Brent Mcmahon is an American businessman who came to business notoriety when he started a small RV dealership in December of 2000 Orange County, California. He started McMahon’s RV at a small facility in what was known as “Traveland, USA”, a mall for RV dealerships. At that time, the facility was home to more than 15 different dealers, ranging from small one-lot dealers to some of the nation’s largest.
McMahon started the business with three used motorhomes and a pickup truck. He had served in the RV industry for over 14 years before starting the company. Brent had worked his way up from a salesperson to a director of sales of a multi-store operation before deciding to strike out on his own.
Shortly after starting the business, America was hit with the devastation of 9/11. The country would never be the same, and neither would travel. McMahon’s RV was not sure how they would survive or even how they would be affected. Ironically, business actually saw an increase in revenue as Americans rallied to the cry of patriotism and were inspired to go see the country more than ever.
Within a year from that time period, Brent Mcmahon had begun to represent RV manufacturers as a dealer. He had signed the top two manufacturers in the world, Roadtrek, and Pleasure-way. The company began to set sales records month-in and month-out under McMahon’s dynamic leadership. McMahon’s RV grew from 30 million to 60 Million then up over 100 million annually in gross sales. They broke the previous sales records for both van companies they represented. To mark the occasion, Brent was flown by Roadtrek Motorhomes to its MFG headquarters in Ontario, Canada, where he was presented with the key to the 20,000th Roadtrek RV produced, presented by the mayor of Kitchener and the company president.
In 2004, the company began the first of several expansion moves. They opened additional facilities in and around its home state of California. They ventured into new products with the addition of Luxury Diesel Pushers and quickly acquired several big franchises like Monaco, Country Coach, Holiday Rambler, Forest River, Winnebago, and more.
As the company approached 2007, after six short years, it had gone from nowhere to be one of the top motorized RV dealerships in the nation. The accolades followed. Some of McMahon’s RV awards include:
- #1 Roadtrek Dealer Worldwide (10 consecutive years)
- Pleasure-Way World record holder, circa 2007
- Multi-Dealer of the Year award for the U.S.A.
- Beaver Motorhomes Rookie of the Year
- Safari Motorhomes Rookie of The Year
- Holiday Rambler Top Dealer
- Winnebago Dealer of the Year
- Forest River Dealer of the Year
- California’s Top 5th Wheel Dealer
- California’s Top Motorhome Dealer
- California’s Top Trailer Dealer
- California’s Top Overall Dealer as recognized by Stat Surveys Inc.
As 2007 approached, it became obvious to management that something was changing in the economy. Business, which had been at an all-time pace, began to drop off significantly. By the middle of 2008, McMahon’s RV and other dealers, RV manufacturers, and RV suppliers were beginning to experience something they had never experienced before, a real economic depression. There had been recessions about every 6-7 years, going back to the late 70’s and early 80s. They dealt with high gas prices and even extremely high-interest rates, but nothing compared to this. This wiped-out companies, both large and small, and had a devastating effect on the RV business in general. McMahon remained confident. He and the tremendous sales staff he had developed over the years would be able to persevere. He and his senior manager, Mike Lankford, developed a plan. No one was coming out to the stores to buy an expensive gas-guzzling RV during these times. They needed to adapt.
They developed a two-stage plan. The first stage focused on customers already living the RV lifestyle. First-timers had been scared out of the market by the Great Recession. The full-timers or the retirees were already committed to the RV lifestyle and were not going anywhere. This was their lifestyle. Depression or not, they were in. The company realized these customers mainly flocked to the desert communities in the winter places like the River in California and off the I95 freeway, near the California-Arizona border. Cities like Yuma, Mesa and others saw these so-called “snowbirds” flock there in droves. They subsequently decided to open up small facilities and put on events in these areas. They opened up in the desert near Palm Springs, CA, an area where customers tend to spend time in the winter, to get away from the colder weather in the Northern USA and Canada. The second stage was to bring the product to the customer. In order to do this, the company went to the largest outdoor venues in the RV industries largest selling market, Southern California. Dodger Stadium, the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Angel Stadium in Anaheim, along with others! The plans to put on large outdoor tent sales events at these locations worked! Those early years during and after the Great Recession, these specialized sales people traveled the western part of the USA and helped propel the dealership to new records in sales and totals.
Unfortunately, this came at a heavy price. McMahon reluctantly had to close his brick-and-mortar locations to continue to put on the outdoor events. As time went on, the costs of maintaining both the tent events and permanent locations wore heavy on the company’s resources. As the internet continued its development, RV sales and pricing became more competitive. It made it difficult for many dealers to maintain their profit margins. In late 2013, the company had fallen onto difficult times. The seasonality of many of their higher priced units had major impacts on their cash-flows. Additionally, one of their lead floor-plan companies decided it was no longer going to serve the industry at the same level it had for the previous several years.
The company had several heated and contested business interactions with the floor-plan company which lead to the floor-plan companies taking aggressive action. Because of all this, Brent Mcmahon filed for Chapter 11 Protection. The company filed litigation and the matter was later settled with the estate receiving an undisclosed financial settlement. The goal was to re-launch the company, but when that failed, McMahon resigned. Other legal charges were filed and subsequently dismissed. It became evident McMahon loved his company and would have given his right arm to save it. When asked about the business years later, he said;
“We had a great company. We had the best customers in the world. We had the best sales staff and employees anybody could ever ask for! We accomplished many great things and had tremendous relationships with our manufacturing partners and our lending partners. In the end, we believe we had the resources and the assets available to make a case for us to come to terms and keep moving forward but unfortunately things did not work out that way. I still have people who come up to me all the time and comment on different things regarding the dealerships, how much they enjoyed working there or stories about trips they took etc. In closing, I am proud of what we accomplished as a team. We had an amazing run!”
Today, Brent McMahon is a serial entrepreneur. He started a women’s CBD skincare line in 2015 and is constantly involved with other business projects from his consulting business, BMC Consulting or BMCC. It focuses on helping businesses achieve success throughout marketing and outselling the competition. Business is hard. Most people have a particular skill set that helps them get to where they are. BMCC helps get them to that next level. They’ve experienced all business levels, from start-up to peak growth. They know what it takes to help companies achieve success and know-how to help them avoid the pitfalls in a way you can only get from experience.