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RVIA’s Gaeddert: ‘Don’t Settle for a Field Goal!’

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September 19, 2013 by   Leave a Comment

Doug Gaeddert

Editor’s Note: The following is a column from Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) President Doug Gaeddert, appearing in the latest issue of RVIA Today, assessing the past year and looking for the industry to close out on a strong note. 

It’s hard to believe, but we’re almost into the fourth and final quarter of 2013. Unlike the NFL, we have no halftime, or preseason warmup games in the RV industry. It’s just go, execute your game plan for four straight quarters, and then head right back out on the field to do it again!

This year is on pace to be the best in recent history with a newly revised forecast of 319,300 units for the 2013 calendar year. If I’m not mistaken, I believe this is the fourth upward adjustment from the original 289,900 unit forecast made last fall. The result, if we reach it, is a 10.14% increase for the industry over what we started with. If we’re going to be off a little on a projection – this is absolutely the right direction to miss it in!

That being said, we’re not there yet. I screwed up landing a trophy Northern Pike earlier this summer by allowing myself to become complacent as the fish was almost in the net. You guessed it – the fish made one last run and got off the hook! Let’s not let that happen to the final quarter. Let’s get 2013 in the boat, and then go “catch” an even bigger 2014!!

Just like the industry at large, there is not a downtime at RVIA any more either. Looking at RVIA activities in various areas, all departments have been and remain extremely busy. Dianne Farrell, Jay Landers, Mike Ochs, Christine Siska and the rest of the staff in the Government Affairs Department have been involved in resolving the California fifth-wheel length issue; assisting in various state legislative efforts; working on the transporter issue; renewing the Generalized System of Preference trade agreement; and addressing regulatory issues including vehicle green house gas standards, axle weights for motorhomes, the Lacey Act and the EPA’s upcoming rule pertaining to formaldehyde emissions from wood products. They’ve also assisted on numerous projects with park model RV members and too many other items to mention. Bottom line – the Government Affairs staff is that big left tackle that protects your blindside, and you sure feel the pain if they’re not there!

Regarding the California RV Show in Pomona, Calif., and the National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., I’m pleased to report that things look great! Mike Hutya, Tom Gaither and all the show staff have done a super job in preparing for these two big events. The National RV Trade Show looks to edge out last year, while the California RV Show should be up at least 20%. Thanks to Jim Jacobs and the National Show Committee as well. You’ve got to keep “re-upping” Jake for that important volunteer position.

On the Public Relations and Advertising front, James Ashurst, Bill Baker, Karen Redfern and the rest of the staff have been on a roll! You’ll be amazed by some of the fall projects including the debut of a new “AWAY” tailgating ad and a sponsorship opportunity with Sports Illustrated. If you’ve seen the “AWAY” ad campaign, I think you’ll agree that it’s simply awesome in terms of its creative materials, use of social media, and lead and awareness generation.

This group also keeps generating premium media exposure for our industry that is helping to enhance the image and popularity of RV travel and camping among consumers. We’ve enjoyed unbelievable coverage all year long in some of the nation’s biggest media outlets, including USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, FOX, ABC World News and NBC Nightly News.

And, all of this is being done on a budget that is stretching public relations dollars farther than ever before. James (our industry’s RGIII) might make a great budget director for the White House (with Mac Bryan and Craig Kirby’s oversight!) He seems to get just as much out of the bottom of the ketchup bottle as my mother used to!

The Standards and Education Department is about to launch a new pilot program geared toward improving technician training opportunities as well as increasing in the number of certified RV technicians. This program will include the development of a technical library, which is already underway. Richard Coon, Bruce Hopkins, Sharonne Lee, Mel Adams, Jeff Rutherford and many others have put a ton of effort into a new approach that involves key operational people from many of the industry’s leading dealerships, manufacturers and suppliers.

Thank you to all involved for the hard work everyone has put in so far and in advance for that which still lies ahead! This exciting new direction will include “boots on the ground” as Richard likes to say, with Field Training Reps actually living in the field. It will also involve participation from volunteer dealerships for use of training facilities and obviously assistance from suppliers and manufacturers. As an industry, we haven’t come close to being able to supply the quantity or quality of trained technicians that the industry needs now, let alone those that will be needed in the anticipation of additional industry growth. As more details are released about this effort, I encourage everyone in the indus-try to become part of the “solution.”

As I mentioned at the outset, it’s the fourth quarter and it looks like we’re all playing pretty well. As an industry, let’s not settle for a field goal from the ten yard line or miss a big fish like I did! Let’s “punch it in the end zone” and then get ready to go do it again next year!

 

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