Nexus RV to Debut New Lines at March Rally

February 7, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Claude Donati (left) and Dave Middleton of Nexus RV

Claude Donati (left) and Dave Middleton of Nexus RV LLC.

Startup Class C manufacturer Nexus RV LLC will debut its first lines — a traditional Phantom minimotorhome and a B-plus-style Viper C-body — March 14-17 at the Family Motor Coach Association’s Southern Homecoming Family Reunion and Motorhome Showcase in Perry, Ga.Nexus Logo

”We are in the process of ramping up our production,” said Claude Donati, president of the Elkhart, Ind., startup. ”February is our staging month and we hope to start bringing product off the end of the line on March 1,”

Donati said the first 50 units will be marketed to rental outlets as Scenic Traveler Class C’s.

”Our goal the first year is $20 million in sales and in five years, if things go right, we will be at $100 million,” Donati said. ”Our unit goal the first year is 240 — one unit a day.”

Phantom and Viper motorhomes will be sold factor- direct with a strong presence on Facebook and other Internet social media.

Nexus, currently with 17 employees, has 87,000 square feet of manufacturing space along with a 25,000-square-foot indoor showroom on 10 acres near the Indiana Toll Road on the north side of Elkhart.

”We are set up to take trade-ins and we will be selling used product as well as new,” Donati said, adding that by the end of the year the company expect to have 35-40 employees.

Nexus has made service arrangements with 200 independent service centers throughout the country. ”I’ve developed relationships with many of them during my many years of experience in the industry,” said Donati, formerly vice president of motorized at Gulf Stream Coach Inc. ”The service centers don’t sell product; they just service RVs.”

All Nexus Class C’s are built on 14,500-pound GVWR Ford E-450 Super Duty chassis with lightweight steel superstructures and Azdell Superlite composite sidewalls and roofs.

The Phantom is available in five 23- to 32-foot floorplans with up to two slideouts and an MSRP of $85,300. The Viper will feature a molded fiberglass cap and be offered in three 23- to 27-foot floorplans and up to three slideouts for an MSRP of $89,600.

Factory direct sales will allow Nexus to sell units for as much as $5,000 less than its competitors, Donati said.

”The benefits for the customer are saving money,” Donati said, reporting that the average Nexus’ selling cost is expected to be between $65,000 and $70,000.

In addition to the Internet, Nexus RVs will be marketed at major RV shows and Donati plans to host clubs at its Elkhart facility that have been ”orphaned” by manufacturers that have gone out of business, he said.

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1,000-Plus Coaches Attending FMCA Rally

February 3, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Motorcoach dealers were licking their chops Wednesday (Feb. 2) as the big-wheeled behemoths rolled in by the hundreds to the Hernando County Airport in Brooksville, Fla.

That’s because many of the owners of the 1,127 recreational vehicles arriving for the opening day of the 30th Annual Family Motor Coach Association Southeast Rally will be looking for new models, both upgrades and down-sized, the St. Petersburg Times reported.

“We’re not here to show; we’re here to sell, baby, sell,” said an enthusiastic Chris Burdin of Long View SuperSales, one of the 14 dealers at the event.

The dealers have 125 models on display, the most ever, said Southeast Area association president Tom Eller. The rally that continues through Saturday.

(“Buying) has increased in the last nine months. Last year was depressed,” said Keith Abbott of Five-R Custom Coaches of Sanford.

“Banks are starting to finance again,” noted Tommy Kay, of Great Recreation.

“(Business) is upbeat. It’s getting much better,” added Dick Rocha with Giant Recreation World, a dealership with sites in Winter Garden, Ormond Beach and Melbourne.

“On Sale” signs surrounded the venue for Long View, which has taken part in the rally since 2002. Burdin said his company is offering RVs at 40% off dealership prices, from $40,000 for a 21-footer to $260,000 for a 43-foot model.

They’re willing to deal, the dealers said, because they don’t want to drive their coaches back home.

All of the dealers mentioned that more and more Baby Boomers are taking up the RV lifestyle, while some older folks are looking to downsize for economy’s sake.

“I think by the number of coaches here,” said Kay of Giant Recreation, “you can tell interest is up.” His company has 19 coaches on display.

What are shoppers looking for? More slide-outs, perhaps bigger counter tops, greater living space, bathrooms at the end of the living space rather than in the middle, computer and desk tables, dealers report.

Of course, many visitors from the North come to the rally for the warm weather.

Mike Jorde of North Attleboro, Mass., removed himself from 61 inches of snow this winter. More snow was in Wednesday’s forecast back home. “We come to Florida every year,” he said, “to live in the RV.”

Tim and Verona Calbath of Dover-Foxcraft, Maine, didn’t take any chances on getting caught in the blizzards. They toured in their RV to Zephyrhills in November and visited the rally on a daily pass Wednesday, just wanting to see what’s new in the RV business.

Back in Maine, “It’s snowing,” noted Verona Calbath.

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FMCA Recipe Contest Promotes Food Drive

January 24, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

The Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA), in partnership with Microwave Connection, has launched an online RV Recipe Drive to help feed the hungry.

