BILLINGS — It seems like everywhere you look in Billings, there’s an RV dealership, and there’s good reason for that. Two more will soon be moving in, and one of them is nationally known RV retailer, Camping World.
Russell Pierce is the vice president of Pierce Companies and works at Pierce RV Supercenter.
“There’s always going to be people that want to get in the industry when they hear it’s doing good,” Pierce said.
Pierce RV Supercenter is one of the largest RV dealerships in Billings and has been around for 98 years.
“Last two years since COVID hit, it has been off the hook,” said Pierce.
He says they’ve seen between a 25 and 40 percent growth over the last couple of years. They’ll have new competition once Camping World moves across town, right off the Lockwood interchange.
“Probably is a little saturated but we’re the big boy in town, so we hold our own,” Pierce said.
Midway Auto RV in Laurel is also opening a new location off the City Center exit.
“It’s going to be a lot larger dealership, a 36,000 square foot building on 9 acres right on the freeway,” said Chris Grant, who owns the dealership with his family.
The pandemic has helped with sales, as people wanted to get out and go somewhere without having to fly.
“And so, they wanted to do camping because that’s one of the best family activities there is,” Grant said.
Grant says that Midway Auto RV has seen a growth of 300% over the last couple of years, especially since they’re a newer business.
Growth has brought challenges, as inventory can be hard to find.
“Normally we have 350 to 400 RVs in stock, last year we got down to around 60,” Pierce said.
The industry is also experiencing a major parts shortage.
“There was a shortage in lumber for a while then it was the glue to make the fiberglass siding like this, was in shortage,” Grant said.
All of that has driven up past prices. Many RV manufacturers are now charging at least 20 percent more than they were just a few years ago, and that gets passed on to the consumer.
Even so, demand is high and shows no signs of slowing. It’s one reason Billings RV dealerships are expanding, even as Camping World comes to town.
“Right now, it’s 55,000 square feet, we’ve purchased another building actually to add 30,000 square feet of shop space,” said Pierce.