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.
With more than six weeks left on the calendar before the opening of the 2011 Florida RV SuperShow, space sales continue for what’s billed as the “largest consumer RV show in the country” and executives for host Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA) anticipate in excess of 50,000 attendees during the event’s six-day run.
Held at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, the Florida RV SuperShow is scheduled for Jan. 11-16. The theme of the show is “Wish You Were Here!”
“It’s looking good,” FRVTA Executive Director Lance Wilson said of exhibit space for manufacturer displays. “We’re not back to where we were two or three years ago, but ahead of last year at the end of that show.” Going into the National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Wilson reported that manufacturers had reserved in excess of 850,000 square feet of display space, with additional sales expected following the annual trade show.
“We always do more business after Louisville,” he noted. “Manufacturers pick up new dealers for their product at the trade show, and they want to get those units and those dealers out before the public.”
The initial drawing for space for the 26th annual SuperShow actually took place on Aug. 3-4, but Wilson pointed out that space can be sold right up to the event. “We’re inside and outside — we use the entire fairgrounds — so there’s always space available,” he said.
At the traditional Thanksgiving holiday break, Wilson noted that the Florida show was at about 85 RV brands. He expected more than 1,100 display RVs, representing approximately 90 brands, would eventually be exhibited at the 2011 show, along with 465 vendors.
“We have two big buildings where we provide vendor space,” he said. “In fact, there are a lot of folks who come to the show just for the vendor booths.”
The Tampa show is expected to draw more than 50,000 visitors during the five days the event is open to the public. “The good news for us is that there’s a large number of campgrounds in this area, and we’re fortunate they attract large numbers of campers in the wintertime.
“That’s been the most encouraging aspect for us,” Wilson added. “Attendance hasn’t taken a dip related to other things going on in the RV industry. That tells us the public is still very interested in the industry.” The show also benefits in part from a rally FRVTA stages at the same time as the Tampa show, which Wilson noted brings in about 850 coaches. Rally attendees are allowed access to the RV show.
In addition to manufacturer and vendor exhibits, the Florida RV SuperShow will offer entertainment, seminars and daily door prizes. Two travel trailers are listed as the grand prizes.
Industry Day at the 2011 Florida RV SuperShow will be Tuesday, Jan. 11, 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 Wednesday, Jan. 12, through Sunday, Jan. 16. The RV SuperShow hours are Wednesday – Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday is Senior Citizens Day with seniors receiving $1 off the $10 cost of a two-day adult admission (not valid with other discounts); children under 16 are free.
For more information on the 2011 Florida RV SuperShow or to register for Industry Day, contact the Florida RV Trade Association at (813) 741-0488 or visit website at www.frvta.org.
More than 9,000 visitors attended a pair of regional RV shows staged over the Nov. 11-14 weekend by the Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA), and while no attendance records were set at either venue, “the people that did come were very optimistic about purchasing in the near future,” the association stated in a news release.
Staged beneath nearly perfect weather conditions, the shows were held at the Florida State Fairgrounds in North Tampa and the South Florida Fairgrounds in West Palm Beach.
“This is a great time of year for shows due to the drier and cooler weather,” said FRVTA Marketing Director Dave Kelly. “We were able to get more advertising value for our dollars as well with the political campaigns having finished last week. I think that also contributed to the upbeat and optimistic attitude of the crowds.”
With attendance within a few hundred from last season’s fall shows, the association reported that many sales were registered by both dealers and vendors alike. “Campgrounds around the state are reportedly seeing ‘snowbirds’ a little earlier this year,” the release noted. “With the winter selling season just around the corner, all of these are welcome signs of great things to come. “
The larger Tampa-area show, with more than 5,800 attendees, also hosted drop-off locations for local charities. Boxes full of toys were collected for the Marine’s Toys for Tots program and 10 barrels of canned goods for Metropolitan Ministries.
The FRVTA winter show schedule kicks off with the 2011 Florida RV SuperShow; Jan. 11 is reserved for Industry Day with the show open to the public Jan. 12-16. For more information about the FRVTA winter shows or for exhibitor information, go to www.frvta.org or call (813) 741-0488.
