Despite cold temperatures, a record number of people — 12,912 to be exact — walked through the gates Wednesday (Jan. 12) for the opening day of the 26th Annual 2011 Florida RV Supershow at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa Fla.
And early sales matched the crowd, according to several manufacturers who spoke to RVBUSINESS.com this morning.
”We’re doing fantastic,” said Ed Kinney, vice president of sales and marketing for Carriage Inc., Millersburg, Ind., ”We had record sales. If I told you the numbers, you’d call me a liar.”
”It was a slow start today (Thursday) because it was cold,” said Lance Wilson, executive director of the sponsoring Florida RV Trade Association. ”It was in the 30s this morning, but things picked up. People are here now and the sun is out. The only thing that keeps people away is rain, and we don’t have any of that.”
Wilson reported that the final count had 1,065 coaches on display at the show.
In addition to Carriage, other manufacturers also reported brisk sales early on in the show, which runs through Sunday.
”It’s a buying crowd,” said C. David Hoefer, chairman of Earthbound RV LLC, Marion, Ind. ”We had our first sale an hour after the show started on Wednesday.”
”The traffic is not only good in terms of quantity, but it’s quality traffic,” said John Sammut, Newmar Inc. vice president of sales and marketing. ”We had a good day yesterday selling several motorized units — both gas and diesel.”
Opening day, during which senior citizens received a discount, was capped by a FRVTA-sponsored dinner on the fairgrounds attended by about 800 people representing manufactuers and suppliers, who dined on roast beef, shrimp and key lime pie.
Show organizers expect more than 50,000 people to attend the show through Sunday. Last year’s attendance was 50,753.
More than 800 dealership personnel are expected to attend Industry Day Tuesday (Jan. 11) as the 26th Annual 2011 Florida RV SuperShow gets underway at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa.
”We usually get between 800 and 900 people,” said Lance Wilson, executive director of the sponsoring Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA). ”Dealers are registered from throughout the country. A lot of them are down here for the season because there’s not a lot going on up north, and we get a lot of Florida guys who might not have gotten to the Louisville Show.”
Industry personnel are admitted free to the show grounds on Tuesday.
With weather reports of sunny skies through the week, FRVTA expects more than 50,000 people to attend the show which runs Wednesday through Sunday. Last year’s attendance was 50,753.
Wilson said that the number of display units will increase 10% to 12% over last year. The show will feature more than 85 brands and 450 vendor booths.
”I think we will be just short of 1,200 units on display coaches,”Wilson said. ”I don’t know the exact number because we are still shoehorning people in.”
An 850-coach rally also is being staged at the fairgrounds.
Wilson said it is difficult to predict this early in the year how the RV market will perform in 2011. ”There’s a lot of optimism,” he said. ”The good news for us is that retail lending is loosening up a little bit. We are hearing positive feedback from the dealer lots.”
Industry Day hours are Tuesday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. when free donuts, coffee and lunch will be served. Hours on Public Days are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Wednesday is Senior Citizens Day with seniors receiving $1 off the $10 cost of a two-day adult admission. Children under 16 are free.
Watch today’s Featured Video #2 to learn more about the Florida RV SuperShow.
The Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA) will host the 26th Annual 2011 Florida RV SuperShow Jan. 12-16 at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa.
RV Industry Day will take place on Tuesday,Jan. 11, and all industry personal are welcome to attend for free, the FRVTA stated in a news release.
“This is a great opportunity for all RV Industry personnel here in Florida or anyone in the industry spending the winter in the state,” said FRVTA Executive Director Lance Wilson. “If you didn’t have the chance to take your staff to the Louisville Show, this is an inexpensive way to expose your entire crew to all the new products and RVs available for 2011.”
Industry Day will include free coffee and donuts in the morning and a free lunch for all attendees. Registration forms can be found on the FRVTA website.
For more information on the 2011 Florida RV SuperShow contact the Florida RV Trade Association at 10510 Gibsonton Drive, Riverview, Florida 33578, (813) 741-0488, or visit our website at www.frvta.org.
