Despite a dip in attendance and a few hours of light rain at the outset of the Family Motor Coach Association’s (FMCA) 91st Family Reunion and Motorhome Showcase in Redmond, Ore., Cincinnati-based FMCA spokesmen reported a successful event with packed seminars, crowded social activities and solid sales for both indoor and outdoor exhibitors at the event, which ran Aug. 13-16.
“I can’t say whether the numbers were down a bit because of the distance of travel or whether it’s because of timing as school seems to keep starting earlier and earlier, so those may have been contributing factors,” said FMCA Executive Director Jerry Yeatts. “On the positive side, we had over 25% of the members who were first-timers. The comments I have are overwhelmingly positive.”
The official coach count was 1,876, with 402 of those commercial coaches. This was the fifth time the event had been held at Redmond, the last in 2010 when the coach count was 2,282.
Even though there may have been fewer attendees, however, Yeatts said that several of the reports he heard from dealers and suppliers indicated that sales were brisk.
“While we don’t actively measure sales, the word that we’ve heard from dealers is that it was a very good show for sales,” Yeatts said. “One dealer in particular had at least 18 coaches sold in the first two days and we heard similar stories from other dealers. On the supplier side, we had a couple of suppliers say that they’ve had the best show here that they’ve had in years.”
Along with the manufacturers covered in our previous postings, RVBUSINESS.com also touched bases with several other exhibitors – most of whom spoke well of the Redmond confab, which took place at the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center near the Deschutes National Forest in Central Oregon.
Among them was the Allied Recreation Group (ARG), which had a couple of new Class A motorhome floorplans to show rally attendees.
“There were more people in the display (on Friday) than in the first two days, and the weekend was good as well,” said Suzy Fletcher, marketing coordinator for the ARG, parent firm of Fleetwood RV, based in Decatur, Ind. “New floorplans are always a big attraction at the show and the new 34T Bounder has been popular as well as the Discovery 37R.”
The new Bounder layout, sporting a base MSRP of $140,840, features a triple slide and separate bath and water closet at its midpoint, while the Discovery, carrying $281,710 base MSRP, offers four slideouts, a 40-inch LED TV, freestanding dinette and a recliner facing a 78-inch sofa bed in the living area.
Elsewhere, Charlotte, Mich.-based Spartan Chassis partnered with the Jayco Motorhome Group, manufacturer of the Entegra Coach Class A line, in a ride-and-drive program.
“Overall, our ride-and-drives went really well, with very satisfied customers,” said Eric West, business development director for Spartan. West added that one of the goals for the program is not only education, but encouraging consumers who really want a Spartan chassis to make their preferences known to manufacturers.
“There are [manufacturers] today that we are in discussions with, and they’re going to be releasing new platforms with Spartan chassis,” West said. “Foretravel Motorcoach until recently had built all their own chassis, and they’re now using a Spartan chassis. If you look at Newmar, Tiffin, Entegra and Foretravel, they’re all luxury brands, and they all have their flagships on Spartans.”
Also manning a Redmond display, of course, was Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. of Gaffney, S.C., which will be pushing the envelope this year in the resurgent Class A motorhome arena in terms of engine power.
“For the 2015 model year, there will be five coaches on our chassis at 600 horsepower,” said Bob Harbin, CEO and president of FCCC. “That’s up from zero last year. We’ll also have two chassis at 500 horsepower, so, overall, we’re growing a lot. Market share is growing, we’re over 75% in Class A diesels now and we expect that to continue to inch forward.”
Freightliner personnel also unveiled a new 24/7 Direct App to help consumers find service locations, and they had representatives on hand to gather customer input for future generation changes or additions.
The next national-scale FMCA reunion is planned for March 26-29, 2015, at the Fairplex in Pomona, Calif. — the seventh FMCA get-together taking place at that venue.
RVBusiness freelance contributor Ty Adams wrote this story.
Dry weather and a clear forecast in the vicinity of the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center in Redmond, Ore., spelled good new for organizers, attendees and exhibitors on Friday (Aug.16), the third day of the Family Motor Coach Association’s (FMCA) Aug. 13-16 Family Reunion & Motorhome Showcase.
