Five men who played key roles in the development of the modern day RV industry were among those inducted into the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind., Monday night (Aug.2) as part of the RV/MH Heritage Foundation Inc.’s Class of 2010.
During a 90-minute ceremony that featured equal parts of entertainment, nostalgia and inspiration, the new inductees reminisced before an audience of nearly 350 people.
Heritage Foundation Chairman Lon Larson welcomed the audience and received an award in recognition of his service, while B.J. Thompson, chairman of the Public Relations Committee of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) spoke briefly on the RV Centennial celebration held on June 7 at the Hall of Fame and encouraged the audience to continue to mark the centennial throughout the rest of the year.
And in a surprise turn of events prior to the induction ceremony, as RVBUSINESS.com reported earlier, the foundation presented its Spirit Award to Gary LaBella, RVIA vice president of communications and chief marketing officer, who took the opportunity Monday night to announce his early retirement after 32 years with the trade group.
Here’s a few highlights of the inductees’ remarks:
Rex Floyd, Floyd’s RV, Norman, Okla., joked at the outset,” I thought you had to be dead to get in it!” He said the RV industry has treated him well over the 40 years that he has been part of it and thanked the staff of the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) for its hard work through the years. Floyd served 12 years on the RVDA board and was a leader in the early years in organizing a national marketing program which evolved into today’s Go RVing campaign. He was the first dealer to receive RVDA’s Jim Summers award.
Jim Fogdall, Ace Fogdall RV, Cedar Falls, Iowa, said the first award he ever received was “a cherry pie from a satisfied service customer.” He said his parents, who started the company, “stressed customer care and hard work” as keys to success. Now run by the third generation of the Fogdall family, the dealership has been profitable in each of its 77 years. He thanked the RVDA, The Spader Co. and praised the 20 Groups that allowed him to interact with – and learn from — other successful dealers.
Don Lougheed, RV Group Inc., Austin, Texas, thanked “God and thousands of friends and associates since he started his business in 1963.” Loughheed gave credit to a number of RVDA pioneers, such as Hilton Fitt-Peaster and Jim Summers, and the late Bill Gorman, an industry consultant whoLougheed called his “idol who taught dealers how to sell RVs.” He also recognized manufacturing legends such as Winnebago Industries Inc.’s John K. Hanson, Holiday Rambler Corp.’s Richard Klinger and Airstream Inc.’s Wally Byam.
Carl Pfalzgraf, Atwood Mobile Products, Elkhart, Ind., recounted his early years as “a troubled teen” who built cars and drag racers and told how he joined Atwood in 1965 and spent his career as “an apprentice,” soaking up knowledge from those around him. He served 18 years on the RVIA board, the last two as board chairman, and called his industry service “a career within a career.”
Clarence T. Yoder, Carriage Inc. Millersburg, Ind., an Elkhart County legend who was sporting his trademark hat, lived up to his reputation as a man of few words. One of 15 children in an Amish family, he quit school at an early age and went to work sweeping floors at a nearby factory. He led his company, Carriage Inc., for 30 years and had a primary role in research and development. He pioneered seamless fiberglass end caps, motorized slideouts on fifth-wheels and developed the first flat floor for fifth-wheels with no step up to the bedroom. He holds several patents.
Inductees from the manufactured housing industry were Raymond F. Bassett, Jim Boyts, Jerry Haggadone, Morris Hylton Jr., Jess Maxcy and Jeff Wick. Bassett and Boyts are deceased.
A total of 14 foursomes competed earlier in the day in the charity golf tournament. The shotgun tournament was won by the team of Doug Bassett, Steve Bassett, Brian Younkin and Rick Grise.