One consumer trend that arose from the COVID-19 pandemic has only picked up steam as life gradually returns to normal: demand for RVs.
According to March data from the RV Industry Association, 148,507 wholesale RV units were shipped to dealerships across North America in the first quarter of 2021. That’s a record high for total shipments in a single quarter, shattering the previous record set in Q1 of 2018 by nearly 10%. What’s more, the group’s recent survey of leisure travelers in the U.S. found that 31% are planning to go RVing this summer – and not for reasons related to the pandemic.
As demand soars, dealerships struggle to source inventory, a process that had already been challenging enough prior to the pandemic, said Todd Wilkins. He’s the co-founder of Milwaukee-based ReinventRV, a new online platform, under parent brand ReinventAuctions Inc., where dealers can trade, sell and purchase vehicles without the hassle of going to auction or discussing payments over the phone. It connects dealerships across the U.S. through their dealer management systems for real-time transactions.
Since launching last November, ReinventRV has grown to 121 users and more than 18,000 RV units. By the end of September, the company expects to have 1,100 dealers and more than 100,000 RVs. Buyers and sellers pay a transaction fee but joining and listing inventory is free during the platform’s first year.
“We’re a solution right now that’s really covering a pain point for all dealers,” said Wilkins, who started his decades-long career as an auto dealer and now heads a marketing agency specializing in the RV, marine and powersports industries.
“Acquiring wholesale units and selling off aged units has always been a common thread for all the dealers I’ve worked with,” he said. “It’s what got us driving to create the platform and solution to improve the industry.”
Also at the helm of ReinventAuctions is Dean Stojka and former Harley-Davidson exec Paul Jones, now vice president for university relations and general counsel at Marquette. Wilkins and Jones met playing college football at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.