The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) has hired Scott Graham to be the association’s national show director with the responsibility of supervising, planning and implementing all aspects of the National RV Trade Show. He replaces Mary “Mike” Hutya who retired on March 31 after 38 years of service to RVIA.
According to an article in RVIA Today Express, Graham most recently served as the meetings and events director at the Christian Booksellers Association (CBA). In that position he was responsible for all facets of the International Christian Retail Show, including strategic planning, budgeting, contract negotiations, sponsor development, registration, promotion, exhibit floor management, security and housing. The event has been ranked as a Top 200 trade show and has drawn as many as 15,000 attendees.
“We are thrilled to have Scott join our team,” said RVIA President Richard Coon. “He is an accomplished meetings and events professional with more than 14 years of experience running a large trade show. The background and skill set he brings to RVIA will be invaluable as the association looks to invigorate the National RV Trade Show.”
In his role at RVIA, Graham will manage the production of the National RV Trade Show. This includes developing and implementing policies and procedures to improve the image of the event and the relationship with exhibitors and attendees. Specifically, he will oversee promotional campaigns, space sales, floorplan development, vendor management, event registration, catering, security, housing, sponsorship programs and social functions.
In addition to his work at the Christian Booksellers Association, Graham is a member of the Professional Convention Management Association, the American Society of Association Executives and the American Management Association. He has also served on advisory boards for the convention and visitors bureaus in Orlando, Indianapolis, Denver and Atlanta. He is a graduate of Missouri Western State University, earning a bachelor’s in business administration with a double major in marketing and business management.
The National RV Trade Show is scheduled to take place from Dec. 2–4 at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville.
Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) Chairman Doug Gaeddert, general manager at Forest River Inc., told attendees at RVIA’s “Outlook 2014: Everywhere” program that the industry has a bright future for the upcoming year and beyond.
Gaeddert lauded the industry’s promotional efforts in helping raise awareness of RV travel and camping in his remarks. “”If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, and I’ll keep on saying it because I truly believe that our collective effort to promote RV ownership through Go RVing’s advertising campaign and RVIA’s public relations efforts is some of the most important work we do.”
He added that the combined approaches pack an effective promotional one-two punch. “Our PR machine secures unbelievable coverage in the nation’s largest and most prestigious media outlets, boosting the image and popularity of RVing,” Gaeddert said. “Meanwhile, Go RVing’s ‘AWAY’ campaign utilizes fabulous creative materials and innovative social media strategies to generate leads and zero in our target audiences.”
Gaeddert also challenged the industry’s marketing communications program to help promote career opportunities in the RV industry. “As an industry, we compete very effectively for leisure discretionary dollars against our competition. Looking ahead, perhaps we could realize similar results in our efforts to meet the growing need for skilled RV technicians by including awareness messages about career possibilities in our current media outreach efforts.”
Gaeddert closed by saying that even with the robust recovery of the RV market over recent years that there was still ample opportunity for the industry to grow, particularly if the government cooperates.
“In the coming weeks, the officials we elected will be meeting once again to resolve the same spending and debt limit issues they just kicked one hop down the road less than two months ago,” he said. “Bowles/Simpson has already done most of the heavy lifting for them and not much has really changed since its conclusion. Basically they just need to have the courage to do the jobs we elected them to do. Term limits by the way would make this far easier in the future. I strongly encourage you, to strongly encourage them – to get it done early, to get it done right, and to get it done for the long haul. We’ve got an economy that’s purring along nicely right now, and if they don’t fumble again, it’s ready to really roar.”
RVIA’s “Outlook 2014: Everywhere” program kicked off the association’s National RV Trade Show on Dec. 3 in Louisville, Ky.
Bristol, Ind.–based towable manufacturer Augusta RV (ARV) reported a strong showing during last week’s Louisville Show that included a boat and fishing poles giveaway and an appearance by Mekayla Diehl, Miss Indiana USA 2014.
“We expected a strong showing in Louisville, and exceeded our expectations,” said said Josh Bowerman, district sales manager. “We handed out fishing poles to promote our boat giveaway and ran out of poles Wednesday (Dec. 4) afternoon because of better than anticipated traffic. We were thrilled to hand out fishing poles and have Miss Indiana signing autographs. With the marketing effort and the success of 2013 we had an incredible turnout and were able to sign new business and obtain more orders from existing dealers.”
The winner of the Polar Kraft Dakota fishing boat was Trailblazer RV located in Alberta Canada. “Trailblazer has been a great partner. They have seen strong retail growth in our Flex line in the past year and we are very pleased they won the boat,” said Bowerman.
