General RV Center in Huntley plans expansion

Published: Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013 2:29 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013 4:01 p.m. CDT
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(Sarah Nader - snader@shawmedia.com)
Road work on the Route 47/I-90 exchange can be seen in the background of the RV lot at General RV Center in Huntley Thursday, August 1, 2013.
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(Sarah Nader - snader@shawmedia.com)
Technician Ryan McCabe works on the air conditioning unit in a brand new RV while working at General RV Center in Huntley.
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(Sarah Nader - snader@shawmedia.com)
Operations Manager Keith Lessner walks through the RV showroom at General RV Center in Huntley.
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(Sarah Nader - snader@shawmedia.com)
Detailer Elizabeth Sheppard washes a RV while working at General RV Center in Huntley.
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(Sarah Nader - snader@shawmedia.com)
Technician Kurtis Baran works on a RV at General RV Center in Huntley.

HUNTLEY – The exposed General RV Center sales lot that borders Interstate 90 in Huntley has narrow aisles, with some of the company's most popular units crowding the walkways.

The service area, just northeast of the lot, can't house the many recreational vehicles slated for maintenance; technicians now use the sales lot and a nearby employee lot for overflow space.

The employees consequently park along Automall Drive, the street that leads customers from the ongoing tollway construction near Route 47 and I-90 to General RV at 14000 Automall.

"I'm out of room," said Operations Manager Keith Lessner, pointing to the narrow lots and overgrown maintenance area.

Space has been tight since the Huntley dealership opened its doors in May 2011. The business, which makes up one of 10 outlets owned by the Michigan-based General RV Center, has been seeing 10 to 20 percent sales growth each year since that inaugural summer in 2011, Lessner said.

The customers behind those increased sales have battled makeshift lanes and traffic delays along Route 47 since last year, when construction started on the $61 million tollway project.

Once complete later this fall, the project will open the Route 47/I-90 interchange to both east and westbound traffic from one of the state's busiest interstates.

Both the sales growth and the anticipated demand from a nearly constructed interchange has now forced Lessner and his 48 employees to add more space.

"Once this tollway project is complete, I think the floodgates will open," Lessner said.

Lessner expects construction to start later this year on a $500,000 maintenance area expansion that would add 10 service bays and 85 more parking spaces. The expansion would give technicians 24 total service spaces, allowing the Huntley RV business to service more clients at a faster pace.

Those clients primarily have come from the Chicago and Rockford areas to take advantage of a business that promotes friendly customer service and products tailored to campers and traveling families.

The family bunk houses and travel trailers that tow behind back bumpers are the two most popular products for the General RV Center, Lessner said. But the business' reputation is the reason why customers keep flowing through the doors.

"When you walk in as a customer, you can feel a vibe to this place. It feels welcoming and inviting," Lessner said. "When that happens and when you actually start to take care of them, the relationship builds from there."

The majority of General RV's customers are coming from referrals from other customers who have left satisfied with either the sales and service team or the diverse inventory, Lessner said.

That inventory also features camping equipment and household furniture in the business' accessory section. The product line won't be increased with the expansion project, but customers can expert service to excel, Lessner said.

"Our growth plan has been faster than we we anticipated, but I think it's because of who we are and what we do for customers," he said. "There's a need for a good, stable dealership that takes care of their customers in the area."

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About Huntley General RV Center:

What: Opened in May 2011, General RV Center in Huntley is one of 10 outlet stores belonging to the Michigan-based General RV Center. The Huntley center sells and maintains recreational vehicles, from motorized homes to travel trailers, and sells camping and household equipment.

Where: 14000 Automall Drive, Huntley

Information: Call 847-669-5570 or visit www.generalrv.com

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