Despite competing with another RV show in DeLand, Fla., organizers said last week’s Jacksonville RV SuperShow was one of the most successful in the show’s 25 years, The Florida Times-Union reported.
Alan Dulberger, regional president of the Florida RV Trade Association and general sales manager of Camping World RV Sales in St. Augustine, said Wednesday )March 2) that attendance dropped by about 300 to 400 people. He also said that organizers of the DeLand show reported reduced attendance.
“I was told every dealer did as good or better than last year,” Dulberger said, adding that Camping World had its best show ever in sales.
“This really was a very positive show,” Dulberger said.
Another participating dealership agreed.
“I don’t think it could have gone any better,” said Steve Fogle, general sales manager of General RV Center on Wells Road in Orange Park.
Fogle said the dealership, now in its second year of operation, topped last year’s show sales with a reported 80 units sold.
Even with the slightly lower turnout, the show remains one of the largest in Florida. Dulberger credits much of the SuperShow’s success to the facilities at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center.
Having the show at a permanent structure allows for a much simpler show to run and makes it friendlier to show-goers, compared to the parking lots at EverBank Field, where the show was held until last year, or other impermanent locations used by other RV shows.
The Jacksonville SuperShow annually displays more than 350 RVs or various sorts, from popup trailers to massive diesel RVs.
“I expect it to be even bigger next year,” Fogle said, expressing hope in a recovering economy.
Fogle also said he continues to see RV sales pick up. General RV has even seen fit to begin a massive expansion of their dealership in response to growing sales.
The Central Florida RV Show is again bringing its trailers and motorhomes to Daytona Beach, Fla., the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported.
Today (Feb. 24) through Sunday, the Volusia County Fairgrounds will host the annual gathering where vendors and dealers show off their wares. About nine RV dealers will be on display as well as vendors selling equipment.
“Last year we had 7,100 people,” said Dave Kelly, marketing manager for the Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA). “We’re hoping with nice weather projected, we can do 7,500 to 8,000.”
Kelly and local RV dealers said business has been slowly increasing. Interest and sales have been up at the association’s shows throughout Florida, Kelly said.
“RV sales typically have been a leading indicator coming out of a recession, it shows that people are starting to feel comfortable buying something like this,” he said.
Tim Karr, general manager of Giant Recreation World in Ormond Beach, said when the economy was booming a lot of families were buying RVs. That changed in 2008 and after, as they struggled with home prices, jobs and other negative impacts from the recession. But business has been a little better as of late.
“We’re making it up with an increased number of people retiring, so it’s fluctuated a little bit,” Karr said.
The Central Florida show has been put on for 20 years, five of them at the fairgrounds.
The numbers are in for the 26th Annual Fort Myers RV Show and both dealer and vendor participants came away smiling as the event drew 12,500 patrons over the show’s four days, according to a news release. The show was sponsored by Region 1 of the Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA).
“Just about everyone I spoke with at the show was very pleased with the buying interest the public had,” said FRVTA Region 1 President Nelda Iacono. “In fact, we had several dealers who achieved double-digit sales. All dealers came away with lots of sales leads they can now follow up over the coming weeks.”
While not an attendance record, Show Manager Jack Carver was gratified the public responded so positively, especially following the economic turmoil the industry suffered over the previous years. “We worked hard to put on a quality show that created a buying situation for all participants, and I guess we did that,” he said.
This year’s annual event featured 16 dealers displaying well over 600 new RV units of all types, styles and price ranges. The show also staged 100 vendors selling everything from lots at RV resorts to engine upgrades and other enhancements for the RV lifestyle.
“Everyone seemed to be selling whatever they brought,” exclaimed Show Chairman Chris Morse, “I’m still busy with traffic and additional sales a week after the show.”
This year’s show success continues the Fort Myers RV Show’s distinction as one of the largest RV events in the Southeast, Iacono pointed out. “We are proud to offer dealers, vendors and patrons the best the RV Industry has to offer and look forward to helping spread consumer interest in the RV lifestyle,” she explained.
The Florida RV SuperShow set a new attendance mark with 53,117 people passing the gates of the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa when the show concluded Sunday (Jan. 16) — an increase of 4.7% over 2010.
”There was good attendance and good sales,” said Lance Wilson, executive director of the sponsoring Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA). ”We’ve had good attendance all along (at other SuperShows) but sales at some of the others have lagged a little bit.
”Everybody that I talked to was well into double-digits on sales and some dealers were into triple digits as far as sales are concerned.”
The show missed by fewer than 18 hours severe weather that swept across the Sunshine State spawning rain, high winds and tornado warnings, which hampered workers Monday (Jan. 17) as they were disassembling show displays.
”Thank heavens, it didn’t happen yesterday,” said Andy Baer, general manager of KZRV LP, Shipshewana, Ind., who reported strong sales during the five-day show.