More than 250 Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA) members gathered Sept. 9-12 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the association as well as the 100-year anniversary of the RV Industry at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Spa in Kissimmee-Orlando.
“We recognize these past few years have been tough for all businesses, and particularly the RV Bbusiness,” explained Lance Wilson, FRVTA executive director. “By giving attendees a comprehensive overview of business trends, we hoped to prepare members on what to expect in the coming year so they can be prepared.”
As part of the preparation strategy, the FRVTA assembled a panel that featured representatives from all aspects of the RV Industry.
- Mark Beecher of Bank of the West explained how and why the banks lost money, and how various government programs are affecting the banking industry. He said higher savings rates are good, but it also means people are not spending as they normally would, particularly now with interest rates at historic low levels.
- Linda Profaizer, president and CEO of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), explained that, with the exception of campgrounds along the Gulf Coast oil spill area, most RV parks are doing much better than a year ago. And, although there are fewer families camping now due to the economy, those who are camping are staying longer than before. She also said that lodging rentals, which includes park trailers, cabins and yurts, are a new growth market for campgrounds and could lead to future purchases of an RV. Condo conversions of parks also are on the rise, she said.
- Rick Horsey, chairman of the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) Education Foundation board as well as owner of Park View RV in Delaware, spoke about dealer inventory levels, wholesale and retail financing of RV products, the effects of both national and state legislation and the continuing educational services provided by the RV Learning Center. He also stressed the importance of dealers and others to participate in the national Go RVing program to obtain sales leads and increase the overall awareness of RVing.
- Bob Morter, a veteran of NTP Distribution, said the parts and service business has been greatly affected by the closing of RV dealerships. Additionally, due to the economy, consumers are keeping their units longer, which requires dealers to stock the proper parts necessary for service and upgrades. On a positive note, he said dealers should command higher prices for services and upgrades given that many customers are reluctant to trade and/or purchase a new unit.
- Doug Gaeddert, a general manager of several Forest River Inc. product lines, stressed dealer education and praised the FRVTA for enacting its nationally recognized Distance Learning Network, which is free to FRVTA members. Gaeddert said 2010 is better than previous years, and he doesn’t think there will be a double dip recession. He also believes that demographics are on the side of the RV industry. Gaeddert informed the audience that Forest River has recently increased unit production and believes the wholesale and retail selling numbers will be much closer in 2011 than in the past. He stressed that turning dealer inventory is critical and that dealers should have an inventory replacement plan in place since many manufacturers have scaled back production levels due to the economy.
- Bob Parrish, vice president of GE Capital, used RVIA’s “Snapshot” of the RV Industry Health to review dealer inventory levels. The statistics showed how dealer inventory fell from 2006’s storm enhanced levels of $5.3 billion down to 2009’s level of $1.6 billion. He showed how dealers also reacted to consumer buying power by offering less expensive inventory, going from an average sale in 2006 of $41,500 down to $30,752 in 2009. Now, Parrish said, bankrupt manufacturing inventory has been sold off, dealer margins are improving and inventory/production levels have been right-sized. He stressed that dealers need to manage their businesses with today’s best practices and pick good strategic partners to ensure success. He also said financial transparency will continue to be a requirement going forward.
FRVTA is already making plans for its 2011 convention, scheduled for Sept. 8-11 at Harbor Beach Marriott in Fort Lauderdale.
Recreational vehicles have become synonymous with the three-day weekend celebrating the efforts of working Americans and the end of summer. That means RV dealerships are gearing up for this week’s influx of customers, who are preparing for next weekend’s festivities, wherever the road leads them, the Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville, reported.
General RV in Orange Park is preparing for the expansion of its Wells Road dealership. Operations Manager John Dyer said that this is a perfect time to rearrange the facility and get ready for the holiday weekend, as well. He has ordered American flags for decoration and is working on reassembling the lot.
General RV has marked down all 2010 products and will have specials on folding camping trailers, fifth-wheels, travel trailers and motorhomes.
