An audience of more than 300 celebrated the induction Monday (Aug. 6) of the 40th anniversary class into the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind. Four people from the RV manufacturing, distribution and promotion sector, two from the RV park and campground sector and four from the manufactured housing side entered the Hall, joining some 350 past inductees.
Keynote Speaker David Humphreys issued a call for greater industry unity, saying it is this sense of unity, embodied in the Hall of Fame, that distinguishes the RV industry from all other segments of the travel and tourism industry.
“They envy us, they want one (Hall of Fame),” said Humphreys, who served as president of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) for 27 years before retiring in 2006.
The Hall of Fame serves many purposes for the industry, Humphreys said. Besides providing a “great consumer attraction,” the Hall of Fame defines an important message for the financial community, the media and legislators and “gives a sense of pride, unity and accomplishment” for the entire industry.
Noting the solid financial footing the Hall of Fame has achieved through the leadership of volunteer President Darryl Searer, Humphreys urged audience members “to give the same priority to the Hall of Fame we give to industry unity.”
In a behind-the-scenes look at the financial status of the Hall and its recovery from near insolvency just a few months ago, Searer declared, “The Hall of Fame has never been in better shape than it is today.”
Searer credited four persons or groups for the Hall’s recovery this year:
• The family of longtime Hall benefactor Robert “Boots” Ingram, which forgave some of the Hall’s debt and issued a $100,000 challenge grant earlier this summer that garnered nationwide support and exceeded the goal by $65,000.
• 1st Source Bank, which extended the Hall’s line of credit by $100,000 and lowered its loan rate by 3 1/4%.
• David and Sharon Woodworth, whose collection of vintage RVs is the focus of the Hall’s museum. The Hall still owes the Woodworths $975,000 for their collection, but the California couple has agreed to forgive $150,000 the Hall owes in interest and will accept a $600,000 payment.
• Elkhart Mayor Dick Moore, who agreed to wave the $108,000 owed to the city for city water and sewer services since the Hall opened five years ago.
Overall debt owed by the Hall has been cut by $2.5 million in the past year.
Searer ran down a laundry list of possible expansions for the Hall of Fame property but stressed that nothing will be undertaken to put the Hall further into debt.
William “Bill” Garpow, who concluded his two-year term as chairman of the board of the RV/MH Heritage Foundation Inc., welcomed incoming chairman Barry Cole of Los Angeles, representing the manufacturing housing sector, whose term begins today. Six new members will also join the board today, Garpow added.
Following are highlights of the acceptance speeches by the inductees from the RV industry:
• Bob Olson of Forest City, Iowa, chairman and CEO of Winnebago Industries Inc., noted that he started on the assembly line at Winnebago 43 years ago and thanked the industry in which he made countless friends, many of whom were his competitors. Since retiring in February, Olson and his wife have traveled the U.S. in their Winnebago motorhome. He called RVing “everything it’s cracked up to be.”
• Stanley Sunshine of Atlanta, chairman of Stag Parkway Inc., called himself “the classic middle man” in the distribution process serving the RV industry. He urged industry members to reach out to their customers and find new ways to do business and to “leave the campground better than you found it.” He engendered laughs at the outset when he called out four former Major League baseball players, Raphael Palmero, Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds, whose inductions into the Baseball Hall of Fame are questionable because of their steroid use, saying, “Eat your heart out!”
• Perry Yoder (deceased) of Middlebury, Ind., was a professional motorcycle racer before he entered the RV industry and used the same “courage and tenacity” he showed on the racing circuit to succeed in business, said his daughter, Holly Yoder, who spoke on her family’s behalf. “He led by example, showing every job was important,” she said. Yoder served the RV industry with four manufacturers and with L&W Engineering, a component supplier. In 1975 he patented a slideout mechanism for RVs.
• Edith Lane (deceased) of Deming, N.M., was a daredevil in her early years, being the first woman to parachute from a glider in 1930 at the age of 20. A single mother in later years, she took her two children RVing across the U.S. and later founded the Loners on Wheels club for single RV travelers, which now has chapters throughout the U.S. and Canada. Lane developed three RV parks targeting single RVers and was a long-time columnist on the RV lifestyle in national consumer magazines. Her children, Laurie Neff and Glenn Lane, accepted the award on behalf of their late mother, who died in 2000.
On the RV park side, Nelson and Mary Emily Jackson, founders of Ocean Lakes Family Campground in Myrtle Beach, S.C., were inducted posthumously. Speaking for the Jackson family was Johnny Williamson, their son-in-law and now chairman of the Jackson Companies. The Jacksons opened a 30-site campground in 1971 when they were 52 years old, and it has grown to more than 3,400 sites, making it one of the largest RV parks in the East. The Jacksons always stressed the role of families in the operation of their RV park, which they ran for 38 years. “They always said, ‘You have to love the people and your business will be a success.’ And ‘love the people’ they did. For 38 years they were Ocean Lakes Family Campground and ambassadors for the community.”
