Five men who played key roles in the development of the modern day RV industry were among those inducted into the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind., Monday night (Aug.2) as part of the RV/MH Heritage Foundation Inc.’s Class of 2010.
During a 90-minute ceremony that featured equal parts of entertainment, nostalgia and inspiration, the new inductees reminisced before an audience of nearly 350 people.
Heritage Foundation Chairman Lon Larson welcomed the audience and received an award in recognition of his service, while B.J. Thompson, chairman of the Public Relations Committee of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) spoke briefly on the RV Centennial celebration held on June 7 at the Hall of Fame and encouraged the audience to continue to mark the centennial throughout the rest of the year.
And in a surprise turn of events prior to the induction ceremony, as RVBUSINESS.com reported earlier, the foundation presented its Spirit Award to Gary LaBella, RVIA vice president of communications and chief marketing officer, who took the opportunity Monday night to announce his early retirement after 32 years with the trade group.
Here’s a few highlights of the inductees’ remarks:
Rex Floyd, Floyd’s RV, Norman, Okla., joked at the outset,” I thought you had to be dead to get in it!” He said the RV industry has treated him well over the 40 years that he has been part of it and thanked the staff of the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) for its hard work through the years. Floyd served 12 years on the RVDA board and was a leader in the early years in organizing a national marketing program which evolved into today’s Go RVing campaign. He was the first dealer to receive RVDA’s Jim Summers award.
Jim Fogdall, Ace Fogdall RV, Cedar Falls, Iowa, said the first award he ever received was “a cherry pie from a satisfied service customer.” He said his parents, who started the company, “stressed customer care and hard work” as keys to success. Now run by the third generation of the Fogdall family, the dealership has been profitable in each of its 77 years. He thanked the RVDA, The Spader Co. and praised the 20 Groups that allowed him to interact with – and learn from — other successful dealers.
Don Lougheed, RV Group Inc., Austin, Texas, thanked “God and thousands of friends and associates since he started his business in 1963.” Loughheed gave credit to a number of RVDA pioneers, such as Hilton Fitt-Peaster and Jim Summers, and the late Bill Gorman, an industry consultant whoLougheed called his “idol who taught dealers how to sell RVs.” He also recognized manufacturing legends such as Winnebago Industries Inc.’s John K. Hanson, Holiday Rambler Corp.’s Richard Klinger and Airstream Inc.’s Wally Byam.
Carl Pfalzgraf, Atwood Mobile Products, Elkhart, Ind., recounted his early years as “a troubled teen” who built cars and drag racers and told how he joined Atwood in 1965 and spent his career as “an apprentice,” soaking up knowledge from those around him. He served 18 years on the RVIA board, the last two as board chairman, and called his industry service “a career within a career.”
Clarence T. Yoder, Carriage Inc. Millersburg, Ind., an Elkhart County legend who was sporting his trademark hat, lived up to his reputation as a man of few words. One of 15 children in an Amish family, he quit school at an early age and went to work sweeping floors at a nearby factory. He led his company, Carriage Inc., for 30 years and had a primary role in research and development. He pioneered seamless fiberglass end caps, motorized slideouts on fifth-wheels and developed the first flat floor for fifth-wheels with no step up to the bedroom. He holds several patents.
Inductees from the manufactured housing industry were Raymond F. Bassett, Jim Boyts, Jerry Haggadone, Morris Hylton Jr., Jess Maxcy and Jeff Wick. Bassett and Boyts are deceased.
A total of 14 foursomes competed earlier in the day in the charity golf tournament. The shotgun tournament was won by the team of Doug Bassett, Steve Bassett, Brian Younkin and Rick Grise.
The board of directors of the RV/MH Heritage Foundation has announced 12 inductees to be received into the RV/MH Hall of Fame as the Class of 2010. Induction ceremonies will be held in August at the Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind.
The RV honorees are:
- Rex Floyd, Floyd’s RV of Norman, Norman , Okla., RV dealer. A recognized leader in Oklahoma RV matters, he served 12 years on the national board of the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), including three as an officer during the industry downturn of the early 1980s. He was a key leader in the early days of organizing a national market expansion program which became today’s Go RVing effort.
- Jim Fogdall, Ace Fogdall RV, Cedar Falls, Iowa, RV dealer. A 44-year RVDA member, he was the Trailer Life Dealer of the Year in 1988, won the RVDA Chairman’s Award in 2003 and the Jim Summers Award in 2004. He served on the boards of RVDA (chairman), Service Technician Schools (chairman), RV Assistance Corp. and RVDA Education Foundation (chairman).
