Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) Vice President of International Business and General Counsel Craig Kirby has been appointed to the Industry Trade Advisory Committee (ITAC) on Consumer Goods. According to a press release, the ITAC is an arm of the International Trade Administration, a government agency devoted to strengthening U.S. industries through trade, investments and support for the National Export Initiative.
Kirby will represent the recreational vehicle industry as part of a committee dedicated to promoting U.S. trade and exports. The committee itself provides nonpartisan industry input toward positions on trade agreements. It supports the administration through detailed policy and technical advice, information and recommendations regarding trade barriers, negotiation of trade agreements and implementation of existing trade agreements affecting industry sectors.
The ITAC meets approximately six times per year in Washington, D.C. Committee members, all of whom come from the private sector, serve in a representative capacity presenting the views and interests of their respective industry sectors.
With the RV industry becoming more global in nature, RVIA has increased efforts to assist members interested in exploring opportunities in emerging markets such as China, Japan, Russia and Brazil. The association recently entered into a partnership with the U.S. Commercial Service to create a formalized program that allows members greater access to international trade resources offered by the federal government. Interested RV industry members can visit www.export.gov/rvia to learn more about how this program can benefit their efforts.
“It is an honor to be selected to serve on the ITAC as a representative of the RV industry,” said Kirby. “The growing interest in RV travel and camping throughout the world offers a tremendous opportunity for our manufacturer and component parts suppliers to expand into new markets, helping them grow their businesses during the economic recovery.”
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) Nominating Committee has selected 13 candidates who will be running for eight seats on the organization’s board during the association elections taking place in August.
Three supplier seats with three-year terms are open on the board with four candidates running for the positions. They are Adam Dexter, president, Dexter Axle Co.; Jason Lippert, CEO, Drew Industries Inc.; Martin Street, president and CEO, Stag-Parkway Inc.; and B.J. Thompson, president, B.J. Thompson Associates Inc.
Two manufacturer seats, both with three-year terms, are in contention this year. The four candidates are Jack Cole, president, Lance Camper Manufacturing Corp.; Ned Collins, CEO, Columbia Northwest/Aliner Inc.; Bob Martin president, CEO and COO, Thor Industries Inc.; Matt Miller, president, Newmar Corp.
Four candidates will run for two at-large seats with a three-year term. They are Robert Grant, business development specialist, ADP Lightspeed; Bob Harbin, president, Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp.; Paul Hughes, national OEM sales manager, Velvac; and Bob Parish, vice president, manufacturer relations, GE Capital.
Dick Grymonprez, director of park model sales, Champion/Athens Park Homes, is running unopposed for the park model RV seat with a three-year term.
The official representatives from RVIA member companies will elect candidates in each category to serve on the board for the term beginning Oct. 1. The elections will take place electronically through August.
RVIA’s Nominating Committee is chaired by Jeff Rutherford of Airxcel and includes Andy Baer, KZRV LP; Gregg Fore, Dicor Corp.; and Jim Sheldon, Monaco RV.
RVIA enjoyed its largest turnout ever for its 12th Capitol Hill Advocacy Day with 37 association members taking part in meetings with 83 different congressional offices at this year’s event held June 5 in Washington, D.C, in conjunction with Committee Week.
During meetings with 44 House and 39 Senate offices, RV industry members were able to raise awareness of the RV industry at the federal level and discuss several key issues. Meeting topics included the strong recovery of the RV market, the renewal of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) trade agreement, and the importance of preserving the second home mortgage deduction eligibility for RVs.
“Our members enjoyed a very productive day on the Hill meeting with legislators and their staff to educate them on the RV industry’s positions on key issues,” said Mike Ochs, director of government affairs, who organized the event. “This is an event that our members really enjoy. At the end of the day they are energized and excited about the work they have done to help promote the RV industry at the federal level.”
“The opportunity to meet face-to-face with our elected officials and develop a relationship is invaluable,” said John Draheim, president and CEO of Fleetwood RV Inc. “It is tremendous to engage in meaningful conversations that lead to a better understanding and appreciation of the issues facing the RV industry.”
Advocacy Day has played a valuable role in helping RVIA secure key legislative victories in recent years, including exempting RV awnings from commercial width regulations; having EPA adopt the CARB wood products standard for formaldehyde emission levels; including RV retail and wholesale loans in the Term-Asset Backed Securities Loan Facility; and having tax breaks for motorhome purchases included in the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Members of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) Public Relations Committee were informed of the hiring of another consultant to promote the RV industry among national trade publications during RVIA Committee Week June 2-6 at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel in Washington D.C.
