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RVIA to Open Elkhart Regional Office on May 1

April 24, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Elkhart site for RVIA offices.

Elkhart site for RVIA offices.

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) will officially open its new regional office in Elkhart, Ind., on May 1 and host an open house for members and guests from 1-5 p.m. on the afternoon of May 8 following the RVBusiness RV Industry Power Breakfast program that morning.

After announcing plans to establish the office at RVIA’s Annual Meeting in March, association staff have been working the last two months on the administrative and logistical details to open the facility, which is located in an office complex in eastern Elkhart at 663 CR 17.

RVIA’s regional office will be staffed by Sharonne Lee, RVIA’s director of education, who is moving to the Elkhart area from the association’s Reston, Va., headquarters, and Scott Graham, the newly hired national show director, who is relocating from his previous job with the Christian Booksellers Association (CBA) in Colorado Springs, Colo. There will also be offices for RVIA’s team of inspectors to work from as needed when in the area, RVIA said today (April 24) in a written announcement.

“In looking at how to structure the office we felt that having elements of the show, RV standards inspection and industry technical training functions staffed there offered the best approach as these areas typically have the most regular interaction between RVIA’s members and staff,” said RVIA President Richard Coon. “Sharonne and Scott are eager to get started at the new office, and I know that both will do a fantastic job in representing RVIA in the Elkhart area.”

There will also be office space for other RVIA vice presidents and senior staff to use when traveling to Elkhart on association business. “In addition to the personnel who will be based there permanently, we are making it a priority to have other RVIA staff in Elkhart to meet with members at their facilities or to host them at the regional office so we can develop a keener understanding of the issues impacting their businesses and they can learn more about all that RVIA does on their behalf,” Coon said.

“With the consolidation of the RV industry, now more than ever a great majority of our members are located in northern Indiana,” he added. “As an association we felt it was important to establish this regional office to provide easier access to RVIA for our members, to enhance the lines of communication that we have with them, and to have the association become a part of the community.”

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Graham Named National Show Director for RVIA

April 11, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Scott Graham

Scott Graham

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.

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RVIA Board OKs Regional Office in Elkhart, Ind.

March 7, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

RVIA Chairman Doug Gaeddert

After more than a year’s debate, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) board voted Wednesday (Mar. 6) to set up a regional office in Elkhart, Ind., a northern Indiana community around which North America’s RV industry has circled its wagons in the post-recessionary era.

The board meeting ran in conjunction with the RVIA Annual Meeting, which opened Tuesday and concludes today at the Park Hyatt Aviara in Carlsbad, Calif.

“Yesterday’s vote exemplifies your board and your association’s commitment to its membership as well as both their desire and their ability to strategically execute change,” Chairman Doug Gaeddert, a general manager for Forest River Inc., Elkhart, told members Thursday during the association’s annual membership meeting.

The matter apparently was a source of contention among the national trade association’s leadership right down to the wire. One side argued that it was an unnecessary expense considering that things have been going well — financially and otherwise — for the 49-employee trade group based in Reston, Va., that represents the industry in areas of standards, legislative lobbying, technical training and show sponsorship. Others, however, cited the fact that more than 83% of national shipments are now generated by the “Michiana” area around Elkhart County — up from 53% in 1999 — felt the move was long overdue.

While Elkhart may not be the Midwest equivalent of the Silicon Valley, Gaeddert joked in his chairman’s remarks, he pointed out the area “certainly is the undisputed heart” of the RV industry.

“Since my board involvement began with RVIA back in 2003, one sentiment in particular has plagued me,” said Gaeddert from the podium at the San Diego-area hotel. “This association, which does such a tremendous job promoting, defending and protecting our membership and the industry as a whole, is often perceived somewhat like the federal government. But by firmly establishing an RVIA office in northern Indiana, it’s somewhat like bringing a piece of the government to the people and changing what I’ve too often heard as ‘us’ and ‘them’ to ‘we.’”

Further details on the new office are to be released soon, added Gaeddert, who applauded the board and the association for having the “courage and wisdom to make this bold, historic and timely step forward.”

Also in his remarks, Gaeddert addressed the current state of the market, an industrial sector that clearly has faced its share of weather-related obstacles this winter.