Everyone who adds an acceptable RV-friendly recipe to’s Recipes for the Road ( now through March 1 will be entered in a drawing to win an On-the-Road Muffin/Cupcake Set (a $ 57.50 value) from Microwave Connection, according to a news release.

For each recipe added during this period, FMCA will donate one non-perishable food item to a local food bank in the Cincinnati area.

“The RV Recipe Drive is not only a perfect opportunity to share recipes with other RVers, but a chance to feed some of the millions of Americans who go to bed hungry,” said Janet Sadlack, owner of Microwave Connection, an online resource on microwave and microwave-convection cooking.

FMCA and the motorhoming community are known for their eagerness to lend a helping hand, said Judy Czarsty, FMCA national senior vice president/acting national president. “The RV Recipe Drive is a great way to share a favorite recipe – an old family favorite, a new one that you created, or perhaps one from a friend – and feed the hungry at the same time.”

FMCA encourages participants to submit recipes of all sorts, including main courses, side dishes, soups, salads, appetizers and desserts.

Recipes can be entered at

“Silicone cookware is great for traveling because it is lightweight, stacks easily and is flexible for storage,” Sadlack said. “It’s also non-breakable, rattle proof and can withstand temperatures of microwave, convection and combination cooking.”

The Teflon baking sheet supports the regular-size muffin cups on a rack and also doubles as a cookie and baking sheet. It can be rolled up and inserted into an empty paper towel tube for storage.

Sadlack travels the country presenting microwave-convection cooking seminars at FMCA conventions and other RV shows. She offers advice, videos and recipes on her website, “Many RVers love to cook in their RV, and they enjoy trying new recipes,” she said. “I look forward to seeing some of them on”

A complete list of RV Recipe Drive rules is at

FMCA is an international organization for families who own and enjoy the use of self-contained, motorized recreation vehicles known as motorhomes. The association maintains its national headquarters in Cincinnati and currently has approximately 100,000 active member families. FMCA offers its members a number of benefits, including a subscription to its monthly magazine, Family Motor Coaching; an emergency medical evacuation program; trip routing; mail forwarding; and group rates on an emergency roadside assistance program.

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Big Rigs Best Bets Releases 2011 Edition

January 17, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

2011 edition Big Rigs Best Bets

2011 edition Big Rigs Best Bets

The Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) Western Motor Home Association rally at the Riverside County Fairgrounds in Indio, Calif., was the backdrop for release of the 11th edition of “Big Rigs Best Bets.”

Both the 498-page spiral bound large print copy and the innovative web-based online version were on display at their booths. According to Ken and Ellie Hamill, co-authors, the 23rd annual Western Area Rally was “the logical choice” because of the heavy concentration of RVs which congregate in the area at this time of year, according to a news release.

As Hamill related, “The rally attendees, coupled with the guests at nearby resorts, are the core of the segment of the RV market which we serve. Not only do these coach owners tend to have the most discretionary income for RV related products, they tend to travel greater distances and for a longer period of time.”

They were particularly delighted to discover the online version is compatible with all computers, tablets and smart phone mobile devices as Hamill demonstrated the easy navigation of the book on the Apple I-Pad, he stated.

“Real time changes in the content of the online version throughout the course of the year is a real bonus for our reader base,” stated Hamill.  “An added benefit to our advertisers is they now have a resource to reach out to our online membership base with improvements and changes to their facility throughout the course of the year rather than waiting for the next annual print copy.”

Features include:

  • A blend of 1,200 upscale resorts, overnight stays along the interstate, destination parks and suitable public parks.
  • Each park listing includes specific site numbers and the various lengths of these preferred sites along with other park details, including Wi-Fi.
  • Detailed ” dead on ” directions from an RVer’s point of view. Physical addresses for GPS users are also noted.
  • 532 paved and maneuverable fuel stops. For your convenience the online version has links to
  • 244 notable restaurant tips.

Big Rigs Best Bets has been serving the RV community since 2001.

Learn more at

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FMCA Meeting In Indianapolis in July 2012

January 12, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

FMCA, an international organization for motorhome owners, has announced the dates for its 87th Family Reunion and Motorhome Showcase, to be held July 2-5, 2012, at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis, Ind.

Family parking days will be on June 30 and July 1.

This will be FMCA’s first international convention at the Indiana State Fairgrounds and the fourth FMCA international event to be held in Indiana. The last time FMCA met in Indiana was in July 1991, when motorhome owners gathered at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend for the association’s 46th convention, according to a news release.

“The Indiana State Fairgrounds will be a wonderful site for members to celebrate Canada Day and Independence Day in 2012. Indiana is known as the Crossroads of America, and we intend to have a true family-oriented get-together for all motorhome enthusiasts to enjoy. This will be a great location to bring families,” said Judy Czarsty, FMCA national senior vice president/acting national president.

Approximately 3,000 motorhome families and some 8,000 to 10,000 people are expected to gather for the event. All motorhome owners and members of the general public are invited to participate. Various admission options will be available.

Activities abound at these get-togethers. One of the important elements of these reunions is an exhibition of motorhomes. Major manufacturers and dealers gather to display their vehicles, and motorhome components and accessories also are available for inspection.

