Jacksonville, Fla., RV dealers say the positive feedback that’s coming from last week’s Florida RV SuperShow in Tampa, coupled with strong sales of recreational vehicles locally the last quarter of 2012, are pointing toward a strong showing at the upcoming Jacksonville RV MegaShow.
The Florida Times-Union reported that the Jacksonville Equestrian Center will play host to the four-day event a third consecutive year. The show opens Thursday (Feb. 7) and runs through Sunday.
Tom Tibbitts, regional president of the host Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA), says the group expects to attract about 7,000 visitors to the show — about 1,000 more attendees than last year.
“I talked to one dealer at the Tampa show who said his sales were up nearly 35% from last year,” Tibbitts said. “Based on the response there, I’m expecting we’ll have a lot more interest and a bigger turnout at our show this year. Based on everything we’re hearing, the RV industry appears to be making a rebound.”
This will be the 28th year the FRVTA’s Region 6 has sponsored the event in Jacksonville. Tibbitts believes the show should feel the momentum established in Tampa.
“Attendance was up and sales of RVs were strong, primarily because of excellent attendance and RV pricing by individual dealers,” he said. “And the aftermarket vendors reported excellent exposure to their merchandise, campgrounds and services compared to 2012.”
A potentially more telling sign is the fact that additional campsites had to be found at the Florida State Fairgrounds where the event was held.
“Based on our experience this year in Tampa, I think the retail public waiting in the wings for the economy to recover aren’t going to sit back anymore,” said Lance Wilson, FRVTA executive director.
Wilson notes that his industry looks to sales in Florida, and specifically the Tampa SuperShow, as the “bellwether” for the year’s RV sales nationwide. Based on attendance, which could reach 55,000 once all the numbers are in, 2013 is shaping up to be a better-than-expected year in RV sales.
“The most important thing for us this year is that no people showed up with agendas on taxes or gas prices,” Wilson said. “They looked at a lot of product and made a lot of decisions. Financing was available and the price was right. Everything looks good heading into our biggest season.”
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Attendance of 54,255 at last week’s Florida RV SuperShow in Tampa was up slightly over last year, but still set a record, according to the sponsoring Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA).
”We didn’t knock the doors off, but we had better weather last year,” said FRVTA President Lance Wilson, who noted that 54,016 passed through the show’s gates last year. ”We were very pleased. No. 1, we want to make sure enough people are there, and No. 1B is we want manufacturers to sell product. In most cases, people did very well.”
The Florida show, often said to be a bellwether for the year, was held Jan 15-20 at the Florida State Fairgrounds.
”The good news is that the public’s attitude is very positive,” Wilson told RVBUSINESS.com. ”Nobody was talking about gas prices and nobody was talking about interest rates.”
Fledgling towable manufacturer Grand Design RV, Middlebury, Ind., introduced its first product to the retail public at Florida RV SuperShow — the 38-foot extended-stay Solitude fifth-wheel.
”By far the SuperShow exceeded our expectations and down there, that’s a discerning crowd,” said Grand Design President Don Clark, whose company was represented by Lazydays RV Center. ”Many of them are previous owners and they are experts at extended-stay camping.”
Currently building only one floorplan, Clark said other Solitude layouts will be available within the next 60 days and a second brand, which has yet to be named, will hit the market in June.
Another new company, Augusta RV, Bristol, Ind., which began producing Flex-brand travel trailers and fifth-wheels, also did well, according to National Sales Manager Leif Freehafer.
”We had good retail activity and deals were written on both the fifth-wheels and travel trailers,” said Freehafer, who also is a part owner. ”The fifth-wheel drew a lot of attention.”
As reported previously by RVBUSINESS.com, several other manufacturers and dealers earlier reported they had good sales at the show.
Over the next several weeks, the FRVTA will sponsor regional shows in Fort Myers, Ocala, Jacksonville, Deland, West Palm Beach and tentatively, Lakeland.
”Not all the dealers are able to participate in the SuperShow,” Wilson said. ”The regional shows are for all our dealers. A lot of people come to the SuperShow and wait to make their buy at a local show.”
Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt of a column by Terry Tomalin, outdoors/fitness editor for the Tampa Bay Times, offering a rundown of the Florida RV SuperShow running through Sunday. To view the entire article click here.
When it comes to recreational vehicles, small is in big demand. “Everybody is downsizing,” said Dave Kelly, marketing director for the Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA, which is hosting the 28th annual Florida RV SuperShow. “People want lighter, more maneuverable RVs.”