“Despite the terrible weather and plant closings that plagued Michiana in January, 2014 is off to a great start,” he told RVIA’s members. “January’s numbers have now been finalized and total industry shipments were up 4.5% over January of 2013. This was in spite of approximately 20% of the month’s potential build and ship days being forfeited to the weather.”

Yet, Gaeddert asserted, obstacles do exist, such as material shortages, labor issues and a transportation sector that is struggling to keep up.

“Many transport yards are at capacity and can’t even physically store any more units, much less keep up with shipping,” he added. “There are probably in excess of 20,000 undelivered units coming off February’s month-end awaiting delivery from transport yards. This has been an ongoing and growing issue for the past few years that isn’t getting any better. It’s kind of like (comedian) Bill Murray getting stuck in ‘Groundhog Day.’”

RVIA President Richard Coon, in turn, described an association that continues to gain strength, despite having cut employment from 61 to 49 since the recession while also watching its member supplier roster dip from 320 in 2008 to 200 in 2014 and its manufacturing membership culled from 105 to 66 in that same time period.

He also outlined a busy list of board initiatives that includes a continuing focus on state franchise laws, an increasing participation in technical training, growing RVIA’s membership by 10% and developing a “formalized industry unity process” that involves a general outreach to both the private and public campground sectors in the wake of a low profile January industry meeting.

A number of award recipients, meanwhile, also were announced, including the “Distinguished Service to the RV Industry Award” to Mary “Mike” Hutya, RVIA’s retiring vice president of meetings and shows; the “David J. Humphreys RV Industry Unity Award” to Jim Sheldon, a former RVIA chairman representing the Allied Recreation Group’s Monaco RV; and the “National Service Award” to Bank of the West’s Mark Beecher.

Other awards included:

•  National Education Service Award: Jeff Rutherford, Airxel Inc.

• Distinguished Achievement in RV Jouralism Award: Chuck Woodbury, RVTravel.com.

• RVIA Special Award: Walt Bennet, Thor Industries Inc.

• National Scholastic Award: Eleonore Hamm, RVDA of Canada.

•  Distinguished Achievement in RV Standards Award: Leslie Woodward, Fairview Fittings.

• National Legislative Award: Ralph Simoni, RVIA’s California lobbyist.

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RVIA PR Team Creates ‘Media Buzz’ for Industry

January 31, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) public relations team has been working with show promoters and reporters to generate media coverage of local RV shows.

According to a press release, efforts helped create media buzz about consumer shows with stories appearing in major media outlets around the country. Stories have focused on brisk sales and record-breaking attendance.

With 56,953 attendees, the Florida RV SuperShow set a new attendance record. “All the negativity that haunted the industry seems to have dissipated,” said Lance Wilson, executive director of the Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA), which hosts the show. “People were more upbeat and I think the dealers and manufacturers are anticipating another good year.”

A similar report about the Central Gulf Coast Boat, Sport and RV Show in Lake Charles, La., appeared on the Lake Charles NBC affiliate.

“Everything’s pretty much back on track,” Johnny Klontzakis from Happy Trails RV told viewers. “We’re doing well, the industry is back, the innovation is there. The manufacturers are excited, the dealers are excited. It’s going to be a good year.”

In Spokane, Wash., show promoter Steve Cody told a reporter for The Spokesman-Review newspaper that Baby Boomers are a big market for the RV industry. Attendance at the show topped 12,000, and dealers sold 140 units in four days. “It’s hard to keep RVs on the lot,” Cody said.

Visit the “News Room” at RVIA.org for a complete run-down of show coverage in the mainstream media.

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RVIA’s Efforts Exempt RVs from New Jersey Bill

January 30, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) was successful in exempting RVs from a New Jersey bill titled the “Motor Vehicle Owners Right to Repair Act” that was patterned after similar legislation passed in Massachusetts last year.

According to a press release, the bill, now moving through legislative process, requires motor vehicle manufacturers to provide motor vehicle owners and independent repair shops with access to the same repair information and tools given to automotive dealer repair facilities.