A wealth of informative seminars centering on topics of interest to motorhomers — including motorhome chassis maintenance and microwave-convection oven cooking — are held.

In addition, opportunities for taking part in various social events — including morning coffee hour and an ice cream social — present themselves to convention attendees. Organized tours of local sites and attractions also take place. And evenings are filled with entertainment presented by nationally known performers, as well as other social activities.

Prior to the gathering in Indianapolis in 2012, FMCA will host two reunions, the first at the Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter in Perry, Georgia, March 14-17, 2011. For this event, a special invitation has been extended to owners of towable RVs as well.

The Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wis., will be the location for the reunion that will take place Aug. 10 to 13, 2011.

To register for the upcoming event in Georgia, or for additional information about FMCA’s family reunions and motorhome showcase events, visit or call (513) 474-3622 or (800) 543-3622.

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FMCA Names Koshland New Executive Director

December 8, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA), an international organization for motorhome owners based in Cincinnati, Ohio, has announced that Bradford Koshland has been hired to serve as the association’s next executive director.

As a motorhome owner and FMCA member, “Koshland brings to the association great enthusiasm for the RV lifestyle,” according to a news release. He also has a variety of management experience. Most recently, he served as bureau chief of enforcement for the division of real estate for the state of Florida, Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Prior to that, his career included 28 years in the law enforcement profession, and he retired as a lieutenant from the New Jersey State Police.

Koshland has a master’s degree in administrative science from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, N.J., and a bachelor of arts degree from Rowan University in Glassboro, N.J. He is a certified public manager and brings with him a varied array of management and life experiences relevant to the executive director position.

“We look forward to welcoming Brad as executive director,” commented Judy Czarsty, FMCA national senior vice president/acting national president. “As a motorhome owner himself, Brad is well-qualified to represent the interests of Family Motor Coach Association and motorhome owners in general. Brad will bring leadership and a fresh perspective to the association as it continues in its mission to promote and enhance the motorhome lifestyle.”

Koshland will officially begin work as FMCA executive director on Jan. 3.

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FMCA Opens Georgia Reunion to Towables

December 1, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Lorrie Morgan

Lorrie Morgan

Family Motor Coach Association, based in Cincinnati, Ohio, has announced that it will welcome not only motorhome owners but also owners of other types of self-contained RVs when the group meets in Perry, Ga., in March.

While membership in the association is open only to motorhome owners, FMCA leaders recognize that this represents only one segment of the RV family, and during a recent meeting they made the decision to open the Georgia event to towable RVs as well, according to a news release.

FMCA’s 85th Family Reunion and Motorhome Showcase will take place March 14 through 17 at the Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter. This represents the association’s seventh visit to Perry but the first time towable RVs have been included in the mix.

“The Georgia National Fairgrounds has become a popular place for RV rallies, and with its spacious parking facilities and convenient location just off Interstate 75, the FMCA Executive Board decided that this would be a great location to open our motorhome event to all RVs,” commented Judy Czarsty, FMCA national senior vice president/acting national president. “As our friends in Georgia would say, ‘Ya’ll come.’ Join us for some good-old-fashioned fun and RV fellowship and learn firsthand about the motorhome lifestyle.”

Owners of self-contained towable RVs will pay the non-member rate for attending the event. This fee will include a one-year subscription to Family Motor Coaching magazine, the association’s official monthly publication.

The early-bird non-member rate is $205; after Feb. 7, the non-member rate becomes $235. For a space with electricity, the non-member early-bird rate is $380; $410 after Feb. 7. These vehicles will be parked together in a zipper parking format for the owners’ convenience. Any motorhome owners who have friends with towable RVs may opt to park with them in these special lots.

Activities abound at FMCA’s international events. In fact, attendees often have a difficult time deciding how to divide their time. The choices are many. One of the important elements of these gatherings is an exhibition of motorhomes. Major manufacturers and dealers display hundreds of motorhomes, and RV components and accessories also are available for inspection.

Another important element will be a full complement of informative seminars. RV owners will be able to expand their knowledge with regard to a variety of topics, from motorhome maintenance to microwave-convection cooking.

Tours to explore local attractions will be offered. In addition, opportunities for taking part in various social events — including morning coffee hour and an ice cream social — present themselves to attendees.

Evenings are no less action-packed. Sunday evening, March 13, will be devoted to movie night, with refreshments and plenty of fun and fellowship. Monday evening will bring the “Motorhome Preview” event, with a sneak peek at the motorhome exhibits, capped off by a fireworks display. On Tuesday evening, pianist Mac Frampton and the Hollywood Hills Orchestra will treat audience members to his “rock-alternative” sound.

Country music star Lorrie Morgan will light up the stage on Wednesday evening as she performs many of her biggest hits, as well as her newer tunes. Professional speaker and humorist Jeanne Robertson will leave the audience in stitches on Thursday evening as she shares some of her amusing life experiences.

With exhibits, seminars, entertainment and plenty of fellowship, FMCA’s Perry 2011 gathering promises something for everyone. And this time, all RVers are encouraged to join in on the fun.