The time of the monster motorhome has not gone the way of the dinosaur, but the recession has reversed the trend of bigger is better.
“The market was once 60% motorhome and 40% travel trailer,” Kelly said. “But now that is reversed. They are selling 80 travel trailers for every 20 motorhomes.”
The downturn in the economy hit the RV industry hard. But according to a 2011 survey by the Reston, Va.-based Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), the number of RV-owning households has grown to a new peak of 8.9 million, up from 7.9 million in 2005.
The Florida RV SuperShow, at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa through Sunday, features hundreds of recreational vehicles of all varieties and price ranges. You will still find rows of million-dollar motorhomes, but the hot buys this year are $20,000 or less.
“You can’t beat a Winnebago,” said Melissa Farrior, an RV consultant from Camping World in Bartow. “It is a household name and the quality is just outstanding.”
The bright yellow “Minnie Winnie” weighs less than 3,500 pounds. When I first stepped inside the 20-footer, I thought it would have a sticker price of $40,000 or more, but it was less than half that, starting at $17,000. Equipped with maple cabinets, a kitchen and bathroom, I joked that I could put a satellite dish on top and never go in the office again. The travel trailer, also available in white and fluorescent green, could be towed easily by my 10-year-old sport-utility vehicle.
“Part of the appeal of these new, lightweight travel trailers is that you don’t have to go out and buy a new vehicle to get it to where you want to go,” Kelly said. “They can be pulled by any truck or SUV.”
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The 28th Annual 2013 Florida RV SuperShow, hosted by the Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA), is set to run Jan. 15-20 at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa.
As in past years, “Industry Day” will be held on Jan. 15 followed by “Public Days” for the remainder of the show. According to a press release, the theme of the 2013 Florida RV SuperShow is “Now’s The Time,” conveying the idea that there will never be a better time to buy an RV.
Those attending the show will be the first U.S. consumers to get a look at the North American recreational vehicle industry’s 2013 lineup, all assembled at one time in one coordinated retail exposition.
After a series of late year, trade-only industry events at which manufacturers first unveiled their latest products to dealers, attendees will be able to view 1,100 units while 450 vendors will be on hand to service the RV-enthusiast public.
“The SuperShow as well as all our regional shows provide our manufacturers and dealers with excellent opportunities to display their new products all over Florida,” FRVTA Executive Director Lance Wilson told RVBUSINESS.com. “With a record attendance in 2012 of over 54,000, we are expecting the 2013 SuperShow to be even bigger and better than ever.”
Along with the displays of the nation’s largest and best known manufacturers, show attendees will be able to view altogether new brands from some authentically new companies, including:
• An all-new upscale fifth-wheel lineup from LIFESTYLE Luxury RV, a new sister company to Middlebury, Ind.-based EverGreen Recreational Vehicles LLC.
• Entirely new from-the-ground-up SporTrek towables manufactured since July by Venture RV, a new stand-alone subsidiary of KZRV LP, Shipshewana, Ind.
• The inaugural unveiling of an entirely new lineup of extended stay, Solitude-brand fifth-wheels from Grand Design RV Co., a fledgling Indiana-based towable RV manufacturing firm that’s been drawing a lot of initial attention.
• The first Flex-brand travel trailers and fifth-wheels from Augusta RV, a new company that opened its doors this year in Bristol, Ind.
• The rollout of Ocean One Class B motorhomes built on Mercedes Benz Sprinter platforms by Advanced RV, an Ohio-based startup.
• The North American debut of European-built RVs from one of the more unusual exhibitors at this year’s SuperShow, HYMER AG, Europe’s largest RV builder. HYMER executives say they’re taking a look at the U.S. market and gauging consumer tastes in showing several European-built coaches. The end result is that HYMER could well become a significant player in the U.S. RV marketplace.
In addition to the RVs on display, the event will offer a host of educational seminars while several of Florida’s campgrounds and resorts will have booth exhibits. Camping accessories and supplies will be shown in an on-site Camping World store.
RV writer Bob Marx will host two seminars daily, including “Tips for Buying an RV” and “Full Time & Extended RV Travel.” Additional seminars focus on basic RV maintenance, weight and tire issues and “RVing 101-Everthing You Need to Know.”
The Super Rally celebrates its 26th year at the event. The rally is open to RV clubs and the general public, and includes a number of amenities for the show.
For more information on the 2013 Florida RV SuperShow or to attend “Industry Day,” contact FRVTA at 10510 Gibsonton Drive, Riverview, Fla., 33578, (813) 741-0488, or visit www.frvta.org.
