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Camping World Chairman Lemonis Promotes Plan to Help RV/MH Hall of Fame

Originally Published in MotorHome Magazine

Camping World Chairman Marcus Lemonis has a plan that he believes will help ease both the short-term and long-term pain for the financially strapped RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind.

And Lemonis, following his Sunday night “Celebrity Apprentice” appearance on national TV, is preparing to present that plan to a handful of industry players in a Tuesday (March 22) conference call.

In an effort to help the Hall meet its current financial obligations while also guaranteeing the facility’s long-term viability, the Chicago-based executive is essentially pledging a combined total of up to $325,000 – an amount that, in the final analysis, would make Camping World and the Good Sam Club the hall’s largest supporters.

“For starters, I propose a $100,000 grant from the Good Sam Club for naming rights for something at the hall that we would determine at a future date,” he said. “Additionally, we would contribute one-half percent of the Good Sam Club membership revenue going forward as an annual contribution from Good Sam members.”

As Lemonis noted, this contribution – driven by the Good Sam Club’s membership base – would fluctuate. But he also placed a minimum on the dollar amount. “It would be no less than $75,000 annually,” he added, noting that the Good Sam Club currently has a roster of approximately 880,000 members.

Lemonis also proposes the addition of a Camping World accessory store as a tenant of the hall, with its annual rent equal to the facility’s projected 2011 operating budget deficit, “not to exceed $150,000.” As envisioned by Lemonis, the Camping World retail outlet would be housed inside the hall’s existing infrastructure, not in a separate building, and would encompass only the company’s accessory items. “It would not include any portion of the RV sales business,” he said.

In order to ensure other revenue streams for the hall in addition to the Camping World and Good Sam Club contributions, Lemonis noted that his proposals are not without a few caveats.

“First, I would like the annual pledge by the Go RVing Coalition (to the Hall of Fame) to be paid on time, as promised,” Lemonis noted. “Also, I would like to see $2 from every Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) seal to go towards the operating budget of the hall. I believe that RV dealers across the country see the value in the Hall of Fame, and it’s the dealers who actually pay for those seals.”

The cost of the seals, lowered as of the first of the year to $20 per RV regardless of type, help to finance the Go RVing Coalition’s media and promotional buys for the year.

Lemonis also suggests adding more members to the Hall of Fame’s board of directors. “I’m not dictating who they should be,” he said, “but I think the board needs some fresh, new members who would provide business oversight and direction.”

Lastly, he pointed out the need for a show of support from the rest of the RV industry. “I’d like to see the Hall be able to raise on its own – from other manufacturers and suppliers – $250,000,” he continued. “I’ll do everything I proposed. But others also have to bring something to the table to help ensure that the Hall becomes and remains viable.”

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