James A. Boyle of Boyle Public Affairs, McClean, Va., has joined Diane McNamara of Fire it Up, PR, Boston, under contract to generate publicity for the RV industry. McNamara has already been promoting the RV lifestyle in consumer periodicals.
Both have stepped up to help fill the void left by the untimely March 2 passing of Jon Tancredi, 46, who served RVIA for 20 years as a PR professional with Barton Gilanelli & Associates and more recently as president of Tancredi Public Relations.
The committee also recommended approval of partnership packages with ESPN, CBS Sports and Sports Illustrated to promote RV tailgating at upcoming NCAA and NFL football games along with other sporting events.
The tie-in to sports is a natural connection for promoting the RV lifestyle, said committee Chairman B.J. Thompson of BJ Thompson Associates, Elkhart, Ind. ”Tailgating with an RV enhances a person’s interest when they attend sporting events,” Thompson said.
Thompson reported that the RV industry has received a large amount of attention from national media outlets including NBC, ABC, Fox and CNN in addition to exposure in Sunset and Midwest Living magazines, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal.
”Because of recent strong consumer demand for RVs, we’ve had quite a bit of interest from the national media,” Thompson told RVBUSINESS.com.
Additionally, the PR Committee asked the RVIA staff to coordinate an updated vacation cost comparison by San Francisco-based PFK Consulting LLC, the most recent of which was conducted three years ago.
The committee also heard that RVIA’s most recent Campfire Canvas of about 400 RV owners found that 71% intend to use their RVs more through the summer months than they did last year and that 78% cited outdoor activities as the reason they intend to use their RVs.
”Those are pretty good numbers,” Thompson said. ”Rather than us speaking in general terms about how great RVing is, we can go to the media with specific information.”
The Campfire Canvas is a biannual survey conducted by Internet-based Cvent, McLean, Va.
The committee also recommended that Brad and Amy Herzog continue to be RVIA’s traveling spokespersons for the 14th year.
The programs recommended for approval by the committee are pending until final approval by the RVIA Executive Committee at its August budget meeting and the RVIA board at its annual meeting in September.
U.S. park model builders played a central role during the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) Annual Committee Week, held June 2-6 at the historic Mayflower Renaissance Hotel in Washington D.C. – more so than they have in years.
In an era when camping is trending in some cases toward more long-term stays involving an array of destination-style vehicles and camping cabins, RVIA has been focusing a lot of attention on park trailer builders who last year agreed to rejoin RVIA after an absence of 18 years and shelve their existing trade group, the Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA).
And it quickly became evident that park trailer companies are comfortable with their new association ties during Committee Week, where RVIA’s board of directors endorsed committee recommendations to change the name of the association’s “Destination Camping Committee” to the “Seasonal Camping Committee” to better reflect common use of those terms among RV park operators and the camping public.
RVIA, for public relations and marketing purposes, will now refer to these types of units as “Park Model RV’s” while using either of the terms “Recreational Park Trailers” or “Park Model RV’s” for regulatory and standards purposes. Behind the new nomenclature is a desire on the part of park model builders, the national trade association and many campground operators to accentuate their status as recreation vehicles that are essentially mobile and distinct from housing whenever such questions might arise among consumers, zoning boards and taxing bodies in the future.
“Really, it’s a rebranding effort,” reports Park Model RV Committee Chairman John Soard, general manager of Fairmont Park Models, a division of Nappanee, Ind.-based Fairmont Homes Inc. “We for a long time in the park model business have just wanted to be affiliated more closely with what HUD (the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) calls us, which is an RV, and we’ve just never had the word ‘RV’ in the actual name of the product. We wanted to have that name – RV – in there, and we are now ‘Park Model RV’s.’”
Soard is pleased with the RVIA staff support his company and the other 23 park trailer manufacturers who have joined RVIA since last year have been receiving in a number of ways — from seals to marketing to shipment reports — under the watch of Matt Wald, executive director of park model RV’s for RVIA.
“Those items are all important,” said Soard. “You have government affairs working hard to get a list of the code states and what their issues are and how to define park models. That was huge, and so was getting accurate shipping data. That’s a big deal, and we were very pleased with how that came about. Getting us RV seals was very helpful. Then, there’s the Show Committee integrating us back into the Louisville Show. That was a big deal for us as well.
