Doug Gaeddert: RV Industry is Off and Running
Editor’s Note: The following is a column from Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) Chairman Doug Gaeddert that appears in the latest issue of RVIA Today. Gaeddert, general manager for Forest River Inc., expounds on the industry’s strong first quarter, RVIA’s plan to aid the RV transport companies, and a look at Committee Week in Washington, D.C.
Wow! I can’t believe that this is already the third time I’ve put some of my thoughts on paper for an issue of RVIA Today. Time ﬂies when you’re having fun! The last few months have seemingly been at warp speed for me and so has the pace of our industry.
With March’s shipment numbers reﬂecting a year-to-date increase of 11.2% over the ﬁrst quarter of 2012, it’s a great start to what has the potential be an amazing year for everyone. To put things into perspective from a pace standpoint, this is an approximate 160% increase over the “very forgettable” ﬁrst quarter of 2009. Total new RV shipments through the ﬁrst three months of 2009 were approximately 30,500 units versus 79,422 for 2013. That rate of acceleration looks like Usain Bolt running the sprints at the London Olympics!
One of the results of the industry running at this speed isn’t a “pulled” muscle, but one that is “strained.” The RV transportation sector as many of you are aware, is struggling to keep up in delivering ﬁnished units from manufacturing plants to dealer lots. Although this is not a new phenomenon exclusive to this year, we are attempting a new and different approach at RVIA to see if we can’t help smooth it out for the long haul. RVIA is exploring several possible strategies in hopes of being able to positively impact the RV transportation sector for both the United States and Canada.
No promises at this point, other than we are diligently working on it. That old deﬁnition of insanity – “doing things the same way every day and expecting different results at the end of the day” – is what we’re attempting to break away from. Although if successful it will be too late to affect spring and summer of 2013, we hope to be able to impact the peak shipping periods of 2014. RVIA President Richard Coon and the association staff will keep you posted and may call on you or your company for help if needed.
I’m sure this will be a topic of discussion at RVIA’s Committee Week, which is just around the corner. The event kicks off on June 2 with the first committee meeting and ends on June 6 with the RVIA Board Meeting. In between, a lot transpires over a few fast paced days. This is the week in which the associa- tion’s Strategic Plan and the individual committee’s prioritized goals are approved and blended into a “roughed out” overall operational plan. The plan is then subjected to the budget process which culminates in an August budget meeting for the final financial “tweaks” and is then submitted to the Board for review and approval at fiscal year 2013’s year ending meeting in September.
Committee Week is a huge effort involving RVIA’s talented staff and many hard working industry members who make up the committees. These generous volunteer leaders are basically donating their time and expertise for the betterment of the overall industry. RVIA’s annual Capitol Advocacy Day also takes place during Committee week. This again is a volunteer effort to visit those folks in both Houses of Congress that represent us with the goals of strengthening the relationships and keying in on industry speciﬁc objectives and challenges.
If you’ve never participated in Advocacy Day or on an association committee, I strongly encourage you to do so. If you want to become involved in either or both of these efforts, or want to give your input, just contact any one of RVIA’s staff members or someone on the Board of Directors. Remember–this is YOUR association!
In closing, I believe that our industry is better coordinated than it has ever been. The combination of consolidation and improved communication between associations, manufacturers, dealers, sup- pliers, campgrounds, distributors, transporters, and ﬁnance companies will hopefully make us all the “Usain Bolt” of the travel and leisure industry! Happy selling and don’t pull a muscle!