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Camping World is one of the biggest names in the RV, trailer, and outdoor recreation space. But as you ring up yet another purchase there, you may be wondering: Who owns Camping World?
The answer’s not as simple as it once was, and the details might surprise you. So camp out with us as we take a closer look at the company, its structure, and its major players.
Who Owns Camping World?
Camping World is a publicly traded company, which technically means anyone willing to buy a share of stock in Camping World Holdings Inc. is a part-owner. This has been the case since 2016 when the company held an initial public offering that raised more than $250 million.
However, some “owners” are obviously larger than others. One of the more common answers to who owns Camping World is chairman and CEO Marcus Lemonis. Lemonis controls a significant portion of the company in partnership with private equity firm Crestview Partners. He has been expanding his ownership as recently as 2020. Major institutional investors own the vast majority of remaining shares. These include Abrams Capital Management, L.P., The Vanguard Group, and Wasatch Advisors Inc.
Previous to its 2016 IPO, Good Sam Enterprises, which still operates the company, owned Camping World. Good Sam Enterprises (formerly known as Affinity Group) purchased the company in 1997 from its founder David Garvin, who had run it since 1966.
What Is Good Sam Enterprises?
Good Sam Enterprises owns or operates a variety of RV- or outdoor-related brands. The company that became Good Sam Enterprises has roots that stretch back decades. It began as a publisher of RV and trailer-related magazines and changed hands through a few corporate parents until the early 1990s. That’s when Affinity Group was formed to help combine the popular magazines with a nationwide network of RV parks and resorts and other assets. Affinity purchased Camping World in 1997 and officially changed its name to Good Sam Enterprises in 2011.
Other Companies and Services Owned by Good Sam Enterprises
The most popular of Good Sam Enterprises’ other companies is the Good Sam RV Membership Club. It’s one of the best-known RV clubs. It offers a 10% discount at more than 2,000 Good Sam-affiliated RV parks and campgrounds. Members also get discounts at Camping World, Gander RV & Outdoors, Overton’s, and Pilot/Flying J gas stations. Additionally, they get free RV and boat dump stations. Enrolling in the club also gives you access to roadside assistance and extended service plans at an additional cost.
Good Sam Enterprises also operates a variety of other businesses and services under the Good Sam brand. For example, the Good Sam Finance Center offers loans for RV and trailer purchases. The Good Sam Insurance Agency helps you insure your vehicles, boats, or even your home. Good Sam also has its own travel guide and RV park directory, which will even help you locate non-Good Sam parks.
The Coast to Coast membership club is also part of the Good Sam Enterprises family. This more exclusive membership allows you access to any of the network’s resorts for just $10 per night. You can only join this club by becoming a member of one of the participating resorts. Finally, Good Sam Enterprises also includes a publishing arm, which produces Motorhome and Trailer Life magazines.
Who Is Marcus Lemonis?
Marcus Lemonis is the chairman and CEO of Good Sam Enterprises, Camping World, and other subsidiary companies. He’s served in this role since 2011 and was previously CEO of Camping World since 2006.
Lemonis was born in Lebanon and adopted by a Lebanese and Greek couple living in the United States. He graduated from Marquette University, and after a failed run for Florida’s House of Representatives, worked in a variety of roles in the auto industry and business world.
A conversation with a family friend and former Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca convinced Lemonis to get involved in the RV and outdoor business. After founding RV dealership owner FreedomRoads in the early 2000s, a series of mergers led him to his current post as head of the Good Sam family of companies.
Lemonis may be best known outside the RV and camping world for his popular CNBC show “The Profit.” On the show, Lemonis hunts down investment opportunities and helps entrepreneurs turn around their struggling small businesses. The show has completed seven seasons since its debut in 2013.
How Much Is Camping World Worth?
As of early July 2021, Camping World was worth approximately $3.3-3.4 billion when valued by market capitalization. This metric calculates a company’s value by multiplying the price of each share of stock by the total number of shares.
This is up significantly from the company’s IPO in 2016 when it had a market capitalization of approximately $2 billion. Anyone who owns Camping World stock owns a corresponding part of that value, meaning those who’ve held shares since the beginning have seen their worth rise significantly.
Is Gander RV the Same as Camping World?
Camping World is the parent company of Gander, which continues to operate as a separate brand. The company, formerly known as Gander Mountain, filed for bankruptcy in 2017 after struggling with underperforming stores and excess inventory. A group led by Camping World Holdings bought the company’s assets. They reorganized and rebranded the assets as Gander Outdoor. Camping World continues to operate nearly 70 Gander Outdoor stores around the country.
As you can see, the answer to who owns Camping World has a few different answers. The various owners should understand Camping World’s place in the larger Good Sam family and its relationship with affiliated companies like Gander Outdoor. All these parts work together to create one of the most dominant companies in the RV and camping market. Do you go to Camping World often or own any stock in the company?