Susan Dwyer and her husband, David, bought a travel trailer about a year ago and already are looking to upgrade.
According to report in the Indianapolis Star, the couple plunked down $11,000 for their current model, but with five kids still at home, they are looking for something roomier. Even a higher priced RV is less expensive than spending $250 to $300 a night between two hotel rooms for a family vacation, Dwyer said as she waited for her travel trailer to get some minor repairs at Camping World RV in Greenwood.
“We’re pretty financially set right now,” said Susan, a 52-year-old from Bargersville, “and we can travel with the trailer and not feel pinched.”
The Dwyers’ interest reflects an encouraging trend for the RV industry, particularly in Indiana. Sales, though shy of their 2006 peak, are rising as the economy improves.
Nationally, 13.3% more RVs were shipped during the first five months of this year than during the same months in 2012, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). Sales have been rising since 2010. There are a record 9 million RV owners today.
In Indiana, where the unemployment rate stubbornly remains above 8%, the upswing is welcome news. More than 80% of all RVs are made in the Hoosier state, the industry association said.
“Employment is rising as manufacturers are hiring people,” industry association spokesman Kevin Broom said, “especially in Northern Indiana.”
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Many industries wish they could have the performance that the recreational vehicle sector recorded in 2012, according to a report in the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune.
With December numbers yet to be fully tabulated by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), RV shipments to dealers were up each month through November compared with the corresponding month in 2011.
Those figures are very important to the northern Indiana economy. RVIA estimates that 82% of all recreational vehicles built in the U.S. are made in the region, with more than 24,000 people employed in either the RV manufacturing or supply sector.
RV wholesale shipments to retailers increased to 20,561 units in November, a 25.2% increase from November of 2011.
“The numbers being up are a good sign for everybody,” said Matt Rose, newly named director of recreational vehicles for the Recreation Vehicle Indiana Council (RVIC). “Everyone knows what direction we’re going.”
The RV market is based on consumer confidence, Rose said, and it’s running pretty high right now.
The fact that the fiscal cliff was averted, with taxes for the middle class remaining similar to last year, also helps, he said.
Overall, Rose likes where the industry stands, heading into 2013, especially with RV shipments up 13.3% through November compared with the same period in 2011. He said shipments were especially high in October and November compared with the previous year.
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The Indiana Manufactured Housing Association-Recreation Vehicle Indiana Council (IMHA-RVIC) announced the appointment of Matt Rose as director of recreation vehicles.
According to a press release, Rose’s responsibilities will include coordination and promotion of RV and camping shows, new membership growth and sponsorship opportunities for the association and its events.
“Matt brings a vast amount of experience and skills with him to our organization,” said IMHA-RVIC Executive Director Mark Bowersox. “His marketing and hospitality background will help to grow our membership and strengthen our RV shows and other events.”
A native Hoosier, Rose brings 20 years in the hospitality industry to his position with IMHA-RVIC, most recently serving as director of sales and marketing at the Century Center in South Bend, Ind. His background includes sales and coordination of trade shows and special events, business to business sales, marketing and event promotion. Rose, 43, earned a bachelor’s degree from Purdue University.
In other news, IMHA-RVIC will host the Valley RV & Camping Show Jan. 18-20 at the Century Center. According to Rose, the event will feature more than 70 RVs on display along with several campgrounds exhibiting. For more information visit www.rvshows.org.
The Indiana Manufactured Housing Association/Recreational Vehicle Indiana Council (IMHA/RVIC) will be hosting its annual Christmas party and awards dinner Dec. 7.
According to the organization’s newsletter the evening will include a complimentary cocktail reception, holiday dinner, entertainment and dancing at the Sheraton City Centre Hotel in downtown Indianapolis.
Following dinner, a short ceremony will honor members for outstanding service during the year and induct the 2013 Board of Governors.
Registration, sponsorship and other information can be found at http://www.imharvic.org.
Despite economic headwinds and ongoing political turmoil, Indiana Manufactured Housing Association-Recreation Vehicle Indiana Council (IMHA-RVIC) President Gregg Pardieck assured around 60 association members at the organization’s annual meeting that the two industries maintained a steady course during the past year.
“International financial crisis and national political unrest have caused uneasiness and volatility in the stock markets, shaken consumer confidence and tightened credit markets,” Pardieck said during the Oct. 19 gathering at the Wyndham Indianapolis West. “Fortunately our association represents two resilient industries. Even in the midst of uncertain markets, the word that best describes our industries and our association this year is stable.”
Pardieck emphasized that “the single most important thing your association does is work with Indiana’s administrative and elected officials to protect our industries.” He said that despite the effects of a historic five-week walkout in the Indiana House of Representatives, the past year yielded several positive actions on behalf of the manufactured housing and RV industries, including:
• The 2011 session reduced the corporate income tax rate (HB 1004) from 8.5% to 6.5%. “This is welcome news to our members as Indiana had one of the highest corporate income tax rates in the nation,” Pardieck stated. The reduction will be phased in over four years.
