Driving down the Indiana Toll Road and passing the RV/MH Hall of Fame last week a person would have had to wonder just what’s going on.
As reported by the South Bend Tribune, hundreds of recreational vehicles were on display in the field adjacent to the hall, parking lots were busy, hotel rooms were full and lots of people were roaming the grounds.
Thousands of RV dealers from all 50 states, Canada and even China were in town checking out the 2013 model offerings of most major RV makers in Elkhart County.
Thor industries Inc.’s Open House was held at the Hall of Fame. But most of the other 11 shows were just a short distance away on County Road 6.
For dealers such as Bruno Tombari Jr. from Bella Vista RV Centre in Hawkestone, Ontario, it was quite an opportunity.
“We set our tone for our entire season pretty much at this show,” said Tombari, as he toured the grounds at the hall with his father, Bruno Sr., checking out all the latest offerings from Thor’s brands including Keystone, CrossRoads, Heartland, Dutchmen, Breckenridge and Thor Motor Homes.
“Thor is one of the largest lines we carry,” Tombari Jr. said
The South Bend Tribune reported that Thor’s President and COO Bob Martin said at least 3,000 dealers were at the Thor Open House alone from Tuesday through Thursday. But many dealers such as Tombari got in their cars and visited the other shows.
“We go down to Forest River and also to Fleetwood and Newmar as we represent those lines also,” Tombari said.
What Tombari likes most of all is how much he can get accomplished with so many shows going on just a few miles from each other.
“It allows you in a few days to do something that might take you four to five visits throughout a year,” he said. “Now you can do it in a three-day segment.”
In the business world, this is really a win, win, win with the dealers, the manufacturers and the town of Elkhart all reaping financial rewards.
It all started five years ago, with Forest River Inc. holding an open house for dealers, said Mark Bowersox, executive director of the Recreation Vehicle Indiana Council (RVIC). Thor got on board three years ago.
“With the two big players in the industry, all of the other manufacturers jumped on board,” Bowersox said.
The end result is a show that has doubled its numbers the past few years, says Diana Lawson, executive director of the Elkhart County Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Bowersox said one of the keys is the casual atmosphere of the shows.