Bob Ashley, a columnist for RV Business and Woodall’s Campground Management magazines, has been honored by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) with its “Distinguished Service in RV Journalism” award.
The award was announced at the RVIA Annual Meeting last week in Orlando, Fla.
Ashley is an Indiana-based freelance writer/editor and a 25-year newspaper veteran who has focused on the RV industry and national recreation issues for 18 years. He writes a regular column, titled “Public Domain” for RVB while also freelancing for other RV trade and consumer publications.
In a press release, RVIA noted:
“The Distinguished Achievement in RV Journalism Award is presented to journalists for exemplary coverage of the RV industry or RV travel. Bob Ashley has covered the RV industry for nearly 20 years as both a trade writer for RVBusiness and a reporter for enthusiast publications such as Motorhome and Trailer Life. He specializes in writing about the research, development and production of RVs and in his career has covered the industry’s evolution in product development from the frontlines. He also examines key legislative issues affecting the RV industry in his “Public Domain” column in RVBusiness.”
The award will be presented during Committee Week in June.
Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) members celebrated Dicor Corp.’s Gregg Fore for his service as the association’s chairman from 2010–2012 at the Chairman’s Dinner and Gala that took place on March 5 at RVIA’s Annual Meeting in Orlando, Fla.
RVIA Chairman Doug Gaeddert said that Fore led the association in a precarious time as it navigated a sometimes rocky road toward recovery from the Great Recession, according to a press release. “Gregg’s calm and steady leadership guided us through some challenging times and positioned the industry for sustainable growth and prosperity,” he said.
Gaeddert also detailed key accomplishments under Fore’s leadership This included enhancing industry education and certification with the introduction of the RV service technician career ladder; the launch of Go RVing’s “AWAY” campaign – the industry’s first all new campaign since 2005; a focus on capitalizing on the growing global RV market; and a renewed focus on uniting industry allies.
“Under Gregg’s leadership, we’ve strengthened our relationship with dealer partners, moved toward a more uniform North American RV market with the creation of the Canadian Coalition Committee, and healed old wounds to welcome recreation park trailer manufacturers back into RVIA,” said Gaeddert. “These developments have increased unity, making our industry stronger, more efficient and more consumer-focused.”
Gaeddert invited past RVIA Chairs Norm Jacobson, Mel Adams and Jim Sheldon to join him in presenting Fore with several gifts in recognition of his service, including the Chairman’s Award plaque, an RVIA chairman’s ring and the gavel he used during his time in office. Fore’s wife Nancy was also recognized for her support and presented a crystal vase. On behalf of the RVIA staff, RVIA President Richard Coon gave Fore a scrapbook commemorating his term as chairman that included photos, press clippings, and letters of congratulations from association colleagues.
“It was an honor and pleasure to serve as RVIA chairman. The experience was rewarding and meaningful to me in many ways,” said Fore. “I want to thank our members for their support of the association, the many volunteers who serve on committees and the Board for their hard work on so many issues, and the association staff for their efforts conducted on our behalf. It was pleasure working with all of you.”
During the March 5 Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) Annual Membership Meeting at the Loews Portofino Bay Resort in Orlando, Fla., industry leaders were honored for their outstanding contributions to the association and the RV industry.
“RVIA’s awards program recognizes individuals in a variety of areas who work selflessly and diligently for the betterment of the RV industry,” said RVIA Chairman Doug Gaeddert in a press release. “It is an honor to acknowledge the success they have achieved.”
Distinguished Service to the RV Industry Award – Recognized as the industry’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award recognizes an individual within the RV industry who sets themselves apart through outstanding service. This year’s recipient was Bob Olson of Winnebago Industries Inc.
Olson has served on the RVIA board and on the Executive Committee, holding the offices of first vice chairman, second vice chairman, treasurer and secretary. He also has served as Go RVing co-chairman with Tom Stinnett for the last three years, helping to re-energize the national industry advertising campaign’s consumer appeal and industry response.
“Bob joined the RVIA board in 2008, just as the RV market experienced one of its most severe downturns and RVIA faced daunting economic challenges,” said Gaeddert. “Through his leadership with RVIA and Go RVing, we have overcome difficult challenges and remained unified in the process. It is entirely fitting that we honor Bob for his career-long commitment to advancing the RV industry.”
