‘Hershey’ Set for Big Crowds on Final Weekend

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September 15, 2018 by   Leave a Comment

Crowds line up to pass through security and enter the Hershey Show. (Photo by Shawn Spence)

America’s Largest RV Show, one of the industry’s marquee consumer events hosted by the Pennsylvania RV and Campground Association at the Giant Center complex in Hershey, Pa., hadn’t yet reached the weekend, but already executives at Jayco Inc. and its Starcraft and Highland Ridge divisions were all smiles.

Late in the afternoon on Thursday (Sept. 13), Jayco Vice President of Sales and Product Development Marc Hauser, Jayco Towables General Manager Brad Whitehead, and Jason Poole, general manager overseeing Highland Ridge and Starcraft, were discussing the first two days’ brisk sales despite a crowd that – while still impressive – was seemingly off somewhat of last year’s shoulder-to-shoulder record-setting pace.

Gloomy weather the first two days certainly played a part in the traffic, but Friday was much better and, given the weekend’s favorable forecast, all expectations are the Hershey Show would finish with a bang.

“It’s not even two days into the show and we’re already thrilled with the results,” Whitehead told “We’ve got three dealers in the display that are just knocking it out of the park – Rhone’s RV, Fretz RV, and Gayle Kline RV Center – and all three of them reported a fantastic opening day. As you know, opening days can always be a little bit hit and miss, but everything that I’m hearing from them, from all of our regional sales managers and the guys working the display, is that it’s been a really solid two days here.”

Likewise, Poole said the Hershey Show thus far has been “amazing” in terms of retail activity with “buyers everywhere.”

“Even though we had a little bit of overcast and some rain – it was a little humid, for certain – it was just amazing the people coming through from all segments that we sell, everything from aluminum-sided stick-and-tin to a full-profile fifth wheel,” said Poole. “You know, having a really good dealer with Meyer’s RV was a no-brainer for us, and their crew and how hard they work and what they’re doing is just amazing. Their systems in our displays and our location are perfect.”

Pointing to the crowd flowing in and out of RVs – many with several “SOLD” stickers affixed to their windows – the three Jayco execs debunked the notion by a national media report that the industry was “nervous” about its future.

“Even ahead of flying out here to join the crew, I’ve been on the phone with dealers in various parts of the country – east, west, southwest, southeast – and all of them are really talking about solid retail activity, that the demand is still there,” Whitehead said. “Really, I was batting a thousand yesterday with taking their temperature and seeing how things are going. It’s not just hype or propaganda. My sampling isn’t what the national media is saying. It’s what your dealers are saying, and they’re reporting solid heavy weekend traffic flow, a lot of deals getting written, and they’re glad that they have the inventory that they have because business is still really good.”

Jason Kuehne (right) of Equalizer Systems.

Suppliers staffing booths both inside and outside of the Giant Center arena had similar sentiments regarding the Hershey Show crowd, including Jason Kuehne, sales manager for Equalizer Systems, which exhibited at Hershey for the first time.

“It’s been great so far. We didn’t know what to expect; we figured everybody would show up Friday, Saturday, Sunday. But already we have some great leads. In fact, we sold three systems yesterday – with two more waiting to schedule their installation – and traffic has been better today, and we expect it will increase every day through the weekend,” Kuehne said.

Mike Butler, national sales manager at Spartan Chassis, acknowledged being a bit apprehensive about Hershey given the weather conditions early on, but said the first few days of the show were “very high quality.”

“Foot traffic might have been down a little bit, but as far as the customers we talked to they were here to buy units,” said Butler, adding he was working his 18th Hershey Show.

“What I like about this show are the customers. They do their homework; they come back year after year. This year already we’ve talked to two or three who bought either the first day of the show or bought last year. After two or three years of doing their homework, they tell us, ‘We’re getting ready to retire’ or ‘We’re going to retire in a year.’ So they’re serious buyers doing their homework. That’s what’s fun about this show,” he said.

Jack Enfield of MORryde

Jack Enfield, director of sales and marketing at Elkhart-based supplier MORryde, echoed others in saying the first days were a bit slow but it had picked up considerably heading into the weekend.

“The show’s been very good,” he told “Thursday was Senior Day and it was very busy for hours; we were very, very excited. The first day seemed a little bit slower, but after two days it’s definitely comparable with the best shows we’ve ever done here.”

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