Last Updated on August 4, 2022 by Christina
Did you know we’ve been helping RVers come home with a story for 60 years? It’s true. General RV is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year! To celebrate this milestone anniversary, we’ve compiled 60 fun facts about General RV. Read on to learn more about our history. Or test your knowledge (or your friends) and see how many of these surprise you.
1. Nearly a decade before being inspired to create an RV company, Ambrose “Abe” Baidas operated a Mobil gas station on Eight Mile Road in Detroit, MI. This would become the future site of the first General RV Center location.
2. Abe Baidas founded General Trailer in 1962. He opened the small trailer manufacturing business adjacent to his gas station after returning from an RV trip out west with his family. He enjoyed the experience so much that he wanted to share it with others.
3. The original company name was General Trailer. Abe picked this name because some of the most prestigious companies in existence at the time had General in their names: General Motors, General Mills and General Electric.
4. Six years after opening, Abe moved General Trailer to Southfield, Michigan and expanded the business to the sale of new RVs, RV parts and accessories.
5. General Trailers expanded across Michigan throughout the 1970s and 80s. Dealerships were opened in Mt. Clemens, Flat Rock, Waterford and Grand Rapids. Most of these stores have undergone renovations or relocated since they originally opened, but each still operates today.
6. In 1993, 31 years after being founded, General Trailer officially changed its name to General RV Center. At the same time, the company began to adopt a supercenter format – offering new and used RVs for sale, RV parts and accessories, and state-of-the-art service centers.
7. Richard Baidas, son of founder Abe Baidas, was a chemistry and physics teacher before his father convinced him to join General Trailers. Richard played a huge role in the company’s growth and was active in the RV industry.
8. In 2009, Richard Baidas was posthumously inducted into the RV/MH Hall of Fame. He was a board member of the Michigan MH and RV Association and helped develop ten different RV and housing manufacturers.
Growing Through The 2000s
10. 2008 marked the beginning of a new chapter in General RV history. It was a chapter filled with rapid growth as the company ventured out of Michigan for the first time and opened its North Canton, Ohio RV dealership.
12. General RV expanded to Illinois in 2011 with the opening of the Huntley supercenter. Located roughly an hour west of Chicago, this supercenter was designed to serve RVers from central and southern Illinois as well as neighboring states.
13. In 2014, construction began on a new flagship store and company headquarters on the site of a former Ford Motor Company manufacturing facility in Wixom, Michigan. The Baidas family named the street Assembly Park Drive to honor the history of the location.
14. Demand for RVs in Florida quickly pushed General RV open a second dealership in the Sunshine State. Our Dover, Florida location opened in 2014.
15. General RV continued expanding by opening a new dealership in Richmond, Virginia in 2017. This location grew rapidly and just two short years later, a brand new supercenter was built to better serve customers.
17. In spring of 2021, General RV opened a first-of-its-kind inspection facility near Elkhart, Indiana. Designed to serve as a quality checkpoint between RV manufacturers and General RV dealerships, the technicians at this 150,000 sq. ft. facility complete a six-stage, multipoint inspection to ensure every RV on General RV lots is ready for customers to take home.
18. General RV expanded to Pennsylvania in 2021. The General RV Outlet located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania opened in September. Plans were soon announced for a new supercenter in nearby Elizabethtown. This site is scheduled to open in fall of 2022.
19. The General RV logo has changed multiple times throughout our history. A special 60th anniversary logo was introduced in 2022 to celebrate this year’s milestone achievement.
More Facts About General RV
20. General RV has remained family-owned since the beginning and is currently led by the third generation of family-owners. Loren Baidas (grandson of Abe) has been president of General RV since 2006.
21. General RV’s Vision has remained the same throughout its history: To be the premier RV partner. This means we focus on finding or creating ways to improve for our customers, partners and employees every day.
22. General RV is the largest family-owned RV dealer in the country and one of the largest RV dealers overall (by volume). One out of 33 travel trailers sold in the United States is sold by General RV dealerships and that increases to one in 10 when it comes to motorhomes.
23. General RV is the third largest dealership group in the country by number of new RVs sold as of 2021.
24. General RV has been one of the fastest-growing companies in Michigan for several years running. In fact, we’ve made the Crain’s Detroit list of fastest-growing companies multiple times.
25. We have approximately 500 RV service bays across all locations! We’ve continually expanded our service centers to better serve customers.
26. Multiple General RV dealerships have a paint and body shop in addition to their regular service facilities. Paint and body shop technicians complete collision repairs and body work on all types of RVs, boats and trailers (cargo trailers, enclosed trailers, boat trailers, etc.).
27. General RV created our exclusive Keep You Camping program to help customers spend more time on the road and reduce time waiting for repairs. Our expedited service program has helped save countless vacations. You can learn more about Keep You Camping here.
28. We carry thousands of parts and accessories in the Parts department at our dealerships. You can find everything for your RV adventures here: RV furniture, towing equipment, outdoor cooking gear, sanitation items, WiFi extenders, generators and much more.
29. There are more than 2,000 General RV employees company-wide as of June 2022. You can be part of the General RV team, too! Visit our Careers page for current job openings.
30. In addition to providing paid training for RV technicians, General RV helps technicians earn industry certifications.
31. Since we have so many locations across the country and countless roles, there are many opportunities for advancement within General RV. In fact, we have an entire Learning and Development team that helps employees learn new skills or even discover new career paths. It’s one reason we say, “Start a career, not a job” at General RV!
