Southern RV in McDonough, Georgia is a 40-year old second generation family RV business selling new and used 5th wheel trailers, bunkhouse trailers, pop up campers, and more.
Southern RV, McDonough Georgia, CrossRoads RV
MobileRVing: The Buzz, Your Outdoor Lifestyle Insider. Written by Andrew Malo
Growing Up To An American Tradition
Yet Another RV Dealer, Southern RV, Notices Younger Customers In Their Shop Hoping To Purchase A Camper And Create Memories With Their Kids
“We have models that start around 10,000 and some that go up to 150,000. We try to be like a candy store that has something for everybody,” says Jonathon Mayfield, sales manager at Southern RV in McDonough, Georgia. Southern RV is a second generation family RV business that has been around for about 40 years. Starting out on a lot of about 3 acres, they moved in January of 2016 to a lot of about 12 acres that has a massive showroom, service lot, 15 interior bays, and more.
Mayfield started with the company 6.5 years ago when Southern RV had 12 employees and a sales staff of 2 - Mayfield and the owner. “I worked construction in a family business where we built fences,” recalls Mayfield, “And it was doing really well until the housing crash and all the new housing seized.” He says he worked with Southern RV through the fencing business and got a call out of the blue from the owner. “He is a second generation guy and I am, too, so we became friends,” Mayfield says. He had an informal interview and started working for the dealership.
Now, the sales staff has expanded as the dealership expands. The reasons he attributes to the growth of the company are the direct, easygoing personality of the sales staff, as well as the relaxed atmosphere of the company. “When we come in to work, we like to have fun and have a good time,” Mayfield says. The dealership “is unlike any other one you’d walk into,” he says, “The sign looks like a National Park type and customers walk into the front door and see all the camping gear you can think of - pink flamingos included.” Trailers, or campers, for sale, are major brand names including Thor Motor Coach, CrossRoads RV and Keystone to name a few. The sales staff walks customers all the way through the process. “The owner says to us sales staff that people don’t want to be here buying a camper. They want to be camping,” Mayfield says, “So we try to make it as pleasant and painless as possible.”
As fall comes, they tend to get snowbirds heading down to Florida. “Our sales in the fall are higher-end 5th wheels, as opposed to the Spring/Summer where we get a lot of families looking at bunkhouse trailers and travel trailers for families,” Mayfield says. Mayfield explains that Georgia is a “big truck state” so many people can tow most trailers with what they have at home. Still, there are some trends that he has picked up on. “We have been selling a lot of trailers with a rear kitchen,” Mayfield says, “I’ve had to order and reorder many models that have that floor plan.” He thinks the reason for this is that there is more counter space and the cook of the family still gets to interact with everyone, but no one is walking through the kitchen space to get to the bathroom or go outside.
He also sees a greater variety of customers. “We get people in that say they have been trying to get their spouse in here for years,” Mayfield says, “And after 30 minutes or so the apprehensive spouse comes up to us and says, ‘I had no idea it was like this!’” Campers have become increasingly like second homes - with all the modern conveniences and everything one could want. “It is very much a glamping experience.”
A promising trend Mayfield sees is the growth of the market for the younger generations. “I’d say our average customer has dropped about 5 years since I started here,” Mayfield says. He thinks that people his age (he’s 37) grew up camping and, now that they are starting families, want to create the memories with their kids by buying new or used RVs for sale. He also thinks it’s deliberate on the part of the RV business by having floor plans and smaller campers to accommodate all sorts of people. He relates it to the auto industry. “Back in the early 90s, no one drove Cadillacs or Lincolns under the age of 50, but nowadays everybody loves to drive a Cadillac, he laughs. And it started with Cadillac releasing the Cadillac Cetera, a terrible car, by the way, but it was a step into that direction.”
He is excited to see younger people getting involved with RVs, though he is not surprised, as “it is part of the American heritage.” Mayfield says, “You can look at the Grand Canyon on a huge flat screen and see thousands of pictures instantly. But nothing will ever replace being there and feeling it.”
A graduate of Northeastern Illinois University in Education, Andrew has taught for the past decade in Chicago, New Mexico, and Japan. He enjoys tinkering with trucks and motorcycles, woodworking, reading and computer programming.
Make Sure To Stay At:
Indian Springs State Park, conveniently located near I-75 in middle Georgia. It's one of the oldest state parks in the United States and a popular spot for outdoor recreation. Today, park guests can enjoy wading in Sandy Creek or swimming in McIntosh Lake.