“Because of our size and buying power, we are able to put together phenomenal deals,” Dyer said. “Our customers benefit from our buying power.”
General RV is a family-owned business that has been in existence for 50 years. There are six locations in Michigan, one in Ohio and the one in Orange Park. They sell parts and service all RVs.
Dyer, who has been with the company for 10 years, said the summer months were excellent for General RV, especially the servicing of air-conditioning systems.
The same can be said for another Jacksonville-area dealership.
Matt Bateh, general manager of Suncoast RV on Beach Boulevard, said he’s seen an increase in business now that summer is ending.
“With school starting, we are seeing a lot of boat trade-ins for RVs,” Bateh said. “We have fewer [customers] interested in pull-behinds, and we have a lot more Northern folks with motorhomes.”
Suncoast RV, also a family-owned business, has been in business 28 years. Bateh, who has been with the company for 12 years, said that being family owned and run allows customers to call the owner directly if they have a problem.
For Labor Day, Suncoast RV will have deals on motorhomes and special financing with no payments for three months with 10% down.
“The bank is allowing us to work with customers, so you can get an RV with finance options with a relatively cheap monthly payment, if you qualify,” Bateh said.
South on Interstate 95, Camping World RV on Prime Outlets Boulevard in St. Augustine is simply bringing in a large amount of inventory, said General Manager Scottie Manson.
“We are having an open house to promote our excess inventory,” Manson said.
Camping World has 47 stores nationwide and has been in business for 40 years. Labor Day is one of the biggest weekends of the year for Camping World, as far as sales go.
“There is nothing that won’t be on sale,” Manson said of the Labor Day weekend. “We treat customers right; nobody beats our deals.”
Camping World also will have special financing with a bank representative on-site at the open house. Appraisers will be on-site, as well, for trade-ins, and the dealership welcomes motorcycles, boats and more.
Alan Dulberger, Camping World RV’s general sales manager, is now serving as president of the Florida RV Trade Association, which has been around since 1979. Its purpose is to promote the general welfare of the recreational vehicle and camping industries throughout the state of Florida. Dulberger served as the organization’s vice president for the last three years.
“I have been able to bring great customer satisfaction skills [to Camping World RV] from my knowledge [gained] from the association,” Dulberger said.
The summer has been outstanding for Dulberger’s dealership. Manson said sales are up 50% and not all of them are from motorhome sales and service. Customers are purchasing items like blankets, barbecue grills, motorcycle accessories and picnic accessories.
“The mood is soft in some locations in the industry. It’s all doom and gloom,” Dulberger said. “But the traffic has been unbelievable here and the mood has been up.”
The RV Learning Center is teaming up with the Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA) for the fifth consecutive year to provide online training for RV dealership personnel through the RV Technician Training Online program, according to a news release.
The 2010-11 program includes a range of topics to improve the performance of both experienced and novice technicians, and service writers/advisors. The Distance Learning Network also includes a 50-minute greeter receptionist program addressing the basics of customer service, and training for dealer/GMs.
“Our goal is to create an opportunity for dealerships to offer in-house training, in a group setting, overseen by a local training mentor to all dealership personnel as needed,” said FRVTA Executive Director Lance Wilson. “The program also offers advanced product-specific training from RV manufacturers and suppliers, mentor guidance through ongoing support for distance learning best practices, and a technical help line.” A 75-minute mentor training workshop is also held annually at the RV Dealers International Convention/Expo.
Dealerships receive unlimited access to train and prepare technicians for the RVDA/Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) technician certification, or recertification. The subscription includes unlimited access to over 40 training sessions, reviews, and test preparation sections, which are available anytime throughout the program year to suit your operation and determined pace.
“This program eliminates many of the training costs associated with travel and time out of the shop,” said RVDA Education Foundation Chairman Rick Horsey of Parkview RV in Smyrna, Del. “The program is also useful for getting new technicians started on training immediately.”
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, 2010 – July, 31, 2011.
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.
