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RV dealers have flooded Elkhart County for this year’s RV Open House.
At the RV/MH Hall of Fame compound Thor Industries Inc., its seven subsidiaries and a handful of other local manufacturers put their newest units on display.
“This has become our largest event for the industry,” said Bob Martin, CEO of Thor Industries.
Thousands of dealers from throughout the nation and Canada are in town to purchase new products for their spring inventories. Throughout the summer of 2013 the industry saw tremendous growth in terms of sales and output. It’s a welcome turnaround after the recession devastated Midwest production in 2009.
“We’ve watched the industry bounce back. it’s definitely a resilient industry,” added Martin, “People that start the RV lifestyle, they typically don’t get out of it.”
Martin pointed to packed campgrounds as evidence that RV enthusiasts remained loyal over the past four years. He said, “It told us people were simply holding off their buying decision” and waiting for the entire economy to start recovering.
Some in the industry said the recession taught a hard lesson in how to do business smarter. Over the past several years manufacturers and owners worked to streamline production and bounce back.
The open house will provide a dual advantage: manufacturers have more space to display their vehicles, and dealers have a concentration of suppliers at their disposal.
Grand Design RV is new to the open house this year. Don Clark and his co-owners branched off from Thor Industries to create their own company.
Now, Grand Design said it has met with dealers and is excited to show them its new products and lines.
“There’s not a dealer coming to Elkhart County that’s not going to get an opportunity to look at your product,” said Clark. As he explained, in the RV industry product is king and dealers ultimately determine what product gets put out there for purchase.
Clark added, “They’re going to make decisions for the planning stage of all next year so it’s critical to a lot of manufacturers to wow the dealers with what they see.”
Economic benefits are expected to have a spillover effect countywide. According to Jackie Hughes of the Elkhart County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the open house fills hotels and restaurants for the entire week.
“This is who we are. We are the RV capital and this really does verify that we are the RV capital,” said Hughes.
Hughes said seeing RVs parked up and down streets can energize the county. She described RV users as a “tribe” that enjoys meeting one another and doing “things that RVers love to do.”
Elkhart County RV Open House Week in northern Indiana is shaping up to be at least as big as last year’s local event, which was the largest one to date.
As reported by the Elkhart Truth, RV dealers from around the country have already booked hotel rooms in Elkhart and Goshen for the mid-September event, which draws an estimated 4,000 dealers to a one-stop spot to check out the 2014 models from all the major RV companies.
Thor Industries Inc. reported that rooms booked at the seven hotels in Elkhart and Goshen for its dealers are all sold out, and that Essenhaus Inn in Middlebury is nearly sold out.
Thor anchors one end of the main portions of the open house site, taking over the grounds of the RV/MH Hall of Fame, while Forest River Inc., the other RV giant that started the open houses six years ago, anchors the other end along C.R. 6.
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Newmar Corp. will display a sample of its 2013 model year motorhome lineup on Sept. 18-20 during the RV Industry’s Elkhart Open House Week.
The Newmar display will be located along County Road 6 in the parking lot of Ramco Engineering at 52965 Frederic Drive, according to a news release. This site was selected because of its convenient location just a mile west of the RV Hall of Fame. The Newmar product display will be visible and conveniently accessed from C.R. 6.
Lunch will be served Tuesday and Wednesday and a good sample of all Newmar brands will be available for viewing by visiting RV dealers. The 2013 Dutch Star will be just one of the Newmar motorhomes highlighted in the display.
Newmar representatives, including many Newmar executives, will be available on site all three days from 9:00 a.m. until 5 p.m. to show the product and answer any questions that dealer guests may have.
Established in 1968 Newmar is an innovator and leader in the RV manufacturing industry and recognized nationally for its excellence in quality. Newmar is privately owned and has a dealer network that spans across the United States and Canada. Newmar is located in Nappanee, Ind.