TAMPA — Lazydays RV executives couldn’t help but notice a characteristic of the state’s equestrian community: the horsemen and women care deeply for their prized animals.
“Believe me, they’re like their babies,” said Glen Soper, sales manager for Lazydays and Featherlite trailers. “They want them safe.”
So the world’s largest recreational vehicle dealership saw an untapped market for vehicles that can accommodate both horses and people while they’re on the road, living the nomadic lifestyle of horse competition.
Lazydays has just launched a companywide initiative focusing on the equestrian market. It has a broad new lineup of “Living Quarters” trailers that combine the living areas of a high-end RV with a horse trailer in the format of a fifth wheel, the type of trailer typically hauled by a pickup.
“When traveling, if they’re at a rest stop they can literally open their door and look at their horse,” Soper said, showing off one of the vehicles during the Florida Gold Coast Quarter Horse Circuit this week at the Florida State Fairgrounds. “This has got everything you need to go to a show for four or five days, and be away from home, but not feel like you’re away from home.”
Going beyond the company’s legacy in RVs for vacationing, the new project includes a major sponsorship of equestrian events, a team of equestrian-focused sales and service staff, and a new lineup of trailers.
“Often, equestrian families travel for weeks or months at a time to compete at shows for horse jumping, dressage and other events,” Lazydays general manager Ron Fleming said in an announcement of the initiative. “We want to be their partner and help them succeed.”
In November, Lazydays announced an agreement to add the full lineup of Featherlite trailer products to its dealership.
The Cresco, Iowa-based manufacturer is recognized as a premiere trailer brand, and its vehicles are known for serving equestrian, livestock and auto racing lifestyles.
Robert Baker, who sells shop supplies for auto mechanics, visited Lazydays last week to inquire about modifying a Featherlite family/horse trailer for upcoming travels with his wife, Deb, through the car, air, and tractor show circuit in the Midwest and east coast.
“I have to get up every morning at 5 a.m., so to get up and be able to make breakfast here, instead of going out on the tailgate of my truck, starting up my generator, getting my electric skillet out, getting stuff out of my ice chest, this is definitely going to be a little bit easier,” he said from the kitchen of the Model 8581 on display at the fairgrounds.
Forward of the kitchen was a slide-out living area with couch, flat-screen TV, full surround-sound audio and an artificial fireplace that provides heat. Ahead of that was a loft bedroom space.
To the rear was a bathroom with walk-in shower. The door at the back of the bathroom opened to three slant-load horse stalls, with feed boxes and windows at each stall. The model retails for about $113,000.
Featherlite staffers in Iowa eventually convinced Baker that he was better off opting for a combination of a car hauler/family trailer that could be more easily adapted to the tools of his trade than the horse/family unit. He expects to spend about $75,000 on the Lazydays-Featherlite project.
“Instead of a standard cargo trailer, I’m getting to the age now where I want to get something a little fancier, and these guys fit the ticket for that,” Baker said.
Caroline Rider, who runs the nationally-known horse training and rider coaching operation Rider Horsemanship in Ocala, heartily endorsed the Lazydays initiative. She said last week she’s interested in acquiring one of the “Living Quarters” trailers.
“I promote unity with your horses, and the behavior and psychology as well as the performance,” Rider said. “So it’s key to have a good, safe and comfortable way to transport your horses. There’s an extensive equestrian community across the country that cares deeply for their horses. There are breeders, clinicians, trainers, racers and those who travel throughout the year to horse shows and want to stay with their horses, and they’re willing to invest in the equipment they need.”
Lazydays has more than 1,400 recreational vehicles on site at its massive campus off Interstate 4 in Seffner that also features campsites and 300 service bays. It also has a site in Tucson, Arizona, and earlier this year acquired RV America and its three dealerships in the Denver area.