The RVDA Education Foundation is a tax exempt organization as described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service Code. Contributions may be tax deductible as charitable donations. FRVTA’s purpose is to promote and protect the general welfare of the Florida recreational vehicle and camping industry.
The Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA) held the space drawing on Aug. 3-4 for the 2011 Florida RV SuperShow in Tampa next January.
Held in the office via phone and Internet, manufacturers drew 20% more space for the 2011 show vs. the 2010 show, according to a news release. The “Grandfathered Drawing Order” determined the order in which space is selected.
“We see this as a sign that the manufacturers are feeling better about the upcoming winter selling season in the South,” said FRVTA Executive Director Lance Wilson. “With a record attendance in 2010 of over 50,000, we are expecting the 2011 SuperShow to be even bigger and better than ever.”
The theme of the 2011 Florida RV SuperShow is “Wish You Were Here!”
“This theme emphasizes the fact that people need to escape their chaotic lives and RVs have everything you need to do just that. 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,” Wilson said.
Industry Day at the 2011 Florida RV SuperShow will be Tuesday, Jan. 11, 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 Wednesday, Jan. 12, through Sunday, Jan. 16. The RV SuperShow hours are Wednesday – Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., 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 2011 Florida RV SuperShow or to register for Industry Day, contact the Florida RV Trade Association at 10510 Gibsonton Drive, Riverview, Florida 33578 or visit website at www.frvta.org.
The Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA) spent three days at the three Interstate Welcome Centers coming into Florida to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the RV Industry and the 30th year of the FRVTA.
In addition to handing out free popcorn and bottled water, the Tin Can Tourists had a display of “antique” RVs on display as well. The centers are located on I-95, I-75 and I-10.
“The response from travelers was great,” said FRVTA Marketing Director Dave Kelly in a news release. “They were very surprised to see us handing out freebees and they loved touring the older RVs. They were more popular than the modern RVs we had on display.”
Tim Heintz, the Southeast regional representative of the Tin Can Tourists, had the oldest RV on display, a 1950 Spartanette trailer that he restored himself. “I found this trailer in a field, it had tress growing up beside it and I was able to buy it for $800. It has been valued at between $70,000 and $80,000. The Tin Can Tourists all have one thing in common, we love to save old RVs.”
Other vintage RVs on display included a 1967 Avion, a 1964 Airstream and a 1963 Shasta.
The Lake City Reporter ran a front-page story about the celebration and First Coast News in Jacksonville ran a two-minute story on the evening news. “We were thrilled with the media coverage,” said Kelly. “I think we accomplished what we set out to do, expose the media and public to the RV Centennial celebration. We are going to keep working with the Tin Can Tourists and already have a few of them that will be attending the Florida RV SuperShow in January.”
Region One of the Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA) returns for its 15th annual admission-free recreation vehicle show at the Lee County Sports Complex in south Fort Myers, Fla., April 16-18, Nelda Iacono, president of Region One, announced this week.
The three-day event will feature dealers from throughout Florida’s Gulf Coast displaying a wide selection of new, used and leftover recreation vehicles of all styles, brands and price ranges. RVs on display will include gas and diesel motorhomes, travel trailers, toy haulers, fifth-wheels, park models and van and folding campers. RV suppliers also will be on hand.
“This event is held just in time for the summer traveling season, so consumers can make their plans to see our great nation,” Nelda explains. “Dealers also need to reduce their inventory from the busy winter season, so prices for new and used RVs have been reduced as well.”
Despite a troubled economy, the RV Industry continues to travel along. Financing for both dealer inventory and qualified buyers has eased, resulting in a marked improvement of both new and used merchandise over the previous six months.
“The economy certainly has made this year tough for RV sales,” Iacono acknowledged. “However, statistics prove that an RV vacation is less expensive than other vacation travel options, even when a purchase is factored in. Add in the security complications and additional expenses of air travel today and an RV vacation is a bargain.”
The admission-free recreation vehicle show will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. all three days. On-site financing will be available to qualified buyers.
The Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA) just completed the fourth of five regional shows held around the state and the attendance numbers have been fantastic, according to a news release.