“It’s great to see that the rain has given way to warmer, dryer conditions today,” said Robbin Gould, editor of Family Motor Coaching Magazine. “The walkways and main areas are filled with people and it seems to be drawing everyone out for special events. Our seminars have also been well-attended so far, with several sessions filled to capacity.”
FMCA, the Cincinatti, Ohio-based club, is the only U.S. organization convening national-scale consumer get-togethers this year — in Perry, Ga., and Redmond — since Camping World Inc. and its Good Sam Enterprises LLC sister division took the year off before resuming a national consumer event schedule next year.
Highly visible among the displays in this — our second Redmond report — was the relaunch of Winnebago Industries Inc.’s Brave Class A of the 1960s and ‘70s, a reprise of an iconic coach featuring a distinctive front cap with its signature “brow,” retro interior styling and two versatile floorplans with inventive color schemes like Good Vibration with Cherry Cola cherry cabinets and a price that “fits the budget of a young, traveling family” at $99,000.
But this Brave, available in two floorplans on a Ford F53 chassis powered by a Triton V10 engine and featuring a StudioLoft bed, GPS navigation system, rear camera monitor in the cab, obviously isn’t just a museum piece.
Also getting its first inspection by the general public at the Newmar display was the 2015 London Aire Class A diesel pusher, a line that has not been in production since 2007 when it was Newmar’s highest priced coach. “The London Aire has a unique interior design, like nothing else out there,” said John Sammut, vice president of sales and marketing. “We’re really excited to bring back this legacy model.”
The 45-foot London Aire is available in five floorplans — three quad-slides and two with full-wall slides — and is equipped with a600-hp Cummins 15-liter ISX engine, the largest power plant available in today’s production Class As, on a Freightliner SLR chassis equipped with a tag axle, independent front suspension and Comfort Drive steering.
Priced beneath the King Aire and Essex lines, all three of which now sport 600-hp engines, the new London Aire retails for $619,820 with a full-wall slide, bath-and-a-half floorplan featuring elegant dark maple-accented interiors, polished solid-surface countertops, porcelain floor tile and a featured ceiling that masks the air conditioning vents. The London Aire also comes with a Sony Table digital entertainment control system with 46-inch Sony LED TV in the living area and bedroom.
Newmar, based in Nappanee, Ind., also upgraded its existing Mountain Aire. “The 2015 Mountain Aire is completely redone from the chassis up,” Sammut said, adding that it now sports a larger 450 hp engine and is a longer 45-foot body plus all-new front and rear caps and a complete interior redesign.
Meanwhile, Newmar’s Dutch Star line now features integrated awnings. “The Dutch Star took off in early 2014 and is growing by leaps and bounds,” Sammut said. “And with integrated awnings it has only accelerated the growth of that product.”
By Ty Adams for RVBusiness.
Winnebago Industries Inc. introduced the Itasca Solei for the first time to retail consumers at the Family Motor Coach Association’s (FMCA) Gillette 2013 Family Reunion and Motorhome Showcase event held in Gillette, Wyo., this weekend. According to a press release, the Gillette gathering is a culmination of FMCA’s 50th birthday celebration.
Hundreds of motorhomes are on hand for the event where the Itasca Solei made its debut. The all-new, attractively priced Solei is built on a Freightliner XCS straight-rail chassis featuring a 340 hp Cummins diesel engine coupled with a six-speed Allison transmission .
Interior amenities include polished Corian galley countertops, coffee-glazed cabinetry, LED ceiling lights and upscale entertainment features. Smart Storage, an integral part of both the 34T and 38R floorplans, also offers plenty of room for storing items.
“This 34-foot Solei is smaller in length than the unit I am in now, but actually has more usable storage and floorplan space,” said John Dogger of Hinkley, Ohio, during the rally. “It’s also less than 12 feet tall, so I could fit it in my garage. I love the 340hp Cummins diesel engine on such a well-priced motorhome.
