The Recreation Dealers Cooperative Association (REDEX) is continuing to evolve into a consumer-driven organization to augment the RV dealership-based buying group it was founded to be.
That evolution will continue during a meeting of REDEX’ 43 dealers during the National RV Trade Show Dec. 1-3 at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky. There, members will discuss new consumer products as diverse as water hose and toilet tissue bearing REDEX’ Priority RV Network retail brand.
”When the RV consumer goes into parts stores, we want the products that he uses on an everyday basis to be branded Priority RV Network,” said John Mancinelli, Bowling Green, Ky., REDEX executive director. ”Getting the consumer involved in private labeling doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have a private-label RV.”
Formed in 1996 as a dealer cooperative, REDEX announced the Priority RV Network private-label initiative during its annual meeting in April in San Antonio, Texas, when Mancinelli was hired Previously, REDEX marketing had been under the direction of Texas-based Wheeler Advertising.
The organization will keep the REDEX name for its business-to-business functions, Mancinelli said, but is shifting its public image for consumer aspects to Priority RV Network.
“At one time, REDEX was strictly a buying group,” Mancinelli said. ”That’s what they became good at. But when (wholesale lenders) pulled out of the RV market and the economy came tumbling down, the question was what is REDEX’ value?
”I was brought on to bring a more retail-flavor to REDEX,” said Mancinelli, a former Lazydays RV Superstore and Camping World executive.
Like the rest of the RV industry, REDEX experienced some setbacks during the recession. At one time representing 51 dealers with more than 100 locations, REDEX membership now includes 43 dealers with about 85 locations. Still, the organization represented $2.5 billion in sales of new and used RVs in 2008.
Mancinelli said that beyond continuing to provide REDEX members with buying-group heft, the organization will “develop products and services that are aligned with the RV consumer.”
”That could be Priority RV Network service, road care, insurance, camping club — any number of things,” he said. ”We are just starting to get a retail presence.”
REDEX’ website (priorityrvnetwork.com) is in the development stage but already offers consumers information on Priority RV certified- and extended-care programs, insurance and a search function to find new and used RVs and parts and services at Priority RV Network dealerships.
Noting that earlier REDEX efforts to launch private-label RVs haven’t gotten off the ground, Mancinelli said that REDEX may approach manufacturers with a suspended brand to establish exclusive relationships with REDEX to bring the brand back, Mancinelli said.
”What we are looking for is a manufacturer to use a name that they had put on the shelf and help them resurrect it,” Mancinelli said. ”That will happen one day, but we’re not there yet.”
In January, Priority RV Networks will publish a catalog with promotions to kick off the year.
‘The dealerships that are using the Priority RV program already are experiencing upgraded business,” Mancinelli said. ”I see us emerging as a very strong organization in the not-too-distant future.”
The Recreation Dealers Cooperative Association (REDEX) will unveil a private-label retail initiative during its annual meeting April 28-29 at the Hyatt Hill Country Resort in San Antonio, Texas.
”We didn’t have any retail exposure at all,” said John Mancinelli, who in March was named executive director of REDEX with offices in Bowling Green, Ky.
REDEX was formed in 1996 as a dealer cooperative and currently has 51 members with combined revenue of about $2 billion who accounted for the sale of 50,000 new and used RVs in 2008.
”We took on a new name — Priority RV Network (www.priorityrvnetwork.com) – and in San Antonio we will be introducing new products and programs and talking about how we will move forward,” Mancinelli continued. The organization will retain its REDEX nomenclature for its business-to-business operation, Mancinelli said.
Retail programs will include customer service, extended care, roadside assistance, certified RVs and a camping club along with other services, Mancinelli said.
About 45 dealers representing more than 90 locations are expected to attend the San Antonio meeting as well as 18 vendors including Bank of the West, US Bank, Reed Brothers Insurance, P&H Group, Coach-Net and distributors NTP Distribution and Stag-Parkway Inc.
Mancinelli said REDEX will continue to provide business-to-business opportunities for its dealership members apart from its retail outreach program.
”We think we have a really good idea how to make this work,” he said.
”The whole idea is that REDEX will have two functions. One is to have the b2b vendor program that give us an advantage in the marketplace. But there also will be an external side where we want to be visible in the RV consumer marketplace so that consumers can have the same advantage.
”We want consumers to recognize the fact that there is advantage of doing business with a Priority RV dealer.”