Billed as among the largest RV shows in the U.S. with more than 450 vendors and 1,065 display coaches registered this year, the Florida RV SuperShow often sets the stage for the late-winter retail season.
”I’ve been coming to the SuperShow since 1994, and I’d have to say this was one of the best I’ve been too,” Baer said. ”And I’m not talking just about sales. It’s so nice to talk to people who are so very positive. It’s like someone flipped a switch. Everybody was very upbeat.”
”There was a lot of buying going on,” said Andy Cripe, a division manager for Keystone RV Co., Elkhart, Ind. ”I’m not going to say it was record-breaking, but it was sustainable. We saw real prudent buyers and even with the more stringent financing terms, a lot of people put cash down and bought.”
”Hopefully, this is a sign of what is going to happen in 2011,” said Matt Thompson, Elkhart-based Thor Motor Coach diesel division vice president, who reported that the company’s new A.C.E Class A motorhome sold particularly well. ”If it is (a sign), it should be a very good year for the RV industry. Thor Motor Coach did very well at the show as a company.”
Ed Kinney, Carriage Inc., Millersburg, Ind., vice president of sales and marketing, termed attendance and sales ”incredible.”
”The high-line fifth-wheel market was really hot,” Kinney said. ”The SuperShow always sets the tone for the year. For Carriage, it’s going to be an unbelievably great year.”
Based on Tampa and initial returns from other early winter shows, meanwhile, 2011 is looking pretty good for Elkhart, Ind.-based Forest River Inc.
“Taking into account the first two weeks of shows, Pittsburg was a good show and the Cleveland Show was the best we’ve had in years,” National Sales Manager Jeff Babcock told RVBUSINESS.com. “And the Tampa Show, finishing up this past weekend, ended up better than years past. So, it’s a great start, and we’re looking for a good year.
“We think it’s going to break loose here this year.”
Roger Martin, Winnebago Industries Inc. vice president of sales and marketing, said the Forest City, Iowa-based motorized manufacturer, was ”thrilled with traffic and sales activity” at the show.
”Dealers representing us there reported sales activity nearly three times better than last year, Martin said.
Stocks are up, executive bonuses are back and Bob Phebus is ready to sell some multimillion-dollar motorhomes.
“The last two years have been terrible for business,” the director of sales and marketing for Marathon Coach Florida told the St. Petersburg Times. “But we just had the best December that I have seen in 17 years. I really think we have turned a corner. I really think the worst is behind us.”
Judging from the turnout at the opening day of the 26th Annual Florida RV SuperShow in Tampa, Phebus may be right.
A steady stream of potential customers from as far away as California and Canada lined up to check out Phebus’ Oregon-built recreational vehicles.
The 45-foot-long 1180 XLV Triple Slide Marathon Coaches retail for anywhere between $2 million and $2.8 million, depending on the optional equipment such as leather seating, hardwood floors or Sub-Zero refrigerators.
But don’t expect any bargains from the San Antonio, Fla., RV dealer. At this year’s SuperShow, inventory is limited, and cash is king.
“We built both of these coaches just for this show,” Phebus said. “But both of them were sold before they even got here.”
In fact, it was a bit of a challenge even getting something to show at this SuperShow. Marathon scaled back production during the recession and concentrated on moving existing inventory.
Before the economic downturn, the company made 55 motorhomes a year. In 2011, Marathon plans to make only 25.
The owners of the two RVs on display at the Florida State Fairgrounds wanted delivery of their vehicles. But Phebus needed the RVs in Tampa.
“This is the largest retail show in the world,” he said. “If you are not here, then you are nobody.”
Phebus hopes to sell several luxury RVs before the show packs up Sunday afternoon.
And the RVs that do sell this weekend won’t be delivered until July or August at the earliest.
“If we have to ramp up production, we will,” Phebus said.
Marathon, one of the top luxury coach builders in the United States, weathered the economic downturn better than most in the industry. Phebus estimated that roughly 50% of RV-related businesses dropped out of the show during the past two years.
“Our industry didn’t get hit as hard as the boating industry,” he said. “We just didn’t have as much inventory. So when the market got bad, we didn’t have as much to move.”
Others, such as Parliament Coach Corp., diversified their operations. The Clearwater-based company specialized in customizing RVs.
“Our most notable project to date was CNN’s coach for the 2008 election,” Parliament Coach president Steve Mitchell said. “All the candidates were on board. We even had Obama playing Wii.”
But when the recession hit, Parliament started repairing, refurbishing and upgrading existing RVs.
“It was tough there for a while,” Mitchell said. “But 2010 was better than 2009, and we expect 2011 to be better than 2010.”
Parliament is back in the custom motorhome business. The company’s latest project is the Mercedes Sprinter, a V-8 diesel van that is turned into a small, luxury motorhome, ideal for weekend getaways. It starts at about $150,000.
“We are optimistic,” Mitchell said. “This could be a good year.”