Fleetwood RV Inc. was awarded best motorized outdoor display during the Florida RV SuperShow, which ran Jan. 13-17 in Tampa, Fla.
Fleetwood’s display was co-managed by one of its top dealers, Lazydays, and featured a variety of 2010 products including American Eagle, Discovery, Tioga as well as the brand new Encounter, Fleetwood’s first crossover motor home, according to a news release.
“We’re honored to have been recognized as the best motorized display,” said John Draheim, president and COO of Fleetwood RV Inc. “We had a great location, traffic was better than expected and our products were well received. All of this combined with the great sales leadership of our dealer partner, Lazydays, helped make the SuperShow an excellent way to kick off the retail show season.”
“The success of Fleetwood’s SuperShow display is a tribute to the strong relationship Fleetwood and Lazydays has maintained for over 20 years,” said Snow Chamberlain, event coordinator for Lazydays. “We worked together to not only showcase Fleetwood’s high-quality products, but to also give our customers the best experience possible. The result was a very successful show for everyone.”
Attendance at the bellwether Florida RV SuperShow in Tampa that ended Sunday (Jan. 17) increased 12% over last year, despite questionable weather on the last day of the show’s five-day run.
”The show was very, very upbeat,” said Lance Wilson, executive director of the sponsoring Florida Recreation Vehicle Trade Association (FRVTA). ”The weather was iffy on Sunday, but the dealers we talked to all said the same thing — that they didn’t hear any negative talk at all. People weren’t complaining about the economy or gas prices. They were just happy to be there.”
Some 50,753 people passed through the gates of the Florida State Fairgrounds Wednesday (Jan. 13) through Sunday.
”We had a nice increase (in sales) from last year,” said Ken Stumpe, Florida Show sales manager for Lazydays RV SuperCenter in nearby Seffner, Fla., ”There was a lot more traffic than last year. It was a totally different atmosphere. A lot of people said they were tired of waiting.”
Camping World RV Sales, which had a dozen displays at the show, sold 179 units, 37 of them Damon and Four Winds motorized RVs, according to President Marcus Lemonis.
Increased attendance at the Florida Show generally mirrored that of other early 2010 shows in Denver, Cleveland, the Washington, D.C., area and Greensboro, N.C.
“Seeing all the aisles full and the dealers not being able to handle all the customers is great,” said Tom Gaither, senior vice president of Affinity Group Inc.’s Affinity Events division.
Gaither reported positive attendance results at three U.s. shows that his organization operates:
- The 20th Annual Colorado RV Adventure Travel Show Jan. 13-16 in Denver increased 26% compared to 2009.
- The 21st Annual North Carolina RV & Camping Show Jan. 8-10 in Greensboro was up 1%.
- The 24th Annual Washington Camping RV Expo in the Washington, D.C., suburb of Chantilly, Va., increased a startling 154%.
”Just the fact that attendance was up tells me that people are looking for RVs and want to go camping,” Gaither said.
Elsewhere, the 34th Annual Ohio Supershow Jan. 6-10, sponsored by the Great Lakes Recreation Vehicle Association, saw a 30% increase in attendance.
”It was one of the best shows in 34 years,” said Great Lakes President Bruce Wolfson. ”It was a great start to the year. People were very upbeat, so the dealers were upbeat because of it.”
Bob Moore, co-owner of Moores’ RV, North Ridgeville, Ohio, said this year’s Ohio Show was the best he’d had in three years.
”The public’s attitude is improving,” Moore said. ”People came in in much better spirits and were much more interested in buying. Their level of creditworthiness and their willingness to put money down was up substantially. That has made us very optimistic about how things are going to go for the summer.”
Not all reports were upbeat, however.
At the Tarrant County RV Show Jan. 7-10 in Fort Worth, Texas, attendance wasn’t quite as strong as last year, said show director Pat Hahn.
Considering below-freezing temperatures for four days before the show and competition from a Dallas Cowboy’s playoff football game, ”I was very pleased with attendance,” she said. ”It was almost as good as last year and last year’s show was terrific.”
Stacy Rist, general manager of Bennett’s Camping Center, a towable dealer in Granbury, Texas, said that while sales at the Fort Worth show weren’t strong, the dealership got a lot of leads.