Under the legislation’s provision, a manufacturer of motor vehicles sold in the state must make available for purchase the same diagnostic and repair information, including repair technical updates, provided to its dealers, to owners and independent repair facilities for motor vehicles model year 2002 and newer. Also, a violation would be an unlawful practice, which under the Consumer Fraud Act is punishable by a monetary penalty of not more than $10,000 for a first offense and not more than $20,000 for any subsequent offense.

RVIA was also successful in exempting RVs from the Massachusetts Right to Repair legislation that was passed in December 2013 after a lengthy and circuitous process. The association sought the RV exemption in Massachusetts because the bill required motor vehicle manufacturers to use an out dated SAE standard for on-board diagnostics. The penalty for non-compliance was severe – a prohibition on selling vehicles in Massachusetts commencing with the 2018 model year.

A similar proposal in Maine is also under consideration. The Maine legislature was waiting to see how Massachusetts handled their “Right to Repair” bill before proceeding. At this time, no action is scheduled.

“RVIA works to exempt RVs from right-to-repair legislation because these initiatives are aimed at the automobile and light truck markets and have provisions that the RV industry is simply not able to comply with because of the differences in the vehicles and the industries,” said RVIA’s Jay Landers, senior director of government affairs.

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RVIA Adds Speakers to Annual Meeting Agenda

January 30, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Todd Buchholz

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) has added two speakers – a noted economist and an acclaimed futurist — to the RV Manufacturer/Supplier Forum, taking place the morning of March 6 at the association’s Annual Meeting,

According to a press release, Todd Bucholz will discuss his thoughts on the economy and where it is headed in the first session of the morning. He is a former director of economic policy at the White House, a managing director of the $15 billion Tiger Hedge Fund, and recently hosted his own special on CNBC. His editorials in the Wall Street Journal and commentaries on PBS correctly forecast the 2001 slowdown in the U.S., the 2008 pop in commodity prices, and the downgrade of the U.S. debt rating.

David Houle will talk about the mega trends and forces that will shape our collective future and examine specific trends that will affect the RV industry. He is one of the nation’s top authors and bloggers on future related topics and is often called “the CEO’s futurist.” Houle was part of the team that created and launched MTV, Nickelodeon, VH1 and CNN Headline News, has won two Emmy awards, and is a featured contributor on Oprah.com.

“These are two dynamic speakers that will offer Annual Meeting attendees valuable insight into the economic climate and future trends that will shape our industry,” said RVIA President Richard Coon.

RVIA’s Annual Meeting is taking place from March 4-8 at the Park Hyatt Aviara in Carlsbad, Calif. Members interested in attending can contact RVIA’s Huyen Dang at hdang@rvia.org or (703) 620-6003 (ext. 305) for more information about the event.

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Longtime RVIA Shows VP ‘Mike’ Hutya to Retire

January 13, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Mary "Mike" Hutya

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) today (Jan. 13) announced that Mary “Mike” Hutya, vice president of meetings and shows, will retire on March 31 after 38 years of service to RVIA and the RV industry.

“Mike has been a key part of our shows department for nearly four decades,” said RVIA President Richard Coon in a press release. “While most of her work has happened ‘behind the scenes,’ she has offered effective leadership and management as vice president. I know I speak for our industry’s leadership and all who have gotten to know her in wishing Mike the best in retirement and in thanking her for all her work on our behalf.”

Jim Jacobs, chief operating officer of Jayco Inc. and chairman of RVIA’s Shows Committee, said, “Mike is a real pro, and it’s been a treat to work with her over the years. Her extensive knowledge and shrewd negotiating skills have played a major role in expanding and improving RVIA’s shows and events. I’ll miss her.”

Hutya joined RVIA in 1975 and has overseen the shows department since 1981. During that time, the industry underwent radical growth with shipments more than doubling. The annual National RV Trade Show played a key role in that growth by offering a central place for the industry to showcase its latest products and to conduct business. Hutya’s work was central to expanding and improving the National RV Trade Show and the California RV Show, said Coon.

“I’ll miss the people I’ve had a chance to work with at RVIA and throughout the RV industry, but I am looking forward to moving away from the city and enjoying retirement,” Hutya said. “It’s been a joy to play a part in the growth of this great industry, and I’m grateful for my years in the RV industry and for all the support from so many. I’m certain that more success lies ahead for all my friends and colleagues.”

