile weekend getaway will run only $25.20 more than it did last summer. Now, I don’t know about you, but $25 isn’t going to make me change my vacation plans,” laughs Gamel.
Despite his investment of millions in personal assets, the cost of flooring inventory that is moving too slowly and the inability to secure loans from gun-shy banks for working capital has led Gamel to the decision to close his dealerships while the corporation is still solvent. Earlier this year, Gamel closed three of his underperforming stores in Santa Rosa, Chico and Yuma, Arizona.
“The hardest part of this decision is knowing how many good people are losing their jobs, some who have worked for me 30 years or more. They’ve been vital to the lifeblood of this company.”
Gamel’s management team is cutting back staff in all stores to a skeleton crew to facilitate the liquidation of inventory which will begin on June 28th. Once all inventory is liquidated, the company will evaluate whether it’s feasible to keep one or two stores open. Gamel explained that the size of today’s RV market can no longer sustain the number of dealers in California, even though California is one of the largest RV markets in the country.
Gamel plans to sell off his commercial real estate holdings in Fresno, Modesto, Rocklin and Redding. One of two parcels he owns in Rocklin has been in escrow for several months, and his Camp America store in Fresno is also in escrow. Both of those properties are due to close this Fall.
Gamel has been a pioneer in the RV industry. At the age of 27, he was the youngest person to serve as President of the California RV Dealers Association and delegate to the national association from 1977 to 1981. In the nineties, Gamel was the first dealer to sell RVs on the internet, and in 2007 his Project 4 software and central desk system made it possible for his team to sell RVs from anywhere there’s an internet connection, even at campgrounds.
“I’ve been in this business 32 years. It’s been quite a ride and I’ll always be passionate about RVing and helping others to experience that freedom. There are few activities that you can enjoy with your family that bring you together to spend real one-on-one time – parents with children, sisters with brothers, grandparents and cousins. It’s the stuff that strengthens family ties and grounds our kids and helps us to nurture strong leaders. That’s what RVing will always be about to me.”
And, in typical Gamel style, he reminds us, “You’ll never find RV prices as low as you can get at my RV centers while we’re liquidating. Heck, folks from across the country can get our liquidation prices when they buy online at our website. We have to sell these RVs now, which makes it a real buyer’s market from coast to coast.
Dan Gamel, Inc. is wholly owned by Dan Gamel. The company’s website address is www.gamel.com. The company sells Fleetwood, Jayco, National, Gulf Stream, Heartland, Aerolite, KZ and Dutchman lines of recreational vehicles. The company’s corporate office is located at 4080 West Shaw Avenue, Fresno, CA 93722, (559) 248-2022.