RV/MH Hall of Fame Inducts 10 in Class of ’14
The Class of 2014 was inducted into the RV/MH Hall of Fame Monday (Aug. 4) night in Elkhart, Ind., at a gala ceremony before a record-breaking crowd of more than 440 family members, friends and colleagues from across the country.
The Class of 2014 includes: Debbie Brunoforte, Little Dealer, Little Prices; Bob Livingston, Good Sam; Peter B. Orthwein, Thor Industries Inc.; John D. Roba, Roba and Associates; James F. Shields (deceased), Pan Pacific RV Centers; Barry Cole, Manufactured Housing Insurance Services; Ed Evans, EPM; Thomas “Tom” L. Kern, Style Crest Enterprises; Richard “Dick” King, King Insurance; and Gary McDaniel, YES! Communities (See expanded bios on RV inductees below).
This year’s attendance of 444 beat the previous record of 434 attendees and far outpaced the 2013 attendance of 311. It was also a record-breaking year for fundraising at the dinner and golf outing.
Before the induction ceremonies, Hall President Darryl Searer, said in his “State of the Hall” address, “Last year after my first year as president I reported to you that the Hall was in the best shape it had ever been. Tonight, the news is even better. It is my pleasure to report to you this year that the Hall of Fame has continued its upward trend of improving in all areas of the operation.
“As some of you may remember the day before we burned the bank note last year we sent the Woodworths a check in the amount of $600,000 which settled the Hall debt in full with them for the Woodworth antique RV collection, but it became a $600,000 note at the bank. I am pleased to announce that we not only paid the interest all year but paid an additional $100,000 towards the principle.”
Searer also noted that the record-breaking fundraiser for the induction dinner and golf outing would generate another $50,000 once all the bills have been paid for these events. In thanking all those who contributed, he said these funds also would be used to pay down debt.
Barry Cole, board chairman and master of ceremonies, presented the annual Hall of Fame Spirit Award to Searer. The Spirit Award is an annual award to honor the person who has demonstrated his or her desire and dedication to further the legacy of our great heritage.
Inductees from the RV industry included:
• Debbie Brunoforte, Little Dealer, Little Prices: As a second generation RV retailer, she has provided exemplary leadership to the industry both regionally and nationally. She has won customer satisfaction awards from every manufacturer she represented. Serving many years on the RVDA board of directors, she was chairman in 2009 and 2010. As an active member of the GoRVing Coalition, she chaired the GoRVing Parts Task Force from 2005 to 2008. She serves on the governing board of the joint RVDA-RVIA Technician Certification program. She received the RVDA Chairman’s Service Award in 2006 and in 2008. She was a founding member of the Arizona RV Dealers Association. She was selected as one of RV Business Magazine’s 100 most influential people in RV history.
• Bob Livingston, Good Sam: A 43-year veteran of RV publications, he has written popular columns on RV technical topics for over 20 years. He created and produced a popular RV cable television show, “RVToday”, and played a major role in the creation of the Great American RV Rally. He served on the National Fire Protection Association technical committee on RVs. He is the author of the respected Trailer Life RV Maintenance and Repair Manual. He serves on the RVIA Standards Committee and on the Go RVing coalition. In 2003, he was recognized with the RVIA Distinguished Service in Journalism Award.
• Peter B. Orthwein, Thor Industries Inc.: A 35-year industry veteran, the Chairman and co-founder of Thor Industries Inc. has been instrumental in building his company through acquisition and development into the largest RV manufacturer in the world. He has earned the reputation of strongly encouraging his division leaders to become directly involved in industry organizations and associations of all kinds. Through the years, he has worked with several financial institutions to develop specialized insurance and finance programs to serve the needs of RV manufacturers, dealers and consumers.
• John D. Roba, Roba and Associates: An industry aftermarket supplier and manufacturer’s representative since 1972, he was one of the first to serve the industry as a manufacturer’s representative. His was the first company to have identified territories and dedicated staff for each segment of the country. A founding member of the RV Aftermarket Association (RVAA) in 1969, he served as its president in 1992 and 1993. He received the WDA Jim Barker Award in 1988 for his tireless dedication to the RV aftermarket industry. Joining the Pennsylvania RV Association in 1980, he became its chairman from 1998 to 2000. He received the prestigious John Serro Achievement Award in 1988.
• James F. Shields (deceased), Pan Pacific RV Centers: A 38-year veteran RV dealer, he was co-founder of the California RV Dealers Association, and served several terms as its chairman. A 14-year RVDA board member, he was its national chairman in 2006-2007 and was the 2013 recipient of the coveted James B. Summer Award. Starting in 1985 he grew his dealership from a single location with less than $1 million in sales to one with 3 super stores and over $30 million in sales. From 2003 to 2008 he was a director of the RVDA Education Foundation. He has repeatedly donated his time and knowledge to assist struggling RV dealers, thus advancing the growth and reputation of the RV industry. He was the RVDA Western Region “Quality Dealer of the Year” in 2000.