The Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA), an international organization for motorhome owners, has announced that long-time staff member Jerry Yeatts has assumed responsibilities as executive director of the association.
According to a press release, Yeatts will take on responsibilities formerly handled by Bradford Koshland, who tendered his resignation in early November for family reasons.
“Brad made a very difficult decision that required him to set aside his duties at FMCA headquarters in Cincinnati and take on a new challenge with his immediate family,” said FMCA president Charlie Schrenkel. “We certainly understand the need to put family first, and we wish Brad well with this and all of his future endeavors.”
In addition to fulfilling the obligations of executive director, Yeatts also will maintain oversight for the Member Services area. Previously, he served the association as director of conventions and commercial services for more than a decade.
“Jerry is well-acquainted with the RV industry and well-versed in the needs of FMCA. His years of experience will be an asset as he leads the association and also works to grow FMCA’s membership base,” Schrenkel noted.
As the holidays near, local and national news media will spotlight the great needs in the nation’s communities. But among the nearly 500 chapters in the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA), an international organization for motorhome owners, giving goes on all year long.
According to a news release, some FMCA chapters were formed by motorhome owners with a similar hobby or interest, such as FMCA Chapter: Habitat For Humanity. This group was organized in 1998 by FMCA members who wanted regular opportunities to “give a hand up, not a hand out.” Chapter members support the mission of Habitat for Humanity International and volunteer their time, talents, labor and enthusiasm to build affordable housing, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity affiliates across North America.
The group most recently built a home this past October in Fort Smith, Ark. In 2012, the chapter’s plans include constructing two homes in Georgia.
Other FMCA chapters focus on ownership of RVs made by the same manufacturer, or form because their members all live in a certain geographical area. Regardless of the type of chapter, many of them become involved in helping others.
Following are more highlights of the generosity shown by FMCA chapters:
• The Cruisin’ Cajuns chapter presented a $4,155 gift to the United Way of Acadiana’s Rayne Tornado Long Term Recovery Coalition after a March 2011 tornado hit the town of Rayne, La.
• The Allegheny Mountain chapter of western Pennsylvania sent $500 to a deserving family in Sipsey, Ala., after tornadoes in April destroyed the family’s home and all of their belongings.
• Ozarks Ridge Runner chapter members, concerned about the plight of schoolchildren after a tornado devastated Joplin, Mo., this past May, donated 83 pairs of new athletic shoes — and 240 pairs of socks — to students at Emerson Elementary School in Joplin.
• Country Coach International, an FMCA chapter whose members own Country Coach brand motorhomes, donated $7,298 to a children’s hospital in San Antonio, Texas.
• The Twentieth Century Wagontrainers chapter held a “working rally” at a New Jersey Elks camp for children with special needs, preparing it for the summer season. They cleaned dorms, power-washed buildings, assembled beds, and replaced electrical fixtures, among other tasks.
• The Wisconsin-based Badger chapter collected canned foods to be distributed to veterans by the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs.
• Canned-goods collection stations also are set up by members of the Professional RV Vendors Chapter at FMCA conventions and area rallies, for distribution to local food pantries.
• At each Lone Star chapter rally, stuffed animals are collected to donate to service organizations in the community. At the final rally of the year, the entire collection is given away. In December 2009, more than 60 toys went to the Fredericksburg, Texas, Police Department to be distributed to disadvantaged children.
• Since 2008 the WesTex chapter has been helping to support a young man in financial difficulty by helping him achieve a college degree from Texas A&M. They also have helped to pay for his books, provided him with a computer and printer, and more.
Cincinnati, Ohio-based Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) announced that Chris Lusk has been tapped to fill the staff position of events manager for FMCA. According to a press release, the move will allow Jerry Yeatts, formerly director of conventions and membership services, to focus attention full-time on FMCA’s membership services and benefits.