“I’ve owned motorhomes for 25 years and have always known Winnebago to be the best in the market, but I’ve never owned one before now. That may change soon. The Solei is a home run, an absolute home run.”
Solei standard features include:
• Powered driver and passenger seats in leatherette.
• Radio/rearview color monitor system with six-inch touch screen and powered mirrors with defrost/side-view cameras.
• Powered MCD visor shade for the front windshield and MCD blackout shades in the coach area.
• Soft vinyl ceilings, Comfort sofa/sleeper (38R) and extendable Comfort sofa/sleeper and movable drop leaf table (34T).
BenchMark dinette with Dream Dinette table (38R), vinyl tile flooring throughout and home theater sound bar with DVD/CD player.
• Full-coach water filtration system, 6,000-watt Cummins Onan diesel generator, 2,000-watt inverter/charger.
• Roof A/C with heat pump, hydraulic leveling jacks, dual-glazed coach windows.
• Fireplace, +Lounger, powered StudioLoft (34T only), stackable washer/dryer, automatic HDTV satellite antenna system, satellite radio, and Ideal Rest Noveau air sleep system.
Individuals and couples who sign up for the RV/MH Hall of Fame’s Hall of Honor lifetime membership between now and May 1 will receive a 50% discount off the regular membership costs. In addition, Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) members are receiving an additional bonus directly from FMCA in the form of a $10 gift certificate.
According to a press release, the discounted prices are available to anyone who joins the Hall of Honor before the cutoff date. Normally, the cost is $50 for a single membership and $75 for couples. During this promotion, the cost is only $25 for singles and $37 for couples.
The Hall of Honor membership is for the lifetime of the member and benefits include a membership card that affords free admission to exhibits and all areas of the RV/MH Hall of Fame & Museum and Library. Each member will also receive a lapel pin and decal.
To support this promotion, FMCA sent approximately 80,000 e-mails to its members inviting them to join the Hall of Honor and earn the FMCA gift certificate.
FMCA Executive Director Jerry Yeatts noted, “Our members appreciate what the RV/MH Hall of Fame brings to the RV industry and the RV lifestyle so we are happy to help the Hall in any way we can. This seemed like a great opportunity for FMCA and the Hall of Fame to work together to benefit this worthwhile organization.”
Non-FMCA members who own a qualifying motorhome and join FMCA before July 20, and pay $50 for their first year’s dues, will receive a bonus of their second year, according to Yeatts.
Hall President Darryl Searer said, “FMCA has been a great partner for us over the years and annually makes a significant cash contribution. We are indebted to them for their support and this latest effort to help us promote our Hall of Honor membership is typical of their generosity.”
Searer added that during the first few days of the Hall of Honor promotion memberships have soared.
“The special discounted Hall of Honor pricing is available to anyone who joins before May 1, not just FMCA members, so I urge everyone who would like to receive this great benefit package and also to benefit the Hall of Fame and museum to sign up before the deadline,” he said.
New members can sign up by mail, in person at the Hall, by phone at (800) 378-8694, or through the Hall’s secure web site at www.rvmhhalloffame.org. To access information click on the Hall of Honor logo.
The Family Motor Coach Association’s (FMCA) 87th Family Reunion and Motorhome Showcase drew 1,849 coaches last week to the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis.
Including 70 demonstration coaches, manufacturers displayed more than 275 Class A, B and C motorhomes during the Aug. 27-30 gathering — a larger number than recent FMCA national events.
”We had several units that moved through the show,” said Chris Lusk, FMCA events director. ”Comments were positive and everyone seemed upbeat about the commercial end.”
Display coaches were partially housed for the first time indoors in the fairground’s Champions Pavilion. Particularly popular were the indoor vendor booths. ”The supplier exhibits were crowded every day of the event,” Lusk said.
Lusk reported that the Indianapolis location may be the site of a future reunion.
”It certainly is on the prospect list for the future,” he said. ”The fairgrounds worked very well for us. There were limitations, but there are limitations at every one of our sites.”