Special Award – Norm Jacobson (second from right) of Lance Camper Manufacturing was honored with the Special Award for his extraordinary contributions to the RV industry’s overall success. As a board member of the Trailer Coach Association in the early 1970s Jacobson played a key role in the merger with Recreation Vehicle Institute that created RVIA.
“After helping found RVIA, Norm’s leadership and service continued full bore for the next 29 years. As RVIA’s longest serving board member and in his service as chairman in 1983 and 1984, he has helped the association grow and thrive in representing the industry,” said Gaeddert. “As Norm enters retirement, it is a special honor to recognize him for his illustrious career and for his exemplary service to the association and the industry.”
David J. Humphreys Industry Unity Award – Recognizing those individuals who continuously strive to encourage the multiple constituencies of the RV industry to work collectively for the growth and betterment of the industry, the award was presented to Mel Adams (left) of Airxcel and Rick Horsey (right) of Parkview RV Center. The two created the award in 2005 to honor Dave Humphreys as he retired from RVIA.
Adams and Horsey have worked individually and in tandem at their respective companies and in their leadership positions at RVIA and RVDA for more than a decade to forge greater industry unity among RV manufacturers, suppliers and dealers. Specifically, they have worked hand-in-hand as strong advocates of the industry’s training and education efforts, working tirelessly to bring all parties together on this import topic.
“They are passionate advocates on the need to work together and to find common ground,” said Gaeddert. “Our industry has benefited greatly from their work on industry education. They are very deserving recipients who embody the spirit of this award.”
Other award recipients announced at the Annual Meeting were:
Distinguished Achievement in RV Standards – Tom Ryan, D & R Agency
National Education Service Award – Garett Carolus, Keystone RV Co.
Distinguished Achievement in RV Journalism – Bob Ashley, RV Business
National Legislative Award – The Honorable Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.) and Roy Dockum, Oklahoma Motor Vehicle Commission
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) 2013 Annual Meeting, March 4-7 in Orlando, Fla., provided a fast-paced look at the national trade association’s affairs and at the industry the Reston, Va.-based association represents. And the picture as presented this past week was a positive one in most every respect, as Chairman Doug Gaeddert, a general manager for Elkhart, Ind.-based Forest River Inc., pointed out in his Tuesday (March 5) Membership Meeting remarks.
“Last year, when we were together in Palm Springs, the RV market was continuing its ascent out of the abyss of 2008 and 2009,” Gaeddert told the members at the outset of his comments. “2011 year-end shipments had grown by 4% over 2010 totals. Shipments in early 2012 were running about 10% over the previous year, and projections put shipments at 265,000 units by the end of 2012.
“As we continued through 2012, the RV market built even greater momentum, ending the year at 285,750 units – a gain of 13% over 2011 and 20,000 units higher than the spring forecast,” added Gaeddert. “And the momentum keeps building. Through the early months of 2013, shipments are continuing to rise and there are outstanding reports from shows and dealerships throughout the U.S. and Canada of elevated attendance, exceptional sales results and high overall consumer interest in RV ownership.”
Current forecasts are calling for shipments exceeding 307,000 units by year’s end, added Gaeddert, noting that would be the highest annual total since 2007 and one of the best “storm adjusted” years in recent history.
Behind the upswing, Gaeddert surmised, are continued gains in household wealth due to an improving stock market and rising home values plus modest gains in income and employment. Another factor is improved credit availability and terms, as the number of companies participating in the wholesale and retail RV credit markets rises.
In other Annual Meeting business:
• RVIA President Richard Coon presented a detailed glimpse of membership and shipment trends over the past few years, while RVIA’s Vice President of Administration Mac Bryan provided a detailed look at the association’s finances indicating that the trade group, along with most of its members, has taken a big step forward from the brink of the recession.
• RVIA Vice President of Public Relations and Advertising James Ashurst offered an update on the association’s PR program as well as the Go RVing Coalition’s initial 2013 campaign.
• American Recreation Coalition (ARC) President Derrick Crandall touched on the latest issues with regard to outdoor recreation on federal lands.