“Chris will be able to rely upon his own experience as well as Jerry’s knowledge and expertise in the event planning area so that FMCA members can continue to enjoy the fantastic conventions they have come to expect. Chris will do a great job for FMCA and its members as we move forward into the future,” said Bradford Koshland, FMCA executive director. “And Jerry has some great ideas with regard to enhancing the benefits and services offered to FMCA members and for recruiting new members to FMCA. I’m looking forward to seeing these ideas come to fruition.”
Lusk brings to the position his own extensive background and knowledge and has worked for FMCA since 1994. He will oversee the association’s family reunion and motorhome showcase events, among other duties.
FMCA also announced the results of the national officer election that took place during the group’s 86th Family Reunion and Motorhome Showcase in Madison, Wisc., in August. The four nationally elected officers will serve the group for the 2011-2013 term.
Full-time RVer Charlie Schrenkel has been elected to serve as president of the association. Other results include: Allen Rein of Canon City, Colo., was elected as national senior vice president; Vicky Ferrari of Titusville, Fla., will serve as national secretary; and Wil Young of Flowery Branch, Ga., will serve as national treasurer.
The national area vice presidents who will serve the association during 2011-2012 are as follows: Charlie Adcock, South Central; Andy Balogh, Northwest; Bobby Donald, Western; Paul DuBois, Northeast; Sonny Gillespie, International; Ralph Marino, Southeast; Harry Montgomery, Rocky Mountain; Bob Nebel, Midwest; Otho Tew, Eastern; and Jon Walker, Great Lakes. Connie Pool is the immediate past president.
FMCA is a member-owned and member-governed organization, and its national officers serve on a volunteer basis.
Except for a brief intrusion by Mother Nature, last week’s Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) 86th Family Reunion and Motorhome Showcase offered attendees an inviting setting to interact with fellow members, take advantage of the slate of activities and enjoy the hospitality in Madison, Wis.
“Overall, the show was a tremendous success,” noted Jerry Yeatts, FMCA director of member services. “We did everything we could to make sure it would be a successful event for our members and the public, and I think we succeeded.
“There were so many special events and we offered just two nights of entertainment on site, allowing members a night out on the town to enjoy the restaurants and evening tours in Madison. That was a big hit.”
Centered at the expansive Alliant Energy Center, Yeatts reported that 1,809 member rigs transporting over 4,000 people motored into Madison for the Aug. 10-13 gathering. “There were also 101 exhibitors that stayed in coaches, along with 194 motorhomes on display and 39 demo units for test rides,” he said. “Overall, we had 2,143 rigs, which was down about 30 from our last two conventions.”
Yeatts related there would be a new strategy in the scheduling of national shows for the next two years. “We normally do two national shows, but in 2012 and 2013 we will just hold one,” he said. “We are going to put more emphasis on regional shows. The one national event in 2012 will be in Indianapolis, running Aug. 27-30 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.”
In addition to the hub of activity at the Alliant Center – spurred by steady gate traffic – Yeatts said that around 400 families set up camp at nearby Lake Farm Park. “It was a beautiful setting on Lake Waubesa,” Yeatts said. “It was a great location to enjoy camping the way it’s supposed to be.”
With one exception. “On Monday, when people were arriving, a funnel cloud formed in the distance,” Yeatts said. “It quickly dissipated and proved to be no cause for alarm. Besides that, the weather was fantastic.”
In addition to member activities, the FMCA national convention annually offers dealers, suppliers and manufacturers a venue to show and sell new product. “The indoor exhibitors, which included 330 displays, were very pleased,” Yeatts said. “It was basically non-stop every day from open to close. In speaking with some of the coach exhibitors, they said there was activity and they were making some sales.”
Yeatts noted that the majority of the display coaches, which included several 2012 introductions, were Class A units. “I’m of the opinion that a lot of folks are looking at Class B and Class C motorhomes that will either introduce them to the lifestyle or offer them an alternative in the face of fuel costs and the economy,” he said. “I guess I was hoping for more representation for those types of products.
“For our members that are full-timers, I’d say most are going to remain in the Class A’s because of the amount of storage and overall room. But there are a lot of people these days looking for ways to save.”
