1982-2000: The Dealership Era
EDITOR’S NOTE: As coach production ramped up and demand continued to grow, Liberty began to supplement its direct-to-the-customer sales model with a series of independent dealers. In this post, Frank Konigseder Jr. traces the history of Liberty’s involvement with selected dealerships through the 1980s and 90s.
We never developed a Liberty Coach “dealership network” per se. Our preference was to work with one dealer at a time, whose owners we knew personally and shared our values.
The first was Travel Villa in Alvarado, Texas. The owners, Paul and Rose Hamilton, were customers of ours, so they knew first-hand what Liberty Coach was all about. We worked with them from 1982 through ’86. From there we transitioned to Harvey Mitchell and his dealership, Mitchell Motor Homes in Tampa, Florida. We did well there – Harvey was good to our family and business – but in 1992 he bought a company called Vogue Motor Homes and began building his own Prevost units in direct competition with ours. So we had to move the business again, this time to Buddy Gregg Motor Homes.
Buddy had worked previously for Harvey Mitchell selling BlueBird motorhomes in Burlington, North Carolina. He was extremely successful and by 1986 was able to leave and start his own dealership in Knoxville, Tennessee. By the time we joined him in ’92, Buddy had opened a second dealership in Lakeland, Florida, and later added another in Lewisville, Texas.
The years with Buddy Gregg were very good for Liberty Coach. I learned a great deal about marketing our product during that time as well as professional staffing and development; together, we built an incredible team of sales professionals who specialized in selling our coaches. When Buddy decided to close his Lakeland facility, many of them – including Dave Wall, Dave Wishnoff, Gary Patterson and Robin King – opted to follow us to Stuart when we opened Liberty Coach of Florida in 2001. But that’s another story…