On the manufactured housing side, inductees were:
• Michael R. Evans of Aberdeen, S.D., Doug Gorman of Tulsa, Okla., Gerald “Jugs” Meuret of Wausau, Wis., the late Ellwood A. Titcomb of Lake Helen, Fla., and Mary Irene Younkin of Columbus, Ohio.
David J. (Dave) Humphreys, former president of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), will be the featured speaker at the 2012 RV/MH Hall of Fame induction dinner in Elkhart, Ind., on Aug. 6, according to Darryl Searer, president, RV/MH Heritage Foundation.
“We are honored to have Dave, who was inducted into the RV/MH Hall of Fame in 1997, as our keynote speaker,” Searer said in a press release. “He not only helped guide the RV industry through its many ups and downs during the past 30 years, he ably represented our industry by participating in other segments such as the American Recreation Coalition (ARC) and the Travel Industry Association (TIA). He was also a major architect of the successful GoRVing market expansion program.”
Humphreys served as president of the RVIA from January 1, 1979 until January 30, 2006, following 10 years of service as RVIA’s outside legal counsel. Since retiring from RVIA, Humphreys has been practicing law and acting as a consultant to various organizations including RVIA.
During his presidency, Humphreys was the leading spokesman for the RV industry. He has been active for many years with TIA, the umbrella organization for all segments of the travel and tourism industry. He has been a member of TIA’s board and was its national chairman from 1990 to 1991. In addition, he has served as a member of the voard of the American Highway Users Alliance (formerly Highway Users Federation). In 1981, he was awarded the RVIA’s National Legislative Award and again in 1997.
Festivities begin with a cocktail reception at 5 p.m. followed by a gala dinner and induction ceremony. During the cocktail reception, attendees will be able to tour the Hall’s many attractions including the antique unit collection in the museum, library and the GoRVing Hall.
Those being inducted in the Class of 2012 include: Michael R. Evans, Centennial Homes; Doug Gorman, Home-Mart; Nelson and Mary Emily Jackson (deceased), Ocean Lakes Family RV Park; Edith Lane (deceased), Loaners on Wheels; Gerald Meuret, Housing Mart of Wausau; Bob Olsen, Winnebago Industries Inc.; Stanley Sunshine, Stag-Parkway Inc.; Ellwood A. Titcomb (deceased), Americorp; Perry Yoder (deceased), L&W Engineering; Mary Irene Younkin, Greenlawn Companies.
In addition to the induction ceremony, the Hall’s 2012 Golf Classic fundraiser will start at 7 a.m. with a full breakfast followed by a shotgun start at 8:30 a.m. This year, the golf classic will be hosted by The Bent Oak Golf Club in Elkhart and all participants will receive a free golf club.
To sign up online for both the induction dinner and golf tournament visit http://www.rvmhhalloffame.org.
Red Lantern Labs, the developer of the innovative RV|ID and Smart RV services, today (Nov. 28) announced the appointment of David J. Humphreys to its advisory board.
Having been president of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) for 27 years, Humphreys has been a leading spokesman for the RV industry and a popular interview guest, according to a press release. He has appeared on television and radio shows from coast-to-coast explaining the advantages associated with RV travel.
In recognition of his leadership and numerous accomplishments, Humphreys is the recipient of the RV industry’s highest honor—the Distinguished Service to the RV Industry Award. He has also been awarded the industry’s National Legislative Award and was inducted into the RV Industry Hall of Fame in 1997.
In addition the recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), has presented Humphreys with the Titan Award, RVDA’s highest award. And in 2006, RVIA established the David J. Humphreys Industry Unity Award to be presented annually to an individual from any segment of the RV industry who has distinguished him or herself in promoting RV industry unity.
Humphreys was also the leading force in the creation of the American Recreation Coalition (ARC), a nonprofit federation of more than 100 recreation-related associations and companies active in government policy-making on recreation issues, and he served as chairman of its board of directors from 1979 until 2006. In 2001, ARC’s members honored Humphreys with the prestigious Sheldon Coleman Great Outdoors Award in recognition of his more than two decades of service as a central player in national policy matters affecting recreation, travel and tourism.
“Dave is truly one of the giants in the RV industry and we are incredibly fortunate to be able to draw upon his vast experience as we expand our exciting new Smart RV service for RV dealers and owners,” said Don Levy, CEO of Solana Beach, Calif.-based Red Lantern Labs. “As a member of our advisory board, Dave will help make our vision of RV|ID as an industry solution a reality.”
“It’s exciting to be involved with such an innovative and useful service as RV|ID,” said Humphreys. “I’ve been in the RV industry for a long time and RV|ID has huge potential not only for manufacturers and dealers, but also for RV owners through the exciting new Smart RV service. Having a Smart RV allows a RV owner to stay in touch with their RV and share location and travel adventures with other owners, friends and family, all in real time.”