For additional information about FMCA’s 85th Family Reunion and Motorhome Showcase or to register, visit or call (800) 543-3622 or (513) 474-3622.

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Czarsty Succeeds Charlie Schrenkel at FMCA

November 19, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Charlie Schrenkel

Charlie Schrenkel

Charlie Schrenkel has resigned as the president of the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) citing health reasons, the RV News Service reported.

Judy Czarsty

Judy Czarsty

“I have given much thought and have done a lot of reading these past few days about the challenges I am faced with as far as my health is concerned,” he wrote in his resignation e-mail to the club of motorhome owners. “It would not be fair to this association to have a president not fully capable of holding that office. A president of FMCA should be directly involved with the day-to-day operation of the association, and not have any distractions, such as health problems that take away from the assigned duties of that office. I don’t know how to do both. Therefore, I respectfully submit my resignation from the office of president of Family Motor Coach Association.”

In accordance with FMCA’s Bylaws, FMCA senior vice president Judy Czarsty is serving as acting president.

“On behalf of the FMCA family, we wish Charlie well as he faces these challenges,” Czarsty said. “We regret that he will not be finishing out his term but would like to thank him for his many years of service to FMCA, and for his strong leadership, most recently as FMCA president but also as national vice president, Southeast Area, among other roles over the years. We ask that the FMCA family lift up Charlie and his wife, Jean, in thoughts and prayers.”

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Alpin Haus, FMCA Help Injured Marine to Race

October 28, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Sgt. Eddie Ryan in action

Sgt. Eddie Ryan in action

On Saturday (Oct. 31), former United States Marine Corps Sgt. Eddie Ryan will live out a dream in Washington, D.C., as he competes in the 35th Annual Marine Corps Marathon.

Running the 26.2-mile race is not out of the ordinary for a former Marine, but in Sgt. Ryan’s case, the circumstances are extraordinary, according to a news release.

In 2005 Ryan was wounded while serving in Iraq and is now confined to a wheelchair, the result of a severe head injury that interrupted the normal communication from his brain to muscles in his legs, left arm and elsewhere. Despite these disabilities, he will participate in his first-ever marathon, traveling the route in a specially outfitted three-wheel cycle while the cart is pushed by his “legs” — former Marine Staff Sgt. Bryan Purcell.

Because of Sgt. Ryan’s physical condition, special travel arrangements are necessary to transport him from his family’s home in Ellenville, N.Y., to Washington, D.C. He cannot fly or ride in a car or unmodified vehicle and must travel with two medical assistants. A traveling wheelchair, a conventional wheelchair, the racing cycle, and numerous other items need to be brought along also.

When learning of his travel issues, individuals and companies affiliated with Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) stepped in to help arrange Ryan’s safe passage. FMCA is an international organization of motorhome owners/enthusiasts and commercial member companies that support the motorhome lifestyle.

Alpin Haus RV of Amsterdam, N.Y., an FMCA commercial member, donated the use of a 40-foot Monaco Knight motorhome for Ryan’s trip to Washington. The diesel-powered RV has all the conveniences of home and includes three slideouts to enlarge the interior when parked. Adirondack Trailways, based in New York State, donated the use of a 45-foot, wheelchair-accessible passenger bus that will carry Ryan’s family and supporters to Washington and also serve as in-town transportation for Ryan during the race weekend.

As one of 30,000 marathon participants, Ryan will compete in the wheelchair class, cheered on by his group of supporters known as Team 413 (the number 413 designates his “alive day,” April 13, 2005, when he sustained the injuries in Iraq). He will operate the cycle’s hand controls to propel himself forward while running mate Purcell pushes from behind.

The vehicle was donated by AdvaCare Systems, a specialty medical equipment supplier, and customized by Orange County Choppers of Newburgh, N.Y., a company featured in the TLC television show “American Choppers.”

The Marine Corps Marathon route begins in Arlington, Va; winds through Washington, D.C.; and crosses the finish line at the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial back in Arlington.

Paul DuBois, FMCA national vice president, Northeast Area, worked closely with Purcell to iron out many logistical details associated with Ryan’s trip to Washington. He also sought the assistance of FMCA’s Angel Bus chapter, whose members work with Angel Bus, a nonprofit organization that coordinates ground transportation for patients in need who cannot travel by conventional means. A professional driver and former transportation manager, DuBois has driven busloads of Marine, Army, and National Guard troops throughout the eastern United States and will be driving Ryan to Washington in the motorhome.

Purcell, a Chicago resident and airline pilot, watched an HBO documentary titled “Alive Day Memories: Home From Iraq” several years ago. The show included an interview with Ryan and his mother, in which Ryan predicted that one day he would not only walk but would run again. At that point Purcell resolved to make that dream come true for the wounded Marine. Earlier this year he visited the Ryan family and convinced them that he and Sgt. Ryan should run in the Marine Corps Marathon. FMCA became involved when Purcell spoke with his motorhome-owning neighbor, FMCA member Bill Sadilek, about transportation.