• Seminars included “A Campground Outlook” from Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) Chairman and CEO Jim Rogers; “An Economic Outlook” with Lowell Catlett, dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at New Mexico State University; and a panel discussion on “Succeeding in Today’s RV Market” with Mark Beecher, Bank of the West, Phil Ingrassia, president of the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), Bob Martin, Thor Industries Inc., Bill Osborne, Navistar RV and Martin Street, Stag-Parkway Inc.
• A dinner crowd saluted Past Chairman Gregg Fore, president of Dicor Corp., an Elkhart, Ind.-based RV industry supplier, at a Chairman’s Reception and Dinner.
• The association’s executive committee met prior to the week’s general agenda, while the association’s Strategic Planning Committee also sat down prior to the kickoff of the Annual Meeting.
Rogers, meanwhile, urged the recreational vehicle sector to work more closely in the future with the accommodations component of the industry, the RV parks and campgrounds. Focusing on “mutual objectives,” he pointed out, could go a long way toward “nurturing this industry in ways it has not been” in the past.
“Just being invited today by Richard to participate with you has reminded me that I’ve been back at KOA for 13 years and this is the first time that I’ve actually had the opportunity to talk to RVIA,” said Rogers, a former Harrah’s executive from Reno in his address during the Membership Meeting. “It’s a pleasure to be here and to see so many familiar faces.”
The bottom line from Rogers: There’s a big market out there in North America’s campgrounds, many of whom are camping in tents, to which a marketing-minded RV industry ought to look for growth.
“Well, we have an audience out there that are already staying outdoors, and they’re at my campgrounds,” said Rogers. “And they’re your prospects — the people that probably have a greater livelihood of buying an RV because they’re already in the outdoor lifestyle.”
Editor’s Note: The following is a column by Doug Gaeddert, chairman of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), that appeared in the Winter issue of RVIA Today.
As we kick off 2013, our industry is enjoying rising shipments and incredible reports from RV dealerships and shows throughout North America regarding attendance, sales numbers and strong interest in RV ownership. That’s great news. But, I believe this news is even more encouraging when you consider the degree of consolidation that our industry has experienced since 2008; how close we really are as an industry to “storm adjusted” shipment highs for the last 10 years; and what this might mean to us all.
To begin, let’s examine the degree of consolidation the RV industry has experienced. If we take a look back to August 2008 just prior to the economic catastrophe caused by the dramatic bursting of the “credit bubble” and then fast forward to September 2012, the shift in numbers in the manufacturing and supplier segments of the RV industry is dramatic. In just over a four-year span, the number of RV manufacturers in the U.S. has declined nearly 35% with suppliers tracking at a nearly identical pace, declining by approximately 34%.
The reasons for the reduction in the number of “players” in the market are twofold. First and foremost, many companies were casualties of the severe economic downturn. Secondly, the consolidation of the RV market has been driven by the acquisition of both operating companies that were able to stay in business as well as the purchase of assets of those companies that failed.
Based on conversations with RVDA and RV dealers, I believe there has been similar consolidation in the retail market. Even though the number of retail locations might not have declined as much, the number of ownership positions certainly has. The number of dealers either moving to a multiple location strategy, or those that had multiple locations expanding their “footprint” has been substantial and that trend is continuing.
Meanwhile, the fourth key sector of the RV market – the finance sector – is expanding, not consolidating. After bottoming out in 2008 and 2009, the number of companies participating in the wholesale and retail credit markets is on the rise. With tightened credit practices and better margin spreads, those that stayed active in the RV market are profitable, enticing new lenders to jump into the arena.
Let’s also consider the wholesale shipment numbers. When looking at RVIA’s industry shipment totals between 2003 and 2012 there is an intangible that needs to be considered. How many shipments were actually “storm- or disaster-related” over this period?
The industry recorded a high of 390,500 shipments in 2006 and a low of 165,700 in 2008. The grand total for the 10-year period was 3,002,225 units, an average of 300,225 annually.
Everyone vividly remembers hurricanes Katrina and Rita, but disaster-relief units also were shipped in 2003 and 2004 as a result of various hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and other disasters. Although impossible to pinpoint the exact number, if we use a total of relief related units over the 10-year period of 250,000, the annual “adjusted” average would be close to 275,000 and the “adjusted” peak would probably be in the low 300,000 range.