The Fort Myers RV Show celebrated its 25th year of providing residents of Southwest Florida with the finest in camping. This year’s event featured 15 dealers from all along the Gulf Coast displaying the latest and greatest recreation vehicles ranging from luxury Class A motorhomes to affordable folding camping trailers. The show also offered attendees well over 100 vendors with all the items guaranteed to make their outdoor adventure the best ever.
Many sales were registered by both dealers and vendors alike, as attendance increased about 1,000 over the 2009 tally. Of course, most importantly, dealers were busy on their lots for weeks afterwards where interested customers sealed the deal for their dream machine.
Next up was the Ocala RV Show held the last week in January. Even with a day of rain on Saturday, the show was up close to 1,000 people over last year with over 5,300 attendees. “This was the third year we held the show at the Ocala Equestrian Center and I think people like the venue,” said Dave Kelly, FRVTA marketing director. “It’s easier to get to and we draw more from the south where a lot of campgrounds are located.”
The Central Florida RV Show was held at the Volusia County Fairgrounds in DeLand the third weekend of February and great weather and more creative marketing brought in a record crowd of over 7,100. “We used Post It notes on the newspapers and a four-page wrap on opening day,” said Ken Prentiss, chair of the ad committee. “We really tried to focus the ad budget to our customers, and it really brought them in this year.”
The Jacksonville RV Show moved to a new venue this year, the Jacksonville Equestrian Center. The move paid off as close to 8,000 people found their way to the new location. “A lot of people didn’t like going to the stadium downtown but they had no problem going to the new location,” said Region 6 President Bill Propper. “From what we saw, we were able to draw people from outside the Jacksonville area. This was a great start using a new location.”
All of the shows also received a lot of press from both TV stations and newspapers. “We received great PR from the media at all our shows,” said Kelly. “The coverage was very positive and the media referred to RV sales as a leading economic indicator that is pointing the way to the end of the recession.”
The FRVTA will hold two shows next week to wrap up the winter show season. The West Palm Beach RV Show and the Clean-Out show at the Germaine Arena in Estero. For more information contact the FRVTA at (813) 741-0488 or www.frvta.org.
The Jacksonville (Fla.) Equestrian Center becomes home base for hundreds of recreational vehicles and campers this weekend, as the RV SuperShow comes to town, according to the Florida Times-Union.
In an economy where some homes on foundations are still foundering in receivership, are vacation homes on wheels still selling? With more than $20 million in rolling stock in and around the equestrian center today (Feb. 25) through Sunday, sales appear to be revving up.
It’s no secret the RV industry was down in 2009, dipping low in the first quarter, said Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) spokesman Kevin Broom. But interest and sales began rising in late winter, December shipments were 150% higher than the previous December, he said.
“It started to come back in the last months as shipments grew,” Broom said. “Sales dipped in 2008 and 2009, but at the same time every indicator we had was there was still very strong interest in RVs. Traffic was still strong at shows. People were still coming to shows and RV dealerships, even though they weren’t all buying.”
This weekend’s selection of RVs comes from Jacksonville-area dealers, and an estimated 5,000 to 7,0000 people could show up to wander the venue, said Bill Propper, regional president of the Florida RV Trade Association and a Callahan RV rental agent. He said there is an increasing interest in buying these mobile home-away-from-homes.
“The biggest challenge is getting financing. The finance people have made it tough to get anything classified as a luxury item,” Propper said.
The RV SuperShow will have an estimated 300 units at the equestrian center, including travel and fifth-wheel-trailers, both designed to be towed behind a pickup. Those made up 92% of the market in 2009, said Broom.
“There’s a joke, anyone who has an SUV is halfway to being an RV owner,” Broom said. “People who have pickups don’t want to buy a motorhome because they already have an engine to tow it. They can spend less and still get the features they want.”
“It is more appealing,” Propper added. “In the economy today, most people are cautious how they spend their money. This lets them get into the lifestyle without spending $150,000 to $200,000 to do it.”
