President of LDLP
Debbie Brunoforte was inducted into the RV Hall of Fame Class of 2014.
As a second generation RV retailer, Debbie Brunoforte has provided exemplary leadership to the industry both regionally and nationally. She has won customer satisfaction awards from every manufacturer she represented. Currently serving on RV Hall of Fame Board of Directors. Serving many years on the RVDA Board of Directors, she was chairman in 2009 and 2010. As an active member of the GoRVing Coalition, she chaired the GoRVing Parts Task Force from 2005 to 2008. She serves on the governing board of the joint RVDA-RVIA Technician Certification program. She received the RVDA Chairman's Service Award in 2006 and in 2008. She was a founding member of the Arizona RV Dealers Association. She was selected as one of RV Business Magazineu2019s 100 most influential people in RV history.
Congratulations to Roy Sr., Joy, Roy Jr., Debbie, Judy, David, Larry, Danny, Vicky & Roger) one of only 8 RV dealers named as the most 100 influential over the past century.
2010 was the 100th anniversary of the RV business. In 1910 the first RV's (pop-up trailers) were mass produced. As part of the industries Centennial Celebration RV Business publications went on a search to identify the 100 most influential people in the RV industry over the past 100 years. This was a huge task because there are thousands of companies such as, manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, publishers, dealers, finance, marketing firms, software companies, parks, campgrounds, etc. that are associated with the RV industry. Little Dealer Little Prices RV was one of only eight RV dealers names as the most 100 influential over the past century.
Debbie Brunoforte was inducted into the RV Hall of Fame Class of 2014.
RVDA Chairman of the Board Debbie Brunoforte Looks Forward to a Brighter Future for the RV Industry
Little Dealer Little Prices' Debbie Brunoforte, Chairman of the RVDA Board of Directors 2010, brought a wealth of experience to her position. Debbie Brunoforte grew up cleaning trailers and sweeping trash from the parking lot of her family's RV dealership. Debbie is the former chairman of the RVDA Audit and Finance Oversight Committee, and worked her way through all positions on the RVDA Board of Directors, culminating in her election as Chairman of the Board of Directors. She also served as chairman of the Replacement Parts Availability Task Force for the Go RVing Coalition's Committee on Excellence.
For this special Q&A, RV Executive Today spoke with Debbie about her dealership, the RV industry, and RVDA issues.
Q: To help members have a better perspective of your dealership, can you give us a little background on Little Dealer, Little Prices, and how you got started in the RV business?
A: In the 60's my parents (Roy and Vivian Sampson) bought and sold trailer/mobile home parks. They would purchase a neglected and under performing park then go to work. Once the park was profitable and attractive they would sell it and buy another. In the process of renovating a park in Mesa they removed several of the trailers and were attempting to sell them on a strip of land in front of the park. A dealer reported us to the state for selling trailers without a license. In 1966 my parents obtained the license and that began our RV adventure. Since they had the license, my dad wanted to learn more about RVs. He went to the show in Louisville and became hooked. My parents may have never gone down the RV path if a dealer hadn't reported them to the state.
As our business continues to grow customers ask how we can call ourselves "little?" The answer is simple. The name "Little Dealer" did not originate from a little business, it came as a result of a little member of the family; my grandma. Grandma Irene Sampson and Grand Dad Diamond Sampson worked with my parents to build the business. It was a real struggle in the early days.
One cold day Roy saw his mother, wrapped in a sweater, walking across the lot as the wind was blowing her hair, and he remarked, "Well here comes the little dealer." The family began to call her little dealer. One day Roy said, "Well that little dealer sure has little prices." The family then began to call her little dealer with little prices. My grandma's nickname clicked and evolved into our d.b.a. name of Little Dealer, Little Prices. You might say that the name is a memorial to a little lady who helped establish a business that today supports her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.
I grew up spending many weekends cleaning trailers, picking up litter, and if I was lucky, the easy job of answering phones. In 1976 we opened a dealership in Phoenix. I obtained a driver's license and spent summers and weekends selling RVs at the Phoenix dealership. I loved sales.
After a few years my mother retired. My big brother and I purchased her company stock. Since then my brother and my father have also retired. We have a large family and I'm fortunate to work with my sister, brothers, sister-in-law, and even my mother has come back to work here. Also, my son sells RVs on the weekends when he's not in school.
Q: What kind of customer base do you serve, and what do you do to draw them to your dealership when they're looking to buy an RV?
A: Most of our customers are families with school age children and retired couples.We enjoy some winter visitor business; however, our core is from Arizona residents. The RV business is wonderful in that it's truly a benefit to society. RVing helps parents to raise healthier, happier kids, keep families together, creates lifelong memories, and enriches lives.
In this economy we're not dependent on advertising to draw customers. Our advertising budget is substantially less than in past years. Fortunately, much of our business has always been from repeat and referral customers.
Q. It's been a challenging year for RV dealers and the entire industry. What trends do you see in your marketplace, and nationally, that make you optimistic about the future of the RV business?
A: It really has been challenging for all stakeholders in the industry; however, there are indications that we're near the bottom and reasons to be optimistic. We have a "green" President and every time he speaks about RVs, our image benefits. There is plenty of low priced gas available. The media coverage of the economy is more positive. Our industry rebounded from the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and we may see a similar rebound from this recession. People want to spend more time with their loved ones, they want a simpler lifestyle, and foreign travel is less appealing. The desire to go RVing is strong. Even if we must adjust to a lower level of sales, I'm still optimistic that RVs are here to stay.
The national measurement that I've always watched is consumer confidence. Since an RV is usually a discretionary purchase, consumer confidence is critical for our industry. A leading indicator for the RV business is housing. Jim Shields, former RVDA Chairman, did a study comparing housing with the RV business. This study concluded that the RV business usually follows housing by about six months. The good news reports about housing make me optimistic about our future business.
Q: How do you see RVDA's role in meeting the challenges RV dealers are facing right now?
A: The core purpose of RVDA is to help dealer members be successful. When times are challenging the role of RVDA becomes far more important. When customers are plentiful we can make mistakes and still prosper. In this environment the actions and support of RVDA greatly benefit the dealers, even though most dealers may never know.
RVDA is an advocate for dealers. As situations arise RVDA has a very talented staff ready to respond to the needs of dealers. RVDA provides government compliance materials to help us stay out of trouble. This year the top goal is for dealership and customer financing. RVDA has created a very professional "lender tool box" to enable us to solicit local lenders. They also worked with RVIA and succeeded with getting RVs included in the government TALF program and changing the SBA requirements, making this program available to most RV dealerships. Unfortunately, money is so tight that we just haven't seen the TALF or SBA program benefits yet. The RV Learning Center continues to be a great resource for training your team on how to operate at high levels of efficiency.
Q: For the past several years you have been part of the Women in the RV Industry panel at the RV Dealers Convention. Can you tell us about that experience and why it was important to you?
A: I really enjoyed participating in the Woman Leaders panel.When I was first asked to be on the panel I didn't understand the reason for the program. I thought business is business; it's gender neutral. In preparing for the panel I read a book and went to an all day woman's workshop to learn something I could share with the ladies at the RVDA convention. I enjoyed the education. Mostly I enjoyed being with the other ladies.
Q: Any other thoughts about the upcoming year?
A: The upcoming year will still be challenging for many in the RV industry. Even though the financial health of our businesses is paramount at this time, we still need to continue to find ways to improve the RV experience for the consumer. My personal areas of concern are advocacy for dealers, industry teamwork, and RV consumer loyalty.
Have a great day!