Sgt. Ryan joined the Marine Corps after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. On April 13, 2005, during his second tour in Iraq, he was shot twice in the head during combat operations. He suffered severe brain injuries and was not expected to live. However, with overwhelming support from family and friends, including his running mate, Purcell, he is progressing toward recovery and hopes to someday be out of the wheelchair. His rehabilitation is costly, and much of it is not covered by U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Ryan and Purcell will run the Marine Corps Marathon not only to bring attention to Sgt. Ryan’s situation, but also to the many service members who have suffered traumatic brain injuries in combat.

When Ryan trains, he keeps a mantra in mind: “Inch by inch, it’s a cinch. Yard by yard, it’s hard.” Despite the many inches Ryan and Purcell will travel to reach the finish line at the Marine Corps Marathon, they will have accomplished what no one may have thought possible just five years ago.

For those who wish to assist Sgt. Ryan with his rehabilitation and continued recovery, tax-deductible donations may be made in care of: Buddy Runs Inc., 1611 S.E. 12th Place, Gainesville, FL 32641; (specify Sgt. Eddie Ryan/Team 413).

Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) is an international organization for families who own and enjoy the use of self-contained, motorized recreation vehicles known as motorhomes. The association maintains its national headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, and currently has nearly 100,000 active member families. FMCA offers its members a number of benefits, including a subscription to its monthly magazine, Family Motor Coaching; an emergency medical evacuation program; trip routing; mail forwarding; and group rates on an emergency roadside assistance program. Perhaps the most important benefit of FMCA membership is the camaraderie and friendships that develop among people enjoying the common interest of motorhome travel and recreation. For more information, visit

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FMCA Reports on Redmond, Ore., Convention

September 28, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Editor’s Note: The Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) issued the following news release after its recent convention in Redmond, Ore.

FMCA’s Redmond 2010 convention attracted 2,282 motorhomes — 2,008 family member coaches and 274 commercial coaches — to the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center. The event’s theme: “Redmond Rocks! Feel The Excitement!”

Attendees savored pleasant temperatures, low humidity and no rain, while other parts of the United States endured a summer heat wave. These favorable conditions likely helped draw attendees out en masse for seminars, entertainment, exhibits, and social activities.

According to Jerry Yeatts, FMCA’s director of conventions and commercial services, coach exhibitors seemed “extremely happy.” For example, one dealer reported selling six of its 11 coaches on display. Newcomer manufacturer Provan Industries unveiled its Tiger 4×4 Type C motorhome and sold the unit within the first 24 hours. Most of the higher-end Itasca-brand motorhomes that were exhibited found buyers as well. Monaco RV attracted onlookers with its new Vesta, a smaller Type A motorhome built on a proprietary Roadmaster chassis and powered by a 260-horsepower MaxxForce 7 front diesel engine.

Indoors, many supplier and component exhibitors experienced brisk sales. Convention attendees jammed the aisles when the exhibit buildings opened the first morning for an exclusive showing. Some indoor exhibitors reportedly sold out of their inventory the initial day. Catherine Hickland, “One Life To Live” TV star and owner of Cat’s Cosmetics, demonstrated her products on more than 400 ladies as she launched her “RV beauty pack” in Redmond.

Redmond evening entertainment was “a home run,” Yeatts said. FMCA paid tribute to the centennial of the RV industry, which is being celebrated throughout 2010, with a presentation of “The Long, Long Trailer,” a 1954 comedy starring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. Todd Fisher, an FMCA member and son of actress Debbie Reynolds, introduced the movie and shared some behind-the-scenes details. He also brought along a dress Lucille Ball wore in the film that is now part of the Debbie Reynolds Hollywood Movie Museum collection.

The following evening, Debbie Reynolds herself presented a humorous review of her life and career before a standing-room-only crowd. Other acts during the week included The Texas Tenors, of “America’s Got Talent” TV fame; Live Bait, a Jimmy Buffett tribute band; and the Forever Motown musical revue.

Attendees had their pick of 136 seminars covering 119 technical and nontechnical topics. These focused on such subjects as motorhome operation, maintenance, and components; travel sites; hobbies to pursue while RVing; exercise and health; and make-and-take crafts. Several additional sessions were scheduled on-site to accommodate overflow crowds.

Other convention activities included morning coffee hour; an ice cream social; special theme days; a dunk tank that raised funds for charity; bean bag baseball; karaoke; and even a wet T-shirt (throwing) contest. Some called to mind FMCA’s early 1960s-era conventions, when canoe battles, tugs-of-war, and other contests brought friends together.

“We wanted to incorporate a little fun into our event again,” Yeatts said. “The members really seemed to enjoy it.”

That camaraderie seemed to resonate through the “Redmond Rocks!” crowd. Exhibitor and seminar presenter Jeanie McKay, of MindZone Publishing, commented, “We noticed a feeling of bonded unity we’ve never felt in an RV convention before.”

FMCA national president Charlie Schrenkel said that he and other members of the association’s Executive Board talked with numerous attendees in Redmond. “All told us that there was something in the air, something about this convention that they couldn’t put their finger on that made it one of the best that they had been to in a long time,” he said. “I believe that ‘something’ was us, sharing a unique experience with each other in a beautiful place — and having fun!”

