Editor’s Note: The 2020 RV/MH Hall of Fame’s Annual Induction Dinner has been rescheduled for Thursday, Dec. 3, at the Hall of Fame’s Northern Indiana Events Center in Elkhart, Ind. RV PRO is celebrating this year’s class and today we feature Jeff Pastore, the owner of Hartville RV Center.
Jeff Pastore, owner, Hartville (Ohio) RV Center
If you ask Jeff Pastore, he’ll humbly say he doesn’t think his story is all that different from many others.
“My parents started a dealership in 1971. I was around 10 years old at the time and I kind of grew up in it,” he says. “When it got to the point where I was ready to go off to college I had no intention of coming back into the family business. It wasn’t that it wasn’t enjoyable; the grass just always looks greener on the other side. I wanted to strike out on my own.”
Then Pastore’s dad became very ill, and as the oldest of five boys, Pastore says he decided he should help contribute to the family any way he could. He got actively more involved in the business while he completed his college degree and “absolutely fell in love with it.”
“I saw it through new eyes,” he adds. “When I completed my degree in business and marketing I couldn’t wait to be working full-time in the dealership. That’s never changed. To this day, I absolutely love to go into my office. Every day is a new challenge.”
With newfound excitement, Pastore set out to see if the dealership was meeting its full potential, or if it could do better.
“I started looking around and got very involved with RVDA. That led us to a 20 Group that really helped us to hone our management skills,” he says.
It wasn’t long before Pastore was tapped for more responsibility and bigger roles on the national level.
“RVDA is like a giant 20 Group,” he says. “It introduces you to non-competing dealers from all across the country and throughout Canada. You really are dealing with the best of the best. It helps you to be in an environment of successful people.”
A program near and dear to Pastore’s heart is the RV Learning Center, in which he serves as the chairman.
“We (previously) had many employees working with a patchwork of knowledge. When the tech certification and learning center rolled out, we could see how much better it made us and how much more professional and gratifying it was for employees when they were properly trained,” Pastore says. “I’m just fanatical about education and anyone getting the tools to reach their full potential, including myself. It’s why I’ve been so involved with RVDA. I’ve always gotten back more than I’ve put in.”
Pastore’s first piece of advice for those entering the industry is to recognize the value of education.
“If we can equip people coming into our business to be very successful, then we can eventually beat the challenges we’re going to meet,” he says. “Go to your bosses and keep tugging at them, tell them, ‘I want you to help me. Invest in me to get the tools to make me better.’”
He says it’s also important that dealerships be strong in all departments, from customer service to the parts department. And he can’t stress enough the importance of good accounting principles in a dealership and the ability to understand the difference between accounting and cash flow.
“If I were a new dealer who had only been in the business for 15 years, I would have already encountered the Great Recession and this crazy economic and medical situation (coronavirus) right now. You have to be flexible and understand your dealership. You need good safeguards in place and be disciplined in running the dealership,” Pastore says.
“The last thing I would say is to have fun with it. Because at the end of the day, that’s what really matters.”
To read the profiles of the previously featured 2020 Hall of Fame inductees, click the link below:
(Editor’s note: This year’s Hall of Fame Induction Dinner has been postponed until Thursday, Dec. 3. Please click here for more information.)