With Hutya’s retirement, RVIA will divide the vice president of meetings and shows position into two separate functions. The responsibility of the National RV Trade Show and the California RV Show will now fall under the direction of James Ashurst, vice president of public relations and advertising. RVIA will be hiring a professional for the newly-formed position of shows executive director that will work in concert with Kelly Smith, shows manager, to oversee the daily management of these two industry events.

The planning of all other RVIA meetings and events will be handled by Doreen Cashion, meetings manager, under the direction of Coon.

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Diabetes Association Honors California RV Show

December 13, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Rocker Bret Michaels signs autographs during RVIA's California RV Show

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) California RV Show was presented with the Orange County American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) Top Third Party Event award during the group’s 2013 Volunteer & Sponsor Awards Celebration on Dec. 4, at the Yost Theater in downtown Santa Ana. According to a press release, RVIA was honored for helping to raise awareness of diabetes through the guest appearance of Bret Michaels at the event last October.

“The whole idea of Bret Michaels coming to the show was to promote the advocacy of the American Diabetes Association,“ said RVIA Western Show Director Tom Gaither. “While Bret greeted our guests at the show, we pledged the gate proceeds from one day at the show to the ADA.”

During his appearance, Michaels introduced two brothers with Type 1 diabetes. The boys, 9-year-old Aiden and 13-year-old Cullen Darius, are youth ambassadors and have a daily monitoring of their sugar and carbohydrate levels, sometimes as much as eight times per day. Their dream of meeting Bret Michaels was realized at the California RV Show. The meeting was arranged by the Orange County American Diabetes Association and George Carson of Carson Marketing, in conjunction with the show.

At the Orange County ADA’s annual dinner awards ceremony, Gaither presented a check representing the gate proceeds as planned. Tom received a glass award on behalf of RVIA for being the Top Third Party fund raiser event of the year. The evening concluded with promoting next year’s events which will raise funds to stop diabetes which is the laudable goal of American Diabetes Association.

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August Shipments Up 2%, Motorhomes Up 34%

September 30, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Shipments to retailers of all RVs products were reported at 24,995 units in the August survey of manufacturers, 2.2% greater than the same month a year ago, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) reported Monday (Sept. 30).

Although towables were off a marginal 1.4% from August of 2012, motorhomes more than made up the difference finishing ahead of this month last year by 34.5% — for the best August total since 2007, nearly 50% greater than August of 2008.

Year to date, RV shipments have reached 226,125 units through August and represent an annualized pace of more than 310,000 units. All RV product categories except folding camping trailers have improved this year, with conventional travel trailers growing by the most units and Class C motorhomes tallying the largest percentage gain.

In a nutshell, U.S. RV manufacturers through August shipped:

• .3% more travel trailers for the month and 11.4% more than 2013 for the first eight months for a year-to-date total of 140,318 units.

• 3.9% fewer fifth-wheels for August, a 6.6% YTD gain for a total of 49,242 units.

• 9.1% fewer folding camping trailers than 2012 for the month and 3.3% fewer YTD for the year. Total: 8,475 units.

• 23.5% fewer truck campers for the month, up 1% YTD to 2,466 units.

• 31.7% more Class A motorhomes in August for a YTD gain of 33% to 12,399 units.

• .6% fewer Class B van campers for August, resulting in a 2.2% YTD gain on total shipments of 1,453 units.

• 45% more Class C motorhomes in August, leading to a 42.8% YTD improvement over 2012 on shipments of 11,772 units.

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RVIA & HGTV Partners for ’14 RV Product Show

August 30, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) is now working with producers of HGTV’s annual RV special, which has premiered on New Year’s Day for the past 13 years, for the 2014 edition of the program, which has been the cable networks highest rated special for the past several years.

According to the RVIA, filming will take place at America’s Largest RV Show in Hershey, Pa., show in early September. RV manufacturers are being asked to forward information about new models, features, innovations or accessories that their company will have on display at the event to RVIA’s director of media relations at kbroom@rvia.org or by calling him at (703) 620-6003, ext. 304.

While RVIA cannot guarantee your product will be featured, RVIA would like to be sure producers are aware of the newest, most innovative and interesting products our industry is making.

 

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