Despite last year being the worst year for recreational vehicle sales in 18 years, industry officials are smiling on the eve of the 2010 Central Florida RV Show that starts Thursday (Feb. 18) at the Volusia County fairgrounds in DeLand, according to the Daytona Beach news-Journal.
More than 200 RV units — pop-ups to super motorcoaches — will be on display at the RV show in DeLand. Campgrounds, RV resorts, camping clubs, RV lenders, RV insurance and suppliers also will be represented. The show is sponsored by the Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA).
Industry officials report they are seeing a turnaround from 2009.
Shipments of RVs from manufactures to retailers rose during the second half of the year, compared to 2008. And Snow Bird visitors to recreational vehicle parks and campgrounds are up across the Sunbelt.
“And attendance at the RV shows are up as is our walk in traffic,” said Larry McNamara, chief operating officer of Giant Recreation World with sales and service facilities in Ormond Beach, Orlando and Melbourne. “(The RV industry is) seen as a rule as an economic indicator. When things are good, sales are up. But when things are bad, it’s very bad.”
During a period of easy credit, annual RV shipments topped 311,000 units each year from 2002 through 2007, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). Shipments peaked at 390,500 units in 2006.
Shipments slipped to 237,000 in 2008.
Last year started off with only 7,300 shipped units, a monthly record low. In March, RV icons Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. and Monaco Coach Corp. filed for bankruptcy. Several smaller manufacturers closed their doors in late 2008 and early 2009.
The second half of the year brought some good news.
Fleetwood’s motorhome division was bought by investor American Industries Partners. Navistar International Corp. bought Monacos’ RV assets. Both will continue to be made using the well-known names.
Monthly RV sales in 2009 surpassed those of the same month in 2008 since August, but annual sales totaled only 165,700 units, down 30% from 2008.
“Manufacturers have cut their margins, reducing prices a bit,” McNamara said. “I think there is a lot of pent up spending.”
Campers are becoming active again as fuel prices level off, the stock market improves and the economy shows signs of recovery.
“Most RV parks and resorts that cater to Snow Birds are reporting higher occupancies this winter than they did last winter,” said Linda Profaizer, CEO of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds in Larkspur, Colo.
Sunbelt parks are reporting increased snowbird occupancy of 10-30%, especially in Texas and Arizona. However, Equity Lifestyle Properties, the nation’s largest Sunbelt RV resort operator, reports flat Florida revenue for late 2009 and early 2010.
Bulow Plantation RV Resort in Flagler Beach as seen twice as many Snow Birds this year compared to last year, general manager Jeff Conner said.
“And we are getting calls daily from people making plans and then canceling or delaying them depending on the weather in Tennessee and the Carolinas. They’ll get here when they can get the RV out of the snow,” he said.
Horse parks and recreational vehicles don’t at first glance strike most people like a match made in heaven. But during a recession, as Marion County’s Florida Horse Park is looking for new ways to earn money, it’s a financially blessed union, according to the Ocala Star-Banner.
This year, for the third year, the Ocala RV Show, sponsored by the Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA) is showcasing as many as 300 recreational trailers and coaches at the park. The recreational vehicle show – which runs through Sunday – is among the many new efforts by the nonprofit horse park to venture into non-equine events to make financial ends meet.
“And the RV show is a great example of this,” said the park’s executive director, C. J. Marcello. “There are other venues we could bring to help the park and also to the community.”
Marcello said that when he joined the park more than a year ago it was one of the strategies he urged its board members to focus on.
Expanding the park’s venue generates revenue for the park, but it also attracts people to come to the facility who otherwise wouldn’t visit a horse park.
Uses of the venue during the past year have included antique car shows, cricket matches, lacrosse on horseback, Jack Russell races and bikini polo.
To expand the park’s repertoire, Marcello also booked an April wedding and hopes more couples will come to tie the knot at the park.
The park’s primary purpose is to host or provide space for equine events such as national and international hunter/jumper competitions, but the park’s bills still have to be paid.
“These are the kinds of things you have to do. You have to utilize your assets and these are our assets,” Marcello said.
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.”