The event annually provides a bellwether of sorts for the motorhome sector, but Yeatts said that although the overall mood was very upbeat, “it was hard to gauge how the motorhome market is faring these days.” He added, “I still believe that people who are in the lifestyle are going to continue being motorhome buyers.”
Yeatts noted there were 140 seminars scheduled throughout the event covering a full gamut of topics including healthy cooking and nutrition, motorhome lifestyle, hobbies and crafts, motorhome maintenance, photography and motorhome safety. Evening entertainment featured several acts, including Double Grande, featuring pianists Deborah Johnson and Wayland Pickard, and Street Corner Symphony, an a cappella group that finished runner-up during the 2010 season of NBC’s hit show, “The Sing-Off.”
As is a tradition at FMCA national events, members were also involved in local charities, collecting $2,435 in a silent auction for the local Big Brothers Big Sisters along with “overwhelming response” to a blood drive by the Red Cross. “To me, that’s what FMCA is all about,” said Yeatts
Cloudless skies and temperatures in the upper 70’s are providing a fitting backdrop for the Family Motor Coach Association’s (FMCA) 86th Family Reunion and Motorhome Showcase running Aug. 10-13 in Madison, Wisc.
“It’s going absolutely great here in Madison,” Jerry Yeatts, FMCA director of member services, told RVBUSINESS.com. “It’s still early, but it looks like we have a great turnout and people are having a wonderful time.”
As of this morning, Yeatts estimated that around 1,800 rigs were on hand with more on the way. “I’d say we’re looking at in the neighborhood of 4,000 people as far as member families,” Yeatts noted. “But just looking around, we are getting a whole lot of people coming in on day passes and more motorhomes are expected to arrive.”
The gathering is centered at the Alliant Energy Center, providing “the perfect venue,” according to Yeatts, with expansive indoor space for the 330 indoor exhibits and ample area outdoors for the 100-plus motorhome displays.
“We are able to hold the majority of our indoor exhibits, seminars and activities all in one building,” Yeatts reported. “And with the majority of the coach displays right outside, people can easily maneuver from one venue to the other. I’d say this is one of the better showings we’ve had in years as far as the number of motorhomes being shown.”
Yeatts noted there were 140 seminars scheduled throughout the event covering a full gamut of topics including healthy cooking and nutrition, motorhome lifestyle, hobbies and crafts, motorhome maintenance, photography and motorhome safety. “We have several industry experts on hand participating in panel discussions on the technical issues,” Yeatts said.
Evening entertainment kicked off Wednesday night with the Parade of Lights, offering a preview of the hundreds of 2011 and 2012 coaches on display, and for sale. Several acts are also scheduled to perform, including Double Grande, featuring pianists Deborah Johnson and Wayland Pickard, and Street Corner Symphony, an a cappella group that finished runner-up during the 2010 season of NBC’s hit show, “The Sing-Off.”
Yeatts emphasized that FMCA also encouraged members to experience the Madison community, with several organized excursions on tap along with wining and dining at the local establishments. And, as has become a tradition at the association’s conventions, a silent auction called “Purses for a Purpose” was planned with donations benefiting the local chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters.
“We have 30 bags donated by staff, officers and members that contain anything from free registration to makeup kits to a safety bag with a fire extinguisher and safety kit,” Yeatts said. “Giving something back to the communities we visit has been a tradition ever since FMCA was formed. I like to think it’s what we’re all about.”
A mini-city is sprouting up in Madison, Wisc., this week. NBC15 TV reported that thousands of motorhome owners are flocking to the area for a national convention at the city’s Alliant Energy Center as the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) hosts the 86th Family Reunion and Motorhome Showcase Aug. 10-13.
“All total we are expecting about 10,000 folks to be on grounds to enjoy this event. They are just here to have a good time,” said Jerry Yeatts, FMCA director of member services. “It’s a gathering of motorhome owners and people who are just RV enthusiasts, people who just love to travel the United States. People from all over the country are showing up to share their love of the lifestyle.
“We try to go away as much as possible in the summer time,” said Ed Smith who, along with his wife, came all the way from Massachusetts. “This is a way to get out meet some people, do some fun things and visit some fun areas. There is a lot of camaraderie and a lot of friendship.”