Dennis Witherow, general manager of Oak Water Village Resort in Ocala, echoed Mitchell’s optimism.
“In our opinion, the high-end market is where you’re going to see the real influx, especially with the Baby Boomer buyer coming in,” Witherow said. “… It’s a home, but it doesn’t come with all of the tariffs or (expenses).”
Dave Kelly, marketing director for the Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA), said that if turnout on the opening day of the SuperShow is any indication of things to come, 2011 could be a good year for the industry.
“I think a lot of people are tired of waiting to see what happens with the economy,” he said. “Hopefully, this show might be all some people need to make a move.”
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.
The comeback in the RV business is being led by something you could probably tow from behind your car. Lightweight trailers.
Reflecting people’s simultaneous desire to get away from it all – and their diminished ability to pay a lot for the trip – sales of recreational trailers are improving nicely and giving a boost to a still-fragile recreational vehicle market, the Tampa Tribune reported.
“As opposed to a motorhome, people are looking for something they can pull with vehicles they already own,” said Dave Kelly, marketing director of the Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA). “In the past, people had no problem going out and buying whatever vehicle they needed or wanted.”
Starting today (Jan. 12), the industry will put everything from tiny trailers to $2 million motor homes on display at its RV trade show at the Florida State Fairgrounds. Among them:
- Perhaps the least expensive trailer, an 8-foot Starcraft pop-up that retails for $8,600.
- A $45,000 Earthbound trailer, built with all eco-friendly materials, plus several HDTVs.
- A $60,000 Airstream trailer, customized by Swiss Army watch maker Victorinox.
- A $2.2 million Prevost motorcoach customized by Liberty with six Samsung HDTVs, king size bed, three parts that slide out to expand space, a Bosch washer and dryer set, a Sub Zero refrigerator, security cameras and satellite television service. One of the jumbo HDTVs slides out of the vehicle’s side for outdoor viewing, right alongside an accessible wine cooler refrigerator.
To be sure, there are still $2 million motorhomes for sale, like the Prevost.
But sensing a shift in the market, more manufacturers are marketing low-profile, low-weight trailers as an energy-efficient option. More trailer manufacturers are ditching wood and instead using composites in structural parts, and using high-strength glues instead of heavy bolts to save weight.
Marion, Indiana-based Earthbound took a high-profile spot in the show, selling models that have no wood ingredients, recycled materials in the seating – and light enough to tow with a Jeep Cherokee. Some have enough solar panels on the roof to power the trailer for nine days or more in the wilderness.
Winnebago Industries Inc. is getting into the mix, buying trailer maker SunnyBrook RV to re-enter the trailer business after leaving it in 1983.
Any glimmer of hope is a huge improvement, RV officials say.
RV officials have long argued their industry works as a leading indicator of the economy’s direction, falling before the rest of the economy falls, and rising before a recovery.
RV sales are showing healthy signals. Overall RV shipments to dealers could rise 43% in 2010 to 236,700 in 2010, up from last year’s nearly 20-year low of 165,700. Motorhome shipments could more than double to 11,600 units in 2010, up from a near-standstill the year before.
Higher factory shipments mean dealers are more optimistic they can sell the inventory when it arrives. That’s good for employees in the industry.
Entering a new decade of traveling adventure and outdoor family fun, the Fort Myers Recreation Vehicle Show motors into the new year at the Lee Civic Center Jan. 20-23, Nelda Iacono, president of Florida RV Trade Association-Region One, has announced.
“This year’s show promises to continue providing patrons the opportunity to see the latest and best camping products available to local RVers and lovers of the great outdoors,” Iacono stated in a news release. “This year’s show offers 15 dealers displaying hundreds of recreation vehicles of all different types and prices. It also features close to 100 outdoor and camping supply vendors.”
“For many years, the Fort Myers RV Show has been the top RV show in Florida simply because of the high quality products, outstanding displays and cost-saving prices for consumers,” Iacono said. “I’m proud to say this emphasis on quality has enabled the show to grow into the largest dealer show in Florida and one of the largest RV shows in the Southeast.”
The 26th Annual Fort Myers RV Show will feature 15 dealers from throughout Florida displaying a wide selection of new recreation vehicles of all styles, brands and price ranges, including folding campers, gas and diesel motorhomes, travel trailers, toy haulers, fifth-wheels, park models and van campers.
Besides RV dealers, the show offers attendees the chance to browse 100 outdoor and camping vendors displaying equipment and accessories to help outfit RVers or provide information on camping throughout the nation. Items include new braking systems, RV insurance, specialized camping equipment and high-tech engine enhancers for fuel efficiency.
To combat rising fuel price, RV manufacturers have improved fuel economy through the use of plastic composite materials that has reduced the weight of RVs by as much as 25%.
“Now is the time to buy since RV prices have never been lower,” Iacono continued, “making the RV lifestyle surprisingly affordable.”
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.