Photo: Governor Kay Ivey (pictured at center) cuts a ceremonial ribbon to celebrate the grand opening of Bankston Motor Homes at its new location in Attalla on Friday, September 16. She is joined by Attalla Mayor Larry Means (center, right of Ivey) and Bankston Motor Homes Founder Harrison Bankston (center, left of Ivey), as well as local officials, supporters and Bankston family members. (Emma Kirkemier/Messenger)
By Emma Kirkemier, News Editor
Bankston Motor Homes launched its Attalla location with a grand opening ceremony on September 16.
Five years in the making, the Attalla dealership is now open for business. Its new facility is a $15 million, 49,000 square-foot building located on a lot just off I-59.
“We look forward to a great time here in Attalla,” said Bankston Motor Homes Founder Harrison Bankston. “We hope this is going to be successful. We know that it will. If you could see what I’m seeing looking back this way, you’d know what I’m talking about. Everyone is behind us, and we’re behind you.”
Attalla Mayor Larry Means thanked the Bankston family for supporting local industry in the city. He also credited Governor Kay Ivey, who was present, for her pro-business policy.
“We’re all in this together in the state of Alabama, where we’ve got a governor like we do who believes in business,” Means said.
Ivey congratulated both Bankston Motor Homes and the City of Attalla for the industrial development.
“I have to commend the Bankston family,” Ivey said. “Y’all have been a great employer for the people of Alabama for decades. Since 1970, Bankston Motor Homes has been family-owned and operated. What’s even more exciting is this is investing back in Alabama.”
Ivey commended the company as a “true Alabama success story” and encouraged potential customers to use their RVs as a way to get on the road and see the sights of “Alabama the Beautiful.” In this capacity, she said Bankston is not only bolstering industry but celebrating family and ecological values.
“I like to remind folks that made in Alabama is bringing back made in America,” she said.
Bankston has five locations: Attalla, Huntsville, Florence, Ardmore Tennessee and Nashville Tennessee. If the scale of its latest opening is any indication, the business is still growing.
“We are investing in people, and we are excited about all that we have planned,” said Bankston Motor Homes Vice President and Chase Baerlin. “It’s about legacy.”
Baerlin is Harrison Bankston’s grandson and far from the only contributor to the family business. According to Bankston, out of over a dozen grandchildren, 10 work “in the business” with him.
The new installment in Attalla, however, is teaching future generations in more than one capacity. The facility is partnering with local schools to offer technical credentials and work experience to interested students.
“Of course, they’re going to be a service center here,” said Etowah County Career and Technical Center Principal Mark Stancil. “And it’ll be more for the service part of this, basically helping develop some technicians, what they call RV technicians or RVTIs. It’s a very broad credential because these things are so complex. I mean, they have propane, they have electrical, they have wood, they have metal, they have electronics.”
According to Stancil, Etowah County now hosts the only RVTI certification program in the Southeast, the next closest being in Indiana, which makes the program particularly valuable.
Stancil explained that local dealerships and businesses can also send their employees to be trained alongside students.
“This is just another great example of how our [Attalla City Schools] system and Etowah County’s partnership is just so unique because our job is to make our kids as marketable as we possibly can and to give them options,” said Etowah High School Principal Nate Ayers. “And the fact that this, right now, is the only place in the Southeast where our students can get this credential is awesome. It’s amazing, and it makes our kids different.”