- Don Lougheed, RV Group Inc., Austin, Texas, RV dealer. He was one of the founders of the RVDA and a 40-year board member serving in many positions including president. He produced the RV industry’s first flat rate manual for service techs. With stores in New York and Texas, he had one of the first large, multi-state RV dealerships.
- Carl Pfalzgraf, Atwood Mobile Products, Elkhart, Ind., RV supplier. He has served 18 years on board of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). As Education Committee chairman, he led the group that devised the RVIA industry education program. He served as board chairman and was the 1998 recipient of the Distinguished Service to the Industry Award. He led his company’s marketing for the first electronic ignition water heater, first ball screw lifting devices, first light weight furnace with noise reduction and many others.
- Clarence T. Yoder, Carriage Inc., Millersburg, Ind., RV manufacturer. During the 30-plus years he led his company, he was the primary research and development officer always seeking innovations in comfort and function. He pioneered seamless fiberglass end caps on RVs in 1969, pioneered motorized slide outs on fifth-wheels, developed the flat floor fifth-wheel concept with no step up into the bedroom and he holds the patents on “hurricane straps” for slideouts and for the “No A Frame” design in travel trailers. He was a 30-year RVIA member and show participant.
- Raymond F. Bassett, Parkwood Homes and Honey RV, Elkhart, MH/RV manufacturer. He served on the boards of Mobile Home Manufacturers Association (MHMA), Fleetwood Enterprises Inc., Champion Homes, Redman and others. A highly regarded industry inventor and visionary, he patented a “knock-down” mobile home for overseas shipment, developed full-length screenroom additions for Florida models and developed a transport system for early “park models.”
From the manufactured housing segment are:
- Jim Boyts, Skyline Corp, Elkhart, manufacturer.
- Jerry Haggadone, Champion Homes, York, Neb., manufacturer.
- Morris Hylton, Jr. Hylton Homes, Ivel, Ky., retailer.
- Jess Maxcy, California MHI, Rancho Cucamunga, CA, association executive.
- Gary W. Powell, Manufactured Home Communities, Chicago, Iill., community developer.
- Jeff Wick, Wick Building Systems, Mazomanie Wis., Housing manufacturer.
The RV/MH Hall of Fame, established in 1972, has honored over 300 industry leaders with enshrinement into the industry hall of fame. It maintains a museum and library of industry history and archives at it headquarters in Elkhart.
In the current economic environment, the prospects for the upcoming year will be a prime focus of RVIA Committee Week next week (June 8-11) at the Willard InterContinental Hotel in Washington, D.C.
For one thing, economist Richard Curtin of the University of Michigan will present his 2010 retail sales forecast. “A lot of people are going to be interested in hearing what Dr. Curtin has to say,” said Richard Coon, president of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).
About 170 people representing manufacturers, dealers and suppliers will attend the four-day meeting two blocks from the White House that will culminate with an RVIA board meeting Thursday during which it is expected that the future of the September retail California RV Show in Pomona and the December National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., will be high on the agenda.
“RVIA’s principal sources of revenue come from the Louisville and Pomona shows,” RVIA Chairman James Sheldon told RVBUSINESS.com. “Louisville will probably only be about two-thirds of what it was last year and the Pomona Show probably is going to be a third of the size it was last year.”
Although RVIA’s 2010 budget won’t be set until a board meeting in September, finances need to be addressed sooner than that, Sheldon said.
“One of the most critical issues we face as an association is how we fund the myriad of services we provide our members and still maintain the level of quality and responsiveness,” he said.
The board is likely to consider raising the cost of the RVIA seal which is affixed to towables and motorhomes that RVIA members build to let buyers know that they meet the association’s construction standards.
“The board is going to have to address the issue of our expenses exceeding our revenue,” Sheldon said. “We are rapidly burning through our reserves. This is going to test our mettle, but I have confidence that we will come up with the right answers to address these issues.”
Sheldon said that RVIA is sensitive to the state of the economy and the fact that many of its members face severe financial challenges. “We have to be very judicious about how we approach that subject so that we don’t harm the members in the process,” Sheldon said.