Including people with day passes, prior to the event FMCA expected a total of 8,000 people to attend the four-day event at the sprawling 250-acre fairgrounds, although Lusk said Thursday that day-pass numbers were still being tallied.
The 88th FMCA Family Reunion and Motorhome Showcase, which will mark FMCA’s 50th anniversary, will be June 19-22, 2013, in Gillette, Wyo.
Editor’s Note: The following column by Chuck Woodbury first appeared on www.rvtravel.com. Go there to see two short videos about an RVer and his pasttime.
David Bott sure seems like one happy guy. He travels in a 43-foot Tour Master motorcoach with his wife Brenda (a RVtravel subscriber), four friendly cats, a wall-mounted stuffed toy moose named Earl, and a flying robot that so far remains nameless. I met David and Brenda at the Family Motor Coach Association’s just-concluded rally in Indianapolis.
David is an amazing guy. He suffered a stroke five years ago at 40. At the time he owned and operated several popular online forums. If anything led to the stroke, says Brenda, it was the stress. Luckily for David, the couple lived five minutes from a hospital; David received immediate care and recovered quickly. After the stroke, they decided life was too short not to enjoy it fully. Before long, they hit the road in their motorhome. David still operates several online forums (he sold one), but he and Brenda say they pretty much run themselves.
LESS THAN A MONTH AGO, David acquired a 4.5-pound, custom made “quadcopter.” It’s the coolest device I can recall since my Marx electric train set when I was 5. It flies up and down, lands like a Mars Rover (well, sorta like one), and can zoom across the sky for up to 10 minutes at 45 miles per hour, up to 400 feet high (FAA legal limit). At the FMCA rally, David snapped aerial photos and recorded videos of the sea of motorhomes gathered at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. The police showed up early on to investigate, wondering what David and his UFO were up to. They left smiling.
Wearing a pair of special goggles, David can see just what the X650 Quadcopter sees with its tiny GoPro camera. It can venture a half mile away. The device is controlled by a sophisticated computer. It’s not crash-proof, but it is crash resistant. For example, if it loses a signal from David’s hand controller, it will hover where it is, wait a few seconds and then raise up a bit to reestablish a connection. If unsuccessful, using GPS, it will return and land where it took off.
David and Brenda’s goal is to travel North America in the motorhome and shoot aerial photos and videos as they go. Coming soon: Alaska.
Because of federal regulations, David can’t fly his small aircraft for commercial purposes (such as selling aerial photographs and video). But what he can do is post them to his blog at www.OutsideOurBubble.com. I will let you know about some of his most interesting ones when he posts them. Those from Alaska should be stunning!
It’s estimated that every day 10,000 baby boomers reach retirement age. According to a press release, that time is fast approaching for Mike Wendland.
Although Wendland has traveled extensively during a three-decade career in broadcast and print journalism, he recently decided that it was time to shift gears. Like many others, he opted to enjoy his journeys in a motorhome.
Wendland currently is traveling in a 22-foot Class B Roadtrek motorhome as a member of Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) motorhome owners club. He has combined his affection for motorhome travel with his skills as a journalist and technology buff to become FMCA’s new on-the-road reporter. His explorations are depicted in the “Open Mike” series of videos and blogs that recently debuted on www.FMCA.com.
“So many times, I remember looking down from 30,000 feet on some flight and longing to be down there, to experience the mountains and valleys and plains and coastlines,” he said. “I wanted to really be there, not just stand there and use the scenery as a backdrop to a standup before heading to the airport and another story somewhere else.”
Traveling with his wife, Jennifer, and Tai, their 65-pound Norwegian elkhound, the first “Open Mike” video posts focused on a visit to FMCA’s member-only campground in Cincinnati, Ohio; a trip around Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, including Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and a stop in Grand Marais; installing LED lights in a motorhome; a look at the Superbag sleep system for RV beds; and a dramatic windstorm Mike experienced during a fuel stop in Findlay, Ohio.
FMCA.com visitors can look forward to the couple’s first true trip out West in August, where they will experience the Badlands of South Dakota and Yellowstone National Park, among other iconic sites, as well as cozy campgrounds and out-of-the-way discoveries.
