Shortly after John and Rebecca Asplund first met working together at a RV business, they soon realized they made the ideal pair for business and for marriage.
Rebecca's background in the finance side of the auto industry combined with John's planning and RV general management skills helped get Blue Dog RV off the ground in 2008.
"We did a good job of learning each other's skill sets so we are able to differentiate our roles and know which one of us is best qualified to deal with something," Rebecca said. "We found those niches and trusted each other."
John quit his job at another RV dealership, wrote a business plan, and obtained floor financing with a presentation to Bank of America and GE Capital. They obtained a line of credit at GE, which was essential during the startup phase of Blue Dog RV.
At the time John and Rebecca started their business, the RV market was in trouble. Most dealers focused on more expensive, self-contained RVs. But Blue Dog RV focused on the more economical trailers and "fifth wheels" during the tough economic times. This focus enabled them to keep their flooring line smaller and their expenses down.
As their business started to take off, they realized the need for a permanent home. However, money was tight during a still-struggling economy, making it difficult to secure a construction loan. Their business life changed when they met Debbie Shipman of the Northwest Business Development Association, a SBA 504 lending organization.
"Debbie was tenacious and put a lot of energy into helping us make our primary location happen," Rebecca said. She helped them to work through their existing relationship with Numerica, a local credit union and lender and "wonderful business partner" the couple continues to work with today.
Blue Dog RV used two SBA-guaranteed 504 loans through Numerica to construct two buildings in Post Falls, Idaho – a sales office and a service and parts building in 2011 and 2013, respectively. They continue to grow to five locations in the Northwest – Post Falls, Coeur d'Alene and Hayden in Idaho plus Kennewick, Wash. and Gresham, Ore. – which collectively employ more than 180 people.
John and Rebecca credit the fact that there are two of them for part of their success. "When one of us is tired and things got tough, the other one always seems to come through to help get over the hump," Rebecca said. "We started out in difficult times and that adversity has conditioned us. We have made it our habit of embracing change which is simply a part of today's culture."
When they're not working on Blue Dog RV, the couple spends their time collecting "blue dog" paraphernalia and working with area charities and projects such as the Backpack Program through the local food banks and The Distinguished Young Women of Post Falls, a local scholarship program where they lead the fundraising efforts that create 12 scholarships for area youths.
"We have made a lot of mistakes, but the grace and patience of our customers has allowed us to make improvements which have been essential to our growth and success," Rebecca said. If we do something wrong, our policy is to correct it and do what is right. That is how we have generated positive referrals as well as repeat customers."
And the answer to one of the questions they're most frequently asked? "Yes, we have a blue dog," John said. The couple named their business Blue Dog RV after their "blue" hairless Chinese Crested named Ginger. John and Rebecca thought the Blue Dog name was a better fit over naming the business after their powder puff Chinese Crested Mojo.
For more information about Blue Dog RV go to www.bluedogrv.com