Tom Roule is on his way to Yellowstone National Park from New York state. He and his wife have been on the road for the past three weeks.
“If you fly, you go from point A to point B and you don’t get a chance to enjoy what’s in between. Our hobby is taking pictures – most of our souvenirs are pictures,” said Roule.
“They love the outdoors, they love to travel and they love the United States, and what we are here to do is help them to love it even more,” added Yeatts
In addition to socializing, the event even also has an array of units for sale as major motorhome manufacturers and dealers are on hand displaying product. Other companies are also showing their wares, making available RV accessories, components, supplies and campground information.
Roule says the freedom of the open road keeps him coming back. “I mean you can go anywhere you want as long as you can afford the gas,” he said. “You’re always on the road but your home is always with you.”
Approximately 2,500 motorhomes and some 8,000 people are expected to gather in Madison, Wisc., Aug. 10-13, for the Family Motor Coach Association’s (FMCA) 86th Family Reunion and Motorhome Showcase. The event has been dubbed “Family A’Fair,” according to a news release.
Although the Alliant Energy Center will host the organized activities and provide much of the parking for motorhomes, many other motorhome families will be parked at nearby Lake Farm Park, with shuttles transporting them between the two facilities.
The association hosts motorhome conventions twice a year in varying locations with the purpose of celebrating the motorhome lifestyle and is making a long overdue return visit to Madison, having met in the city back in 1984.
Convention activities include a motorhome exhibition that brings together major motorhome manufacturers and dealers from throughout the United States and Canada, as well as manufacturers and distributors of a multitude of RV accessories and components, and suppliers of various services related to RVs.
For those considering the purchase of a motorhome, the convention provides an opportunity to view an assortment of makes and models all in one location. A variety of 2011 models, in many different sizes and price ranges, will be on display, and some manufacturers will have 2012 models ready as well.
In addition to the motorhome show, highlights include RVing seminars on a variety of topics related to motorhomes and RV travel, tours involving local sites and scenes, evening entertainment and numerous social activities.
While the convention is organized for FMCA members, the organization also invites members of the public to attend and provides various admission options. For those who want to view only the motorhome exhibition, admission costs $7 per day; children 12-and-under are admitted free with an accompanying adult. Those with an active military ID are admitted free also.
Anyone who would prefer to take in the exhibits and also attend seminars and entertainment may purchase a daily passport, which is available for $65 per person ($55 for FMCA members).
Those who own a motorhome are invited to take part in all of the activities and also to bring their motorhome and stay with the rest of the group at the Alliant Energy Center or Lake Farm Park. The price for non-FMCA members is $205 per motorhome (with two people) prior to July 6, and $235 after that date; this non-member fee automatically grants a one-year FMCA membership to the motorhome owner. The FMCA member price is $155 for early-bird registrations and $185 after July 6.
Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA), an international organization for motorhome owners, recently announced that Jerry Yeatts, director of conventions and commercial services, has now assumed responsibility for membership services as well.
According to a press release, Yeatts will take on responsibilities formerly handled by Beverly Spurgeon, who retired in March after 42 years of service to the association.
“Beverly will be greatly missed at FMCA. She quite capably oversaw FMCA’s member benefits program and helped to ensure excellent service for the FMCA membership for many years,” said Bradford Koshland, FMCA executive director. “Jerry has been serving FMCA members through his planning of FMCA’s outstanding biannual events, and in his expanded leadership role, he will now be able to use his broad-based talents to further serve members and to help FMCA to reach out to motorhome owners from throughout North America who have yet to join the FMCA family.”
About 6,000 RVers in 2,000 motorhomes are expected Aug. 11-14 in Redmond, Ore., for the annual Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) international convention, the RV News Service reported.
Major motorhome manufacturers and dealers will display their RVs. Other companies will display accessories, components, supplies and campground information. The daily fee for viewing motorhomes and booth displays is $7 per person; children 12 and under will be admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Active members of the military will also be admitted free.