Upon their return to the Midwest, they’ll stop at FMCA’s 87th Family Reunion and Motorhome Showcase at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis, which runs Aug. 27-30.
“We can’t wait to get started,” Mike said.
To follow the journey of FMCA’s new on-the-road RV reporter, visit http://www.fmca.com/openmike.
A state law that prohibits out-of-state dealers from selling recreational vehicles in Kansas means a national event will bypass the state, taking with it millions of dollars in potential revenue, organizers said.
As reported by the Associated Press, the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) notified Kansas State Fair Manager Denny Stoecklein Monday that it will not bring its event to the state fairgrounds until the law is changed.
When the event was held in Hutchinson in 2002, about 5,000 motor coaches camped at the fairgrounds, bringing an estimated $24.4 million economic boost to Reno County and another $7.2 million to the state, The Hutchinson News reported.
“You and the entire staff at the Kansas State Fair have been wonderful to work with and you have exerted great efforts to bring our event to Hutchinson,” FMCA’s Events Manager Chris Lusk wrote. “However, the current laws and business environment in the state of Kansas have made it prohibitive for us to return to the Kansas State Fair at this time.”
Stoecklein said FMCA’s 2012 convention will take place in Indiana and that the 2013 convention — the association’s 50th anniversary celebration that the fair had hoped to land — will be in Gillette, Wyo.
“We had a feeling this would be the direction they went,” Stoecklein said. “They indicated … they were concerned with the dealer restrictions, which has been a concern of theirs for a long time.”
FMCA official Jerry Yeatts wrote to the fair board in 2010 saying his association would like to come back to the fairgrounds for an April 2013 rally.
State lawmakers resisted the fair board’s efforts to get the law changed. Kansas is not unusual, Yeatts said, noting his organization considers only a few states friendly to motor home sales.
A regional FMCA rally last fall in Hutchinson that drew more than 600 didn’t attract dealers or manufacturers because of the law, he said.
Bill Hawley, who owns Hawley Brothers Hawleywood RV Ranch in Dodge City, the oldest Winnebago Motor Coach dealer in the nation, said smaller dealers couldn’t afford to provide a large inventory. Manufacturers bring in dozens of units and the dealer has to buy what is left, Hawley said.
“It is not really a rally,” Hawley said. “It really is a big commercial sale.”
Reno County Fair Board Member Brad Rayl was disappointed with the decision but said he could see both sides of the argument.
“It was a good revenue item for us and the state fair,” he said. “It was a lot of outside income, gas, lodging, all the services … it was a big economic impact.”
If the law changes, Yeatts said FMCA will reconsider Kansas.
The Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA), an international organization for motorhome owners based in Cincinnati, Ohio, has announced dates for some of its international conventions.
According to a press release, scheduled shows include:
• FMCA’s 88th Family Reunion & Motorhome Showcase will take place June 19-22, 2013, at the CAM-PLEX in Gillette, Wyo. The 2013 event represents the association’s first-ever visit to Gillette for an international event.
• The association’s 89th Family Reunion & Motorhome Showcase will be held March 17-20, 2014, at the Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter in Perry, Ga. FMCA said the Perry conclave is one of two motorhome conventions FMCA will host in 2014; dates and location for the second, which will be held during the summer, have yet to be announced.
• FMCA plans to kick off its anniversary commemoration this year at the Indiana State Fairgrounds during its 87th Family Reunion & Motorhome Showcase, set to run August 27-30.
FMCA said the family reunion in Gillette will be especially significant, as it will mark the culmination of the association’s 50th anniversary celebration. FMCA was founded by a group of “house car” owners who gathered in Hinckley, Maine, in July 1963.
The CAM-PLEX encompasses a 1,100-acre convention, exhibition and performing arts center offering state-of-the-art multipurpose facilities as well as six separate RV park venues with 1,730 sites and a variety of hookup options.
