Drew Tutton shares his journey of growth and expansion from one company to four, with another to launch next year.
By Jennifer Morrell
Many years in the making, Open Roads Complete RV launched Drew Tutton’s collection of businesses, Tutton Group. Tutton started at a steady pace in 2014 and has seen continued success in the automotive and RV industries ever since. When he worked for other business owners, he learned, saved and positioned himself to maximize on any opportunities that came along. That meant he and his family would practice a significant amount of self-discipline.
“I and my wife, Dana, stayed grounded financially, living within our means on a budget of $3,200 per month for many years,” he says. “That meant few, if any car payments, no credit card debt, and remaining grounded in our faith. Either I worked, or I was at home with my family. My recreation was my work.”
Tutton had no idea that the opportunity he was anticipating would come via the RV industry. He and his wife purchased an RV from a friend in 2012 and fell in love with the RV experience. They took their first trip to Ruby Falls in Tennessee. From that first camping experience, they were hooked. “We felt it brought families closer together,” Tutton says. “We attended an RV tailgate and noticed what a great time everyone had. For two or three years, we went on many RV trips, whether it was out West, or an hour from home.”
What the couple also noticed was that they were having difficulty finding facilities that could accommodate the required maintenance and repairs on their RV.
Flash forward two years to the opening of Open Roads Complete RV, which consisted of a metal building with three bays and a gravel lot for RV repair and maintenance. The business took off and, over six months, grew tremendously. Tutton’s son, Dylan, next opened the sales side of the business. Tutton next partnered with Winnebago Towable RV — the first in the state of Georgia. In only two years, that company became the No. 1 selling Winnebago Towable dealer in the country. Tutton Group then expanded into other brands. The company consists of Open Roads Complete RV Acworth, Open Roads Complete RV Jasper, Tutton Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram (formerly Jasper Jeep), Voyles Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Birmingham, and Jasper Tractor (which opened in March).
The Tutton Group Way
Tutton’s philosophy is simple: Deliver a quality product with transparency and integrity. “My whole life is built on faith, family, and work ethic,” he says. “My goal is to instill these values within each of our staff members and give each employee the opportunity to grow as professionals and personally. I want to give others the opportunity to grow without limits.”
Tutton asserts that Open Roads is different because he and his wife were customers before he become an RV dealership owner. He and his team understand the importance of doing anything necessary to give each customer the best experience possible. The overarching goal is to find a way to keep customers camping.
“The industry can be difficult at times, with the obtaining of parts and delays in approvals,” he says. “We continue to keep the focus on training and communication in order to remove as many obstacles as possible, so that customers can enjoy the RVs.”
Growing the Group
Open Roads Complete RV quickly expanded to three locations to accommodate Tutton Group’s growing business. In February 2020, the group partnered to buy Voyles Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Birmingham.
Also in 2020, the group opened Siete Tacos and Tequila. The restaurant came about after a conversation Tutton had with his son-in-law and daughter, when he encouraged them to discover what it was they loved and enjoyed doing, go for it. “They both did an incredible job with the concept, logo, design, name and promotions,” Tutton says. “However, after a year in the business, they realized restaurant ownership is not always the best idea when it comes to family life. My son-in-law got back into a career that allows more life-work balance, and our daughter works with me daily overseeing most of our real estate projects as well as Tutton Storage.”
In 2021, the opportunity to purchase Jasper Jeep arose, and Tutton’s goal is to put that dealership, which was once known for its volume, back on the map. In March of this year, the company opened Jasper Tractor. Tutton is partnering with Zach Cagle, also a Cobb County native. Cagle presented Tutton with a solid business plan, making the partnership an easy decision. “This helps establish what Tutton Group is all about,” he says. “Our goal is to invest in others to pay it forward. We want to give people opportunities to invest in themselves, their families, and our community.”
Paying it forward has paid off for Tutton and his employees. Lynn Smith of White, Georgia, purchased a Rockwood Mini Lite from Open Roads and describes the experience as “smooth and easy, with a no-pressure sales team and a fantastic finance team.”
“My sales associate worked his magic and got me in the unit I wanted with a price I could feel comfortable spending,” White says. “I have used the service department in the past with a previous unit and was pleased with the service there as well. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy again from Open Roads. This is the kind of place I would be proud to recommend to my parents.”
Navigating the journey
Owning a business is an adventure — every day. Business owners face challenges from personnel to sales to supply chain issues. However, this is what drives Tutton — the opportunity to tackle a task and find a way to be successful at delivering a product he’s proud to sell, and running a company with which customers want to do business.
Tutton provides leadership coaching as well as specialized department training. He says most of that training boils down to employees understanding who they are and what strengths and weaknesses exist. Most business owners whose companies survived the COVID-19 pandemic walked away with new knowledge in one form or another. Tutton Group learned that their customers do not like to be told what they cannot do. Tutton sold numerous of RVs during the pandemic, which proved that people were going to get out, enjoy their time with their families, and take in nature’s beauty.
“People definitely realized the freedom and flexibility an RV could provide,” he says. “They can have their own recreational vehicles that they can take just about anywhere at any time and enjoy their time with loved ones and friends. The RV culture is one-of-a-kind. If you’ve ever spent a night in an RV park, you’ve most likely had someone say hello and offer you a beverage. The community and family atmosphere are extremely contagious and makes you hungry for your next trip.”
Tutton says that during the pandemic adjustments had to be made in the fields of both RVs and automotives due to product availability. “It meant managing a short supply of inventory and margins to be fair with the customers,” he says. “Parts were harder to get. As a company, we saw improved communication, and our employees are [continuing to keep] customers more informed as they go through the sales and service process.”
Giving back to Cobb
Tutton Group employs 18 people in Cobb County proper and, of course, many more throughout the group of businesses.
“Cobb county is where it all started for me,” Tutton says. “The Ed Voyles Automotive Group has been a huge part of my journey. I originally started with the organization in 1992, and my career has expanded from a salesperson to the only partnership the family has ever had.”
Tutton has partnered with the Cobb County School System, Cobb Chamber of Commerce, and Chattahoochee Technical College. For example, for several years, Ed Voyles helped Cobb County Schools raise money through a Jeep Wrangler raffle. That act of community support later lead to Ed Voyles supporting the county’s Teachers of the Year program. Currently, each Cobb County and Marietta Teacher of the Year receives a car to drive for a year.
A look ahead
Tutton Group is in a prime position for future growth. The group had a strong February 2023, and a slightly softer March. But even with higher gas prices, Tutton says the demand for RVs remains the same.
“Just like a car, you can buy an RV cheaper today than 18 months ago,” he says. “Because the supply was so low then; with a high demand, prices started to rise. The supply chain is catching up with demand, so you can buy an RV for a more reasonable price today.”
In the next five years, Tutton Group wants to expand to two more rooftops, with a 10-year goal of having no fewer than 25. The company also has purchased property in Birmingham, Alabama, for an RV location that will be opening in 2024.