Family-owned businesses are a staple in the Yakima Valley economy, but only a select few have been around for more than 50 years. Count Selah Trailer Camper Sales among the lucky ones.
The recreational trailer sales and service provider at 518 S. First St. opened in 1965 and is still going strong today. Their secret?
“We treat our customers well, like we would want to be treated,” said Keith Jones, who owns the business with his wife, Tamie. “We just try to do the best we can for a fair price, which has worked out pretty well for us over the years.”
Jones’ parents, Harley and Janice — both 1948 Selah High School graduates — started Selah Trailer Sales in 1965 after running an automobile service shop across the street for years.
Keith and Tamie took over the business in 2004 and eventually brought in their son, Jason, as a sales manager. Tamie manages the books and orders supplies, while Keith has his hands in just about everything. They also employ a full-time and part-time mechanic.
“We’re just a small, family-owned business,” Keith Jones said. “Most of our business comes from people who know us, and our customers have helped us spread the word. That’s what has kept us going.”
The family used to sell RVs, fifth-wheels and Class C vehicles, but in 2008, they shifted their sales focus entirely to trailers. However, they continue to provide service for all types of recreational vehicles and also sell after-market supplies in the shop.
“In our area, a lot of people buy trailers for a variety of recreational uses,” Jones said, adding that many people live in their trailers full-time. “Today, we have less inventory than before, but we also have fewer risks.”
Like most businesses in Washington, Selah Trailer Camper Sales was forced to shut down most of its operations this spring due to the COVID-19 outbreak. But because they provide an essential service to year-round trailer residents, they were able to weather the storm. In-person sales are now allowed on a limited basis, and Jones has a good feeling for the rest of 2020.
“When the time came to start selling again, things picked up right away,” he said. “We sold a bunch of new trailers all at once, which we’re not really used to. But we got used to it pretty fast.”
Jones attributes the increased interest to more people staying close to home this summer instead of taking trips outside the area.
“Instead of going on a cruise or going to Disneyland, people are looking for ways to have fun locally this year,” he said.
The only potential setback, Jones added, is that product suppliers are having trouble keeping up with demand after being shut down for months. Water pumps, air-conditioning units, roof vents and other trailer parts are now on back order, and new trailers can’t be built without those parts.
“The companies providing products to the manufacturers can’t keep up,” he said. “We may eventually run into problems getting products, but for now, things are going really well.”
If you would like to reach Selah Trailer Camper Sales, call 509-697-7156 or find them on Facebook.