Story By Tom Wofford
Photos Contributed by Bama RV and By Tom Wofford
Eric Moore and Dave Chavers have been in the recreation vehicle business practically their entire adult lives, in sales and in management, and for the past seven years, as the bosses, after the two bought their own RV business, Bama RV in Dothan in 2016.
Moore and Chavers got to know each other while working at Camping World in Dothan, one the nation’s largest RV sales chains. Dave had 17 years under his belt as a general manager. And over the years, the two would discuss owning their own operation. They thought there was so much opportunity for growth.
“Bama RV (in Dothan) had been around for years, they were a solid business, though not very big,” Moore said about his decision to become an owner. “But I looked at them and saw growth. Growth has been our focus for six years, since day one.”
This growth began with a larger Dothan facility in 2018 and has now extended to a second location.
In October, Moore and Chavers brought their eye for growth to Opelika.
Bama RV held its grand opening in early October, and had a special appearance by Auburn University quarterback Payton Thorne, who signed autographs during the event.
“The grand opening was a great success,” said Kristy Trusty, the manager of business development and marketing for Bama RV, who also organized the special event.
“We had representatives from most of our manufacturers who came into town to take part in the opening and we had so much participation from the community, which was so nice.”
The new Bama RV location in Opelika has a large selection of new and pre-owned fifth wheels, toy haulers, travel trailers and more.
As Moore and Chavers began their careers as RV business owners in 2016, the RV business was booming nationwide as younger buyers were discovering their products. The average age of an RV buyer was dropping by three years to 45 during that time. Millennials continued to drive growth until the end of the decade.
But that impressive growth was nothing when compared to what was about to happen when the pandemic hit. RV sales exploded as the covid virus spread. Nationally, June 2020 sales were up 90% over the year before. During the first four months of 2021, RV sales were up 86% over the first four months of 2020.
RVs were certainly not just for campers and outdoorsmen anymore. The market for RVs grew to nearly anybody who wanted to maintain social distance while avoiding confinement.
Bama RV’s growth has extended to Opelika, to a prime location on U.S. 280 near Lee Road 189.
“Dave and I had heard that Marshall Blount in Opelika was getting ready to retire,” Moore said. “We came to see him and the property, and we had a deal pretty quick.”
The Bama RV team prepped the site for three months, getting it ready for its grand opening in Opelika.
“We completely redid the place,” Moore said.
At the grand opening, Bama RV in Opelika had 50 units ready for sale, with prices ranging from $15,000 to $140,000, artfully positioned across its sizeable five-acre lot.
Even though Bama RV in Opelika has only been open for business for a short time, Moore is already enthusiastic.
“We’re getting lots of service business,” he said, “and that’s a great sign early on.”
Bama RV Opelika is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and it is closed on Sunday.