Former AutoNation Execs Now Sell RVs

Many sectors of the economy have struggled this year, but RVs have enjoyed great growth in 2020 with higher sales and rentals. Because of the pandemic, many families were looking for something different to do this summer. That led to an increased interest in RV’ing. The explosion of interest has spurred great growth for RV companies as well. One of those companies — RV Retailer — is coming out on top with numerous acquisitions. And two former AutoNation executives stand at the helm.

RV Retailer and its rapid growth

RV Retailer is one of the top recreational vehicle dealers in the nation. It encompasses new and used RV sales, service and parts, and customer financial services. Its RV stores are located in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah. RV Retailer sells under several regional brands, including RV One Superstores, Motor Home Specialist, ExploreUSA, Sonny’s Camp-N-Travel, Cousins RV, Camper Clinic, Lifestyle RVs, and Tom’s Camperland. RV Retailer’s revenues are now more than $1 billion, and the company has seen rapid growth, even during the ongoing pandemic.

Based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the company has concentrated on growing. “RV Retailer is committed to continuing its growth in 2020,” Jon Ferrando, cofounder, CEO, and president of RV Retailer, told RV Pro. “We believe there will be many acquisition opportunities to execute in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic recession.”

Jon Ferrando and John Rizzo

CEO Jon Ferrando and CFO John Rizzo cofounded RV Retailer in January 2018. According to the RV Retailer website, Ferrando has 25 years of experience leading large public companies. A former Fortune 200 senior executive, he was previously an executive at AutoNation. While he was there, AutoNation grew from a start-up company to the largest automotive retailer in the United States. A graduate of the University of Michigan and Harvard Law School, Ferrando was also a corporate attorney with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in Chicago. Rizzo was an executive at AutoNation as well.

Though Ferrando admitted to having limited experience with the RV industry before starting the company, he explained to RV Pro: “The fact that we have the best RV retail talent in the industry as partners in our company — and more to join — has helped tremendously, both with the learning curve and our operating performance.”

Acquisitions during the pandemic


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RV Retailer follows a business plan similar to AutoNation’s. Like the auto retail giant, Ferrano and Rizzo’s company offers services across the industry and the nation. The young company saw enormous growth in 2020. It added 11 locations to its group, bringing the company’s total to 36. In May 2020, RV Retailer acquired the three Cousins RV locations in Colorado.

In November, RV Retailer announced in a press release published by PR Newswire that it had acquired Sierra RV in the Salt Lake City area. With this purchase, RV Retailer moved into Utah, the 10th state where it operates.

“We are excited to enter Utah and expand in the Western United States with the acquisition of Sierra RV,” Ferrando said. “Sierra RV is in the highly attractive Salt Lake City market, which is the fourth-largest U.S. BTA for RV registrations this year. The Utah market has four times the average RVs owned per capita in the U.S. with excellent growth prospects for the future.”

The impressive location boasts a 90,000-square-foot camper dealership situated on 26 acres. It includes a showroom, a retail parts and accessories store, and a service facility.

Thanks to the spike in RV sales during the pandemic, Ferrando and Rizzo chose a good time to grow RV Retailer.