Seals currently cost $4.05 each with a $46 to $74 assessment added to each for the Go RVing market expansion campaign. Although Go RVing’s media budget has been trimmed from a high of $15.5 million in 2007 to $3.5 million this year, Coon said he doesn’t expect that the Go RVing assessment will be increased. “There might be some talk, but the proposal to do that didn’t fly with the board during the last board meeting (in March),” Coon noted.
Another major topic of discussion will be proposed franchise laws that have been wending their way through nearly two dozen state legislatures backed by state RV dealer associations. Although primarily aimed at protecting auto dealers from forced closures by auto manufacturers, most piggyback RV dealers and would require that RV manufacturers buy units back from dealers without cause, similar to a law in Texas that has been on the books for more than a decade.
“Most manufacturers feel this provision in the law in the various states is unfair,” said Sheldon, special assistant to the president of Monaco RV LLC. “It could become the most important issue that our industry faces. It literally could bring every RV company down to its knees.”
Sheldon said the RVIA board is expected to consider backing franchise legislation that applies specifically to the RV industry, a position it has taken in the past with only limited success.
During Committee Week, Sheldon will host the Chairman’s Luncheon on Monday to honor the service of Atwood’s Carl Pfalzgraf as chairman from 2006 to 2008, while Curtin will present his 2010 forecast during the Annual Membership Meeting during lunch Tuesday which will also will include reports on the state of the association from Sheldon, Curtin and Treasurer Don Walter.
The industry-wide Go RVing Coalition will meet Monday afternoon, and RVIA standing committees will meet Monday and Tuesday to act on recommendations that will be passed on to the board for consideration during its Thursday meeting.
Then, on Wednesday RVIA members will meet with federal legislators and their staffs for the 7th Annual Advocacy Day to discuss legislative issues.
Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) members will meet to plan the association’s agenda for the next fiscal year and beyond at Committee Week, set for June 8-11 at the Willard InterContinental Hotel in Washington, D.C. During the four-day event, the association’s standing committees, executive committee and board of directors will meet to develop strategies and programs for the upcoming fiscal year.
The Go RVing Coalition and Committee on Excellence are also scheduled to meet in conjunction with Committee Week on Monday, June 8.
“Committee Week is one of the association’s most important events,” said RVIA President Richard Coon in a news release. “The work done during the week charts the course for RVIA for the next year. Especially in the current challenging times, it is important for RVIA’s many committed and talented committee members to gather and discuss the association’s next steps.”
On Monday, June 8, Committee Week participants will gather for a Chairman’s Luncheon to honor Carl Pfalzgraf’s service as chairman of the board from 2006 – 2008.
Since RVIA’s annual meeting was canceled due to economic conditions, the membership meeting will be a featured event at Committee Week this year. The two-hour luncheon program will be held Tuesday, June 9, and will feature Richard Curtin, director of consumer research at the University of Michigan. Curtin will give his projections for the RV industry for the upcoming year. Coon will also present his views on the association and the industry.
Most committee meetings are open to guest attendance; however anyone planning to attend a meeting for a committee of which they are not a member should contact the RVIA staff liaison or the committee chairman for information on the guest policy.
Committee Week is once again taking place at the historic Willard InterContinental, located just two blocks from the White House in the heart of Washington, D.C.’s business district.
For more information about Committee Week or to register for the event, contact Doreen Cashion in the Meetings and Shows Division at (703) 620-6003 (324) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) nominating committee is seeking candidates from the general membership to run in this year’s board of directors election.
There are seven seats up for election this year, including four manufacturer, one supplier and two at- large seats.
The RVIA board has the highest level of authority in the association’s organizational structure. It is responsible for association affairs on a broad policy basis.
“RVIA depends on the board of directors to guide the association’s work and chart a course for the future of the industry,” said John Regan, chairman of Fabric Services and chairman of RVIA’s nominating committee.
The board meets three times each year: in March, during Committee Week in mid-June, and in mid-September.
“All RVIA members who are interested in the many policy issues that affect the RV industry as a whole should consider running for election to the board,” Regan continued. “Board membership is a terrific way to help shape the climate for the industry for years to come.”
Each RVIA manufacturer and supplier member is afforded a single vote. Newly elected board members will begin serving their terms on Oct. 1, 2009. The deadline for nominations this year is June 15.
This year’s nominating committee members include Carl Pfalzgraf of Atwood Mobile Products and Bob Olson of Winnebago Industries Inc. Those interested in running for a board seat should contact a member of the nominating committee.