Sixteen distributors and 70 suppliers — an increase of 15% over last year — have registered for next week’s Recreation Vehicle Aftermarket Association’s (RVAA) Annual Executive Conference. The premier RV aftermarket event takes place Tuesday (Aug. 4) through Friday at the Chase Park Plaza hotel in St. Louis.
”I think the increased registration says that the aftermarket is going pretty well,” said Carl Etshied, executive director of the 112-member organization that includes distributors, suppliers and manufacturers’ agents. ”We walked out of our meeting last year just as the wheels were coming off the whole credit thing thinking that this year was going to be a bad year.
”But from what my members are telling me, over the last four or five months, they’ve seen things pick up,” Etshied added. ”I talked to one distributor who had a record month last month. That’s not across-the-board. Overall, it’s been a tough year. But the attitudes of our members are incredibly optimistic.”
The RVAA conference is unique in that it allows suppliers to sit down one-on-one for up to 40 minutes with distributors to pitch products and ideas. ”The format of our meetings is not just people sitting in the audience and listening to someone talk for half an hour,” Etshied said.
Etshied, of course, is pleased by the increased registration. ”This is a year that they could have easily just phoned it in and forgot about the conference,” he said. ”Everybody’s cutting back on spending and travel budgets have been cut, but this is one event that many of our members thought they couldn’t afford to miss.”
Also during the conference, RVAA will present awards to a dozen members who have adopted ”best practices” suggested in RVAA’s new Aftermarket Efficiency Program in the areas of parts, sales and education.
”As a small association we’re pleased that we’ve been able to get some of our members to recognize the importance of best practices,” Etshied said.
The creation of the efficiency program was the result of the Go RVing Coalition’s Committee on Excellence quality task forces, Etshied said.