RV City expanding to former Honda Dealership location

Frontier Honda is gone, but RV City is expanding. Last week we spoke to co-owner Ross Hodgins about the expansion plans. Here's our segment on those plans.

Posted by MorinvilleNews.com on Tuesday, 4 August 2015

by Stephen Dafoe

The old Frontier Honda sign letters lay by the side of the building. Soon, new signage will go up as RV City works on the first of three phases of expansion in Morinville.

Co-owner Ross Hodgins said the decision to relocate his Honda Dealership to St. Albert was largely Honda driven as the company is looking to increase their urban presence with more destination dealerships.

But the departing of one facet of his business has allowed for an opportunity in another. “Locally, RV City is expanding,” Hodgins said. “We’re moving onto the site that was formerly Frontier Honda. We’re going to remodel that building and repurpose the building to provide additional service opportunities for RV City.”

rv city 2Some of the forthcoming changes include moving the company’s detailing operation to the service bays of the Honda dealership location and utilizing the former car showroom for RVs. Additionally, office space in the former car dealership will be used for the company’s ancillary business JLS Designs, which creates decals and other printed banner materials for the business and RV clients. Through the latter business, they can replace missing and faded decals to give serviced units a restored look.

The use of the showroom will also benefit the company. Although people use canvas trailers in July and August, Hodgins says people start shopping for them in January and February.

“It’s pretty hard to set up a tent trailer in the winter,” he said. “Minus forty setting up a tent trailer is a little bit uncomfortable. We’re excited about having increased showroom space.”

RVCity1But Hodgins and his staff are also looking forward to having increased yard space where they will be able to carry a larger inventory of Jayco products to serve their clientele.

“We’re negotiating with them [Jayco] to have a larger presence market share wise,” Hodgins said, noting he was one of three dealers selling motorized Jayco units in the province. “It makes it a lot larger territory, which in turn gives us the ability to stock more products and have a substantially [larger] selection for the consumer.”

In addition to the expansion work, Hodgins said he wants to update the look of the company, carrying the business’ red colour scheme throughout the three buildings.

“We want our facilities to be crisp, tight and clean, and we’re definitely in need of a bit of a facelift,” Hodgins said, adding the current sales building was built in 1979. “We’ve done a significant amount of renovations to it, mostly on the inside. It’s time to spend some energy on the exterior and getting things looking sharp.”

Hodgins said he expected his part of the Morinville Industrial Park to look considerably different by the end of October.

It is another chapter in the family business’ history. Hodgins said the company was started in St. Albert by his father and uncle in 1968. The two brothers owned gas stations and eventually a tire and auto business. When they moved to Morinville in the late 1970s, the Industrial Park was largely farmers’ fields.

“I have a picture of my mom standing by a 1980 Honda Civic beside a fire hydrant, and that’s it,” he recalled. “As the Morinville Business Park has expanded and grown, it’s grown around us. So we’ve become landlocked.”

Hodgins said one of the reasons not to sell the Frontier Honda location was the ability to have land to expand his RV business.

“Everybody would like the cash injection,” he said of the idea of selling the property. “But I don’t think it is the right thing, long term, for the business. We’re super excited to expand the RV City portfolio.”

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