”There was lots of traffic, but nobody was turning lose of any of their money,” Rist said. ”We might not be over the hump yet. I’m not completely disappointed, but the days of the impulse buyer are gone. You have to work hard for each sale.”
Attendance at the 2010 Florida RV SuperShow continued to pleasantly surprise exhibitors Thursday with an 18% increase over last year, according to the sponsoring Florida Recreation Vehicle Trade Association (FRVTA)
“And we are having a strong day today,” said FRVTA Executive Director Lance Wilson, who reported that 12,375 people passed through the gates on Thursday at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa. According to FRVTA, 26,059 people attended the show the first two days.
Rain predicted for late Saturday wasn’t expected to put a damper on attendance, Wilson said. “We should have a good day on Sunday, too,” he told RVBUSINESS.com.
Marcus Lemonis, president of the Camping World RV Sales dealership chain, said traffic during the early stage of the pivotal Florida show has been ”unbelievable.”
”We are surprised,” said Lemonis, who reported selling 72 RVs — including 19 Four Winds and Damon motorized units — during the show’s first two days. ”It feels like ’06 and ’07 as far as traffic. We only did 98 (units) last year through five days.”
”We’re not just talking (to customers),” said Bill Fenech, president of Four winds International Corp. and Damon Motor Coach, both of which are divisions of Thor Industries Inc. ”We’re selling motorhomes. In fact, we’re selling a ton of diesels. What’s really nice is that there’s just very upbeat attitudes at the show. Customers are listening. They’re showing up, and they’re buying. It’s not doom and gloom. It’s very encouraging. We anticipate blowing away last year’s numbers.”
Customers are both newbies and seasoned RV enthusiasts with trade-ins, says Fenech, and his staff is seeing more demand for diesels than gas at the moment — in the Damon Tuscany and Four Winds Montecito price range on the diesels, generally in the high $100,000’s to the low $200,000’s. “It’s just exciting to hear the optimism again and the fact that people are getting out there again and buying,” added Fenech.
Lemonis said that national retail lenders Bank of America and Bank of West, which have booth space — along with regional lender BB&T — seem to have eased their lending policies some.
”They seem a little hungrier to do business,” Lemonis said. ”And customers aren’t scared to put cash down.”
Terry Elias, president of Canada-based Class B and C manufacturer Leisure System Travel Vans Ltd., also reported strong sales during the opening days of the show. ”We sold six or seven the first day,” Elias said.
Lemonis said that early shows in Cleveland and Syracuse, N.Y., also were generating good sales.
”I’m not going to tell you that the world is fixed and that everything’s in a good place again,” Lemonis said. ”But the bar got set pretty low last year, so everything feels better right now.
”With everybody having fresher inventory and the customer not thinking that everything is falling apart, its seems that things are trending back toward normal.”
Editor’s Note: Terry Tomalin, outdoor write for the St. Petersburg Times, filed this report from the Florida RV SuperShow underway this week in Tampa, Fla.
Sometimes I dream about owning a luxury recreational vehicle with a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and all the comforts of home. Then I awake, take a look at my kids (8 and 6 years old) and the inch of sand they’ve deposited inside the tent, and decide that the little creatures would surely ruin an otherwise sound investment.
RVs, I’ve always assumed, were for retirees who have put their child-rearing years behind them.
But Dave Kelly, marketing director for the Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA), was determined to prove me wrong.
“You are crazy,” said Kelly as he drove me through the 25th annual Florida RV SuperShow at the Florida State Fairgrounds. “There are plenty of affordable RVs out there that are the ideal fit for families.”
Judging from the kids in the crowd Wednesday, the opening day of this year’s show, Kelly might have a point.
“But my kids are animals,” I said affectionately. “They would tear one of these things apart.”
Kelly smiled and patted me on the shoulder. “Let’s have a look around,” he said.
Simple is better
When many people think of an RV they picture the behemoths parked outside a football stadium. Many of those luxury liners cost more than my house. If I owned a nice RV, I would undoubtedly be a nervous wreck, and for sure I would drive my kids crazy each time they let a lizard loose or got mud on the upholstery.