With an industry finish of 285,749 units in 2012 and a forecast in the 290,000-unit range for 2013, our industry is enjoying steady growth. My personal opinion is that the 2013 forecast is too conservative and that we’ll break the 300,000-unit mark in 2013 and challenge what would be an “adjusted” 10-year high either this year or next!
So, what does this combination of consolidation, more competitive and readily available credit, and industry shipments approaching a 10-year “adjusted” high mean to all of us? With fewer “cats to herd” (easier to agree on things!) and a “growing pie”, I believe it means that if we continue to communicate well as an industry and focus on mutual objectives that are not “competitive issues”, we can realize levels of success that our industry, consumers, dealerships, and companies have never experienced!
In business and life, the key is finding the right groove. As an industry, we seem to have found our groove after some tough years. Pete Liegl, the “Wise Man” that I’ve worked for a long time, has a great saying that he’s used with me several times over the years. It seems to apply to just about anything. “Gaeddert, old boy, there are two things that will kill a guy…greed and chickens*%#!”
I’ll close by leaving you with that “Pearl of Wisdom” to ponder as to how you can apply it to your business or life along with my continued best wishes for success in 2013 and beyond!
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) recognized the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) with a special plaque to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the association’s involvement with the standards-making organization.
In a letter accompanying the plaque, ANSI President and CEO Joe Bhatia wrote, “We congratulate RVIA on the contributions it has made in advancing the safety and quality of recreational vehicles, and thank you for your significant contributions in support of ANSI and the standardization community.”
Recreation Vehicle Institute (RVI), one of the RV industry organizations that preceded RVIA, began working with ANSI on RV standards in 1963. After RVI and the Trailer Coach Association (TCA) merged in 1974 to form RVIA, RVIA continued the relationship with ANSI in helping guide the standards-making process on behalf of the RV industry.
ANSI is a nonprofit association that establishes procedures and guidelines to create recognized minimum safety standards for products used by both consumers and industry. ANSI sanctions standards that have been created following rigid committee procedures that allow all affected entities a voice in their development. Among the critical issues reviewed by ANSI is the make-up of the committee, empowered to establish or revise the Standard. All affected entities must be represented and no interest group can be in a position to dictate the outcome.
A standards making committee for RVs has existed since 1963 that addressed travel trailers, and this committee created the first safety standard in 1971 that included travel trailers and motorhomes.
Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) Chairman Doug Gaeddert has appointed the following members to serve as chairs of the association’s standing committees for 2013:
Annual Meeting – Tim Tiffin, Tiffin Motorhomes Inc.
Awards – Dan Shea, Gulf Stream Coach Inc.
Canadian Coalition – Terry Elias, Leisure Travel Vans/Triple E RV
China Committee – Wilbur Bontrager, Jayco Inc.
Financial Services – Bob Parish, GE Capital
Industry Education – Jeff Rutherford, Carefree of Colorado.
Lawyers – Jan Kurahara, Lance Camper Mfg. Corp.
Market Information – Andy Baer, KZRV LP
Membership – Kevin Phillips, Thetford Corp.
National Show – Jim Jacobs, Jayco Inc.
Nominating – Jeff Rutherford, Carefree of Colorado
Public & Legislative Affairs – Walt Bennett, Thor Industries Inc.
Public Relations – B.J. Thompson, B.J. Thompson Associates Inc.
Recreation Park Trailer – John Soard, Fairmont Homes Inc.
RV Service Training Council – Mel Adams, Airxcel Inc.
Standards Steering – Matt Miller, Newmar Corp.
Strategic Planning – Bob Olson, Winnebago Industries Inc.
Supplier – Craig Floyd, TRC
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) March 5 Annual Membership Meeting will provide an in-depth briefing on association activities for attendees, according to a press release.
As part of the association’s Annual Meeting in Orlando, Fla., the session will feature RVIA Chairman Doug Gaeddert and RVIA President Richard Coon discussing the state of the association and speaking on a range of topics including government relations, RV standards, industry education, the RV market outlook and RVIA-sponsored trade shows. RVIA Treasurer Derald Bontrager will detail the association’s financial situation.
There will also be a review of the industry’s programs to promote RV travel and camping. RVIA Vice President of Public Relations and Advertising James Ashurst will report on the successful first year of the Go RVing “AWAY” national advertising campaign, preview plans for 2013, and highlight the media coverage being generated by RVIA’s public relations efforts.
