The Florida RV SuperShow drew heavy traffic last week as more than 50,000 consumers gathered at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa to scope out the new 2013 models of recreational vehicles.
Investors Business Daily reported that the show, which ran Jan. 16-20, is a venue for dealers to sell the products on display from the manufacturers they represent.
Thor Industries Inc. had a strong presence in Tampa, where all its subsidiaries and brands were represented.
Thor President and COO Bob Martin gave an upbeat early read on the show, noting, “Attendance at the Tampa show is up from last year, early indications suggest that retail sales are strong, and our dealers remain upbeat,” Martin told Investors Business Daily Jan. 17. “These are all very positive signs for growth for Thor and our industry this year.”
The warm reception at the show is in keeping with the overall climate for the RV industry, which has seen demand heat up after cooling off in a big way during the recession.
The industry started to move on the comeback trail in 2010, and has been gaining speed ever since. RV wholesale shipments are estimated to have grown to 277,000 to 285,000 units in 2012, says Kevin Broom, a spokesman for the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). That would be up from 252,300 units in 2011. Forecasters call for a 4% to 5% rise in RV wholesale unit shipments in 2013, says Broom.
Thor, which makes the whole gamut of RVs, has been cashing in on the rebound. Sales have climbed by double digits in all but one of the past 13 quarters. And profits have risen by double digits for two straight quarters.
First-quarter fiscal 2013 sales popped 30% to $875.6 million, the highest level of sales growth in over two years. Profits climbed 41% to 58 cents a share.
Thor, which also is a major builder of commercial buses and ambulances, saw total RV sales rise 36% to $761.14 million from a year earlier. Its biggest piece of business is in towable RVs, which enjoyed a 28% pop in first-quarter sales to $639.2 million. Motorized RV sales surged 95% to $122.2 million.
First-quarter results were supported by dealer optimism and strong orders at its open house for dealers in Elkhart, Ind., in September, said Thor Chairman and CEO Peter Orthwein in a statement.