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 â€œCelebrity Apprenticeâ€ 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 facilityâ€™s long-term viability, the Chicago-based executive is essentially pledging a combined total of up to $325,000 â€” an amount that, in the final analysis, would make Camping World and the Good Sam Club the hallâ€™s largest supporters.
â€œFor 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,â€ he said. â€œAdditionally, we would contribute one-half percent of the Good Sam Club membership revenue going forward as an annual contribution from Good Sam members.â€
As Lemonis noted, this contribution â€” driven by the Good Sam Clubâ€™s membership base â€” would fluctuate. But he also placed a minimum on the dollar amount. â€œIt would be no less than $75,000 annually,â€ 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 facilityâ€™s projected 2011 operating budget deficit, â€œnot to exceed $150,000.â€ As envisioned by Lemonis, the Camping World retail outlet would be housed inside the hallâ€™s existing infrastructure, not in a separate building, and would encompass only the companyâ€™s accessory items. â€œIt would not include any portion of the RV sales business,â€ 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.
â€œFirst, I would like the annual pledge by the Go RVing Coalition (to the Hall of Fame) to be paid on time, as promised,â€ Lemonis noted. â€œAlso, 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 itâ€™s the dealers who actually pay for those seals.â€
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 Coalitionâ€™s media and promotional buys for the year.
Lemonis also suggests adding more members to the Hall of Fameâ€™s board of directors. â€œIâ€™m not dictating who they should be,â€ he said, â€œbut I think the board needs some fresh, new members who would provide business oversight and direction.â€
Lastly, he pointed out the need for a show of support from the rest of the RV industry. â€œIâ€™d like to see the Hall be able to raise on its own â€” from other manufacturers and suppliers â€” $250,000,â€ he continued. â€œIâ€™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.â€