American Recreation Coalition (ARC) President Derrick Crandall will update attendees on the efforts of his organization to address key outdoor recreation issues at the federal level.
RVIA will also honor industry and association leaders by presenting a host of awards, including the Distinguished Service to the RV Industry Award, at the meeting.
RVIA’s Annual Meeting, taking place from March 4-7 at the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, provides association members the opportunity to learn more about association activities, attend informative seminars and network with business colleagues at numerous social events. In addition to the RVIA Membership Meeting, other event highlights include the Newcomers and Welcome Reception on the evening of March 4 and the Chairman’s Reception and Dinner taking place the evening of March 5.
Annual meeting attendees will also have the option of playing golf or taking tours of Universal Studios or Disneyworld on March 6. Staff will assist attendees to obtain tee times or schedule the tours. These activities are optional and not included in the meeting registration. Attendees will depart on March 7.
Located in Universal’s Orlando Resort, the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel lets guests experience the sights and sounds of the Italian Riviera while providing AAA Four Diamond Award winning accommodations, amenities and exclusive resort benefits.
For more information or to register for the event, contact RVIA’s Huyen Dang at firstname.lastname@example.org or (703) 620-6003 (ext. 305).
Editor’s Note: The following story is excerpted from the February issue of Woodall’s Campground Management examining park models, cabins and yurts.
A survey the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) commissioned last summer through Precision Research, an Arizona-based firm that has done previous work for RVIA, revealed some broad misunderstandings or confusion about some aspects of the park trailer industry.
The firm surveyed 400 RVers and 400 non-RVers. Results showed consumers in general don’t recognize the phrases “recreational park trailer” or “destination camping” but have a far better understanding of phrases such as “park models” and “seasonal camping,” Matt Wald, the RVIA’s recreational park trailer executive director, told WCM.
To help clear up the confusion, the RVIA’s ad hoc Destination Camping Committee that commissioned the study has recommended to the RVIA board that it adopt the phrases park model and seasonal camping and drop the other terms. The board will take up the recommendations at its March meeting, Wald said.
In the meantime, the Destination Camping Committee and the Recreational Park Trailer committees, whose names may be changed pending the RVIA board action, won’t be meeting again until Committee Week in June, Wald said.
Trough Not As Deep As Commonly Thought
The decline that the park model industry has sustained since reaching an all-time high of 10,143 wholesale shipments in 2006 is not as deep as it is often portrayed, Wald pointed out to WCM. Shipments have tailed off each year since then and have not topped 4,000 in either of the last two years.
However, what was counted as a park model in previous years creates a proverbial “apples and oranges” dilemma.
Up until 2007, not only was the economy stronger than it is today, but also until then all trailer-type units that measured between 320 and 400 square feet were counted as a park model. Starting in 2008, RVIA allowed travel trailers to be built up to 400 square feet rather than limiting them to 320 square feet. Since then, many units that would have been counted as 8 ½-foot-wide park models are now rightfully counted as travel trailers.
“Overall, it looks like a desperate fall,” Wald said. “But if you look just at the over-8½-foot-wide-park models, it still is down but not nearly as much as the overall number would seem to indicate. In fact, it is right in line with other RV types.”
And Wald and the RVIA report some success in tackling the task of accurate record keeping to track wholesale shipments of park models. Until July 2012, shipments were tracked by the RPTIA. Figures for the first half of 2012 were spotty and incomplete and, according to Wald, understate actual production figures. For that reason, monthly RVIA wholesale shipment reports do not provide a year-over-year tabulation for park models for the entire year.
But Wald has coaxed park model manufacturers to go back in their 2012 records to try to recreate a better accounting of their production for the first half of the year. Once better accounting is complete, Wald hopes RVIA will be able soon to report a more complete picture for comparison purposes.
RV travel and camping vignettes custom-produced by Go RVing’s media partners will once again be a key element of the industry’s national “AWAY” advertising campaign when it kicks off its second year in February.
According to a press release, these vignettes will air on popular networks throughout the year, including Great American Country (GAC), SPEED and the Outdoor Channel.
Filming was just completed in Nashville on the two 60-second “On the Road with GAC” vignettes featuring country music recording artist Chuck Wicks. The spots showcase how Wicks uses his RV to escape the bright lights and pressure of Music City by camping, hunting and fishing with his father, John, and his dogs.
