Watch a slide show from the expo in today’s featured video on the RVBUSINESS.com homepage.
Fifty northern Indiana suppliers to the RV, manufactured housing and related industries displayed their wares at the first-ever Elkhart County Supplier Expo today (July 27) at the RV/MH Hall of Fame on the northeast side of Elkhart, Ind.
And the general economic outlook among those in attendance was decidedly upbeat, if not overwhelmingly so, since so many individuals harbor concerns about the near-term economy.
The event, slated for 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., was sponsored by the Indiana Manufactured Housing Association-Recreation Vehicle Indiana Council (IMHA-RVIC).
Along with RV and MH vendors, the expo was geared for the auto, marine, bus, specialty vehicle and agricultural industries and features diverse product offerings, educational seminars and networking reception and is designed for purchasing agents, engineers and executive-level personnel, plus a reception sponsored by the Economic Development Corp. of Elkhart County.
While attendance was spotty at this first-ever show, Mark Bowersox, executive director of the IMHARVIC, said the vendor attendance was double what he had expected.
Several vendors, by the same token, told RVBUSINESS.com that they were encouraged by the leads generated at the show. And one said the experience was worthwhile as it provided him a look at how he might stage a national trade show for his company at the Hall of Fame next year.
Meanwhile, those supplying the RV industry told RVBUSINESS.com they expect the industry to undergo a fairly normal downturn this fall.
For his part, Brent Clark, vice president of sales for the plumbing division of LaSalle Bristol, Elkhart, expects business to be flat the second half of this year. The fourth quarter won’t be as strong as a year ago because the industry was just beginning to rebound at that time, he noted. He expects the late-year downturn to be in the range of 10% to 15%.
Likewise, Merlin Yoder, president of Challenger Door, serving the mobile transportation market from his headquarters in Napppanee, Ind., said the seasonal slowdown “might be just a little worse than the normal slowdown” and forecast it to be in the range of 20%.
Encouraged by the number of requests for quotes his company has been receiving lately, Rod Miller, a sales rep for Nickell Moulding, an Elkhart-based architectural moulding supplier to the RV and MH markets, sees business steady into Christmas.
Sherman Hansen, representing TR Arnold & Associates, Elkhart, said the near-term looks good because TR Arnold continues to make inroads in getting RV companies “green certified.” Evergreen Recreational Vehicles LLC and Jayco Inc. are among the first to get certified by TRA, he said, while Forest River Inc. is presently undergoing the process. “A lot of suppliers want their products certified” as well, he added.
Mike Mohr, sales manager for the Indiana Division of Dave Carter & Associates Inc., said the RV industry has righted itself and he expects a relatively normal seasonal slowdown this fall.
And Scott Morrison, an account rep for Statewide Aluminum, a TAG Specialty Products company who was at the show to interest the RV industry in his firm’s sliding windows, is cautiously optimistic about the second half of this year.