“We are looking forward to commemorating our 50th year at the CAM-PLEX in Gillette,” FMCA national president Charlie Schrenkel said. “We believe it will be a great time where we can celebrate the anniversary of FMCA and the lifestyle we all enjoy.”
The Gillette event will be FMCA’s second international convention in Wyoming – the association hosted a summer convention in Laramie in 1992. CAM-PLEX will be the site of FMCA’s Rocky Mountain Area Rally in September 2012 as well.
For 2014, FMCA will return for an eighth time to Perry. The 1,100-plus-acre Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter has become a popular place for RV rallies, with its spacious parking facilities; expansive meeting, exhibition, and entertainment venues; and convenient location just off Interstate 75.
FMCA Family Reunion & Motorhome Showcase events offer motorhome owners the opportunity to learn more about the RV lifestyle through an assortment of informative seminars. The Motorhome Showcase exhibition enables attendees to peruse hundreds of booths filled with RV-related goods and services, as well as a wide variety of new motorhomes.
For more information visit http://www.FMCA.com or call 800-543-3622.
Tours to explore local attractions are offered. In addition, opportunities for taking part in various social events — including morning coffee hour and an ice cream social — present themselves to attendees. And at night, quality entertainment brings everyone together for a song or a laugh.
All motorhome owners and members of the general public are invited to participate. Various admission options will be available.
For additional information about FMCA’s upcoming events, visit http://www.FMCA.com or call (800) 543-3622 or (513) 474-3622.
The Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis will be the site for the Family Motor Coach Association’s (FMCA) 87th Family Reunion and Motorhome Showcase event Aug. 27-30, 2012. FMCA, an international organization for motorhome owners, is calling the event “Formula For Fun.”
According to a press release, the conclave will provide motorhome owners the occasion to explore the local area and to socialize with others who share their interest in the RV lifestyle.
In addition, a full slate of seminars will be offered. Topics include motorhome maintenance, dinghy towing, travel destinations, the RV electrical system, and health and wellness. Approximately 150 different technical and lifestyle topics will be covered, all focused on enhancing the motorhome lifestyle, which is FMCA’s mission.
Motorhome dealers and manufacturers from around the country will join in by bringing motorhome models that showcase the latest amenities. Today’s RVs include an impressive array of features, allowing travelers to take along all of the comforts of home and are available in a variety of sizes and price ranges.
Most FMCA members will drive to the Indianapolis gathering in their motorhomes and stay on-site, having pre-registered for the event. Registration begins in January at http://www.fmca.com. The public will be able to purchase a pass at the FMCA public gate.
Even before the conclave in Indianapolis, FMCA will offer motorhome owners opportunities to gather for similar events but on a smaller scale. Each of FMCA’s nine geographic areas will host regional rallies in 2012, with locations ranging from the West Coast to the East Coast, and points in between.
The year will kick off with the Western Area Rally, set to take place Jan. 11-15 at the Riverside County Fair & National Date Festival grounds in Indio, Calif. Following closely will be the Southeast Area Rally, Feb. 1-5, in Brooksville, Fla. Memorial Day weekend will bring the Great Lakes Area Rally, May 24-28, in Berrien Springs, Mich.. Summer fun will include the Northwest Area Rally, June 21-24, in North Bend, Ore.; the Midwest Area Rally, June 27-30, in Pecatonica, Ill.; and the Northeast Area Rally, July 19-22, in Essex Junction, Vt.
The FMCA area rally season doesn’t end with the big event in Indianapolis. Motorhome owners can enjoy the splendor of fall by attending events in varying locations. The Rocky Mountain Ramble takes place Sept. 11-16 in Gillette, Wyo. The South Central Area Rally will call Shawnee, Okla., home from Sept. 26-30. And the Eastern Area Rally will be celebrated in York, Pa., Oct.10-14.
FMCA also has nearly 500 chapters — smaller subgroups organized on the basis of geographic locale, motorhome make or model, or a special interest. Each of them has its own rallies throughout the year. Through chapters, motorhome owners connected to FMCA never lack ways to get out there and have a good time using their rolling homes.