32. Many employees have created long lasting careers here. We’ve had employees celebrate 20, 30 and even 40 year milestones. The longest-serving company employee to date has worked for 47 years!
33. Lots of employees are also family! Spouses and children work across our locations in a variety of positions.
34. General RV has a college scholarship program for children and grandchildren of employees. The Richard Baidas Memorial Scholarship has given more than $1 million to deserving college-bound students since its inception in 2006.
35. We proudly support the local communities where we live and work. We have donated tents to Scout groups, worked with many Make-A-Wish families and racked up volunteered hours cleaning up local playgrounds and parks.
36. We have strong ties to our local campgrounds and parks associations. General RV partnered with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for Project Rustic in 2021. The purpose of this project was to gather first-hand information about rustic state forest campgrounds and update the MI DNR’s Recreation Search directory so future campers could make their plans to visit. Read more Project Rustic and this tour of Michigan’s most remote campgrounds on our blog!
37. General RV Center recently partnered with long-time Ohio radio legend, Jeff Kinzbach and his wife Patty for an inside look at their RV lifestyle. Jeff hosts the podcast Rockin’ the RV Life about his adventures on the road including places to go, where to stay, safety tips and more.
38. General RV is part of a family of companies. Our sister companies are Salem Distributers and America’s Choice Insurance Partners (ACIP). Salem Distributors is one of Michigan’s leading distributers of RV parts and accessories. ACIP specializes in RV insurance; they also provide coverage for homes and automobiles, umbrella policies and more.
39. Salem Distributers, our sister company, is one of the top 10 RV parts distributors in the United States.
Fun Facts About RVs And Our Stores
40. Today, there are 14 General RV dealerships to serve you. Six of those dealerships are located in Michigan – Birch Run, Brownstown, Clarkston, Mt. Clemens, Wayland and Wixom. We have three Florida supercenters – Jacksonville, Ocala and Tampa. There are also dealerships in Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah and Virginia. And we’re still growing!
41. All of our stores are pet friendly! Many people travel with their furry babies in their RVs, and we welcome well-behaved, vaccinated pets at our dealerships. We’ve even had customers bring along cats in strollers!
42. Some General RV locations host educational seminars for first-time and seasoned RVers. Anyone is welcome to attend these events to learn about the basics of RVing. Call your local General RV supercenter and ask if they have any upcoming seminars.
43. Our Dover supercenter situated near Tampa, Florida is the largest dealership. It spans 60 acres and has 76 service bays.
44. Our supercenter in Draper, Utah is the store located furthest away from our headquarters. It is also our only store in the western United States as of 2022.
45. General RV has more than 6,000 new and used RVs in combined inventory at all its locations. This includes over 100 brands of pop-up campers, travel trailers, fifth wheels, toy haulers, Class C motorhomes, camper vans and Class A motorhomes. That’s a lot of RVs to choose from!
46. RVs come in all shapes and sizes! The smallest RV we sell is a Clipper 9.0TD from Coachmen RV. Lightweight and easy to set up, this folding pop-up camper is the perfect size for solo campers and couples.
48. General RV has a huge virtual showroom that you can explore from the comfort of your couch or anywhere else you’ve got an internet connection! Here you can browse hundreds of RV floor plan videos and 360-degree tours of interiors whether you’re daydreaming about a new RV or actively shopping.
49. General RV attends many RV shows every year – about 20 a year! When the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, we held our first-ever Virtual RV Show. Check out our RV show calendar to see where we’ll be next!
50. Want to see even more videos of RVs, RVing tips, amazing destinations, delicious recipes and other RVing content? You’ll get all that and more when you connect with us on social media! Like General RV Center on Meta, follow @generalrvcenter on Instagram and subscribe to our YouTube channel.
51. Many General RV employees aren’t just RV experts, some are avid campers or RV owners themselves! You can read about some of their favorite places to camp in on our blog.
52. Famous celebrities have purchased RVs from General RV! It turns out everyone loves RVing – even big screen actors!
53. You don’t need an RV to take advantage of our Trade Up program. We take just about anything on trade! Boats, cars, motorcycles, ATVs, jet skis and golf carts are normal trades we see day to day.
54. Our stores have also have accepted some pretty wacky trades to help make camping dreams come true. An electric scooter and a tractor are just some of the wild things we have taken in trade to help people RV.
55. You don’t have to visit a General RV location or even live close to one of our supercenters to find your perfect RV. We have a dedicated internet sales team to help customers shop from anywhere. They’ll set up video calls so you can take a closer look at each RV and answer all your questions.
56. RVing isn’t just an American pastime. Some of our customers come from abroad to visit us! Canadian customers are regular guests at some of our Michigan stores. We’ve even had customers from as far away as Japan!
57. About 20% of our customers shop for their new RV online with help from our internet sales team. These customers receive the same level of personalized service without needing to visit one of our brick-and-mortar stores.
58. Did you know we deliver RVs, too? That’s right, you can get your motorhome or trailer delivered right to your driveway! It’s one more way General RV team members have helped customers start their RV adventures sooner.
59. RVing is more popular than ever, and we’ve helped lots of families discover the RV lifestyle. Over 100,000 people walked through our doors in 2021, and we delivered more than 22,000 RVs to customers.
60. General RV has sold more than 300,000 RVs in its history!
Whew! That wraps up our list of 60 facts for our 60th anniversary. Thanks for reading!