A carved wooden sign outside the new showroom at Quesnel’s Chemo RV reads “Welcome to the house that Steve built.”
Dealership manager Steve Rutledge, who has been with Chemo RV for just over 10 years, ran point on the construction of the building — hiring and managing contractors, as well as continuing to run the dealership itself.
Rutledge’s boss, Chemo RV owner Jason Bell, credits him with taking the business from the very small dealership it was when he started to the strong, successful dealership it is today. “He has done a great job with retaining and training employees and building back our reputation in the community of Quesnel.”
Bell gave the sign to Rutledge as a gift following the initial opening of the new building, saying Rutledge did an exceptional job whilst managing both the dealership and all the contractors involved in the construction of the new building.
“As far as I’m concerned,” says Bell, “he’s the one that deserves the accolades for that building.”
They hosted the Grand Opening of the new building last Saturday (May 4), bringing in a small crowd for cake and a ribbon cutting.
Rutledge and Jack Bell, Jason Bell’s father and founder of Chemo RV, cut the ribbon together, smiling for photos and speaking about the work that went into the new building.
Jack Bell also accepted a plaque from Mary Sjostrom, the Area A Director for the Cariboo Regional District, honouring his investment in the community.
Sjostrom and local MLA Coralee Oakes also spoke briefly at the event, thanking Jack Bell and Rutledge for their investment, and for the use of local contractors in the construction of the building.
The new building, several times larger than the original, is a turning point for the business.
“The RVs outgrew the old building 35 years ago, so we needed a better place to work,” says Rutledge.
Any RVs over 10 feet and six inches high or 26 feet long didn’t fit inside the old building, meaning, before construction was completed on the new building last November, any work that needed to be done on the larger RVs had to be done outside.
For example, they do a pre-delivery inspection to check over an entire RV before it is sold. Before the new building, that meant inspecting the RV at 30-below. Not only does that make for a freezing work environment, but part of the inspection requires they test the water systems within the RV as well – and that isn’t possible if the water is frozen.
Or if an RV came in with a hole in a rubber roof to be repaired, Rutledge says they had to watch the weather forecast until they got three days without rain, as the entire roof has to come off and be replaced — something that wasn’t possible to do in the old building.
These problems, and more, are solved by the new showroom. It can hold eight to 10 RVs at any given time, depending on their size, while the shop can hold up to four 40-foot Class A motorhomes or six to eight RVs at a time.
Since the new building opened, Rutledge says their profile has also been raised amongst customers outside of Quesnel.
“It’s amazing how much more out-of-town business we’re getting. We’re drawing a lot of business out of Prince George, and it’s amazing the amount of time people will spend now — people who came for 10 minutes before will stick around for an hour to look at the building and see what we’ve got, and see the units that are inside and — yeah, we’ve had a really good start to the year.”
He says they’ve also had repeat customers from Whitehorse.
Rutledge says he “inherited the best staff imaginable” when he started at Chemo RV, adding his staff have also played a key role in the success of the business.
He says it doesn’t feel like he’s coming to work in the morning, “because we’re like family.”