Laine Harbaugh is the owner of Southern Idaho RV & Marine LLC in Jerome, Idaho. Founded on integrity, respect and trust, they are the one of the largest dealers of Hideout Travel Trailers, by volume, in the United States. They are also a dealer for Montego Bay Pontoons and MirroCraft boats. They believe in delivering products at the best possible prices, and have an amazing, knowledgeable team that believes in going above and beyond in all areas of service to their customers.
Southern Idaho RV & Marine LLC donated a travel trailer to the United Way of South-Central Idaho, with the proceeds going to the Community Schools Initiative.
Laine began working in the automotive industry at his father’s independent car dealership. He did a little bit of everything from pulling weeds on the lot, to detailing cars. Learning the foundation and the basics of the industry, he had the opportunity to sell RVs and boats while still at the car lot. He eventually decided that the recreational life was more to his liking and built his own business and his dream job 15 years ago. With his son following into the business, it will make Southern Idaho RV & Marine LLC a three-generation operation.
When he isn’t working on selling recreation, he is partaking of it. He and his close-knit family, including his grandchildren, enjoy the lifestyle of his business.
What inspired you to start Southern Idaho RV & Marine LLC? How did you do so?
The opportunity to purchase some land that we thought would be a very good business opportunity on the interstate. After owning the land for a few years, we decided to put our business there.
What inspired you to start your own business and to break off into your own?
A new location and to be independent. Having spent so much time with people and vehicles, it just seemed like the natural thing for me to do was start my own business.
How does Southern Idaho RV & Marine LLC make money?
By the volume of sales. We don’t work for top grosses or prices. We sell at the lowest possible price that we feel we can do and still pay the bills. We pull people in from surrounding states. They’re willing to travel in because we’re priced thousands less than our competitors are with the same brand and product.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
I believe we became profitable overnight. Again, I had sold these vehicles in the past, so there was a need or want. I truly believe it was overnight.
When you were first starting out, was there a time that you doubted this was going to work? If so, how did you handle it?
No, I never doubted it. I had made some sales of recreational vehicles while working at the car lot, and that told me there was a market for it.
How did you find your first customer?
Oh boy, I believe our first customer found us. It’s the power of the interstate and location. Before the days of Craigslist or any social media, it was all done by location. We do advertise with local media, as far as television and radio stations, but our customer base knows us because of our location.
What is one marketing strategy beyond referrals that you’re using that’s working well to generate new business?
Social media, because a lot of customers talk about us on social media, and we advertise there too. I’ve actually hired an agency to do the advertising. That allows me to stay focused on the business itself and my employees. Besides, with technology today, you can’t afford to get stuck with one way of doing things. What worked last year or even six months ago may not work at all today. I let someone else handle that.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
That’s a tough question. Probably who to hire when people are applying for a job. We don’t have a lack of people applying, so the toughest decision is which ones to hire. With a reputation of being one of the highest paying employers in the valley, tough decisions are picking which employees will be the best for us.
What do you think makes you successful?
My employees. They have to take care of the business and the customers; that’s their job and I look out for them. As the owner, having the right people in place is key to everything. It’s also important to remember to love the business, not the money. Show up and put in a full day’s work. You have to always be present in the moment, because the day you have right now will never be again.
What has been the most satisfying moment in business?
We have two company parties a year: one in summer, one in winter. When all of our employees get together and bring their families, I can see how strong the team is. I can sit and look at all the great people that work for me.
What does the future hold for Southern Idaho RV & Marine LLC, and what are you most excited about?
I believe growth and expansion are in our future. We’re going to keep doing what we do and growing with the economy and the community.
What business books have inspired you?
I live and die by one book and that would be the Bible. That guides me in both my business and personal life. It has all the answers in it. No other book guides me.
What is a recent purchase that you’ve made that’s helped with your business?
We have expanded the dealership lot and done some paving. Looking towards the future and expecting growth in this business, we need to be ready for what may come down the pipeline.