Region One of the Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA) will host its Annual Fall Recreation Vehicle Show at the Lee County Sports Complex in south Lee County, Nov. 30-Dec. 2.
According to a press release, the “Fall Clean-Out RV Show” will feature seven local dealers displaying new and used inventory to make room for new 2013 models.
“This admission-free event is the association’s way of saying ‘thanks’ to the public for supporting us throughout the year,” said Dan Wylie, president of Region One. “By sponsoring these shows, the trade association allows the public to view lots of RVs in one place.”
The show is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. all three days. Admission and parking are free for everyone and on-site financing will be available to qualified buyers.
For more information visit www.FRVTA.org/rv-shows.
The Florida RV SuperShow, hosted annually by the Florida RV Trade Association’s (FRVTA), has been named to Tradeshow Executive’s Gold 100 largest trade shows in the United States for the 15th straight year.
According to a press release, the 2011 Florida RV SuperShow ranked No. 10 as listed in the annual Tradeshow Executive’s Gold 100. The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) Louisville Show was ranked No. 13.
“We’re happy to get the recognition,” said FRVTA Executive Director Lance Wilson. “The FRVTA is committed to making the Florida RV SuperShow not only the largest but the most profitable and successful show for our exhibitors, and the 2013 SuperShow is already looking like another winner.”
The 2013 Florida RV SuperShow will be held at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa. Industry Day is set for Jan. 15 with Public Days running Jan. 16-20. For more information on exhibiting or attending the 2013 Florida RV SuperShow, contact the FRVTA State Office at 10510 Gibsonton Drive, Riverview, Fla., 33578, call (813) 741-0488 or visit www.frvta.org.
The Florida RV Trade Association’s (FRVTA) space drawing for the 2013 Florida RV SuperShow yielded a 12% increase in manufacturer space over last year’s show, according to a press release.
FRVTA reported that the order in which space was selected during the drawing, held in the FRVTA office via phone and Internet, was determined by the “Grandfathered Drawing Order.”
“We want to thank all our manufacturer members for their continued support,” said FRVTA Executive Director Lance Wilson. “The SuperShow as well as all our regional shows provide our manufacturers and dealers with excellent opportunities to display their new products all over Florida. With a record attendance in 2012 of over 54,000, we are expecting the 2013 SuperShow to be even bigger and better than ever.”
The theme of the 2013 Florida RV SuperShow, held at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, is “Now’s The Time!” FRVTA said the theme emphasizes there won’t be a better time to buy an RV as dealers are highly motivated and interest rates may never be this low again. It is also an invitation to discover what so many people have already found out – RVs offer freedom, flexibility and fun not found in any other activity.
Industry Day at the 2013 Florida RV SuperShow will be Jan. 15 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Attendees will be treated to coffee and donuts in the morning and a free lunch. Public Days will run Jan. 16-20. Hours for the show are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, and Sunday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday is Senior Citizens Day with seniors receiving $1 off the cost of admission (not valid with other discounts).
For more information on the 2013 Florida RV SuperShow or to register for Industry Day, contact the Florida RV Trade Association at 10510 Gibsonton Drive, Riverview, Fla., 33578 or visit our www.frvta.org.
The RV Learning Center announced it has renewed its partnership with the Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA) to provide online training for RV dealership personnel through the Distance Learning Network (DLN). According to a press release, this is the seventh consecutive year the organizations have joined forces to promote the program.
The subscription includes unlimited access to more than 50 DLN training sessions, coursework reviews, and test preparation sections, which are available anytime throughout the program year. The 2012-13 DLN program includes a range of subject matter to improve the performance of dealership personnel, including:
• RV Technician Certification Preparation Course: More than 40 hours of instruction will help train and prepare RV service technicians for the RVDA-RVIA RV Service Technician Certification test and completion fulfills recertification requirements.
• Service Writer/Adviser Course: This three-hour program is ideal for both veteran service writer/advisers and new hires. Presented by service writer/adviser veteran Andrea Blackmon, the program helps prepare your personnel for the RV Learning Center’s Service Writer/Adviser Certification test. Completion of the course counts toward recertification requirements.
• Advanced/Manufacturer Specific Training: Features product-specific training from RV manufacturers and suppliers from within the RV industry.
• RV Greeter-Receptionist Course: A 50-minute program that covers: the importance of customer service; the skills and expectations for the RV receptionist; the importance of making the right first impression; communicating on the phone; handling difficult customers; and organizational techniques for the workplace. The program is suitable for all persons needing customer service skills. The program includes a final exam and certificate of completion.
