RV/MH Hall of Fame President Darryl Searer has agreed to continue leading the Hall for an additional two years, according to Chairman Barry Cole. In August 2014, Searer will take on the additional responsibilities as chairman when Cole’s term expires. Searer currently serves as president and treasurer.
“This came about when Jay Hesse, president of Blue Ox, who was elected vice chairman of the board in August 2011 and scheduled to become chairman this fall, was forced to resign because of family matters–leaving the vice chairmanship open,” Cole said in a press release. “I asked Darryl if he would consider taking on the additional role of vice chairman. After lengthy deliberation, Darryl accepted. That means in August Searer will be chairman, president and treasurer.”
Despite suffering a heart attack in 2013 and undergoing quadruple bypass heart surgery, Searer said he is up to the challenge.
“Based upon Darryl’s commitment to lead the Hall for another two years, I challenge members of the RV and MH communities to honor his dedication and leadership by stepping up with major contributions to the Hall this year,” said Cole.
Searer volunteered on a noncompensation basis for two years in March of 2012 to help restructure the Hall financially to insure its future success.
Through a series of belt-tightening measures, reorganization and rebranding of the Event Center, renegotiations of financial obligations with major creditors and some innovative fundraisers, the RV/MH Hall of Fame, under Searer’s creative leadership, has managed to lower its debt from over $5.5 million to approximately $2.5 million putting the Hall of a strong financial position.
Searer brought over 50 years of experience to the Hall. He started his career in the RV industry at the age of 16, working in his father’s business, Elkhart Rivet and Register. He has also been vice president of marketing and sales for the Dometic Corp.; president and owner, MHS Supply; and chairman of Ultra-Fab Products Inc.
Searer said, “I am pleased for the opportunity to continue for two more years, as challenging as it will be. My goal during the past two years was to get the Hall where it was financially viable — we’ve done that. But our new challenge of making the Hall debt-free is incomplete. During the next two years, we hope to move as close as possible to making that a reality.”
To achieve this goal, Searer points to two outstanding obligations: paying off the $550,000 bank loan used to complete the purchase of the David Woodworth Antique RV Collection and a $3 million loan by the “Boots” Ingram family.
The Hall started making payments on the Ingram loan in August 2013. “Under the amortization schedule the Ingram loan will be paid off by 2033–but I believe we can beat that, in part, because of the continuing Ingram family’s generosity,” Searer said. “As long as we meet our monthly obligations, the Ingram’s will continue to match the principle payment by 50 percent which means the $3 million loan will pay off with $2 million.
As far as retiring the $550,000 bank loan for the Woodworth Collection, Searer is soliciting companies, foundations or individuals who will step forward with a contribution. “We are offering naming rights for the collection to any company or person that offers to pay off this debt,” he said. “What better way to honor an industry icon than have their name forever associated with this outstanding collection at the RV/MH Museum.”
Searer’s goal is for the Hall to be completely debt free by 2020, if not before.
The RV/MH Heritage Foundation is a 501-c3 not-for-profit corporation and all donations are tax deductible. Donors can use our federal ID: 35-1610362.to verify that the Hall is a 501-c3 not-for-profit corporation in good standing with the IRS.
Gifts may be made by mail, in person at the Hall, by phone at (800) 378-8694, or through the Hall’s secure web site: www.rvmhhalloffame.org.