Breaking new ground: RV dealership driving to Rowan County

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 20, 2023

SALISBURY — One of the biggest RV dealers in the country has chosen Rowan County as the site for its first ever North Carolina dealership. General RV Center, a family owned and operated company from Michigan, had an official groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday morning at their upcoming super center East Ritchie Road location with some help from the people who got this project over the finish line.

“We wanted to do a big announcement and make sure everybody understands how big of an event this is that we’re coming. This business has the opportunity to change a little bit of the area here not just in Salisbury and Rowan County, but the greater Charlotte area,” President of General RV Center Loren Baidas said.

Salisbury Mayor Karen Alexander and North Carolina Reps. Kevin Crutchfield and Harry Warren attended the ceremony to show their support for the county and General RV. General RV has been wanting to have roots in North Carolina for more than five years. Baidas says that the entire state has many prospective customers looking at acquiring an RV for themselves.

“We feel like the market is underserved. We feel like we can bring something here to the market, I think North Carolina is a great RV and camping and outdoors community. We feel like they haven’t gotten the service and a facility like this for them to have a greater experience and enjoy the lifestyle even more than they do today,” Baidas said. “Rowan County and the town of Salisbury have worked really well with us to help find a way to make this all happen. We couldn’t be happier with the community and the support that we’ve gotten so far.”

The company plans on investing $25 million for the facility, where it will provide 150 jobs with an average salary of $65,000. The dealership should also lead to several surrounding jobs opening up, too. The 40-acre site will house the 70,000-square-foot facility that Baidas says will have the “full gambit for anybody who’s looking to get in the RV business.” The center plans on displaying 700 RVs, have a full paint booth, service bays and offer repairs. Some of the RV selection includes diesel pushers, travel trailers, pop-up campers and even used options. Their goal is to sell 2,000 RVs a year.

All of this began several years ago, when a small bidding war sprang up after the county decided to sell a piece of land that it owned. General RV eventually reached out to the Rowan Economic Development Council directly to figure out the best way to make this work for the both of them. After initial discussions, Rowan EDC President Rod Crider was impressed with General RV’s plans for the county. Crider measures a project’s success on new jobs, investments and average wages, and felt reassured and “connected” after meeting them.

“Certainly this is a huge win for Rowan County,” Crider said. “They emulate the kind of values that we think that Rowan County tries to emulate as well.”

One of the major factors that made Rowan County so appealing to General RV was its location near I-85 and other surrounding areas in North Carolina. “We want to bring people in from all over. We want people not just to come from the Charlotte area and Winston-Salem and those areas, but all through out North Carolina and even South Carolina. To give them a great experience, a reason to travel and to come see us,” Baidas said.

Crider is looking forward to those people from around the Carolinas visiting Rowan County and contributing to its future. “They aren’t coming here on an impulse buy, they’re going to come, they’re going to spend the day, maybe two days. They’re going to spend the night here, they’re going to be eating at our restaurants, they’re going to go to our local shops. So, I’m really excited about what the potential for all that they’re bringing into our area will do for our smaller businesses, our tourism industry, and others,” Crider said.

Rowan County Commissioner Greg Edds has been a part of this whole process since the beginning and is grateful for General RV choosing them as a partner. Edds spoke at the ceremony and shared a story of when he bought a pop-up for his family and what the intangible benefits are for this center coming to Rowan County.

“Our community needs great jobs and we need diverse jobs that help strengthen our economy,” Edds said. “What we’re seeing here with all the jobs and the investment, this is really exciting for us, but when I think about campers and RVs, I honestly think about memories that are made with families.”

Construction for the facility has already started. Over the next few weeks and months, dirt will be getting moved, lot space paved and steel structures will go up before the end of the year. The center should be completed by the end of 2024.