ST. GEORGE — The star of the CNBC reality television show “The Profit,” Marcus Lemonis, stood before about 20 employees Tuesday at the Nielson RV St. George location. Though Lemonis’ tone was upbeat — he was visiting to announce that he’d just purchased the RV dealer — he seemed to sense some tension in the air.
Leaning into it, he invited the employees to share the rumors they’d heard and to voice their concerns so that he could confirm or dispel them. After a brief silence, they jumped right in.
“I used to work for Camping World,” one man said. “I wonder if our pay is going to go down.”
“No,” Lemonis responded. “My job is to make more money for you. You’ll get paid the same until we can figure out how to make more money for you.”
While the employee seemed satisfied with that answer, he pressed on.
“Will we get more training? he asked.
“You’ll get as much training as you want,” Lemonis said. “And your pay will increase as you earn the right certifications.”
Lemonis then noticed a woman sitting in the middle row who appeared worried, so he asked her what was wrong.
“I’m afraid of change,” the woman said.
“What about it scares you?” Lemonis asked.
“Just not knowing what’s coming,” she said.
“We’re going to change the name on the building,” Lemonis said. “We’re going to change the uniforms you wear. And we’re going to increase the number of employees working here, to handle a bigger workload. We’re going to try to add some more bays. Otherwise, things will stay the same.”
Lemonis is many things: a businessman and a philanthropist. On “The Profit,” he offers a capital investment – as well as his expertise – to small businesses that are struggling in exchange for an ownership stake in the business. Closer to home, he’s also CEO of Camping World. On Tuesday, Lemonis also announced that the St. George location of Camping World will be moving into Nielson RV.
One of the final things Lemonis did was to give the employees his personal email address and invite them to reach out to him if they experience a personal crisis.
“If you can’t afford furniture, I want to know,” he said. “If you’re depressed and you need counseling, I want to know.”
Lemonis said the reason he wants to know these things is to ensure that his employees are happy.
“Make no mistake, I’m a capitalist,” he said. “It’s important to make money. But it’s more important to make people happy.”
Those two things aren’t contradictory, Lemonis said.
“If you keep people happy, you make more money in the long run.”
Scott Nielson told St. George News that Nielson RV — which he started with his brother, Mike, in Hurricane in 1997 — is the top selling RV outfit in Southern Utah. He also said they often outsell bigger outfits in Northern Utah.
“Outselling most of the bigger dealers in Salt Lake City is a major feat,” Nielson said, “since the population in Salt Lake City compared to Washington County is so much greater.”
Nielson couldn’t disclose the business’s purchase price, but he said that Nielson RV generates $50 million in annual revenue, adding that the Camping World deal “included $64 million in inventory, land and equipment, extending to retail locations and storage facilities in St. George and Hurricane.”
Though Nielson hadn’t listed Nielson RV, he said that a number of larger companies contacted him to express their interest. He went with Lemonis, who made a substantial offer that will allow Nielsen to pursue a newer venture, Glampers Inn RV Resort.
In just a few hours Tuesday, Lemonis also visited the Nielson RV in Hurricane, as well as Camping World. During all three visits, he said there would be changes, mostly for the best.
Before he headed to Camping World to tell his employees of the changes at hand, St. George News was able to catch up with him and ask why he had chosen St. George.
“This is one of the fastest growing markets in the West,” he said. “And it’s the gateway to the great outdoors.”
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