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Pomona RV Show Showcases RV Industry Optimism

October 19, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

The largest RV show on the West Coast has shrunk in size, but the builders of trailers, toy haulers and motor homes who remain in business parked their homes-on-wheels in Pomona, Calif., optimistic that the worst may be in their rear view mirrors, according to the Riverside, Calif. Press-Enterprise.

On display until Oct. 25 during the California RV Show at the Fairplex in Pomona sponsored by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) are rows of recreational vehicles from towable trailers for $30,000 to veritable tour buses equipped with fold-out balconies and slide-out flat-screen TVs. Those, joked 61-year-old Jerry Presson of Fullerton, were for an RVer’s wife who wanted a hotel room, not a camping trip.

He takes two trips a month in his 1991 Winnebago motor home and plans to journey “a lot more” now that he’s retired. He was shopping for a Class A diesel motor home on Friday.

”I was going to buy one last year, but then the economy turned,” he said, so he stayed with his job as a technician for an aerospace firm until he was forced to retire this year.

The recession severely curtailed motor home sales as banks were skittish to lend to customers and RV dealers alike. Manufacturers went under; dealers closed.

Nonetheless, Bill Gibson, president of Jag Mobile Solutions based in Howe, Ind., decided to get into the RV business. With his first Galileo trailer model — a solitary vehicle parked next to the fence across from a wall of RVs — Gibson sees it as the perfect time to come into the RV market with something new. His 5,000-pound trailer starting at $30,000 has room for four adults to sleep, stereo surround-sound and a solar panel on the roof.

His company still makes custom-ordered portable restrooms, showers and trailers for films. As for RVs, “I only need a very small number of people to buy,” he said. “I have time to wait.”

Dick Graham, regional sales manager for Forest River Inc., Elkhart, Ind., sat surrounded by his company’s 2010 model motor homes.

“We’re eternal optimists,” he said. The economy that felled RV giants, most recently Riverside-based Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. (now owned by a New York equity firm and renamed Fleetwood RV Inc.), Weekend Warrior Trailers Inc. and National RV Inc.,  has left the market open to those remaining, Graham said.

Tom Powell, chief executive officer of Riverside-based Pacific Coachworks Inc., showed off his company’s use of plywood instead of particle board inside its brand of Tango trailers. After stopping production and laying off most of his workforce, Powell ramped up production again earlier this year.

He said his firm has an advantage being one of the few RV makers left in the Inland region — others include Skyline in Hemet and Eclipse Recreational Vehicles in Riverside — since local buyers can rest easy with a factory nearby if a fix is needed.

John Collins, 34, a feature film art director from La Crescenta, has been to the Pomona RV show before but hadn’t made a purchase.

This year he said he was willing to spend $75,000 to $125,000 for a motor home for his family that had bunk beds for his 2-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son, and anything but easy-to-stain white carpeting.

“We have to find one we absolutely love to spend that much money,” he said.

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