RVB Top 50: Curtis Trailers a Blue Ribbon Award Winner

Editor’s Note: Oregon-based Curtis Trailers was one of five dealerships to earn a Blue Ribbon Dealership Award during the RVBusiness Top 50 Dealer Awards ceremony, which took place Nov. 13, 2019, during the RV Dealers Convention/Expo in Las Vegas. The RVB Top 50 Awards were sponsored by Airxcel, Brown & Brown, Cummins Power Generation, Dometic Corp., Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp., Northpoint Commercial Finance, NTP-STAG, Lippert Components Inc., Protective Asset Protection and Wells Fargo CDF. Read more about the Top 50 Awards and the RV Dealers Convention/Expo in the January/February issue of RVBusiness magazine.

A company doesn’t not only survive but thrive for 71 years by remaining entrenched in practices that may have worked yesterday but won’t work tomorrow. According to Karra Blair, CEO of family founded and owned Curtis Trailers Inc., the Oregon-based retailer, with stores in Portland and Beaverton, “continues to push the importance of training, improvement and urgency.”

“We recognize how quickly business is changing,” she added, and “are continually evaluating our processes and ways to improve.”

Chief among the dealership’s evolving practices is its “one person start to finish” philosophy. “It’s a trend in the automotive industry, but challenging to execute in the RV industry,” Blair noted. Simply put, “one person” means that a customer deals with on staff member throughout the purchase process, from sales to F&I to hitching up the unit.

“It takes a lot of talented people to create a seamless, simple, low-pressure transaction for our customers,” she noted. “It’s not easy, but we believe strongly in this process.”

Curtis Trailers receives RVB Blue Ribbon Award

That, however, is just one reason for the success of a dealership that’s seen steady growth in its parts department “despite the declining trend of brick-and-mortar retail. Both locations feature parts-and-accessories showrooms in excess of 3,000 square feet and broke ground last fall on a new 24,000-square-foot service facility at its Beaverton location. Training runs throughout the year and includes manufacturers and vendors on product knowledge to selling techniques while also including webinar-based education, product walk-throughs and demos. “We strive to maintain the reputation as the experts of towing products,” said Blair, who represents the company’s third generation at the helm.

The dealership takes that to heart. Of 33 service technicians, 29 are certified while service and parts advisors also attend trainings to improve their skills and understanding. “With fewer experienced techs walking through the doors, we’re focused on ‘building our bench,’” Blair said of the company. “We have numerous employees with 15 years or more in our business.” The company, she added, pays for completed course work related to job duties and a certificate of achievement/completion leads to higher compensation.

That commitment is borne out in numerous ways. The dealership, Blair noted, is continually awarded “No. 1 RV Dealer in Oregon” by Keystone RV Co., and “we’re continually a Top 10 dealer for many of the products we carry.”

The dealership also is heavily involved in its communities, contributing to local schools, participating in neighborhood cleanups and donating clothing to an elderly assistance program. Other causes include supporting the Curtis Heritage Education Center and, closer to home, the dealership assists about 20 employees annually with extra financial help over the holidays. Employees are further rewarded with Core Value Recognition cards, which associates fill out when witnessing someone demonstrating one of the company’s core values. Half the card goes to the employee cited for exemplifying the value while the other goes into what’s known as the company FRUIT bowl — which stands for Family, Respect, Urgency, Integrity and Teamwork. Monthly names are drawn from the FRUIT bowl, with both the winner and the nominator receiving gift cards.

Leave a Comment