The family owned, Mesa, Ariz. based company, founded by Florida native Robert Smalley Sr. in 1972, ranks as the nation's largest RV rental firm with 126 locations and about 300 employees at peak season in the U.S. and Canada. Smalley’s sons, CEO and Chairman Randall Smalley, and President Robert Smalley Jr., were brought on board straight out of college to help start up and run the company, and remain at the helm today.
"My brother and I represent the fourth generation in the vehicle rental business," Smalley said, tracing his rental roots back to his great grandfather, Frank Couture, who rented cars in south Florida during the 1920s. Robert Smalley Sr. logged numerous years in the car rental business, including serving as president of car rental giant Hertz, before recognizing and capitalizing on an untapped niche in the motorhome rental arena.
The Smalley’s family-oriented business culture has been one of the few constants at Cruise America. One of the keys to Cruise America’s longevity, according to Randall Smalley, is being aggressively proactive. “You want to anticipate the market and then correct small problems before they become larger problems,” he said, noting that the company’s current rental fleet will balloon to an all-time high of 4,200 vehicles this summer, then drop off by about 1,000 during the off-season. “Our objective over the years has been to keep raising the bar, to keep getting better.”
Cruise America’s Class C motorhomes today are manufactured by Elkhart, Ind.-based Four Winds International Corp., a subsidiary of Thor Industries Inc. In April 2004, Cruise America joined Four Winds’ management and employees in saluting the completion of the Thor division’s 25,000th mini motorhome.