With a solid Louisville Show and the upcoming release of its new high-end luxury fifth wheel Luxe, Augusta RV is anticipating a strong retail season. “These are exciting times at Augusta RV and we plan to keep our foot on the gas and continue to build the best products possible through passion, design, technology, and above all else – innovation,” Bowerman said.
It was an emblematic early scene of the Great Recession five years ago: the economic devastation wrought in northern Indiana, proud home of America’s recreational vehicle industry, where a major swoon in the business was slapping RV makers and stripping jobs because Americans didn’t have the funds for fun anymore.
Fast forward (or at least as much as you can accelerate in a lumbering RV) to a much brighter scene that unfolded in Louisville, Ky., last week, where the RV industry was showing off its wares for the annual show hosted by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).
According to a report on brandchannel.com, brands such as Thor Industries Inc. and Winnebago Industries Inc. were showing off their newest wheels as the business was celebrating the fact that RV sales are expected to improve by 11% this year over 2012, to more than 316,000 this year. This is the fifth consecutive year of recovering sales for the industry after the 2008 low. The trade group expects another 6% gain next year.
“RV shipments are growing,” RVIA President Richard Coon told Forbes.com. “Consumer confidence is growing, credit is available, and RVs are visible, popular and even cool. This is a good time to be in the RV business.””
And while car sales are expected to balloon to close to 16 million in the U.S. this year, RV makers are happy to be in their own recovery mode with machines that can cost well into six figures.
Thor, for instance, sells a 39-foot model that costs well over $150,000, sleeps eight, and has a garage on the back, according to Businessweek. Such high-end machines largely have been driving the boom recently, with sales of motorized RVs on pace to increase by 35 percent this year and by another 10 percent next year.
But old-fashioned “towable” RVs also are upgrading to attract the modern buyer who’s much more interested in amenities than in roughing it. For example, the $20,000 Puma Unleashed toy hauler by Palomino RV opens up to a big ramp in the back and offers hydraulics that lift its two queen-sized beds to the ceiling so the vehicle can accommodate cargo such as a couple of Harley-Davidsons underneath.
To read the entire article click here.
Attendance was up slightly at the 51st Annual National RVTrade Show this week in Louisville, Ky. The South Bend (Ind.) Tribune reported that the three-day show concluded Thursday (Dec. 5) with attendance at 7,751, up 1% compared with last year.
“The vibe, the feeling at the show was very positive,” said Kevin Broom, a spokesman with the host Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).
Dealers and manufacturers he spoke to were happy with the show, Broom said. “There were a number of interesting designs and new ideas,” he said.
Matt Rose, director of RVs for the Indiana Manufactured Housing Association/Recreation Vehicle Indiana Council (MHA/RVIC), also heard good feedback. It was the first time he attended the Louisville show.
“This is the one organized show that you have to be at to get in front of everybody,” Rose said.
To read the entire article click here.
Attendance at this week’s Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., was on a par with last year’s totals.
As reported by RVIA, the Tuesday through Thursday event attracted 7,751 attendees, representing a 1% gain from 7,658 last year. Included in that number were 2,874 “buyers,” down 3% from 2,978 in 2012, along with 2,548 dealer personnel, also down 3% from last year’s 2,623. RVIA noted that it had not yet calculated how many dealerships were represented at the show.
A further breakdown showed:
• Manufacturers exhibitors grew 3% to 1,761 from 1,705 in 2012.
• Non-member manufacturers totaled 32 compared to 57.
• Supplier exhibitors rose 6% to 2,092 from 1,966.
• Non-member suppliers were down 9% to 429 compared to 471.
• Accessory store representatives dropped 8% to 218 from 238.
• Campgrounds owners rose 8% to 28 from 26.
• The warehouse distributor category fell 12% to 80 from 91.
• Advertising press representative totaled 15 compared to 11 last year.
• Editorial press representatives rose 5% to 60 from 57.
• The finance category, including guests, fell to 74 compared to 84.
There has been some question the last few years about attendance at the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) National RV Trade Show. But, according to a report in the Elkhart (Ind.) Truth, many say the Louisville Show remains vital no matter what the numbers say.
The emergence of northern Elkhart RV Open House in September has raised questions of how the two shows will coexist as both develop and change.
Bob Martin, CEO of Thor Industries Inc., said he hadn’t received any sales or attendance numbers as of Wednesday (Dec. 4) afternoon but agreed that the Louisville show is no longer the big selling event for Thor’s companies that it was in the past.
“Dealers have started to buy a little bit more at the Open House, for us,” Martin said.
That doesn’t mean the event doesn’t serve a purpose, however. Louisville still provides a good chance for traffic and exposure.
