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After Hours: Ed Exley—On the road again

For Ed Exley, managing partner of Rick’s RVs, his passion to travel,discover new things, and face new adventure has always been a driving force in his life.

After a move to Montana, he discovered the RV lifestyle. He used to have wicker furniture that he moved around, but as he got older and kept moving, he wanted a better way to move without being such a hassle. “When I saw an RV coming down the road, I knew I had to buy one,” says Exley. “It was in 1996 and I went to Dick Gores RV and bought a big, 40-foot RV, sold the house, and moved into it.”

On the move

Exley says that at this point, he and his wife of nearly 20 years have been pretty much everywhere in the country. At first she didn’t like it, but after a couple of years she loved it. “A while back, you could make $80,000 to $90,000 in three months and then just travel and live off of that because you really had no bills.”

He admits the RV lifestyle might be hard to get your mind around at first, but after a while that RV becomes your house and you have your personal touches and it feels just like your home does now. “People think you have to be on the road moving all the time and they will ask me, ‘What do you do when you want to get off the road?’” says Exley. “I just tell them you stop driving—you’ve got your house with you with all the amenities!”

There are a number of reasons why Exley loves the RV lifestyle, including no lawn maintenance and all the people you meet, but mainly it’s the total freedom to get up and go whenever you want. “I used to tell my wife that in 30 minutes time, no one will even know we were here,” says Exley with a laugh.

Changing paths

Having spent 14 years in the auto business for high-volume dealers, he knew auto sales. So when he was buying his RV and realized they have a similar structure as an auto dealer, he was elated. “The whole lifestyle is mobile and I thought, ‘Man, this is for me! So I switched from the auto business to the RV business,” says Exley.

“Moving used to be difficult when I was in the auto business because employers didn’t like you to quit after six months, but RV dealers didn’t care because sales are really seasonal. You travel to Arizona in the winter, sell some RVs, and then you migrate back up to Montana or Oregon and spend the summers there selling.” Exley also traveled with RV show teams as part of his job.

Putting down roots

After 10 years of traveling with his wife, they decided to start a family and moved back to Jacksonville, where she is from, and they are raising a son here and not on the road. “I wanted to home school him from the road, but my wife wouldn’t go for that,” he laughs.

Not that his work at Rick’s RVs is a temporary career, because he will always be in the RV business, but he sees himself traveling and doing show teams again. “We don’t travel that much now because I am here working,” says Exley. “It’s funny because I pitch about not working so hard and taking it easy and traveling, but right now I am working a lot of hours. I just have to see it as working toward my goal of returning to the RV lifestyle. I mean, really, my son is 10 years old and when he gets out of school then I’m going again—I figure I’ve got eight years and a wake up to go.”

About the business

Exley, along with his partners, Mike Conley, investment partner, and Leah McCrum, administrative partner, run, manage, and operate Rick’s RVs on Beach Blvd.—and according to Exley, the three of them are kindred spirits.

“We all knew each other before on a different level, but since we all have a similar mindset, we just clicked and decided to go into business and become partners. Where I am weak, they are strong, and where they are weak, I am strong, so we make a real good team,” boasts Exley.

Ed Exley can be reached at 904-400-RICK (7425), RicksRVs@yahoo.com, or through www.RicksRvs.com.


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