History of Carlson Sports
In 1971, Carlson Sports was founded in Dave Carlson's garage. Since that time, Carlson Sports has gone from a single-car garage operation to a Limited Corporation generating revenues in excess of $7 Million per year and employing over 20 people. Here is how it all happened:
Dave Carlson, Owner and President, has built a strong reputation in North Bay and the surrounding area with Carlson Sports RV since its humble beginning in 1971. As the only employee, Dave would repair automobiles and manufacture dune-buggies out of his garage. By 1972, the garage had doubled in size and Dave was still selling and manufacturing dune-buggies, but now he was also renting tent and travel trailers, selling and renting snowmobiles and selling truck caps.
In 1973, the business was relocated to a larger facility on Main Street West where the business expanded to also sell tent and travel trailers and truck campers. Along with the relocation, the staff complement increased to four employees.
By 1975 there was again a need to move and expand, this time to McKeown Avenue. This new building with a repair shop and a reasonably-sized showroom with one acre of land was eventually expanded to three acres in order to make room for the growing RV and marine business. At this time, Jayco, Prowler and Starcraft product lines were added to our inventory, as well as Homelite chain saws, Honda lawn and garden equipment and generators, and the Chrysler Marine products line. We also began renting motorhomes and trailers on a larger scale.
In 1977, the Ski-Doo franchise was acquired and gradually into the 80's, snow removal became a large part of our business, with up to eight 4x4 trucks. By this time, there were eight full-time employees and 1- part-time personnel involved.
In 1992, a second company was formed; Carlson Contracting. This new business dealt mostly with graders that were tendered out to different municipalities and the MTO. At one time Dave had up to 12 graders in operation working everywhere from the Parry Sound district up to Shining Tree, and from Redbridge over to Manitoulin Island and beyond!
By 1995, we had outgrown our McKeown property, so the Hwy 17 West location was purchased and renovated. Steady growth continued and in the fall of 1997 Arctic Cat snowmobiles were added to the mix, followed shortly by their impressive ATV line-up. At this point, all areas of the three existing buildings were pressed to their limits and the need for space once again became paramount.
The spring of 2002 brought us to our current expansive location, just across the highway. Our present facility boasts over 12,000 square feet, and six acres of property with over 1,700 feet of prime highway frontage. We kept our Hwy 17 West location and have rented it out, thus giving us property on both sides of the Trans-Canada Highway.
2011 marks our 40th anniversary! To celebrate, we're doing a little bit of renovations. We invite you to stop in and share the celebration with us!
So what has been the secret to Dave's success? Hiring the best staff possible and ensuring that each and every one of them has the same mind-set - customer satisfaction, be fair, be honest, and treat people like you would want to be treated yourself. This recipe works, as not only illustrated in the company's growth but also by dealer awards. Carlson Sports has been a Fleetwood "Circle of Excellence" winner since 1993 and was able to win 8 Arctic Cat "Canadian Dealer of the year" awards in their first 10 seasons with the company. Although there are many criteria used to measure performance in these awards, customer satisfaction ranks the highest.
We understand that if you take care of people they will come back; but we also realize that it is a two-way street. Although we are not perfect (yet), a big thanks goes out to each and every one of our customers for their support and willingness to work with us; we couldn't have done it without you.
We look forward to continue doing business with you - and if you're ever looking to talk to Dave or just want to say hello, he'll be the one with the coveralls and greasy hands!!!