“Again,” he added, “all of this took staff’s time and effort to get things done for us. These are all things that we all, as a committee, wanted to be addressed, and they were handled very professionally. All things considered, the recognition within RVIA of the seasonal camping market and how big it is, that was a big deal to us. I’d say, overall, it’s been an incredible first year with RVIA, and I’m very pleased with how smoothly the transition has been going.”
Seasonal Camping Committee member Tim Gage, vice president over park models and cabins for Phoenix-based RV and manufactured home builder Cavco Industries Inc., agrees with Soard’s assessment.
“I think that the direction we’re headed in is going to be definitely positive for our segment of the RV industry,” says Gage, whose company in June introduced a new parkmodels.com website. “And I like the new branding, so to speak, as a ‘Park Model RV.’ That’s really what we are. I think that things have gone well.”
Gage appreciates the “phenomenal support” of Wald, who told WCM that standards inspections were the most pressing priority over the past year in integrating these new companies, which together account for about 3,000 units a year — a fairly small number vs. the RV industry’s estimated total wholesale shipment numbers of 310,000 for 2013. In fact, Wald says the need for consistent and professional standards inspections was one of the main reasons the park model sector wanted to rejoin RVIA in the first place after exiting in 1994.
“Everybody (park trailer builders) was very nervous about how that was going to go,” said Wald. “They had 20 years of experience with third-party inspectors who took a very different approach to the inspection than our inspectors do. Ultimately, the (RVIA) inspectors have found a very high degree of conformance with ANSI 119.5 (the park model standard) among the OEMS.”
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) board wrapped up Committee Week, held June 2-6 at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel in Washington, D.C., by approving a host of committee recommendations at their meeting on Thursday.
In addition, RVIA named two new members to its board. Mike Farmer, vice president of sales and marketing for Carefree of Colorado, will fulfill the term of the company seat being vacated by Jeff Rutherford, who is leaving Carefree of Colorado to join Airxcel. Jim Hammill, president of Roadtrek Motorhomes, will assume that company’s seat which had been filled by Jeff Hanemaayer who is resigning.
In the area of industry education, the board gave approval to a new pilot program designed to help increase awareness of and participation in industry technician training and certification programs. Kicking off in July, the six-month pilot effort will utilize in-field representatives visiting RV dealerships in the northwest (Idaho, Oregon and Washington) and south central (Louisiana and Texas) United States to test the new approach. The effectiveness of the pilot program will be reviewed at the end of the six-month period.
The field reps will work to establish relationships with service managers and technicians to identify those involved in service areas at the dealership and gather contact information. They will also examine what service training has been received at the dealership and what training may be needed. If training in a specific area is needed, the field rep would work to facilitate making that training available to the dealership and others within the region.
In other actions, the RVIA Board approved:
• Using the term “park model RVs” for public relations and marketing purposes while using either of the terms “recreational park trailers” or “park model RVs” for regulatory and standards purposes.
• Adopting the 2014 editions of the NFPA 1192, NFPA 70 (NEC) and ANSI 12V Standard effective May 1, 2014, with a mandatory enforcement date of Sept. 1, 2014.
• Investigating the feasibility of participating in the development of a global RV standard (ISO) to identify the potential benefits of such an endeavor.
• Adding Class B motorhomes to the “Retail Sales Activity” (12-month Rate of Change) section of the Monthly Marketing Report beginning with the July report.
• Raising the spare/demo unit fee at the California RV Show from $300 to $400 for 2013.
• Increasing the registration fees at the show for nonexhibiting attendees from $60 to $100 for members and from $120 to $200 for non-members for 2013.
The RVIA board actions were the result of recommendations from many of the association’s standing committees that met from June 2-4. Programs with specific budgets for FY2014 are pending until final approval by the RVIA Executive Committee at its August budget meeting and the RVIA Board at its September meeting.
The American Recreation Coalition (ARC) on June 4 welcomed Jon Jarvis, director of the National Park Service, as its special guest speaker at the Great Outdoors Week Recreation Exchange, hosted jointly by ARC and the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).
While complimenting the readiness of new Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, Jarvis’s remarks covered a number of key topics, including the challenges currently facing the National Park Service (NPS), the agency’s upcoming 2016 Centennial and new agency initiatives, according to a press release.
As it prepares for its second century, the National Park Service is encountering a number of significant challenges, from essentially flat visitation to aging infrastructure, and Jarvis commented that the lack of cultural and ethnic diversity among visitors and the irrelevance of the parks to too many young people were even greater concerns than the lack of growth in visitation. “We’ve got to connect to all Americans,” he said, describing the lack of diversity and youth as “a recipe for decline.”
