As travel restrictions begin to lift and Canadians see new possibilities for their 2021 vacation plans, one of the county’s largest recreational vehicle dealers is working fast to seize the summer season.
Ottawa-based Leisure Days RV Group is further expanding its Canadian operations with the acquisition late last month of a new dealership, Hiemstra Trailer Sales in London, Ont. The purchase of the firm, which has been in operation for more than 50 years, expands Leisure Days’ footprint in southwestern Ontario and brings its total number of dealerships to 28.
The local company is also purchasing its first campground. The Happy Green Acres Campground in Mallorytown, west of Brockville, features 149 campsites over 15 acres. Most sites offer sewer, water and electricity hookups geared to RV campers.
“Selling and servicing RVs has really been the focus of what we've done, but obviously people are buying RVs to experience the outdoors,” said Jeff Kyle, the vice-president of marketing for Leisure Days RV Group, which sells, rents, services and provides parts for RVs.
“Getting into the campground side of it was a logical extension of the RV space,” he added.
RVing on the rise
While the broader tourism industry has been decimated by the pandemic, domestic travel options – such as RVing – is thriving.
Kyle said the current environment is creating a golden opportunity for the company to expand.
“In terms of sales and revenue, last year was a record year and we're already ahead of last year's pace,” he said, noting the wider RV industry is seeing more and more younger customers coming through its doors.
“What the research has shown, both in Canada and the U.S., is that more people are open to RVing,” Kyle added. “They see it as safer, certainly during the pandemic, when compared to other types of travel.”
Kyle cited a recent poll from RVezy, an Ottawa rental platform, that found 33 per cent of respondents are more open to RVing now than they were before the pandemic.
“We have a beautiful country here in Canada that people (want to) explore. People have been in their homes, and now they want to get outside, go camping, be by lakes in the summertime,” he said. “People (have) maybe taken a step back and re-evaluated what's important in their lives.”
Leisure Days RV Group was founded in 2003 when it opened RV Canada in Nepean. It now operates in five provinces and employs more than 1,000 people.
Earlier this year the group acquired a new dealership in Gananoque and a store in Rockland, and the group’s employee count grew by 20 per cent.