Power Breakfast: Q&A With Industry Leaders
A panel discussion was held Thursday (May 8) with some of the leaders in the RV industry at the RV Industry Power Breakfast at the RV/MH Hall of Fame. In a wide-ranging discussion, they talked about the current boom that is going on in the industry and some of the issues that they are now facing in terms of labor, materials and delivery.
Participants included: Forest River’s Doug Gaeddert, who is also board chairman of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, Thor’s Bob Martin, Jayco’s Derald Bontrager and three executives from suppliers — Airxcel’s Mel Adams, Lippert Components’ Jason Lippert and Patrick’s Todd Cleveland. Here are some of the highlights.
Q. What’s next for the RV industry? Amid all the recent success, what’s on the horizon?
A. Gaeddert: We are obviously motoring in a really strong direction right now. The immediate future I think looks good. We are in a sweet spot in the industry from all standpoints, whether it be demographics, popularity, a push for more physical activities. As far as challenges, inside the industry, short-term ones are obvious: transportation, labor and material shortages. Long term the challenge to continue to grow it are to satisfy our customers. External factors — it’s going to take something like a crazy situation exploding in Ukraine, or something that puts unnatural pressure on oil prices.
Martin: We have bright days ahead of us because of the demographic. All the opportunities we have of people who are not actually camping yet. They are tent campers. They are taking that next step. We look at that as great opportunities for everybody in this room.
Bontrager: The RV industry is really a mirror of what’s happening in our economy. The customers never left us. They sat on the sidelines for a period of time during the recession. That’s been a big piece of our rapid growth the last three years. What I see going forward is I think we are going to be in a prolonged period of growth.
Lippert: From our perspective I feel real solid that this industry was hit arguably the hardest in the recession. Being in manufacturing it’s a lot tougher than a lot of other businesses in the recession. We all learned a lot of important lessons in the recession.
I think we all feel positive about where the industry is going, and it hasn’t felt this good in a long time. But as an industry we are probably well positioned to recover from anything that hits us between the eyes.
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