Founded in 2004, SylvanSport was established for one reason: “to make outdoor adventure accessible.”
In 2015, to aid the growing team’s efforts, SylvanSport brought on Earl Hunter as its Vice President of Sales. Earl made the transition to SylvanSport after leading the sales team at International Procurement Distribution and spent 12 years previously at Nokia Corporation where he also had a lead role in sales and marketing. In an industry looking to diversify not just its products, but market outreach, Earl’s background aids in the efforts to reach people of all walks of life and the lifestyle they choose to RV with.
It’s no secret to Earl that being an African American within the industry makes him a bit of an anomaly. Even better is that he understands how to reach a large demographic, that for the most part, is not currently RVing. Earl didn’t have previous experience RVing himself and didn’t work with an outdoor related company before joining SylvanSport – giving him a unique edge in how to reach those who may be looking for new outdoor experiences and opening their eyes to RVing.
“From a young age we were taught by our parents and grandparents not to go into the woods because it was dangerous, especially as a young African-American kid in the South,” says Hunter. Now, he loves camping in the woods with his family.
One memorable trip he holds dearly is the one he took with his son to Mount Rushmore. It was a destination the two had been talking about for a long time and Hunter made sure he put off visiting it until they were able to do it together. On his son’s last day of school, Hunter hitched up his SylvanSport GO Camper and together they drove 14,000 miles across North America, making stops at Mount Rushmore and Banff National Park in Canada. He was even able to get some work done during this extensive trip, stopping in to see existing dealerships and developing new pipelines.
As much as he enjoys staying in the campgrounds and sharing his experiences with fellow RVers that he meets, Earl sees the need for the lifestyle to be much more intentional in advertisements and expanding marketing efforts to a wider demographic – which include the upcoming generation and the African-American community.
“An RV is a large investment, so folks need to be talked through why they should be spending their hard-earned money on it,” he shares. “The bottom line is that people want to buy from people who look like and understand them or else it can be intimidating.”
Before coming into the RV industry, Earl recalls seeing dealer lots packed with RVs on his commutes down the highway and wondered how they sold all that product. Now at SylvanSport, Hunter works with those same dealerships on how to better move their inventory. Hunter’s outsider perspective on the RV industry gives a fresh take on what works in making the product more appealing to the general public, something that takes constant consideration as the industry continues to grow.
Working for a company like SylvanSport has been a new challenge for his career, but it’s an industry that seems to match his personality. And he isn’t afraid to shake it up by offering solutions and ideas that aren’t always talked about.
The days of RVing only when retired are long gone. RVing is about fun and it’s for everyone. As RV dealers and manufacturers continue to embrace an expanding consumer base, they are sure to have more fun, too.