“The DLN gives dealerships the opportunity to engage in group training with a mentor,” said FRVTA Executive Director Lance Wilson. “It is extremely cost-effective training, delivered right to the dealership. FRVTA also provides mentor support and encouragement throughout the year, once the dealership is signed up for the program.”
“This program is available immediately for dealerships who want to get started on a comprehensive training program,” said RV Learning Center Chairman Jeff Pastore of Hartville RV Center in Hartville, Ohio. “With the RV industry outlook improving, and dealers hiring new people, the DLN is an ideal way to get employees on the road to success.”
The only requirement to participate is a high-speed internet connection. A video cable connected to a television is also useful for group training. A one-year subscription to the program costs $995 per dealership location. The subscription term is Aug. 1, 2012 to July, 31, 2013.
For more information and a sign-up form, visit www.rvlearningcenter.com, www.rvtechnician.com, www.rvda.org, www.frvta.org, or call the RV Learning Center at (703) 591-7130 or FRVTA at (386) 754-4285.
Dealers can learn more about the DLN and other training programs during a special workshop at the RV Dealers International Convention/Expo on Oct. 4. FRVTA’s Director of Training Jim Carr of Florida Gateway College will present “RV Service Employee Improvement: A Service Manager’s Responsibility,” a workshop designed for service managers, general managers, and others responsible for the daily operations of an RV service center. Attendance at the program is applicable to Certified Service Manager and Service Advisor recertification continuing education requirements. To register for the convention, visit www.rvda.org.
The RV Learning Center has teamed up with the Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA) for the seventh consecutive year to provide online training for RV dealership personnel through their respective online RV Technician Training programs. The courses run Aug. 1 to July 31, 2013.
According to a press release, the programs improve the performance of both experienced and novice technicians and service writers/advisers. The Florida Distance Learning Network’s program also includes a 50-minute greeter receptionist module addressing the basics of customer service.
Both programs are based on the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) RV Technician Training textbooks and include advanced product-specific training from RV manufacturers and suppliers, mentor support to apply ongoing distance learning and a technical help line.
Dealerships receive unlimited access to train and prepare technicians for the RVDA-RVIA technician certification, or recertification. The subscriptions include unlimited access to training sessions, reviews and test preparation sections, which are available anytime throughout the program year to suit your operation’s and your technicians’ paces.
Online training eliminates many of the training costs associated with travel and time of out of the shop, and are also useful for getting new technicians started on training immediately.
The annual subscription fee is currently $249 per technician, with discounts for four or more registrants. Registration includes password access to online modules and resources. For businesses, the annual subscription fee is currently $995. This flat, fixed fee covers an unlimited number of trainees at your location. Registration includes password access to online modules and resources.
For questions concerning the interactive training program, contact the RV Learning Center at (703) 591-7130, or RVDA of Canada at (604) 718-6325. To register, contact the RV Learning Center at or download the registration form at http://www.rvlearningcenter.com.
The Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA) board at its July meeting added seven new students to the FRVTA Scholarship. According to a press release, this brings the total number of students on the scholarship program to 25 full-time and five part-time students.
The FRVTA Scholarship began in the fall of 1990 and since that time over 95 students have received an under-graduate degree with the aid of the scholarship. The scholarship pays students $500 per semester or up to $1,000 per year for a total of $4,000 per student. Students must attend an in-state college and maintain a 3.0 grade point average.
“Every year we get a lot of qualified applicants,” said Nelda Iacono, chairman of the FRVTA Scholarship Committee. “I wish we could give them all scholarships, but I’m real pleased with the applicants we’ve chosen. We base the scholarship not only on academic achievement, but upon financial need and extracurricular activities. I feel this is one of the most important membership benefits our association offers.”
Students currently on the FRVTA Scholarship are Christy Alba, Brittany Masterson, Lindsay Crisp, Katelyn Searcy, Jessica Meyer, Rachael Williams, Brittany Scanlon, Stephanie Scanlon, Katie Farney, Courtney Runte’, Evan Richardson, Ciara Sibbick, Brittani Worden, Tahni Carver, Ethan Merryweather, Lisa Sansbury, Ryan Lynch, Cody Cochran, Michael Ryan, Cameron Purton, Charles O’Neil, Benjamin Molay, Samantha Rapp, Courtney Craig, Dalton Dee, Trey Poehlman, Kevin Smith, Alexandra Spitzer, Jessica Williams and Jennifer Postlewaite.