End of road for Hemmingsen RV

Warren Hemmingsen is retiring from a career that began way back in 1976. The longtime businessman said some of the relationships he’s made span multiple generations.

Long established Tracy business to close after selling remaining inventory

By Seth Schmidt

One of Tracy’s oldest family-owned businesses has begun a “retirement sale.”
“It’s time,” says Warren Hemmingsen of Hemmingsen’s RV Sales. The 1970 Tracy High School graduate plans to sell his remaining inventory of campers this spring, and then have an auction to dispose of his tools, equipment, and parts inventory.  The Hwy. 14 property will be put up for sale.
“It’s been a good business,” Hemmingsen reflects.  “But I’m going to be 65 this summer, and I’d like to have more time to do some other things in summer that I enjoy.”
Having made the decision to retire, Hemmingsen did not order in new RVs to sell from his lot this spring, as has been the case for the past 30 years. The RV units that remain are pre-owned fifth-wheels and travel trailers that were taken in on trade.  He feels that the Hwy. 14 property will be attractive to a buyer looking to start or expand a business in Tracy.  The property has 225 feet of frontage along Hwy. 14, and goes back 200 feet. Three buildings are on the property.
Hemmingsen anticipates that after the remaining campers are sold, an auction to sell the equipment and tools will be held in June or July.
The longtime Tracy businessman explains that he decided to sell out, rather than seek a buyer for the business, because of the uncertainty of finding a qualified buyer who would also have been approved as a dealer.
“The RV industry has really changed.  The dealerships are getting bigger and bigger.  We considered ourselves a small mom and pop dealership, like most of them were when we got into RVs.  You don’t see much of that anymore.”
The RV industry, is following the consolidation that occurred with automotive dealerships, which makes harder for a small dealer to be successful, he feels.
The Tracy businessman said that it wasn’t unusual for him to sell over 100 campers in a year, including 40 to 50 new.  But that’s just a fraction of the numbers that a large dealership generates.
Hemmingsen cites a dealership in South Dakota that was five times as large as the Tracy dealership 30 years ago.  Now, the big dealership is perhaps 25 times as large as Hemmingsen’s was.

For more on this article, see this week’s Headlight-Herald.