A Forest River Inc. XLR Hyperlite sport utility RV, selected through a lottery, is featured in both vignettes, which will air on GAC between Feb. 18 and June 30, and on GACtv.com.
Go RVing is once again teaming up with SPEED personality Rutledge Wood for a 60-second vignette that features Wood interviewing RVers at Texas Motor Speedway about why RVs are great for family travel and how their units are ideal for tailgating at NASCAR races. It will air 546 times throughout racing season on SPEED, beginning Feb. 18.
The Outdoor Channel will air four vignettes with network talent Pat Reeve and Nicole Jones, hosts of the hunting show Driven, and angler Mark Zona, host of Zona’s Awesome Fishing Show, talking about the appeal of RVs with outdoor enthusiasts. These will air throughout April as part of the network’s “Spring Fever” sweepstakes.
The Outdoor Channel will also be promoting the benefits of RV travel and the sweepstakes through outdoorchannel.com, targeted e-mails and the network’s social media outlets, including a Go RVing co-branded trip itinerary widget. The network will award four National Park RV vacations and the grand prize for the sweepstakes is a Forest River Flagstaff Classic folding camping trailer, also selected in a Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) lottery.
“These vignettes add tremendous value to the campaign by reinforcing the messages in our television commercials as popular network personalities enjoy and endorse RV travel and camping in an entertaining and informative way,” said RVIA Vice President of Public Relations and Advertising James Ashurst.
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) will hold its 2013 Annual Meeting from March 4–7 at the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel in Orlando, Fla.
According to a press release, the event provides members the opportunity to learn more about association activities, attend informative seminars and network with business colleagues.
“I encourage all of our members to plan on attending this important association event,” said RVIA President Richard Coon. “We’ve compressed the schedule this year to minimize the time away from the office while maintaining a compelling agenda featuring instructive seminars and association reports as well as entertaining social and networking events.”
Monday is the major arrival day for attendees with the RVIA board meeting in the afternoon and a Newcomers and Welcome Reception scheduled for the evening.
Tuesday will start with an Alumni Breakfast followed by a series of in-depth seminars from 8 a.m. to noon focusing on topics impacting the RV industry. RVIA will host the Annual Membership Meeting that afternoon from 1–4 p.m. This will include reports on association activities from key officials including RVIA Chairman Doug Gaeddert and Coon along with the presentation of association awards. The day concludes with the Chairman’s Reception and Dinner where Past Chairman Gregg Fore will be honored for his service in the association’s top volunteer position.
Annual meeting attendees will have the option of playing golf or taking tours of Universal Studios or Disney World on Wednesday. Staff will assist attendess to obtain tee times or schedule the tours. These activities are optional and not included in the meeting registration. Attendees will depart on March 7.
RVIA’s Strategic Planning Committee and Executive Committee will convene prior to the the Annual Meeting in sessions on March 3-4.
Located in Universal’s Orlando Resort, the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel lets guests experience the sights and sounds of the Italian Riviera while providing AAA Four Diamond Award winning accommodations, amenities and exclusive resort benefits.
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) 50th National RV Trade Show, held Nov. 27-29 at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky., showcased 2013 product lines as well as the upbeat outlook and spirit of innovation that has seen the industry recover from the recession with three consecutive years of growth.
“Among exhibitors and attendees there was a real belief that the RV industry is strong and resilient and is well positioned for future success,” said RVIA President Richard Coon in a press release. “We still have some challenges in the market, but RV shipments are growing because people love RVs – what they represent and what RVs allow them to do.”
The RV industry’s premier event included 68 manufacturers and 235 suppliers displaying their newest and most innovative products across more than 725,000 square feet of exhibit space. Attendance totaled 7,658, down 6% from 2011. Total buying attendance, representing individual attendees in the RV dealer, accessory store, campground owner and warehouse distributor categories, was off 9%, declining to 2,978.
While attendance was lower than in previous years, manufacturers reported steady traffic and sales.
“We had an outstanding show that exceeded our expectations,” said Matt Buckman of Navistar RV. “We had steady traffic in our booth, and our sales through the first two days exceeded our three-day sales from last year by 40%.”