FMCA resumes its international convention schedule next year: March 14-17 in Perry, Ga., and Aug. 10-13 in Madison, Wis.

For more information about FMCA international conventions, contact Pamela Kay or visit

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FMCA Forgoing 1 of Its 2012 Conventions

September 8, 2010 by · 3 Comments 

Cincinnati, Ohio-based Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) is forgoing one of its 2012 conventions, partly because of the rocky economy and partly because of the timing of Affinity Group’s ”The Rally,” which will be staged in March 2012 at the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter in Perry, Ga.

The only dates available for a West Coast convention at the Fairplex in Pomona, Calif., would have to have been in April and put the convention too close — timingwise — to ”The Rally,” said  Jerry Yeatts, FMCA director of conventions and commercial services.

While canceling the first of its two 2012 conventions, FMCA is trying out new venues in 2011 and 2012.

While holding its 2011 winter convention in Perry, the FMCA summer convention will be at the Alliant Energy Center complex in Madison, Wis. After skipping the winter convention in 2012, FMCA members will meet in August 2012 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis.

”Both are great venues that our members should enjoy,” Yeatts said.

FMCA has yet to set its convention sites for 2013, which will mark the association’s 50th anniversary.

”We are looking at the central part of the country for that celebration,” Yeatts said.

The Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson is a possibility if the Kansas Legislature changes a law prohibiting sales by out-of-state dealers, which are an important component of FMCA conventions.

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FMCA Convention Drew 2,000-Plus Coaches

August 18, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Monaco RV Vesta

Monaco RV Vesta

Alex and Jan Alexander were in the 17th week of a tour of the West Coast in their 2006 Country Coach when they pulled into the gates of the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center in Redmond, Ore., for the Family Motor Coach Association’s (FMCA) 84th International Convention Aug. 11-14. One of more than 2,000 motorhome families to attend the mid-week event in central Oregon, the young couple from St. James City, Fla., intended to spend the four days soaking up information.

“We’re here for several reasons,” Alex noted after exiting the Tiffin Motor Homes manufacturer’s display. “We wanted to see what’s going on in the industry — but, most importantly from an educational standpoint, to visit the displays and see the latest in engines and electronics … it (Redmond) has a little bit of everything.” And, while the first-time visitors to the convention hadn’t considered upgrading their luxury coach prior to the event, Alex did note that “we may change our minds. Right now, we’re looking at an Allegro bus.”

According to Jerry Yeatts, FMCA event director, the Alexanders’ upbeat attitude personified the 84th convention, which also was highlighted by the public debut of the new Vesta motorhome from Monaco RV LLC and the West Coast introduction of the Insignia from Jayco’s Entegra Coach division.

Newell Coach display

Newell Coach

“We had a little over 2,000 families there, and about 200 coaches on display,” he said. “Compared to the last time we were here, it was probably comparable, numbers-wise — but as far as attitude and enthusiasm, it was amazing. The members were probably in their best mood we’ve seen in quite a while. Seems like sales were up, spirits were up, and overall it was a great convention.”

It also apparently was quite successful for a number of exhibitors. “One OEM said that the higher-end coaches they brought were sold,” Yeatts said. “Another dealer who brought in 11 coaches sold six.”

Shannon Nill, general manager of Guaranty RV, Junction City, Ore., echoed Yeatts’ assessment on the overall atmosphere of the program. “We sold 18 RVs at the Redmond rally, about evenly distributed between new and used,” Nill noted, out of about 75 units the dealership supplied to several displays including Monaco, Newmar Corp. and Roadtrek Motorhomes Inc. “Beyond the sales, however, one huge point was that the mood of the customer was really strong compared to last year’s rally. People were eager to RV. The gatherings of this kind after a slowdown are even more important than normal.”

This year marked the fourth time FMCA has held a convention at the Redmond fairgrounds, but was the first time the association kicked off the event with a Wednesday “preview” day. Gates opened at 5 p.m. on “hump day” for touring outdoor manufacturer displays, followed by access only to indoor exhibits Thursday morning. All displays became accessible at noon and thereafter.

Entegra Insignia by Jayco Inc.

Entegra Insignia by Jayco Inc.

“We really didn’t receive any comments concerning shifting the pattern,” Yeatts said. “The gate on Wednesday was greater than normal, but we don’t know if that’s attributable to starting later in the week, or later in the day.”

The Vesta, introduced to dealers two weeks prior to the Redmond convention, immediately attracted quite a bit of attention from rally attendees due to its unique aerodynamic styling.

“We’ve had a lot of customers come up to us that hadn’t really considered a Class A before just because of the size,” said Ryan Lee, marketing director for the Coburg, Ore., manufacturer. “They take a look at this, with the sleek design, and see that it’s really easy from an ergonomic standpoint to sit up there in the driver’s seat and drive that coach.”

Built on a proprietary 26,000-pound GVWR Monaco Roadmaster chassis and designed in conjunction with wind-tunnel testing, the single-slide 32-foot Vesta (a 35-foot floorplan also is planned) features a sloping front fascia, low center of gravity and tapered rear section. MSRP for the 32-foot coach is $195,000-$200,000.

