- people on the move
Veurink’s RV Center grows from humble beginnings
Father-and-son company, which still is family owned, began 65 years ago.
Grand Rapids-based Veurink’s RV Center is celebrating 65 years of being a family-owned RV dealership.
The company’s founder, Howard Veurink, came home to Grand Rapids after serving in the Korean War in 1954 and joined his father Adrian Veurink in the RV business. The father-and-son duo opened a small dealership called Modern Mobile Homes and Travel Trailers.
The younger Veurink recognized he had a passion specifically for selling travel trailers. So, in 1963, he started his own business, Howard Veurink Travel Trailers. His sales were handled by a sales staff of three — himself, his sales manager and service manager — his sons Tim and Tom and his daughter Tammy, along with part-time assistance from his wife Barbara Veurink.
The original dealership at 4822 S. Division Ave. was a small 180-by-265-square-foot lot, but it had almost double the display area Modern Mobile Homes did. As sales and inventory grew over the years, Veurink built a new heated RV showroom and service center. One of the first lines of RVs to fill the showroom was Holiday Rambler, which is a line the dealership still sells today.
Along with knowing the customer, Howard Veurink believed that knowing the product was equally as important.
“Naturally, customers will ask a lot of questions, and it pays to know what you’re talking about,” he said. “You must size up the prospect, find out mainly what they want and go on from there. Every sale is different; how to handle it comes through experience.”
Having worked in trailers himself, Howard Veurink knew the importance of service and good customer relations. He said he believed the best form of advertising is word-of-mouth recommendations by his customers.
To experience and live out the lifestyle that he sold and to better understand the prospect, Howard Veurink took his family out west for a month in a 1972 Holiday Rambler travel trailer, going through Arizona and New Mexico.
“A family can spend time in the wilderness for a weekend or several weeks, yet with a travel trailer, you can still have the amenities of home,” he said.
In 1991, Howard Veurink sold the business to his three children. The business continued to grow, and the new owners soon realized they would be out of space. In 1998, they purchased 8 acres of land at 7100 S. Division Ave. in Grand Rapids, where the business currently resides today as Veurink’s RV Center.
The current dealership is a two-story, 21,000-square-foot building, including an indoor showroom, camp store, service center and an e-commerce factory parts department and warehouse. The lot has 28 landscaped displays that mimic a campsite, to help customers envision the entire RV lifestyle experience.
Howard Veurink passed away in 2013, leaving a legacy in the RV industry and company to his children and grandchildren. Today, Veurink’s RV Center still is a family affair. Howard’s son, Tim Veurink, is the president and current owner, while Howard’s daughter, Tammy Kuipers, manages the human resources department.
Tim’s wife, Pat Veurink, helps with administration and special events. Howard’s grandson, Matt Veurink, is the sales manager, training to be the general manager and his granddaughter, Mollee Veurink, is the creative marketing director.
“We take pride in being a locally owned and family-operated, independent RV dealership,” Tim Veurink said. “West Michigan is a tight community, where supporting the smaller and independent family businesses are a big part of their purchasing decision. It is exciting to be serving the West Michigan community going on 65 years and continuing the success of my dad.”
Veurink’s RV Center is a six-time, Top 50 RV Dealer, a two-time Blue Ribbon winner and a Gaylord Maxwell Innovation Award winner, presented by RVBusiness Magazine. Among those awards, Veurink’s RV Center has been a top KZ RV Diamond Dealer.
The dealership has over 250 travel trailers, fifth wheels and motor homes on the lot, ranging from American Coach B Vans, Dutchmen, Fleetwood, Holiday Rambler, KZ RV, Keystone and Venture RV products.
Tim Veurink manages the dealership following the same basic strategies as his father did, although tweaking procedures as the market, industry and technologies change. He said the company has been around through major advancements in RV amenities, including flat-screen TVs and Wi-Fi capabilities.
One of the basic principles Veurink said stays the same is integrity. He reminds himself, as well as his staff of 40, to keep that word and the meaning of it in mind when making business decisions and dealing with day-to-day work responsibilities.
The company also does community service projects that staff members can partake in, working alongside domestic and international nonprofits and organizations the company supports.
Tim Veurink personally volunteers at the Kent County Juvenile Detention Center via his church ministry, and the company often volunteers at Woodfield Community Center.
“Through the hard work they do and at the end of each day, the fruits of their labor are able to feed children in a third world country, provide a job for someone and even an education,” Tim Veurink said.
Selling the “roughing it in comfort” concept still is a key marketing tool for Veurink’s RV Center and its success.
“It’s not just selling a product but a lifestyle,” Tim Veurink said. “Families want an affordable and new way to travel, allowing more freedom, flexibility and fun; Veurink’s RV Center makes it their goal to fulfill those needs. We look forward to reaching more of the community with this lifestyle and get them to experience the RV lifestyle with us now and in the future.”