Those who own a motorhome are invited to stay in their RVs at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds Exposition Center and take part in all of the activities. The price for non-FMCA members is $224 which includes a one-year FMCA membership. The FMCA member price is $174.
Convention attendees can view the latest features and innovations in motorhomes. Some displays will feature production-line units, and others will demo custom-built coaches for uses ranging from family camping to transporting high-tech business equipment, or for use as conference coaches. A variety of motorhome styles in broad price ranges will be represented.
The convention will include seminars on topics relative to RVing as well as topflight entertainment and many social events.
- Price counts more than ever in this business, just as it does in an array of other vital and discretionary product sectors.
- The relational aspects of the recreational vehicle business, the dynamics of long-term business relationships, are as important – if not more so — than ever.
- Credit availability is still problematic, especially for higher priced products like motorhomes over $100,000.
That’s the message from an array of companies exhibiting their latest offerings at Albuquerque, one of two national rallies that Cincinatti-based FMCA is hosting this year for its members. The next one is Aug. 11-14 in Redmond, Ore.
Last week’s FMCA convention drew 1,781 family coaches, according to sources close to the Albuquerque rally. That’s a number that might have prompted disparaging remarks prior to the recession, but is more than likely viewed as a decent showing in the aftermath of a downturn that saw motorhome shipments dive a daunting 53.4% in 2009. FMCA spokesmen were unavailable for comment.
On the other hand, most agree, the market is seeing an impressive reversal that started in the last third of last year, and it is in that context that the March 22-25 convention was held.
Decatur, Ind.-based Fleetwood RV Inc. is experiencing a strong upswing in demand for its Class C’s and entry-level Class A’s, Mark Inkrote, national sales manager for those two product categories, told RVBUSINESS.com in Albuquerque.
In fact, Fleetwood, which introduced an entry-level Encounter Class A at last winter’s Louisville Show, has hiked its production rates to keep pace with the demand for its motorhomes, which, according to Inkrote, ranked first in national Class C retail sales for January. “We haven’t been in that position in a long time, and we expect the same success to continue through February and March,” said Inkrote, whose new Indiana-based company is a successor to California-based Fleetwood Enterprises Inc., which filed Chapter 11 last year.
What qualifies as a low-priced motorhome in this post-recessionary era for Fleetwood, which builds Tioga, Jamboree, Sport and Ranger-brand C-bodies, are Class C’s retailing for around $75,000 to $80,000 and Class A’s that sell for not much more than that. “We are seeing an MSRP on our Encounter of under $100,000 – a transaction price average of $80,000 to $85,000, which is where that customer is coming in and looking for a used product right now,” said Inkrote. “We’re saying ‘Look at the used, but you can also buy a new one for the same price.’”
By the same token, Justin Humphreys, national sales manager for Fleetwood’s American Coach line, sees some growth beyond the low end. “We are seeing an improvement on what we would consider the lower side of the high end market,” he said. “Our Revolution actually doubled sales versus February last year and that’s a good-apples-to-apples comparison because we weren’t in the reorganization period yet. We are seeing a lot of people who had some 45-foot, big heavy diesels trade down into the Revolution, and it offers a great value as well.”
Having been out on the road extensively visiting dealers, Newmar Corp.’s senior management is focused on maintaining long-term relationships on the assumption that those are the key ingredients for future stability and growth.
“This is a continuation of something that we started last September,” said John Sammut, vice president of sales and marketing for the Nappanee, Ind., company. “We decided we were going to get out in front of our dealers during the tail end of what has been a very terrible time in our industry, as well as look for prospective dealers in markets where we’re currently unrepresented.
“We’re just re-emphasizing the fact that Newmar did what it had to do during this last 18-month period,” he added. “We made some tough decisions, but they were solid decisions. The company is still strong and well capitalized and we’re running five days a week production. We’ve been fortunate enough to be doing that since September. A large part of that is due to the face time we’ve spent with our dealers and acquiring new dealers for our products in markets that were vacated by some attrition that has happened in the dealer network over the last year to 18 months.”
