Go RVing has named prominent manufacturing executive Dicky Riegel, chief operating officer of Thor IndustriesInc., to serve as co-chairman of the Go RVing Coalition, the RV industry’s national advertising and market expansion initiative, according to a press release.
Riegel succeeds industry veteran Don Walter, joining RV dealer Tom Stinnett of Tom Stinnett’s RV Freedom Center, Clarksville, Ind., as co-chair of the industrywide coalition.
Walter, formerly of RV manufacturer Jayco Inc., recently resigned as Go RVing Coalition co-chairman upon his retirement from Starcraft RV Inc., Topeka, Ind. He had served as co-chairman since 2004.
“Don Walter was the consummate leader for Go RVing for the last five years,” said Riegel. “His vision, steady hand and dedication to Go RVing were only surpassed by his passion for this hugely successful 12-year-old program. I am honored to follow in Don’s footsteps and look forward to working with co-chair Tom Stinnett. Go RVing is one of the most important elements of our industry’s rapid recovery from this economic slump and I am eager to play a small role in that effort.”
The officers of Go RVing Inc. – Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) President Richard Coon and Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) President Mike Molino – issued a joint statement praising Riegel as an ideal choice to serve as co-chairman.
“Dicky Riegel is one of the most respected professionals in the RV industry. As COO of one of the largest RV manufacturers, he will bring unique insight and influence to the coalition. He and Tom Stinnett will make an exceptional team that will lead Go RVing well in its ongoing campaign to reach new buyers through national advertising, social media, public relations and the development of local marketing resources for its industry partners.”
An 11-year industry veteran, Riegel has a distinguished record as a champion of market expansion. Prior to becoming COO of Thor, Riegel was group president of Thor from 2005 to 2007 and president and CEO of Airstream, Thor’s flagship division, from 2002 to 2005. Riegel was named one of Fast Company Magazine’s “Fast 50” in March, 2005 and was recognized by Harvard Business Review in October, 2003 in an article, “Innovating a Classic.” He has served on the Go RVing Coalition since 1999 and on RVIA’s Public Relations Committee since 2006. Riegel is also an effective spokesperson with the national consumer and business media for the RV industry through interviews arranged through RVIA’s public relations efforts and supported by Go RVing.
A graduate of Middlebury College with an MBA from Columbia Business School, Riegel lives with his wife Amanda and two children in Westchester County, N.Y.
Stinnett was named co-chair of the Go RVing Coalition in 2004 along with Walter. Both were involved with Go RVing from the very beginning of the effort in 1994. Stinnett has been an effective consensus builder among dealers and manufacturers and played a leadership role in the development of the tie-in program for dealers, campgrounds, show promoters and their agencies, making consumer leads and advertising resources available to Go RVing participants nationwide.
Stinnett and Walter guided Go RVing successfully through the development of the popular “What Will You Discover? Go RVing” advertising campaign launched in 2006. Under their leadership, Go RVing maintained its effectiveness and enjoyed widespread industry support as a key to building pent-up demand throughout the economic downturn.
“With his keen business intellect, dynamic personality and passion for growing the RV market, Dicky Riegel is the perfect candidate to take the reins from my good friend Don Walter,” said Stinnett. “I look forward to working alongside him as we push to build on Go RVing’s rich history of success.”
Go RVing Entering 13th Year
Entering its 13th year in 2010, the Go RVing campaign has been widely regarded as an influential factor in the growing popularity of RV travel. Early next year, Go RVing will launch new television spots with a strategic affordability/value message to reinforce Go RVing’s current print and online advertising, as well as a new consumer information video and updated website with greater interactivity. The new creative work will be unveiled at RVIA’s Outlook 2010 market expansion showcase in Louisville, Ky., Dec. 1.
The Go RVing Coalition consists of RV manufacturers, component suppliers, dealers and campgrounds. Go RVing works to provide the public and media with pertinent information about the benefits of RV travel and to foster satisfaction with the RV experience through customer research conducted by its Committee on Excellence. For more information visit GoRVing.com.
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.