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RPTIA/RVIA Reunification Talks on Track

RPTIA logoThe Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA) is on track for further reunification discussions with the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) following a Thursday RPTIA board meeting.

The meeting at the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind., took place amid a rising tide for park model manufacturers, according to Bill Garpow, RPTIA executive director, whose association has reported that wholesale shipments for the first quarter were 800 units. ”We’re coming back,” Garpow told RVBUSINESS.com. ”It’s slow, but it’s definitely coming back.”

Garpow said the board had a long discussion about rejoining RVIA.

”No decision has been reached at this point,” said Garpow. ”The position the association has taken is to continue discussions with RVIA and do so in a positive nature and find out exactly what (reunification) would look like and how it would work.,”

”I can’t really say how a (RPTIA) vote would go at this point. If a vote was taken today, some are strongly against it and some are strongly in favor of it.”

Fifteen of about 40 RPTIA manufacture-members that have votes on the RPTIA board attended the Thursday meeting during which they voted to change RPTIA’s board structure.

Representatives of the two organizations previously scheduled an Aug. 26 meeting in Elkhart to continue talks.

”We want to be able to go to our members and say, ‘Here’s the package’ and go forward from there,” Garpow said.

”We don’t have any crisis things that are in the mill. It’s not like RPTIA can’t exist without the merger. We’re solvent and the future looks good. We can continue to function as an organization, either autonomously, or, if the board decides, as a product within RVIA.”

Those opposed to reunification are mostly concerned about RPTIA members ”being able to control our own destiny,” Garpow said.

”That’s probably the big objection — not having the controls we would like to have to do that, including staff and being able to make autonomous decisions.”

On the other hand, proponents of the merger point to RVIA’s strength as an asset.

”RVIA is a heck of a lot bigger, been around longer, is financially stronger and has excellent connections legislatively,” Garpow said. ”They’ve got everything in place.”

Park model manufacturers were RVIA members until October 1994 when they left the organization and formed their own group based in the Atlanta suburb of Newnan, Ga. Talks to reunify the two groups have been on and off for more than a year.

In regard to the recreational park trailer market, Garpow said that manufacturers are reporting that production is increasing like the rest of the RV industry and that workers are being called back after the extended recession.

”The optimism is coming from the manufacturers who are telling me things are better,” Garpow said. ”Many of the manufacturers will tell you they are back to producing on a daily basis and they are building a backlog — not huge numbers, but they are coming back.

‘We’re not ringing any bells,” he added. ”There are a lot of issues that need to be addressed — the big one being where the financing is coming from. Where’s the money?”

During the Thursday meeting, the RPTIA board voted to reorganize the board structure to have 13 members elected to four-year terms to include eight manufacturers, two suppliers, a park trailer dealer and two campground owners.

”It will be a lot less unwieldy,” Garpow said. ”And being elected, we hope there will be a push toward members coming to all the meetings so that people will know what the issues are.”

The board also heard a report on a pre-rule making process by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) which may consider changes in the park model exemption from HUD standards, Garpow said.

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