Earlier this year, Public Broadcast System producers wanted to make a TV segment that explored and educated viewers on the RV business and lifestyle.
For the show, titled “In America”, they wanted a dealership that exemplified American businesses, and when producers called Lee’s Family Trailer Sales in Windham, Maine, to tell General Manager Sheri Huff that the dealership was one of 12 shortlisted for the segment, she tempered her expectations.
“They didn’t tell us who was in (the list) at all. I just knew the majority of the dealers were on the East Coast between here and Florida,” Huff said.
She completed one interview after another, telling seven different producers about the history of her 33-year-old family-owned dealership, and wondering if each interview would be the last.
Eventually, she was told that the dealership was chosen for the year-long PBS segment hosted by James Earl Jones. “In America” segments play during breaks from PBS programming throughout the year.
“We are very excited about the opportunity,” Huff said. “I think that family atmosphere was something they liked. Plus, we all camp.”
The segment will be produced Sept. 1, and also will include a guest appearance from Thor President Bob Martin.
“He was the partner I asked to be my corporate-piece because (“In America” producers) like to cover the corporate, the dealership and the family,” Huff said, adding that Martin entered the RV industry the same year the dealership, which has carried Thor products since it opened.
Show producers were quick to key in on the fact that several of the dealership’s employees and owners are all family, but Huff said that the company takes pride in making every employee a part of the tight-knit group.
“It’s a very friendly family atmosphere,” she said. “All of our staff eats lunch together, and there are 25 on staff. It’s just a different atmosphere, and I think (the show’s producers) felt that.”
The employee-friendly business model has paid off this year with a 30 percent uptick in sales over 2014, according to Huff.
The dealership’s inventory is split down the middle between used and new RVs, and Huff said that’s a departure from most dealerships, which tend to lean more heavily to one side or the other.
“We’re known for our used inventory because there’s never a time where we’re less than 50 to 60 towables,” she said.
For more information about the “In America” program, click here.