Another challenge cited by the director is funding. He described both the current economic situation and the federal budgetary process as “tough,” explaining that the Park Service is faced with the difficult task of managing “a perpetuity mission on an annual appropriation.”
Directly related to the funding issue is the agency’s $11 billion infrastructure-maintenance backlog, half of which involves roads. Other challenges include the wide-ranging impacts of climate change, Americans’ lack of interest in history and the need to enhance technical connectivity – seen as absolutely essential by young people – in the national parks.
Despite this daunting list, Jarvis remains optimistic. “They’re all fixable with some work,” said Jarvis, who described the Centennial — to be celebrated on August 25, 2016 — as an opportunity not only to celebrate but also to prepare for a second century of stewardship and public engagement by laying out specific actions to meet specific goals. Four goals that will be the focus of Centennial preparations entail connecting people to parks, advancing the agency’s educational role, preserving special places and enhancing organizational excellence.
Jarvis feels that connecting people to parks begins in neighborhoods, noting that agency outreach programming needs “to go to where the people are.”
As examples of the Park Service’s educational mission, he cited the lessons that can be learned by visiting Gettysburg or Vicksburg rather than just reading about them.
Meanwhile, Jarvis reminded the group that the first director of the National Park Service, Stephen Mather, was a marketing expert from the private sector who had successfully sold the national parks – “in the middle of nowhere” – to both the U.S. Congress and American people by partnering with the tourism industry, represented in those days by the railroads with the National Geographic Society and with the artistic community to attract people to these special places.
Today, in contrast, while the agency’s Organic Act tasks the NPS with both the regulation and promotion of the national parks, the regulatory side has been dominant.
Yet, he characterized the job done on the promotional side as “not so hot,” although, he says, the situation is changing. For one thing, Grey Advertising has been hired by the National Park Foundation to develop an over-arching campaign strategy for the national parks in conjunction with the Centennial. Utilizing this effort to build awareness of the National Park System will take a real marketing strategy, he stated, likening it to the RV industry’s Go RVing campaign, and will involve the use of well known figures from sports and Hollywood, as well as iconic events like the Tournament of Roses Parade and halftime at the Super Bowl. A successful campaign will also mean increased visitation and the development of a constituency for parks – as both stewards and philanthropists – among the next generation.
The agency, in turn, is also looking at new models for financing its operations, he reported, and is carefully evaluating the many different ideas for sustainable supplemental funding introduced recently during a gathering at the Bipartisan Policy Center. And he praised the innovative ideas that are coming from urban parks, involving community engagement, new partnerships, and the restoration of both lands and waters. Linking outdoor experiences with improved health offers another avenue for increasing interest in and support for the outdoors.
In fact, the medical community should be prescribing the outdoors, Jarvis asserted, telling people to “Go RVing, go fishing . . . take a hike and call me in the morning.”
He noted that the National Park Service would be co-sponsoring a conference with the Centers for Disease Control in 2014 on “Healthy Parks, Healthy People” – in partnership with national park concessioners – through which healthy food will be introduced into the park experience. And Jarvis invited the audience to join him on the national mall the following day for a special event featuring healthy food.
Jarvis said land-management agencies were working together to improve connectivity and access to public lands and have become involved in initiatives recognizing the contributions of various ethnic groups and appealing to children as well, including a new partnership with Sesame Street. He also reported that a new study on the economic impact of national parks was being undertaken and should be ready by 2016.
He concluded his remarks by describing the national parks as a great – and distinctively American – concept to establish places where all the people can enjoy the outdoors. “We are looking to use every one of our tools in our toolbox and every one of our partners . . . and every one of the land management agencies . . . to really re-engage the American public in this extraordinary asset,” he said.
Asked afterward during a question-and-answer period about the impact of the sequestration process, Jarvis described actions that had been taken to absorb the mandated 5% reduction in funding. Among them are delayed openings, facility closures, reduced hours and programs, more deferred maintenance, a hiring freeze, a decrease in seasonal employees and furloughs of park police. “I think we will muddle through this summer,” he said. “We didn’t close any parks.”
But he did express concern about the impact of additional funding cuts. All across the country, he asserted, parks are economic engines for the areas that surround them, meaning that park closures would impact far more than the parks themselves.
So, what’s his message to Congress?
“What we do is not a cost,” he said. “It’s an investment. It has enormous return.”