“I bet you your kids couldn’t destroy this camper,” said Don Mills, manager at the Conibear RV Center in Lakeland, as he showed me the Quicksilver automotive camper. “This is all aluminum. There is no wood. You could wash this out with a garden hose if you wanted to.”
Now that’s my kind of RV, I thought to myself. I could clean the camper and the kids in one fell swoop.
“They are light (600 to 1,500 pounds) and easy to pull,” Mills said. “You can pull one with a minivan.”
The Quicksilver is a bare-bones popup camper that sleeps two adults and two children. There is no stove, toilet or refrigerator. But most campgrounds have restroom facilities and showers, and I usually pack my food in a cooler and cook over an old gas stove on top of a picnic table anyway.
“Most people just sleep in the camper anyway,” Mills said. “If it starts to rain there is still plenty of room inside.”
The price range of $5,500 to $8,500 will also prove attractive to many first-time buyers. For more information, go to www.livinlite.com or contact Mills at (863) 858-4455.
Light, easy to tow
Another option for cost-conscious campers is the lightweight, low-to-the-ground, easily towable Aliner camper. You don’t need a big pickup or sport-utility vehicle to get this beauty to your campsite.
“You can pull this camper with just about any car,” said Rick Como of Como RV Sales in Inverness and Homosassa (1-866-344-1411 or www.comorv.com). “That is a real plus for a lot of people.”
The Pennsylvania-built popup has a hard top with sky lights and many of the amenities of a larger, heavier RV. Aliners, which range in length from 9 to 18 feet, are surprisingly comfortable for their size. The middle-of-the-line model, the Classic, is 15 feet long, 6½ feet wide and weighs just 2,000 pounds. It sleeps two adults and two children and retails for about $13,000.
“If you include airfare, hotel, meals, etc., it is not hard to spend $5,000 to take a family of four on vacation,” Kelly said. “If you take the money you would have spent on two vacations and put it into an RV, you can have fun every weekend instead of just once or twice a year. If you think about it, that’s a real bargain.”
Attendance was up 11% Wednesday (Jan. 13) on the first day of the 2010 Florida RV SuperShow — the largest of the winter RV shows throughout the U.S. over the next eight weeks and an event that’s widely viewed as a possible harbinger of things to come for the rest of 2010.
Large crowds continued to course through the Florida State Fairgrounds today.
“We are slamming them again (today)” said Lance Wilson, executive director of the Florida Recreational Vehicle Trade Association( FRVTA), who reported that attendance Wednesday on ”Seniors Day” was 13,684 people.
“I’ve been checking with some dealers,” he continued. “Sales are good. We aren’t setting any records on sales, but they are good.”
Considering the RV industry’s recession-driven travails over the last 18 months, “It’s the ‘new’ good,” Wilson offered.
Manufacturers, for the most part, reported increased activity during the early part of the Florida show.
“For the first day, traffic was very strong,” said Bob Martin, the newly appointed president of Keystone RV Co., Goshen, Ind. “Peoples’ attitudes are very positive. We are much busier than we were early in the show last year. We won’t know how it will play out until we get into the weekend.”
Martin, at the same time, reported that attendance at the Great Lakes Recreation Vehicle Show in Cleveland that ended Sunday also was “very good.” And he’s not alone in that assessment. “It was very different than last year,” Martin said.
Sid Johnson, director of marketing for Jayco Inc., Middlebury, Ind., said that dealers confirmed that there was more early traffic at the Florida Show than last year.
“Dealers feel very, very good about sales so far, the first day,” Johnson said.
He reported that there was substantial interest in fifth-wheel RVs in Tampa. “But Tampa is not a typical retail show because it’s so heavily attended by vacationers and Snow Birds,” he said.
The Florida RV SuperShow continues through Sunday.
Editor’s Note: The Thompson Research Group (TRG) provides periodic reports on the RV industry to its investor clients. This current report follows release on Tuesday of the November motorized retail sales figures from Statistical Surveys Inc.