“Actually, it’s been very positive so far,” Martin said. “Yesterday was very busy. I think Louisville may be a bigger show for some of the smaller manufacturers.”
And though many dealers may have already made purchases prior to the show, a strong market still has them looking for more product.
“Overall, dealers have been very optimistic,” Martin said. “They’re happy with where their inventory is at and very happy as they look at the year to come.”
Forest River Inc. General Manager and RVIA Chairman Doug Gaeddert sees the two shows interacting together to actually make things easier on the industry.
“The Open House was obviously awesome; Louisville is a beautiful follow-up to that Open House week,” Gaeddert said.
To read the full story click here.
It’s an RV trade show, but football was the topic Tuesday (Dec. 3) morning.
The Goshen (Ind.) News reported that at the National RV Trade Show kickoff breakfast “Mean Joe” Greene, Hall of Fame NFL defensive tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers, made a brief appearance on stage. Greene is at the show to promote new products by Dometic Corp., a key supplier to the RV industry.
Greene had fun with Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) board chairman Doug Gaeddert by reenacting a famous commercial starring Greene in which he throws his worn and muddy jersey to a young boy.
“Here you go kid,” Greene said with a big smile while he tossed a Steelers jersey to Gaeddert.
Then, guest speaker Peter King, NFL writer for Sports Illustrated, told the audience about his experiences using a Jayco Precept motorhome for touring football training camps during the summer.
King said years ago he had traveled cross country with Oakland Raiders football coach John Madden in Madden’s customized bus. Madden refused to fly, according to King, because he was scared of flying, but more because he wanted to experience the sights and people of America.
“He was on this beautiful bus. It was like a Hyatt suite on wheels,” King said.
During that trip King said he decided that someday he too would like to travel like Madden.
To read the entire article click here.
Everyone is smiling at the RV show.
The Goshen (Ind.) News reported that during a year in which recreational vehicle shipments to manufacturers are expected to be 10% higher than 2012 and knowing the industry expects a 6% increase next year, dealers, manufacturers and suppliers at the 51st Annual National RV Trade Show are totally positive about their industry and the economy.
“It’s our biggest display we have ever had in Louisville,” said Derald Bontrager as he stood on the lush carpet inside the Jayco Inc. display.
Bontrager is CEO of the Middlebury, Ind., company that is owned by his family. The company also is parent to Starcraft Inc. and Entegra Coach.
“We have had a positive response to the product and a lot of optimism from dealers going forward for the market next year,” Bontrager said between his chats with visiting dealers. “It’s been a very busy morning. It has been non-stop. I am very pleased.”
He said the rise of the RV industry has been across the board, from $500,000 motorhomes to inexpensive pop-up campers.
“We are seeing good sales in all segments right now,” Bontrager said. “There are buyers for every segment of the market right now. I think that is just a sign of the improving economy and consumer confidence. Consumers are willing to spend more money now then they were just two years ago.”
Nearby at Jayco’s Starcraft display, John and Stephanie Thomson were looking for units to put on their sales lot at Flint Hills RV Center in St. George, Kan.
“It’s been a very good year — sales, service and accessories,” John said. “… I think one reason for that is people who have been shying away from the market for four or five years are tired of waiting and decided to jump in.”
John said the family dealership now specializes in smaller travel trailers, as that seems to be what their local market wants.
“They want something their SUV can pull,” John said.
To read the entire article click here.
RV manufacturers expect to pass another milestone in their steady recovery from the recession that landed the industry in a deep ditch.
The Associated Press reported that led by sales growth for towable RVs and pricier stand-alone motorhomes, recreational vehicle makers expect to ship more than 300,000 units to dealers’ lots this year for the first time since the economic downturn battered the industry in 2008 and 2009.
Those grim days are now in the rear view mirror. Employment across the industry has rebounded, and consumers who once picked small, no-frills travel trailers – dubbed “recession trailers” – are now trading up or buying larger, pricier RVs.
“We’re back to a more normal market where people are stepping up and buying nicer equipped travel trailers,” said RV dealer Debbie Brunoforte, who has logged her best post-recession sales year at her lots in Phoenix and Mesa, Ariz.
Shipments from RV manufacturers to dealers – a key measure of consumer demand – are expected to reach 316,300 units in 2013, up nearly 11% from last year’s total of 285,749, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) said Tuesday (Dec. 3) on the first day of the industry’s trade show in Louisville, Ky. More gains are projected for next year.
“These are good times, you guys, really good times,” RVIA President Richard Coon said at the trade show’s kickoff event Tuesday. “Business is good.”
To read the entire article click here.