“It’s pretty striking,” Lee said of the styling. “One of the things that we’re trying to do at Monaco is that, when a coach rolls down the road we want people to know it’s a Monaco; we want people to know it’s a Holiday Rambler (Monaco’s sister division). And this type of styling is going to get us there.”

Winnebago Via

Winnebago Via

Along with the Vesta, Monaco also brought several models with fresh 2011 floorplans to Redmond. “We’re showing our first 2011 Dynasty and Camalot here at the show,” noted Mike Snell, senior vice president of sales and product development for Monaco. “The Dynasty has a 500hp engine, and we’ve changed the paint scheme and have really upgraded the interiors. On the Camelot, we did the same: changed the front facia, the backsplash, put in a ceiling insert in the living room — we really dressed up the inside. We also have our slide-in-a-slide Diplomat here. We had the slide-in-a-slide in the Dynasty, and we added it to the Diplomat, which is a 43-footer.”

The Entegra Insignia, which debuted almost simultaneously at Affinity Group’s The Rally, July 22-25, at Louisville’s Kentucky Exposition Center and Redmond, is the Jayco division’s “entry-level” coach for the high-end Entegra line. Built on a 32,400-pound GVWR Freightliner XCR chassis powered by a 360-hp Cummins ISB diesel engine, the $265,000 MSRP Insignia features heated-and-enclosed holding tanks, frameless flush-mounted slideout rooms, gel goat fiberglass sidewalls and a steel-reinforced front cap and windshield frame plus interiors sporting glazed maple hardwood cabinets and leather hide-a-bed sofas.

Yet another new unit drawing a crowd was the 2011 model from Newell Coach Corp. Upgrades to the 2011 welded-steel-and-aluminum Newell motorcoaches — the first since the 2006 model year — include upgraded front caps with bright-white “string-of-pearl” LED running lights that outline the outer edges of the headlights, plus rear-body trim and redesigned side moldings. Interiors feature wood windowsill trim bordered with seamed leather, carbon-fiber instrument panels and automated air conditioning and heating.

The upbeat atmosphere at Redmond was, in the view of many dealers staffing the manufacturer exhibits, a reflection of a more optimistic viewpoint already noted at their respective dealerships.

Brian Kehoe, a sales consultant for Sandy, Ore.-based Johnson RV Sales who was manning the Entegra display, noted that the dealership “has experienced four months consecutive of record sales for the company. It’s been fantastic. All the way through, from the B class, C class, Class A gas and diesel units.” The dealership, site of the former Fred’s RV, opened under the Johnson RV Sales umbrella last year and features 12 service bays and three buildings — including an indoor showroom — on seven acres.

At the Tiffin exhibit, Rick Neat, a salesman from RV Corral, Eugene, Ore., one of three dealerships providing coaches for the display, called August “the best month in two years.

“There’s more business out there,” following the shuttering of dealers and OEMs alike during the recession, he said, adding that consumer credit is likewise on an uptick. “On the big money, it’s starting to ease up a bit. A lot of people are going to credit unions now, which are getting a lot more flexible than they were in the past.”

Mike Alverez, with All Seasons RV, Bend, Ore., concurred. “Our banks have loosened up,” he said at the Winnebago Industries Inc. exhibit. “They’ve changed on how they are financing. They are looking at people in a better light, where before it was tough to get financing accomplished. The other thing, too, is that GE, our flooring company, has backed off; they are letting us get product in here, and we’re making the turns we need to make to keep it going.”

Freightliner display

Freightliner display

Along with new coach designs and features, Redmond also was one of the first consumer shows to feature motorhomes fitted with new 2010 EPA emissions-compliant engines, and several exhibitors — including Gaffney, S.C.-based Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. and Spartan Chassis, Charlotte, Mich. — fielded questions from consumers and dealership personnel somewhat confused about the technical merits of the two competing drive systems developed to meet the EPA criteria. Cummins Inc. utilizes an aftermarket treatment system, while Navistar’s new MaxxForce engines employ Advanced EGR technology.

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Oregon’s FMCA Convention Now Underway

August 12, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The inside of the 2011 Itasca Ellipse motorhome on display this week in Redmond, Ore., looks like a living room.

On one wall, the coach has a sectional sofa and coffee table. A ceramic tile floor with granite inserts extends down the middle, and against the opposite wall sits a fireplace, lounge chair and computer desk.

“Looks like a small condo,” Mark McLaughlin, product trainer for Winnebago Industries Inc., which makes the Itasca line, told The Bulletin, Bend, Ore.

The layout on display at the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center used the added space provided by the slideouts, the RV sections that pop out when it’s parked. As outfitted, it costs close to $345,000, said McLaughlin.

The 2011 Ellipse, new models from Monaco RV LLC, Entegra Coach and other manufacturers and motorhomes belonging to members of the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) were among the expected 2,000 RVs filling the fairgrounds for the association’s annual convention.

It’s the fourth time the convention, which officially began Wednesday (Aug. 11) , has been held at the fairgrounds since 2001, and it’s expected to draw more than 6,000 people.

In the three years between this year’s show and the last convention in Redmond in 2007, the motorhome industry has traveled through tremendous turmoil, along with nearly every other industry.

