By MARILYN TINNIN
Dub Herring is legendary as a successful RV dealer across the Gulf South. For a guy who almost stumbled into the industry by accident in 1992, he has built an extraordinary business largely because of his character, his work ethic, his generous spirit, and his commitment to let the Lord direct his path. He is 80 years young, and that is really hard to believe. There is a twinkle in his eye, a spring in his step, and a passion for life that has probably not dimmed at all over the decades!
Born in 1935, “PawPaw” was the oldest of six siblings born to a dirt-poor couple in Elliot, Mississippi—that would be “out from Grenada” in the heart of the Delta. His dad was an alcoholic, and his mom was a godly lady who did her best to stand between the father’s abuse and her six children. As is so many times the case, what the devil meant for evil, God meant for good (Genesis 50:20), and Dub’s life from the beginning is testament to that fact.
From the time he was eight years old, he worked hard to help his mother and his younger siblings. He was either shining shoes, selling newspapers, or picking cotton. At 17, he was a corpsman in the U.S. Navy. When he came home from the Korean conflict in the early 1950’s, he enrolled at Holmes Community College where he played football, and met and married his first wife, Elaine, the mother of his four children. She passed away in 2003.
As a young couple, they settled in Pascagoula where Dub got a job as a postman and Elaine worked at Hancock Bank. But it was a citywide revival in 1967 that turned Dub into the committed Christ follower he is today. His mother, Inez, had had her children in church throughout their growing-up years and Dub had pretty much stayed out of trouble and been a good kid, but it was in that citywide revival led by Reverend James Walter Hickman he came to a real understanding of what it meant to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. And as he says, “I never got over it.”
First of all, he was suddenly “serious” about life, about taking good care of his family, and having a long-range plan. Then, too, he was interested in giving back and helping other people— primarily children who lived in the same kind of situation he had lived in during his childhood.
When he realized that the “safe” job he had at the post office offered little incentive for financial gain, he decided to try his hand at selling cars for a dealership in Biloxi. Dub says he educated himself by reading books and following the successful habits of others. That was a strategy that served him well. There were a few significant bumps in the road, but by 1978 he was the owner of his own store—Dub Herring Lincoln-Ford-Mercury dealership in Picayune, and later opened Dub Herring Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep as well. The late 70s was not an era friendly to small businesses, but Dub managed to survive the interest rates and the economy and made treating people the way he wanted to be treated a hallmark of business practice.
When a friend persuaded him to accompany him to an RV showcase in Kenner, Louisiana, Dub was completely surprised by the numbers of people who showed up to preview the myriad of models and lines. He decided to just give it a low-risk try, ordered three different models, and sold them all in two days. And the rest is indeed history. Today PawPaw’s Camper City is the number one dealership of RVs in the Gulf-South!
His heart is about the same size as the enormous front lot of PawPaw’s Camper City! He loves his community and has been a “giver” from the get-go. The walls of his dealership are museum-like, lined with awards and newspaper clippings with accolades like “Picayune Citizen of the Year” and “Time Magazine’s Goodyear Mississippi Dealer of the Year.” He is obviously a well-loved man, but it is in his philanthropic choices that his Christlike love for others shines brightest.
He has been a Gideon speaker for over 35 years, and the cofounder and director of Daystar Ministries—a facility specializing in the care and education of abused women. He is the founder of Jacob’s Well, a rehab center for women addicted to drugs and alcohol, that has been the lifeline to hundreds of women since its founding in 2005.
He and his wife, Donna, are members of Rosalind Park Baptist Church and follow lots of sports from Thursday night Pearl River Community College, to Friday night Picayune High School, to Saturday Ole Miss or Golden Eagle games, to New Orleans Saints games on Sundays. With 14 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren, there is never a dull moment! They all think PawPaw literally hung the moon. Maybe he didn’t, but it is clear he is on a first name basis with the One who did!