November 2009 Motorhome sales decline 6.7%. This marks the first single-digit decline in retail sales in 2009. Note that November 2009’s data excludes data from Georgia and New Mexico.
- November 2009 motorhome retail sales fell 6.7% to 1,038 units.
- Class A retail sales fell 13.2% to 637 units in November. November’s 13.2% decline in retail sales is the lowest since October 2007.
- Class C retail sales increased 5.8% to 401 units in November vs. a 22.9% decrease in October. This marks the first increase in Class Cs since August 2007.
- We were very encouraged to see the additional directional improvement in motorhome retail sales. We had heard steady feedback from retailers that motorhome retail trends had started to improve, and November’s retail data is the first meaningful tangible evidence of this trend. We understand that while many manufacturers last year took anywhere from three weeks to two months time off during the holiday season, many this year took only a week off of production. Winnebago Industries reported Q1’10 earnings showing a massive 350% increase in total backlogs and a 666% increase in Class A backlogs. We will gain greater clarity on retail demand this week when we attend one of the largest retail shows in Florida, the RV SuperShow in Tampa. We reiterate our Buy on Thor Industries Inc., Drew Industries Inc. and Winnebago Industries Inc.
The Florida RV SuperShow at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa kicked off its five-day run with ”Senior Citizens Day” this morning with good weather and strong attendance.
”There seems to be a great turnout,” said Dave Kelly, marketing director of the sponsoring Florida Recreation Vehicle Trade Association (FRVTA) ”I think every senior in central Florida has come out. But it’s a good mix of young and old today.”
More than 1,100 towable and motorized RVs were on display at the sprawling fairgrounds.
FRVTA in early afternoon had not totalled first-day ticket sales where senior citizens received a $1 discount on tickets. But Kelly said the weather finally had recovered from 10 consecutive days of freezing temperatures overnight and highs that didn’t get out of the 50s.
“The weather could not be any better. It’s 65 and there’s not a cloud in the sky,” Kelly said.
Following is a list of RV manufacturers displaying product at the Florida RV SuperShow.
- Airstream Inc.
- Born Free Motorcoach Inc.
- Carriage Inc.
- Chariot Eagle Inc.
- Classy Vehicle Specialties
- Coach House Inc.
- Coachmen RV
- Coleman Camping Trailers by FTCA
- Columbia Northwest Inc.
- CrossRoads RV
- Cruiser RV LLC
- Damon Motor Coach
- Doonan Truck
- DRV Inc.
- Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc.
- Dynamax Corp.
- EverGreen Recreational Vehicles LLC
- Excel by Peterson Industries Inc.
- EZ Traveler RV
- Featherlite Luxury Coaches
- Fleetwood RV Inc.
- Forest River Inc.
- Foretravel Motorcoach
- Fork Creek Cabins
- Four Winds International Corp.
- Glendale Recreational Vehicles
- Great West Van Conversions Inc.
- Gulf Stream Coach Inc.
- Haulmark Inc.
- Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC
- Heritage One Inc.
- Hy-Line Enterprises Holdings LLC
- Jacobsen Homes
- JAG Mobile Solutions/JMS
- Jayco Inc.
- Keystone RV Co.
- KZRV LP
- Lance Camper Manufacturing Corp.
- Leisure Travel Vans Ltd.
- Liberty Coach
- Livin Lite Recreational Vehicles LLC
- Marathon Coach Inc.
- Millennium Luxury Coach
- Monaco RV LLC
- New Horizons RV Corp
- Newell Coach Corp.
- Newmar Inc.
- Open Range RV Co.
- Outlaw Coach
- Palm Harbor Homes
- Parliament Coach Corp.
- Phoenix USA Inc.
- Pleasure-Way Industries Ltd.
- Prevost Car
- Renegade By Kibbi Inc.
- Riverside Travel Trailer Inc.
- Roadtrek Motorhomes Inc.
- Silver Crown LLC
- Skyline Corp.
- Space Craft Manufacturing Inc.
- Spartan Chassis Inc.
- SunnyBrook RV Inc.
- Tiffin Motor Homes Inc.
- TrailManor Inc.
- United Recreational Vehicles LLC
- Winnebago Industries Inc.