My name is Stacy Maxon and my husband and I are the former owners of the Fireside RV Rental franchise in Upstate New York. My husband, Garth, and I are avid campers and RV enthusiasts, and we believe that one of the greatest things about camping or RV-ing is that you can do it anywhere. It doesn’t matter which part of the country you live in, there are amazing attractions everywhere if you take the time to look.
My husband and I grew up around RVs, so it was only natural that we would go on to purchase one of our own. Our first camper was a 23-foot 1993 Sunline trailer, which took our family of four to beautiful campsites and RV parks around Upstate New York and into Vermont.
As our family grew, so did our needs, and in 2015, we began shopping for something bigger. After researching the company’s quality and customer support, we decided on a 34-foot Jayco Eagle Bunkhouse. In 2019, our family’s needs changed again, and we upgraded to a 2020 Grand Design bunkhouse 5th wheel trailer in order to find a model with three bunks.
As passionate campers, we purchased a trailer with heated tanks to get the most out of every camping season, allowing us to use our trailer after many other owners have packed theirs up until spring. Our three kids also love camping, with each having started traveling by 6 weeks of age. They love to explore new places and make new friends. It’s funny how the kids can meet people easily. In fact, while camping near Vermont’s Battenkill River, the kids even started to run into the same friends at other campgrounds.
The Upstate area has no shortage of amazing attractions and beautiful destinations, with something big to see within an hour in every direction, whether it’s in Vermont, New York, or Massachusetts. While traveling with our Jayco Eagle, we began renting out our trailer and making money that offset our travel costs. As demand grew, we realized we could make even more if we had other campers to rent. We also realized there is safety in numbers and it’s great to have someone supportive behind you, so we began researching Camper and RV Rental programs. After seeing a post from another franchisee on Facebook, we researched the company and liked what we found. We soon opened our own branch of Fireside RV Rental in Johnsonville, NY.
I have an entrepreneurial mindset and am always looking for a new way to make money or start a business. After we had our 3rd child, I was home and came across the idea of renting out our RV. It took me about a year to convince my husband, it can be hard to remove that emotional attachment from your RV. So the first year we rented it out was in 2019. We had several bookings over the summer and we enjoyed meeting other families and connecting them with the camping experience that we loved so much ourselves.
After the rental season ended so successfully, I began doing research on how I could make this into a business. Should we purchase another RV to rent out? How quickly could I recoup my costs if I did that? During this research is when I found Garr and his idea of renting out other people’s RV’s. I was amazed at the idea, would someone really let me take their RV to rent out? My husband and I spoke with Garr and decided to make the leap to go into the RV rental industry. We started our Fireside RV Rental branch in the Capital District, NY in September 2019.
Since we were in a seasonal area, there wasn’t much we could do during the winter but prepare for the upcoming rental season. I took all of the training that Fireside RV Rental had to offer and began finding consignment units. By springtime, we had 5-10 RVs available to rent. Because the demand for RV Rentals grew in 2020 due to Covid, our first season was wildly successful. We were up to 15 units and several days a week my husband was delivering and setting up the units. He was working full-time from home so although his schedule was somewhat flexible, we got to be so busy that it was time to make a decision…do we scale the business back so that my husband could focus on his job or should he quit his full-time job of 15+ years to go all in on the business?
I’m ot going to lie, it was a tough decision. Walking away from a steady paycheck, health insurance, and a 401k is incredibly scary. Not to mention that when we discussed this with our families, they thought we were crazy. But we decide to do it scared and invest in our family and our life. At the end of August 2020, my husband left his job and we went all in on Fireside!
Because the flexibility that the business allowed of our schedules, we were able to homeschool the kids that fall and do some road schooling with them as well. We traveled and camped in 18 states throughout the US in our new 2020 Grand Design fifth wheel. We traveled to Tennessee to explore the Smoky Mountains, the Outer Banks and the Wright Brothers Museum, and Charleston South Carolina where we all loved exploring the ships and history of Patriots Point. They were able to learn the history of the Civil War by going to Fort Sumtner and Harpers Ferry.
One of the troubles we ran into our first season was that there were not enough RV repair places in the area that was able to help us when a repair was needed in one of the campers in our fleet, so that fall, my husband, Garth took a training class to become a certified RV technician, this allowed him to do the maintenance and repairs on our RV’s going forward. We could pass this cost onto the RV owners, earning us additional income. When we didn’t have any rentals, we also accepted mobile repair calls from customers other than our renters and RV fleet.
In our second season, we saw a lot of repeat customers and also started to build up a rapport with several campground owners, earning us referrals from them as well. We continued to grow our fleet to 20 units and over 150 reservations in our 2nd season. We started to hire drivers and cleaners so that we could focus on the more important tasks in the business adding to our growth.
After the close of a successful 2nd season in 2021, we took the ultimate adventure and attended our first Fireside Family Reunion! We were still homeschooling our kids so we took the month of November to travel the state of Florida. We visited the Florida Keys, Fort Wilderness,
Garr was gracious enough to host all of the Fireside staff and franchise owners and their families at his home in Okeechobee Florida. It was our first time to connect with everyone in person. It was a great weekend full of fun, learning, and connection. One of the things we love about being a part of the franchise is getting ideas from the other franchisees and Garr himself based on their personal experience with their RV rental businesses.
2022 was another busy year for us, but we decided we wanted to do more. It had always been a dream of ours to own our own campground and the opportunity came to us to make that dream a reality, we sold our home that we built in 2015 as well as our franchise so we could focus on our new dream of owning and operating a campground. However, that particular campground was not in our plan, we found some issues during the inspection process and had to back out of the sale during the due diligence period. At that time we had already sold our home and business and we were at a crossroads as to what to do next.
Because of the relationship I had built with Garr, he presented us with an opportunity to invest in Fireside and become partners in the business. Which has brought us to the present day. We are working hard to build our franchise by creating systems, training, and processes to help the franchisees grow their businesses and get the time and money freedom that I was able to create with my business. We have also created a course for those just starting out in the RV rental industry or for people that want to create their own brand and not be part of a franchise. I hope that through Fireside we can reach families like myself that are looking for a way to get away from the 9-5 or corporate lifestyle and build a business where they can help others while still having time to be with their families and doing what they love.
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