Nineteen-sixty-six was a momentous year. The beatles embarked on their final world tour, and NASA launched the first spacecraft to orbit. On television screens, Star Trek went where no man had gone before.
In the RV world, two equally momentous events occurred: a small RV park store in Kentucky named Camping World sold to campers and RV travelers eager for supplies, and the California-based Good Sam Club began enrolling its first members.
The rollouts of these two RV brands didn't attract as much hpye as the Fab Four or outer space missions, but these companies would eventually make their mark on the RV lifestyle after years of hard work, outstanding products and exemplary customer service.
An RV Boom   For both companies, it was a fortuitous time to enter the RV industry. Winnebago introducted its first motorhome, just one of many companies entering a growing RV market. The national Interstate Highway system had just turned 10, and miles of new interstates were added seemingly every day. Parents of the Boomer generation were taking their kids out on the road to experience America's beauty and history. Today, many of the kids who enjoyed those trips enjoy the RV lifestyle as adults. A number of them enjoyed the trip more with the help of Camping World and Good Sam, two companies that started in two very different places yet eventually came together to form a partership that would bring unprecedented value to camping and RVing families.
Camping World   With a $5,000 loan from his father, a 23-year-old enterpreneur named David Garvin set up a small camping supply store in Beech Bend Amusement Park & Campground in Bowling Green, Kentucky, which his father also owned. From day one, Garvin built Camping World by focusing closely on customer service. After each purchase, a customer received a letter requesting feedback. Each response was sent to Garvin himself.
Garvin eventually branched out into mail order, and began opening new locfations throughout the United States, offering both RV parts, supplies and accessories plus installation and service on all types of RVs. Customer service still ranked number one: David Garvin's motto was "No Unhappy Customers - Not Even One!"
Good Sam   It all started with a simple letter. A small RV periodical named Trail-R-News received a letter from a reader who suggested the magazine form a club built on the principles outlined in the biblical story of the Good Samaritan. The publisher printed up stickers of the smiling, haloed mascot, and members were encouraged to help each other on the road in the event of a breakdown or other emergency.
When magazine publisher Art Rouse purchased Trail-R-News, he received the Good Sam Club as part of the bargain. The legendary industry innovator began adding discounts and benefits to the club, from RV park discounts to chapter membership. As membership gradually grew, the club became a significant force in the RV industry.