By DAVID BOSSICK, Ludington Daily News
AMBER TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) – Dennis Grossenbacher built the family business he wanted, seeing ups and downs along the way, but it feels good knowing that by the time he enters semi- retirement, he knows the staff and customers of Fun N Sun RV will be in good hands.
Grossenbacher’s last day was December 17 as the head of the company and something he has been involved in for over 50 years.
âSince I was between 12 and 13, I started working with my brother,â he said from his Amber Township office with many boxes still there and employees putting everything in place afterwards. the dealer’s sale. âHe had just started a dealership in Coopersville. He had his regular job. He was a carpenter and they had a construction business. They kind of started this on the side. His wife worked during the day. I was working, washing trailers and everything and going from there.
Grossenbacher did not spend his entire career in the motorhome sector. He left for three years in his early twenties for a bigger dealership, but decided to return in 1981.
âThat’s when we incorporated as Fun N Sun,â he told the Ludington Daily News.
Every year was not a good year for business. The original Fun N Sun was dissolved at one point and Grossenbacher started FNS RV with a license to do business called Fun N Sun.
âWe had a roller coaster ride. 16% interest rates, and we’ve been through all of those times to things. It’s been good years and bad years and times when we didn’t think we would win the next paycheck, âsaid Grossenbacher.
One of the hot spots was the refusal of banks to finance the purchase of trailers in 2008 when the recession hit. This forced Grossenbacher to sell his products, and he also had to fire all of his sellers.
âWith this small floor plan in Ludington, we made an agreement with West Shore Bank to secure enough to get a larger floor plan. One thing led to another with the factory helping us with a floor plan we were able to grow again and that’s when we bought the store from the other and continued to grow up, âGrossenbacher said.
But the company survived, and into the COVID-19 pandemic. Like some other industries, the motorhome industry has exploded during the pandemic.
âBy the time COVID hit, we were at almost $ 9 million in trailer floor plans, roughly close to 450 units. We were like, it’s gonna bring us down. We won’t make it, “he said.” But as soon as people started to go out and find out that we can camp, we can be outside, it was such a blessing to have This inventory Last year was our best year ever, and this year we are ahead of last year.
Another state-owned concessionaire asked if Grossenbacher was considering retiring and whether he would sell his business. He and his wife went to Florida and reflected on the value of the business. He contacted an old friend in Indiana, and it led to an Idaho-based dealer making the right connection, named Bish’s. Representatives of the company came out and received a visit.
âWe have a different way of setting up our units. They’re more turnkey for the customer and they’re ready in those seasonal parks around here, âsaid Grossenbacher. âIt has been our bread and butter. “
Fun N Sun is a family business where Grossenbacher’s niece and nephew work in the Coopersville store. There is a grandson who works in the business, and Dennis and Pat’s daughter works in the Amber Township store. Being in business is a bit of a family tradition, as Grossenbacher’s son owns Coopersville Brewing Co. in Coopersville.
âIt’s a family business with a lot of families,â he said. “We have a lot of related people over the years who have worked for us.”
Grossenbacher said he kept his family, employees and customers in mind when he started looking to sell his business. The sale at Bish’s made the most sense.
âIt’s definitely a family business. They really care about their customers. And they have so many more resources than I ever dreamed of having and doing a better job of taking care of the service. I feel extremely blessed to have found them. Everything they do is positive, positive, positive. I don’t know of a single employee who hasn’t been offered a raise to stay. Better 401K. Better health insurance with more benefits, a lower deductible.
Bish’s is a national recreational vehicle dealership that spans coast to coast, and they have plans for Fun N Sun that call for building modifications to the property’s footprint. Going through the plans and discussing what Bish’s is doing for the employees of Fun N Sun, Grossenbacher brought tears to his eyes.
âThey are making these improvements, and I can’t complain,â he said. âIt’s a much more professional way of doing it. I am so excited for the employees. I told them that I almost wish I could come and work for them.
He is also grateful to the longtime customers he has sold and serviced.
âThere is a coupleâ¦ we delivered their RV to PM Oaks, which is near Big Star Lake,â he said. âShe brought me a list of all the trailers she’s bought from me and my brother over the years, 17 units they’ve bought.
âThere’s another person there who built a house hereâ¦ At one point he had two trailers, one for pulling and one for going to Poncho’s Pond. But he retired and they ended up building a house here, and he bought us a trailer and my daughter thinks it’s her 20th, âGrossenbacher said.
âIf you take care of people, they come back. We are starting to see three generations.
He plans to stay in the Ludington area with the Fun N Sun property leased to Bish’s. And he and his wife own a property just off the Pere Marquette highway for trailer storage.
âI do indoor / outdoor storage. The winter storages are all full. If anything, we could use more of that indoor storage for big things, big toys, âGrossenbacher said. âIn the summer, people live in Midland or Lansing and camp in Poncho’s Pond or in the state park. They’re coming back to a campsite here in three weeks and they don’t want to pull their trailer home.
He said he also carried trailers for people, like those who camp seasonally at Buttersville Park.
âI’m going to do things, but the other thing we really want to do is I delivered trailers all over the country, but we never really stopped. We want to do national parks and what our clients have told us over the years. “
Grossenbacher valued the community.
âI can’t say enough about how the community has helped us grow. New people have bigger visions than mine, âhe said.
With the changes that are planned, he said he would be very proud of what is to come from Bish’s.
âIt means a lot to me. It really does,â he said. âIt’s been my whole life. It’s gonna be so cool to drive and see the improvements and say, ‘Hey, j started this. â
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