The Persistence of Parkview RV

The RV Dealers Association’s current chairman talks his family’s long-standing Delaware dealership & investing in the people who protect its customers’ interests.

There’s no denying that more than a half a century of operation – and by three generations of the same family, no less – is a big indicator of dealership success. Still, Parkview RV Center’s Ryan Horsey believes there’s always room for improvement.

“I think in the next few years, we need to do a better job of providing a quality service on the fixed operations side of things, and we also have to go ahead and make sure the relationships we have are all-win relationships,” says Horsey of the Smyrna, Delaware, dealership founded by his late grandparents Robert and Lucille, originally as a used car lot in 1968. “There’s a void there, and my concern is if we don’t go continue that pursuit of excellence to help our customers, those customers are going to go to another industry.”

Ryan Horsey

The native Delawarean, who also serves as this year’s RV Dealers Association (RVDA) board of directors chairman, is convinced dealerships with growing parts and service departments will thrive now that unit sales have declined after several years of unprecedented growth.

His shop is ready for the challenge: its 10 service bays are staffed with nine full-time technicians, a part-time tech (Horsey’s son Riley), plus two service advisors and a warranty advisor. Parkview has four lifts, including one that accommodates up to 50,000 pounds, and even has the capability to tackle light bodywork. Most importantly, in Horsey’s view, is the fact everyone in service is RVDA certified.

“When I look at the RV Learning Center, I look at it as great pilot programs so that our frontline operations can say, ‘OK, this is a good foundation for how I can take care of the customer,’” he says. “So many times, we don’t really understand why we’re getting certified.”

For Horsey, training is simply investing in the people who will be protecting his customers’ interests. It’s a subject so important to him that he asked for time during a workshop at NTP-STAG Expo 2024 given by presenter Tony Yerman, the RV Learning Center’s fixed operations consultant. At the heart of the impromptu request: to make sure attendees weren’t just after a piece of paper for their dealership walls.

“I talked about the full RV experience because there’s a difference and there’s a defined line between those who sell and those who care about the life cycle of the RV consumer. If we’re not doing our part to make ourselves better for our customers, the things that we love, our customers are going to get into cruises, VRBOs or overseas travel,” he says.

Not surprisingly, Horsey, who grew up at the dealership his parents Rick and Sharon later managed when Robert died in 1986, is devoted not just to the industry but to the activity.

“RVing goes not only from my personal point A to point B, that is living the dash, but it also influences my children so it allows us to have multigenerational relationships within the lifestyle,” he says. “The best experiences that I’ve ever had came from RVing.”

Horsey’s first job at the dealership came at the tender age of eight, when he was assigned to pulling weeds around the lot. Today, he’s the vice president of fixed operations, and he shares ownership of Parkview with sister Amy Horsey West, vice president of finance and insurance, and Rick Horsey, president. Ryan’s wife, Joy, is treasurer, secretary and controller, while Amy’s husband, Mike, is the vice president of sales and marketing. In addition to Riley, Horsey’s other two children, Ramsey and Samantha, also work at the dealership part time, as does Amy’s daughter Paige.

Such a family affair, as dealership consolidation sweeps through the industry like wildfire, is uncommon, but Horsey also credits transparency as being a key part of Parkview’s longevity.

“I have a morning meeting with all our service technicians and parts associates to let them know exactly where we are financially, where we are training wise, what’s the most important goal for the day, the week or the month. I think the biggest thing is everybody feels they are valued, they feel they are making a difference in the livelihood of the overall business picture,” he says.

Among Parkview’s technicians, many have a decade or more of tenure; the most recent hire came aboard in mid-2023, after the man’s application appeared unsolicited on Horsey’s desk. A positive interview confirmed the applicant, previously employed at a competing dealership, met Horsey’s top requirement for new hires.

“The first thing I look at is character. That’s first and foremost,” Horsey says. “If I can’t trust you, I’m not going to work with you. Also, if you’re a person of good character, I honestly believe that we can go ahead and fill a void someplace.”

As a man of faith, Horsey believes everything revolves around relationships and principles; he’s been especially inspired by Jeff Hirsch, Campers Inn’s president and CEO.

“A few years ago before COVID, Jeff talked about being a positive disruptor,” Horsey says. “One of the biggest things about that is you need to have full transparency with the people you work with, whether they’re manufacturers, customers or associates.”

Horsey has had to be especially transparent with scheduling service since dealerships everywhere now find themselves with more maintenance and repair work than in past years.

“My first and foremost priority is our customers. If it’s someone who’s bought an RV from us and there’s something that’s preventing them from using that RV, I won’t bat an eye. I will not wait for warranty; I’ll say ‘Let’s go ahead and fix it to get the customer on the road.’ We will let the dust settle,” he says.

For those with operable units purchased elsewhere, Parkview’s service advisors will make future appointments. It’s an arrangement that’s now the norm among many shops, especially as repair event cycle time (RECT) has become a front-and-center subject, according to Horsey, and something he’ll focus on as RVDA chairman for the rest of his term.

“You cannot sleep on it. You must have an understanding of what allows our customers to keep their RVs in their driveways,” he says.

As for sales, of the 281 units Parkview sold in 2023 (down about 20% from the previous two years), most were towables with a smattering of motorized units. The store also does a brisk business with Northern Lite, Lance and Palomino truck campers. Delaware has no sales tax and state registration isn’t required for those types of campers, according to Horsey.

“We have a lot of customers that come in from the Northeast to purchase truck campers from us,” he says. “From Delaware to the Outer Banks, as well as New Jersey, it’s pretty cool because you can go on the beach and surf fish all day with your RV on the back of your truck and you can camp out on the beach. There’s not a lot of places you can do that.”

Horsey is quick to admit truck campers were an acquired taste for him; when brother-in-law Mike announced Parkview was taking on Lance, he figured at least the store would be selling a well-known and respected brand. Horsey also was reminded of something his dad told him years earlier.

“Sell people on the things they want and need, not what you want them to have,” he says.

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