“KZ had a good show,” said Andy Baer of Shipshewana, Ind.-based KZRV LP. “Dealer traffic was lighter, but the quality was excellent. They were engaged with the product and were here in Louisville to buy.”
“We weren’t sure what to expect at Louisville because we had a big Open House,” said Nate Goldenberg of Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc., based in Goshen, Ind. “But, we’re 52% ahead of last year’s Louisville show, and 2011 was a record year for us.”
As part of the Outlook Breakfast that annually kicks off the Louisville Show, RVIA released details of a new shipments projection for 2013, prepared by economist Richard Curtin of the University of Michigan and RVIA’s Market Information Committee. The RV industry recovery from the economic downturn will continue to build strength in 2013, as shipments are expected to rise to 289,900 – a 4.5% increase over the projected 2012 total of 277,300 units.
The rise in shipments to 277,300 units by year-end 2012 would be a nearly 10% gain (9.9%) over the 2011 total of 252,300 and include double digit gains in conventional travel trailers and Class A motorhomes. The expected increase in 2013 would mark four consecutive years of RV market growth.
The 51st National RV Trade Show will take place Dec. 3-5, 2013, at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville.
The Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Kentucky Exposition Center sponsored a brief party on Wednesday afternoon recognizing the RVIA’s 50th annual show.
RVIA President Richard Coon and Harold Workman, CEO of the host Kentucky Exposition center, each made brief remarks.
Coon’s remarks follow:
“Fifty years is a long time to do anything. And much has changed in the world.
In 1962, a gallon of gas cost 28 cents, the average income was $5,500, and an average house cost $12,500.
There were some notable “firsts” in 1962. John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth. The first Walmart opened. The first Beatles single — ‘Love Me Do’ — was released.
And, the RV industry held its first show here in Louisville.
While much has changed in the world, it has been good to be able to count on some things that have endured. Each year — in good times and bad — our industry has gathered here in Louisville. We have enjoyed the hard work and friendship of the people of Louisville, and I’d like to thank the Kentucky Exposition Center and the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau for your hospitality through the years. You’ve been fantastic partners.
The reason our industry has been able to flourish and endure through the decades is that while society is changing, core human values remain the same. As long as there are people, they’ll want to get outdoors and spend time with family and friends. RVs offer a great way to do that — one with unmatched comfort, flexibility and value.
Thank you again for joining our celebration. And let’s all do what we can to assure that in 2062, our descendants are celebrating the 100th annual National RV Show.”
Guests shared 50th anniversary cupcakes and light beverages afterward.
The RV industry’s recovery from the Great Recession has picked up speed.
Recreational vehicle makers are churning out higher numbers of travel trailers bound for dealers’ lots and, ultimately, campgrounds, Businessweek reported.
Overall shipments from manufacturers to dealers — a key measure of consumer demand — are expected to rise 10% in 2012 and could gain another 4.5% next year, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) said Tuesday (Nov. 27).
Through September, shipments were up nearly 11% from the same period last year, the group said. The higher-than-expected number had dealers, manufacturers and suppliers feeling more optimistic as they gathered this week for an annual industry trade show.
“We made up a lot of ground this year,” said Jeffrey Pastore, owner of Hartville RV Center in northeastern Ohio. “We’re seeing a lot more buyers walking in the door, and we’re seeing those buyers with more money in hand.”
“It was dreadful,” said Tom Stinnett, an RV dealer in southern Indiana. “There were a lot of us wondering if we were going to make it.”
Shipments to dealers slumped to 165,700 units in 2009 from 353,400 in 2007. Weak demand and evaporated credit left dealer lots clogged with RVs and forced the industry to lay off tens of thousands of workers. This year’s shipments are expected to be better — hitting 277,300.
Jobs are coming back, too. The industry’s workforce has risen to 375,000 from less than 250,000 in 2008, according to RVIA. It’s still below the 530,000 from 2007.
Driving the industry’s gradual comeback have been less-expensive towable RVs attached to pickups or hitched to other vehicles.
Towables, which now account for about 90% of the new RV market, cost between $8,000 and $100,000, with an average price of $32,000, according to RVIA. Before the recession hit, towables represented eight out of every 10 new RVs shipped.
By contrast, stand-alone motorhomes range in price from $55,000 to $1.5 million for top-of-the-line, bus-like vehicles. The average price is $100,000 for the amenity-filled moving homes.