From 2006 to 2009, shipments of all recreational vehicles fell about 58%, according to figures from the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).

In 2009, four manufacturers — Rexhall Industries Inc., Country Coach LLC, Monaco Coach Corp. and Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. — filed for bankruptcy.

Coburg-based Monaco, which owns the Beaver coach line once made in Bend, was acquired by Navistar International Corp. the same year, and is now Monaco RV LLC.

Through June of this year, however, production has been increasing, according to the RV association, and officials from motorcoach manufacturers and dealers expressed guarded optimism Wednesday at the convention.

New models, accessories and components were scheduled to be in the spotlight Wednesday night and today. FMCA members, however, also have many seminars, sightseeing tours and opportunities for socializing throughout the four-day event.

Some manufacturers featured new slimmed down, higher-mileage models, while others mentioned the certified green factories where their vehicles are made, and nearly all will be touting emissions-reducing technology that will help diesel-powered motor coaches meet new federal emissions regulations.

Monaco has its newest model, the Vesta, on display. Monaco and Navistar jointly developed the vehicle, which they unveiled July 29. The motorcoach is supposed to get 15 to 18 mpg, according to comments company officials made to RVBusiness magazine.

The Vesta, which will be made in 32- and 35-foot models, comes with cherry wood cabinetry, marblelike countertops and other high-end details usually only found in the larger coaches, said Pat Fraser, of Paul Evert’s RV Country, in Fresno, Calif.

“To get this kind of luxury, you usually have to go to a larger vehicle,” Fraser said.

Entegra’s Anthem 42-foot motorcoach has those details and more. It has 1 1/2 bathrooms, a full-size Whirlpool refrigerator, separate, stackable washer and dryer, a cedar-lined closet and four flat-screen televisions, one of which is on the exterior of the RV.

It’s located under a flip-up panel, part of an entertainment center that includes a stereo, speakers and, of course, the remote.

One of the newest features for many of the motorhomes is mostly hidden.

New U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emissions guidelines call for reduced diesel-engine emissions, and different manufacturers meet them in different ways.

The system Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. has on display at the fairgrounds uses a catalytic-converter-like system that reduces vehicle emissions to only nitrogen and water, according to the company’s literature.

“It’s actually cleaner going out,” said Ken Nisley, of coach-maker Newmar, referring to the emissions, “than the air going in.”

The rally concludes Saturday.

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FMCA Convention Show Hours Announced

July 28, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Hundreds of motorhomes and a variety of accessory merchandise will be assembled in a display of recreation vehicles at the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center in Redmond, Ore., during the Family Motor Coach Association’s internationally rally Aug. 11-14.

On Aug. 11, from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., a special preview of only the motorhome exhibits will take place. And then on Aug. 12, an exclusive time for visiting indoor exhibits will occur from 8:30 a.m. to noon. Regular hours for the motorhome displays and indoor exhibits will be noon to 5 p.m. on Aug. 12 and 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Aug. 13-14, according to a news release.

Major motorhome manufacturers and dealers will be bringing new motorhomes to Redmond for convention attendees to tour. Plus, companies will display their wares inside the Hooker Creek Event Center and the Beef Barn, making available RV accessories, components, supplies, campground information and more.

The daily fee for viewing motorhomes and booth displays is $7 per person; children 12 and under admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Individuals with an active military ID will be admitted free also. A Daily Passport that provides admittance to the exhibits, all seminars, and daytime and evening entertainment is available for $65 per person. The admission fee on Wednesday covers admission on Thursday as well.

Those who own a motorhome are invited to take part in all of the activities and also to bring their motorhome and stay with the rest of the group at the Expo Center. The price for non-FMCA members is $224; this non-member fee automatically grants a one-year FMCA membership to the motorhome owner. The FMCA member price is $174.

Convention attendees will be able to check out the latest features and innovations that are available in motorhomes. Some of the displays will feature production-line units, and others will demo custom-built coaches for uses ranging from family camping to transporting high-tech business equipment, or for use as conference coaches. A great variety of motorhome styles and a broad price range will be represented.

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2,000 RVs Expected for FMCA Oregon Rally

July 23, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

About 6,000 RVers in 2,000 motorhomes are expected Aug. 11-14 in Redmond, Ore., for the annual Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) international convention, the RV News Service reported.

Major motorhome manufacturers and dealers will display their RVs. Other companies will display accessories, components, supplies and campground information. The daily fee for viewing motorhomes and booth displays is $7 per person; children 12 and under will be admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Active members of the military will also be admitted free.

Those who own a motorhome are invited to stay in their RVs at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds Exposition Center and take part in all of the activities. The price for non-FMCA members is $224 which includes a one-year FMCA membership. The FMCA member price is $174.

Convention attendees can view the latest features and innovations in motorhomes. Some displays will feature production-line units, and others will demo custom-built coaches for uses ranging from family camping to transporting high-tech business equipment, or for use as conference coaches. A variety of motorhome styles in broad price ranges will be represented.

The convention will include seminars on topics relative to RVing as well as topflight entertainment and many social events.

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