Photo: Rick and Lisa Flanigan, owners of Holiday Hour RV in Cortland, stand by a pop-up camper at the business, which is celebrating its 40th year. Photo by Susan O’Neill
Holiday Hour RV survives, thrives through economic ups and downs
by Susan O’Neill
Cortland—Holiday Hour RV owners Rick and Lisa Flanigan work hard so their customers can have fun. Their motto is, “Your pleasure is our business.”
Rick’s mom and dad, Les and Shirley Flanigan, started the business in 1972 in a renovated gas station on the south side of DeKalb. Rick began working for them full-time in 1983, and three years after he and Lisa were married, she joined the business in 1990.
The Flanigans celebrate Holiday Hour’s 40th anniversary this year. They have made it through some very tough times in the economy, and are proud to have survived through it all.
“You think our economy’s tough today?” asked Rick.
A year after his dad went into the RV business, OPEC leaders placed an embargo on the sale of gasoline to the United States and other countries, leading to a shortage of gasoline and rationing at the pump.
“People were waiting in line for an hour and a half,” Rick said. “We sold (only) six campers in 1975. You start wondering, ‘what are you doing in this business?’”
Although the embargo was lifted in 1974, the effects of the energy crisis lasted throughout the 1970′s. However, in 1976, Rick’s dad Les chose that time to build a new and larger facility. He had enough confidence in the long-term future of the business that he sold his house to obtain the money.
By 1979, interest rates had skyrocketed to 21.5 percent. With the purchase of a camper dependent upon customer financing, once again, that year they sold only six campers.
After the market crashed in 2008, 2009 was Lisa and Rick’s worst year in the business. They have seen four RV manufacturers go out of business in the past three years. They cut their inventory in half and, for the first time ever, they had to lay off three employees. However, even during this difficult time, they feel they’ve done pretty well at keeping their heads above water.
“We work this business hard,” Rick said.
He and Lisa are there at the dealership every day. Their main carrier, Jayco, a family-owned and operated manufacturer of RVs, is also a long-time survivor. Jayco has been in business for 35 years.
“It’s a very well-known product,” Rick said. “It’s a company that stands out among the others.”
Rick said the secret to success in this business is to have the right product at the right time. He said that people typically buy a camper in the summertime, and only 5 percent of their business is through orders.
“They see it, they like it, they buy it,” he said. “It’s an impulse purchase.”
Rick and Lisa’s planning, however, is always a year in advance. They order the bulk of their product in October. They carry Jayco tent campers, travel trailers and fifth wheelers, as well as Puma trailers of all sizes and i-Go trailers by Evergreen. They offer service in addition to sales, and a number of their customers store their unit year-round at their location.
He and Lisa have raised three children during the past 25 years, and Rick said they all help out with the big shows they attend. They have also gone camping together every chance they could over the years.
“There’s just some things in this country you can’t see from an airplane,” Rick said. “In the last 40 years, we’ve been all over the country. You can stop when you want, do what you want when you want.”
A Holiday Hour tire cover comes with every order, so it is easy to recognize a customer. Rick said they have run into them at campsites all over the country. They also camp together with their customers the last weekend of every month from April through October.
Rick and Lisa will host two events this year to celebrate their 40th anniversary. An open house and sale weekend is set for March 29 to April 1. Then, in September, they will hold a camping weekend at the Millbrook Yogi Bear Campground for their current customers. Back Country Roads will provide the music, and they’ll serve a pork chop dinner on Saturday and a pancake breakfast on Sunday. There will be Bingo, prizes and give-aways. Registration forms will be mailed by July.
Holiday Hour RV
Rick and Lisa Flanigan, owners
350 W. Lincoln Highway
Route 38 between
Cortland and DeKalb
to celebrate 40th anniversary
Open House and Sale Weekend
March 29-April 1
Current customer camping weekend