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) team of inspectors met with staff from the association’s Standards and Education department from May 7-9 at RVIA headquarters in Reston, Va. The meetings are held regularly to help maintain and improve the consistency in the standards inspection process. The primary focus at this session was to review the recent enforcement positions published in the RV Handbook, and also to continue the effort to become better educated on all the ANSI A119.5 Recreational Park Trailer Standard (2009 edition) requirements. The inspectors also submitted technical issues that they have discovered during their inspections which resulted in the drafting of several handbook updates and code change proposals for RVIA Technical Subcommittee review this October. During the meeting, the group also reviewed upcoming 2014 NFPA 1192, ANSI 12V and NEC code changes that will start being enforced September 1, 2014. The next inspection staff meeting is scheduled during the upcoming RVIA National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky. Pictured in the photo are (L-R): John Proteau, standards administrator/chief inspector; Kent Perkins, senior director of RV standards; Gatie Gore, standards administrative assistant; Curt Richardson, senior inspector; Mick Sass, inspector/media coordinator; Nancy Jo Bell-London, inspection services coordinator; Greg Wischmeyer, inspector/certified technician; Bruce Hopkins, vice president, standards and education; and Sharonne Lee, director, technical information.
If you find yourself on the road this Memorial Day weekend, you might want to keep track of the recreational vehicles you see.
MSN Money reported that while not exactly a surefire economic bellwether, RV sales have been coming back after a disastrous recession for the industry, and they may be another indicator of a strengthening economy.
Elkhart, Ind., is the heart of the business, with about 83% of all North American RVs manufactured in the region. Unemployment in Elkhart soared to more than 20% in 2009 as the economic downturn deepened, RV sales plunged and several manufacturers closed their doors or disappeared through consolidation.
“When the stock market went to hell in a hand basket, when the ability to get credit went to hell in a hand basket, when your home (value) all of a sudden . . . went down so drastically, your wealth factor is pretty low. That stops motor home buying,” Richard Coon, the president of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), said recently at an industry breakfast.
But according to the RVIA, a stronger economy has pulled the industry out of a ditch. The trade group predicts more than 307,000 recreational vehicles will be manufactured and shipped this year. That number is still below the pre-recession high of 353,400 reached in 2007, but it’s nearly twice as high as the low point of just under 166,000 in 2009.
Recreational vehicles come in a wide variety of types and price ranges. Units that fit on the back of a pickup and popup camping trailers start at about $3,500. They go all the way up to tour-bus-size “home away from home” Class A vehicles, which can run anywhere from $50,000 to the hundreds of thousands of dollars. And of course you need to factor in gas prices.
Richard Curtin, the director of the Consumer Research Center at the University of Michigan, says a combination of factors is behind the recent growth in recreational vehicle sales, including an easing of credit terms and better availability of consumer loans, as well as modest gains in household income.
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The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) has partnered with the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration in a program to allow RVIA members enhanced access to international trade resources offered by the federal government.
Under the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the two organizations, RVIA and the U.S. Commercial Service’s network of worldwide offices will work together on marketing, education programs and events leveraging both entities’ expertise to help make businesses — and particularly small and medium-sized firms — more export savvy. Joint activities may include building awareness through outreach at trade shows and online registration for resource support.
As a strategic partner with the U.S. Commercial Service’s New Market Exporter Initiative, RVIA member companies will receive:
• Expert advice on new export markets.
• Access to free on-line market research reports.
• Opportunities for export training.
• Access to trade counseling through Commercial Service’s worldwide network by registering at www.export.gov/rvia.
• Assistance in complying with regulatory and documentation requirements.
• Expert advice, local contacts and market intelligence from specialists located in targeted markets.
• Services to connect to local distributors and representatives.
“We’re pleased to welcome RVIA as a partner in our efforts to strengthen the U.S. economy and support local jobs through expanding U.S. exports,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez. “With more than 95% of potential customers living outside U.S. borders, it’s imperative that American companies of all sizes consider the benefits of selling their products abroad.”
“The RV industry is growing and thriving in established and new markets in countries across the globe,” said RVIA President Richard Coon. “The services and expertise offered through the New Market Exporter Initiative will be very useful to our members who are looking to explore opportunities in global markets. We are very proud to partner with the U.S. Commercial Service, part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, in this initiative and urge our members to take full advantage of the tools and resources available through the effort.”
For more information about the New Market Exporter Initiative and to begin using the program’s services, go to www.export.gov/rvia. For additional information, contact Craig Kirby, RVIA vice president of international business and general counsel, at firstname.lastname@example.org.