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Dealers Flocking to Elkhart County Open House

RV dealers are flocking to northern Indiana this week to view new 2012 models as Elkhart County’s 4th Annual RV Open House Week kicked off Monday (Sept. 19), according to a report by WNDU TV, South Bend.

Some 3,500 RV dealers representing 1,600 dealerships are expected to pass through by the week’s end.

“This is a really big deal,” said Ed Kinney, vice president of sales and marketing for Millersburg-based Carriage Inc. ”It developed into a big deal with dealers coming in to look at product, buy product, take it back to their lots and get ready for the fall season.”

In a field just east of the RV Hall of Fame, about 500 units are on display for Thor Industries Inc. companies. Meantime, Carriage RV and several other companies set up on the south side of town, near the U.S. 20 Bypass and County Road 17.

“We’ve got several new floorplans in the Carriage line,” said Kinney. “We’ve got a new Cameo here that’s got a resort shower in it, which is like a 48-inch by 32-inch shower, which is new.”

At the Monaco RV LLC display, representatives were showing brand new Vesta Class A motorhome. “The Vesta is the only coach that was really designed with a wind tunnel,” said Tim Jones of Monaco.

While the Vesta is big and brawny like most motorhomes, it is also sleek and aerodynamic. “We’re hearing people driving these coaches around that are getting 9 1/2 to 10 1/2 ten miles per gallon in a 36-foot to 40-foot motorhome,” said Jones.

At last year’s open house, factory shipments to dealers were running about 70% higher compared to the year before. This year, the increase is a much more modest 6%.

“It’s still a steady year, it’s a good year for who are still in business and survived and doing OK,” said Kinney.

Kinney and others hope that making better products will make up for the bad economy. “I think we’re cautiously optimistic but we also know there’s a lot of uncertainty out there.”

Kenny Gipson is an RV dealer in Mountain Town, Ark., who made the trip to Elkhart. “You have to be optimistic or get out of the business. They’re trying to make the product better suited for what people want.”

By the end of 2011, the industry is expected to deliver about 247,000 units to dealers which would be an increase of about 2% over 2010 figures. However, experts are predicting that dealer shipments will decline in 2012 by about 2%.



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