Former Nielson RV owner announces plans for new resort project to boost local tourism economy

Inventory at the Nielson RV dealership in St. George, Utah, July 10, 2020 | Photo courtesy of Nielson RV, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — After selling the company that established his name as a business leader in Southern Utah, Nielson RV principal and owner Scott Nielson is driving his passion and knowledge in a new direction to benefit the area’s tourism economy.

Scott Nielson (left) shakes hands with Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis after finalizing the sale of Nielson RV, St. George, Utah, March 9, 2021 | Photo courtesy of Nielson RV, St. George News

Earlier this month, Nielson sold Neilson RV’s three locations – including assets, inventory, land and improvements – to Camping World, the largest RV retailer and publicly traded RV company in the United States. He said that Camping World isn’t just buying Southern Utah’s No. 1 RV dealer, however. The key to the enduring success of Nielson RV is the legacy and customer relationships his team has built. 

“This is 25 years of hard work,” he said. 

Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World Holdings Inc., visited both Nielson RV locations as well as the existing Camping World store in St. George to deliver the news on March 9.

Although Lemonis is widely known as the host of CNBC’s “The Profit,” which follows his efforts to save struggling businesses across the country by offering capital investment and expertise, Nielson said he came to St. George as a CEO and not a reality TV star. And Nielson RV isn’t a business in need of rescue – quite the opposite, in fact.  

Nielson said the company is one of the top-performing RV dealerships in the country based on real estate size and revenues. They consistently outsell Camping World’s St. George store and two supercenters in the Salt Lake Valley and have been ranked as high as fourth in the state.  

The ongoing success of Nielson RV put much larger competitors on notice, he said. The company wasn’t for sale, but Camping World and a competing retailer both reached out to make an offer. Nielson said he ultimately decided to strike a deal with Lemonis because he was willing to pay above market value, recognizing the ideal location of the St. George dealership and potential for future growth. 

Inventory at the Nielson RV dealership in Hurricane, Utah, Feb. 12, 2021 | Photo courtesy of Nielson RV, St. George News

“Marcus was super cool with the way he approached us – the phone call and the offer,” Nielson said.  

The sale amount is undisclosed; however, Nielson said the company has historically generated $50 million in annual revenue. Nielson RV operates dealerships in Hurricane and St. George along with a storage facility. 

A homegrown success story, the company started as the Hurricane Valley Auto Mall Inc., owned and operated by Nielson and his brother Mike. In 2004, Nielson purchased his brother’s remaining shares and began transforming the business into an RV dealer. They expanded to include a prime location along I-15 in St. George in 2016.  

Nielson said he has taken more of a background role in the company over the past few years. He credited longtime general manager Katie Leavitt and the leadership team for capitalizing on opportunities in the industry and bringing his visions to life. 

So what’s next for Nielson? He said it’s a move from camping to “glamping” with the establishment of the first-of-its-kind Glampers Inn RV Resort. Plans are already approved for the flagship location near Sand Hollow State Park in Hurricane, with groundbreaking anticipated for later this spring. 

Catering to road warriors looking for an upgraded experience, Glampers Inn will offer amenities far beyond the typical campground. The 52-acre property features a clubhouse, water park, lazy river, pools and hot tubs, inflatable water toys, boat and dune buggy rentals and high-speed internet, along with 25 cabins available to rent. 

Storefront of the Nielson RV dealership in St. George, Utah, March 9, 2021 | Photo by David Dudley, St. George News

The resort offers quick access to Zion National Park, multiple state parks, a dozen golf courses and miles of hiking and biking trails. Nielson said the ideal location will encourage travelers to stop and spend some time – and money – enjoying the local community. He ultimately envisions growing Glampers Inn into a chain of premier RV destination resorts throughout the West. 

In addition to his business endeavors, Nielson also lends his time and expertise to budding entrepreneurs through the Atwood Innovation Plaza at Dixie State University. He said he enjoys helping future business owners cultivate their ideas into startups and acquire funding to organically grow in a way that’s beneficial to the company. Additionally, he strives to pass on his relationship-centric approach to success. 

“It’s all about the customer,” he said. “Make them happy, and the revenues will follow.”

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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