• The legislature passed a workable illegal immigration bill (SB 590). The measure attempts to determine legal status of immigrants but “does not aggressively overreach,” according to Pardieck, noting that a three strikes provision that could have resulted in a company losing its operating license or permits was amended out of the bill.
• IMHA-RVIC pursued possible remedies to the federal SAFE Act through both state legislative and administrative action. Discussions on potential legislative amendments led to an ongoing series of meetings with the Indiana Department of Financial Institutions (DFI). IMHA-RVIC are continuing to work with DFI to interpret key phrases in HUD’s SAFE Act final rule.
• House Bill 1453 was successfully defeated, partially due to a provision that would have required anyone selling at least five vehicles each year to become a dealer. The existing law requires only those who sell at least 12 vehicles for delivery in Indiana to become a dealer and the proposed change became problematic for the bill.
• HB 1269 was also defeated, which would have revised the recreational vehicle excise tax on units in the RV category that are permanently located in Indiana campgrounds but not registered under the motor vehicle laws of any state. The bill would have applied the same tax and depreciation schedule to those units that currently apply to units registered in Indiana.
Pardiek said that IMHA-RVIC was also continuing to monitor action by the Indiana Department of Health to expand its Healthy Homes program to include issues such as mold, pests, radon and formaldehyde. RVs and manufactured housing would be included in the legislation.
“At the request of a state lawmaker we recently brought a selection of RVs to the Indiana statehouse to show our products to the state’s highest elected officials,” he said. “In addition to the legislature and elected officials we are actively working with numerous state agencies throughout the year.”
Jeff Sims, director of membership and public affairs for the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), also addressed attendees that included 16 representatives from Indiana campgrounds.
”I had a very productive meeting with the Indiana folks,” said Sims. “There were questions about evictions, senior-only parks, long-term storage and ADA guidelines for chair lifts in pools.”
Sims said ARVC is developing a national database on local issues so that campground owners can understand how specific issues are being handled in the various states.
Of particular interest on the Indiana association’s two websites — campindiana.org and indianarvlifestyle.com — are pending changes in ARVC’s gocampingamerica.com web portal. Both are being more closely tied to the ARVC’s website, said IMHA-RVIC Executive Director Mark Bowersox said.
On the Indiana sites, RVIC has taken over responsibility to keep up to date the campground web pages it hosts, Bowersox said, while ARVC’s site, which is undergoing an upgrade, will allow campground owners throughout the nation to upgrade their own information.
”Before, I think it’s been very cumbersome for them to get that information updated,” Sims said. ”The new system will be simple and campground owners will be able to upgrade their information directly.”
IMHA-RVIC will elect new officers during a Dec. 9 meeting in Indianapolis.
Since her husband lost his job at the RV factory, Lorena Rodriguez has been holding tag sales on the dry lawn outside their modest ranch house on the edge of town.
The Los Angeles Times reported that as she hawked her four children’s outgrown clothing and bicycles on a recent Friday afternoon, Rodriguez said the family had to turn to food stamps briefly to get by. And even though her husband, Daniel, recently found work, they still struggle to pay the bills.
“It’s still pretty tough,” said the 28-year-old.
All this has deeply colored her opinion of President Obama, whom she supported in 2008.
“He promised so many things. He hasn’t done anything,” said Rodriguez, an independent voter who said she would not side with Obama in 2012. “We had thought he would really help us, but we haven’t seen much from him.”
Among the states that supported Obama in 2008, Indiana was one of the least likely — he was the first Democratic nominee to win the state in 44 years, defeating Republican John McCain by less than 1 percentage point. Strategists in both parties say Indiana is the state he is least likely to hold on to in 2012, largely because of shifts in sentiment by working-class voters like Rodriguez.
Dissatisfaction among those voters, most notably women, could also hamper Obama’s efforts in other vital states in the Midwest. Polling in recent months shows that working-class Americans — already skeptical of the president — have grown increasingly hostile to him, and enthusiasm among women is also waning.
Obama lavished unprecedented attention on Indiana during the 2008 campaign, visiting the state dozens of times and spending millions. He aired ads in Illinois — unnecessarily, because he knew he would romp in his home state — so those next door in northwest Indiana would see his message.
The courtship did not stop once the president took office — he has visited six times in less than three years. Obama’s first trip as president outside the Washington area was to Elkhart, to pitch the economic stimulus. The area is Republican-leaning, but 1,700 people packed a high school gym to hear the president speak.
At the time, Elkhart County had one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation, at almost 20%. Now that percentage has been cut in half because the RV industry has begun to rebound, but some say the city’s spirit remains broken.
“It’s [gotten] a little better, but not very fast,” said Dave Slayton, 57, a bartender at the Lakeshore Grill who supported Obama in 2008 and plans to do so again. “There’s a lot less crying” at the bar.
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