“It’s a given that consumers love to do this, or there would be no market at all because they don’t have to have it,” Stinnett said. “But they’re simply not willing to commit as much money.”
KZ RV, based in Shipshewana, Ind., has regained about three-fourths of its pre-recessionary business, but the manufacturer has seen the shift in consumer demand toward towables. Its most popular products cost between $10,000 and $35,000 — well off its top-of-the-line RVs, which run about $90,000, said Andy Baer, the company’s vice president of sales.
“Seven years ago they didn’t give a thought to buying a top-of-the-line product, kind of similar to the housing industry,” Baer said. “People are more in tuned with what the reality is that they can comfortably afford today.”
Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Thetford Corp., which supplies toilets and sinks to RV makers, saw its business plunge by 70% during the recession. It survived the downturn because RV owners upgraded existing models, said Executive Vice President Kevin Phillips. Now, the company is having a good year as existing RV owners purchase upgrades and entry-level buyers enter the market, he said.
Winnebago Industries Inc., best known for its premium products, also has adjusted to the new market.
The company, headquartered in Forest City, Iowa, is rolling out towable products again after a decades-long absence from that market.
And Winnebago has stepped up its presence in the market for entry-level motorhomes priced in the $60,000 to $70,000 range. Those vehicles offer fewer features and amenities than their pricier counterparts.
“That’s where we see a lot of the movement in the industry,” said Scott Degnan, the company’s vice president of sales.
Winnebago’s profits soared in its last fiscal year, which ended Aug. 25. Winnebago earned $45 million over those 12 months, up from $11.8 million in the prior year. Revenue rose 17 percent to $581.7 million.
The RV industry today (Nov. 27) launched the 50th National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., at “Outlook 2013: A Golden Opportunity” an informative, entertaining program that provided details of the industry’s prospects for 2013 and an update on advertising and public relations initiatives.
The event began at 7:30 a.m. and was attended by approximately 1,000 RV manufacturers, dealers and industry representatives. Go RVing Co-Chairs Bob Olson and Tom Stinnett partnered with RVIA Public Relations Committee Chairman B.J. Thompson and RVIA Vice President of Public Relations and Advertising James Ashurst for a multimedia presentation recapping 2012 accomplishments in the advertising and public relations arenas, according to a news release.
“We have a strong public relations team at RVIA,” Thompson told the audience. “I’m proud of the work we’ve done to promote the RV lifestyle, combat misperceptions and position the industry as growing, vibrant and innovative.”
Thompson discussed a few of the industry’s media relations successes, including coverage on TV networks such as ABC News, FOX News Channel and HGTV. He also highlighted digital media placements and detailed RVIA’s plans to commit more resources to online outlets in the future.
“It used to be that people only got news from print publications, television or radio,” Thompson said. “Times have changed. More than a third of adult Americans own a tablet or smart phone to read news stories or watch video clips.”
This year, RV coverage appeared in several major digital outlets, including Yahoo! News, SheKnows.com and MadeMan.com.
Stinnett and Olson reported on strong results from the new “AWAY” Go RVing advertising campaign. The pair emphasized the campaign’s strategic shift to focus on media brands that provide the opportunity to build cross-platform partnerships.
“Consumers are really engaging with our message,” Stinnett said. “We’ve experienced great success in our first year of targeting brand-building partnerships. Our co-branded initiatives with Great American Country and Outdoor Channel drew 46,000 new leads.”
The new ads, which debuted in early 2012, resonated with consumers, Olson told attendees.
“Our research demonstrates that consumers look favorably on what our industry is selling,” Olson said. “Our messaging about RVs allowing consumers to spend more time doing the things they want to do with the people they want to do them with — works. It reinforces the need to keep getting our industry’s message out to as many consumers as possible.”
Ashurst closed the presentation by discussing some of the plans for Go RVing in 2013.
“Next year you will see a return of some of our best performing partners, as well as several new offerings,” Ashurst said. “One such deal is a sizeable partnership with Discovery Networks’ newest lifestyle cable network, Destination America, which will explore the people, places and stories of the United States while celebrating the tenacity, hard work and humor that characterizes our great nation.”
In addition, Go RVing will partner with Travel Channel and will expand its outreach to the Hispanic market.