Originally published in the Yellowstone County News –by Evelyn Pybrun
LOCKWOOD — “When people see our new showroom they will say ‘Wow,’” says Dustin Bretz in describing the new facility that is being built for Bretz RV and Marine in Lockwood at 2999 Old Hardin Road.
A new 36,000 square foot facility for showroom, service center, maintenance and administration offices will be the centerpiece of a 44-acre expanse that will allow Bretz RV and Marine to grow.
“We have outgrown our current facility,” (2220 Old Hardin Road ), said Bretz.
The new space will allow for the display of thousands of models of a wide range of recreational vehicles sold by Bretz RV and for hundreds of boats, along one of the state’s busiest thoroughfares. Bretz is excited about the future of the area, pointing out that the nearby junction of Interstates 90 and 94 has a traffic volume of some 14,000 vehicles a day.
The new location is also near the proposed Trailhead Industrial Park in Lockwood.
“It is such an opportunity for businesses in this area,” said Bretz.
The new store is a convergence into a “mega” facility, the company’s second mega facility. Bretz RV and Marine includes another outlet in Missoula, where the company was founded by Dustin’s grandparents, Frank and Viola Bretz, in 1967. Now a third generation family business, the company is co-owned by Dustin, his father, Dave; his uncle, Mark; and Tyrell Crowell.
Dustin and Crowell manage the Billings store, which the company purchased in 2008 and continued to operate as Tour America RV Center, as it was then known, until 2012.
The two stores sell 75 percent of all the new AA motor homes in the state, said Bretz, who noted that the company is also in the process of building onto their Missoula store, and the addition will make it into a 50,000 square foot facility.
Swanke Construction has already begun on the new Lockwood facility. It will be completed next spring, with the final date dependent on the weather.
Besides an incredible showroom, Bretz is especially excited about a 3,000-square-foot meeting room that will be available to the community for civic meetings and events.
There will also be space in the new facility to provide a child care service for their employees, to whose ranks they expect to add 60-70 more people, bringing total employment up to some 100. And, notes Bretz, these will be good paying jobs incorporating all kinds of skill levels, including sales people, administrators, painters, mechanics and maintenance workers.
Providing benefits like child care and allowing employees the use of recreational vehicles on their days off are among the incentives that the company will offer to entice prospective employees in a very tight labor market.
“We plan to hire locally as much as we can,” said Bretz, “but we will probably have to go outside the area to fill all the job openings.”
The new service center will enable customers to get collision repairs or hail damage repair done locally rather than having to travel to Missoula.
There will also be more space for Bretz RV customers to continue to store their motor homes at no charge.
Bretz wanted to also emphasize, since he is frequently being asked, Bretz RV and Marine will continue to sell propane for 99 cents.