Summer is near and many people are itching to get outside, perhaps to go camping. For 50 years Alpin Haus has helped equip people with the necessary camping gear and other outdoor recreation equipment. In this edition of the Capital Region Business Beat, Jon Dougherty shares that people may be surprised to learn how the business was started.
AMSTERDAM, N.Y. -- It's become a landmark as you drive down the New York State Thruway near Amsterdam. Off the side of the road there are hundreds of RVs and campers in a huge lot. That is home to Alpin Haus' headquarters.
"We sell RV's, boats, snowmobiles, we have a ski shop for the winter time," Alpin Haus President Andy Heck said.
Alpin Haus has become one of the largest RV dealers in America.
It's celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. It was started in 1964 by Bud Heck and his grade school friend John Daly.
However, Alpin Haus has always been an outdoor recreation retailer. Heck and Daly actually started the business by selling Christmas trees.
"We took the Christmas tree money and the profit that we made and bought a snow cone truck. We then took the profit from that and with $1,500 we started a ski shop," Heck said.
Fifty years later, Alpin Haus has five locations across the Capital Region including a fitness center in Clifton Park.
It has more than 200 employees, and has received a number of national sales awards for RV, boat, snow sports and more.
"It's hard to believe," Andy said. "It's amazing and I think back to when I was a kid to our little store to what we've grown into now. It's kind of surreal."
Co-founder Bud Heck can't believe it's already been fifty years.
"It started out with my partner, myself, and one other buddies from grade school and started a ski shop and have a couple hundred employees working for us now. It's kind of a dream come true," Bud said.
To learn more about Alpin Haus go to www.alpinhaus.com.
To submit a story idea for the Capital Region Business Beat email Jon at Jon.Dougherty@twcnews.com or follow him on Twitter @JonDTWCNews