Looking back at those conversations with dealers, Sammut adds, one of the most consistent messages is that the credit crisis continues, despite the market’s tentative resurgence. “The biggest problem dealers have got is with the banks,” Sammut told RVBUSINESS.com. “Hopefully, sometime in the future, the banks will loosen up. We still hear all kinds of horror stories about customers that come in, have great credit scores, but they don’t get financed.
“That’s probably the biggest concern the dealers have,” he noted. “But that hasn’t kept us from signing up new dealers. And we’re setting them up with more of our entry-level product, but even our high-end is starting to come along, too.”
Newmar Chairman and CEO Dick Parks agreed that the credit situation has not eased to the extent that anyone would like. “That’s absolutely true,” said Parks. “We would be selling a lot more higher end product if credit was a little bit more relaxed. The banks were too loose at one point, and then came the big downturn, and now they are too tight. We’d like to see them get into the middle someplace.
“I don’t think the banks understand our business,” he noted. “They want zero liability. Basically, that’s how they are running their businesses now. They want zero risk – retail and wholesale – and they are trying to tell dealers how to run their business, strictly based on the fact that they don’t want any risk.”
On the other hand, Newmar President Matt Miller points out that the recession is perceptibly lifting. “No question,” said Miller, son of Newmar founder Mahlon Miller. “We’ve definitely come through the worst of it. The market is not as strong as we’d like to see it. But like Dick was saying, the main problem is the banking situation. If the pendulum were somewhat closer to the middle, our business would be much stronger.”
“The biggest thing that has changed from a year ago that we’ve seen in 2010,” adds Sammut, “is that consumer confidence has improved and their willingness to get serious and talk about the purchase of a recreational vehicle product has greatly improved from a year ago. Again, the single limiting factor about how quickly or how gradually our industry recovers is in the hands of the financial institutions.”
Jim Jacobs, recently named general manager of the Jayco Inc.’s Entegra Coach and Starcraft operations after serving as vice president of sales and marketing for the Middlebury, Ind.-based firm, says he’s been seeing “fantastic” retail show attendance, even if those attendance figures don’t always equate with sales totals. Having said that, Jacobs noted, the Middlebury, Ind.-based manufacturers is doing well.
On the towable side of the business, less expensive products are performing best – including lightweights – while higher-end fifth-wheels are still a bit soft. “It’s not where we want it to be,” said Jacobs. “But, overall, we’re pretty pleased about where we are in the markets.
“On the motorized side,” he continued, “we’re doing pretty well. In fact, we’re pleasantly surprised. We just announced we’re putting a significant addition onto our Class A plant and it’s going to boost our production capabilities well beyond where we are today. And we need that. Quite frankly, we’ve got a backlog on the Entegra Coach side that is much bigger than we are comfortable with.”
Although Jayco is fairly new at the Class A game, Jacobs pointed out, things are going well with it in the early stages – a time during which Jayco has signed some high volume and reputable dealers. “We think that (Entegra) is going to be a significant growth opportunity for Jayco,” said Jacobs, adding that the key to navigating today’s “tough” motorized market is “trust” as the recession lifts.
Toward that end, Jacobs maintained, it seems as if the history, strength and reputation of Jayco are boosting the company’s new Entegra Coach division.
“And we’re seeing the same carryover onto the retail side of it,” maintained Jacobs, whose company had a brief foray into the Class A business seven years ago. “People are extremely familiar with Jayco, and when they walk in our Entegra Coach product, they are very accepting of the fact that this is a good long-term company that bought out the assets of Travel Supreme, and Travel Supreme had a pretty good reputation in the industry as well. It’s been a good marriage for us.”
Convincing wholesale and retail customers that Jayco is in the Class A market for the long haul is the key, said Jacobs. “What we’ve done with our Entegra Coach, the commitment we made to brick and mortar by adding on to our manufacturing facilities, I think people are really starting to come around to the idea that we are serious about the Class A market and won’t relive 2003 all over again and we will be a long-term player in the Class A market.”