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REDEX is Refunding Dues for 2nd Straight Year

October 31, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The Recreational Dealer Cooperative Association Inc. (REDEX), rebranded as the Priority RV Network, announced to its dealers that it will refund all 2012 membership dues for the second consecutive year.

“This is, by far, the best financial investment for the RV dealer in our industry,” said Michael Peay, president of the Priority RV Network and Holiday World of Houston, in a press release. “No financial instrument can touch the ROI that our cooperative provides the RV dealer.”

Peay said that due to the network’s “record-breaking financial results,” REDEX would be refunding $2,500 back to each of its members. Dealers pay a $3,500 annual membership fee and receive $1,000 back for attending the annual convention.

REDEX consists of 57 dealers with 93 locations nationwide. Member dealers obtain products such as retail financing, parts and accessories, finance and insurance, office supplies and other bulk products. Through its vendor programs REDEX estimates dealers may earn up to $34 million in rebates, incentives and special purchases.

Priority RV dealer owners are forecasting to sell a record 40,000 new and used RVs this year and generate more than $1.6 billion in sales.

“In essence, it was like each dealer won the lottery,” said Corey Ruzicka, executive director for the Priority RV Network. “Get a free lottery ticket and win $25,000, $100,000 or $200,000 or more back. Some of our dealers will earn well into six figures on upfront rebates and incentives, and quarterly and year-end rebates and bonuses.”

He added, “We have signed 20 new dealers in the past 14 months and have added several new vendor partners, so 2012 will be another record-breaking year. We will be working on more rebate programs and adding dealers. Currently, we have about 30 markets with no dealer representative.”

REDEX is run by a seven-member dealer board that in addition to Peay includes: Mark Bretz, president of Bretz RV & Marine; Earl Stoltzfus, president of Stoltzfus RV & Marine; Brian Wilkins, president of Wilkins RV; Greg Lala, president of Dixie RV Superstore; Steve Plemmons, president of Bill Plemmons RV; and Mike Regan, president of Crestview RV-Buda and Georgetown.

 

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REDEX Signs 11 New Dealers, Plans to Add More

March 14, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The Recreational Dealer Cooperative Association Inc. (REDEX) announced it has signed 11 new dealers since August and expects more dealerships to join in the next 30 days, according to a news release.

The new REDEX and Priority RV Network dealers include:

• Ansley RV, Duncansville, Pa.; Dave Arbogast RV’s, Troy, Ohio; Leisure Time RV, Oklahoma City; Niel’s Motor Homes, North Hills, Calif.; Paul Evert’s RV Country, Fresno, Calif., Coburg, Ore., Laughlin, Nev., and Bullhead City, Ariz.; Reliable RV Center, Biloxi, Miss.; RV World of Georgia, Buford, Ga.; Summit RV, Ashland, Ky.; Tacoma RV Center, Fife, Wash.; Tom Schaeffer’s RV Superstore, Shoemakersville, Pa.; Wichita RV, Andover, Kan.

“It’s an impressive list. These are great dealers and we will be announcing more sign-ups in the coming weeks,” said Michael Peay, president of REDEX and Holiday World of Houston. “We still have several markets left to fill and looking for great dealers to join us,”

He added, “In 2011, for the first time since we founded the group in 1996, we refunded the $2,500 annual membership fee back to each of our members and $1000 for attending the annual meeting. So, it cost our dealers nothing to receive up to a couple hundred thousands of dollars in upfront and back-end rebates. It’s one of many reasons dealers are wanting to join.”

The group consists of 48 dealers with 80 locations nationwide. In return, the group obtains products such as retail financing, parts and accessories, finance and insurance, office supplies and other products in bulk purchases. It is estimated the group may earn up to $5 million in rebates, incentives and special purchases in 2012.

According to REDEX, dealers sold more than 35,000 new and used RVs last year and generated more than $1 billion in sales. REDEX said that all dealers are equal partners and have access to the financials showing where each penny is being spent.

Corey Ruzicka, executive director for REDEX, said that consumers also benefit, noting, “The Priority RV Network provides the RV consumer with more service bays when traveling and more products and choices. Our customers like the fact that they can get the lowest prices without having to pay to join a club.”

Along with Peay, the seven-member board of directors consists of: Mark Bretz, president of Bretz RV & Marine; Earl Stoltzfus, president of Stoltzfus RV & Marine; Brian Wilkins, president of Wilkins RV; Greg Lala, president of Dixie RV Superstore; Steve Plemmons, president of Bill Plemmons RV; and Mike Regan, president of Crestview RV-Buda and Georgetown.

For more information contact Ruzicka at cruzicka@priorityrvnetwork.com.

 

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REDEX Reports Record 2011 Profits to Members

December 5, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

The Recreational Dealer Cooperative Association Inc. (REDEX) announced at its 13th Annual Louisville Show meeting it will finish 2011 with record profits.

“We are happy to report REDEX will finish with record-breaking profits for results,” said Michael Peay, president of REDEX and Holiday World of Houston, in a press release. “Thanks to these record results, for the first time since we founded the group in 1996, we will be refunding the $2,500 annual membership fee back to each of our members.

“That means if they attended our annual meeting last April in Las Vegas and got back $1,000, they will have received a free membership for 2011. This is the first time we have ever been able to achieve this feat. It’s been a very special year.”

REDEX is a cooperative where each dealership pays an annual membership fee of $3,500 and they receive $1,000 back for attending the annual meeting. REDEX said that in the past, the group has never refunded the remaining $2,500.

The group consists of 42 dealers with 75 locations nationwide. REDEX said that in return, the group obtains products such as retail financing, parts and accessories, finance and insurance, office supplies and other products in bulk purchases. REDEX estimated the group may earn up to $2 million in rebates, incentives and special purchases, and will sell about 30,000 new and used RVs this year while generating more than $1 billion in sales.

“In essence, it was like each dealer won the lottery,” said Corey Ruzicka, executive director for REDEX. “Some of our dealers will earn well into six figures on up-front rebates and incentives, and quarterly and year-end rebates and bonuses.”

He added, “Since we have signed seven new dealers in the third and fourth quarters and added more vendor partners, 2012 is looking to be another record-breaking year. We will be working on more rebate programs and adding dealers. Currently, we have about 30 markets with no dealer representative.”

For information on REDEX contact Ruzicka at cruzicka@priorityrvnetwork.com.

 

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RVBusiness Staff Sets Aggressive 2011 Agenda

April 18, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

RVBusiness logo (blue)Special “Open House Week” and “Louisville Show” issues plus unique new trade promotions and Internet offerings are all part of the 2011-12 agenda for the new owners ofRVBusiness, according to a Monday (April 18) press release.

Partners Sherman Goldenberg, publisher, and Beverly Gardner, vice president of national advertising sales, announced in late March the acquisition from Affinity Group LLC of the RVBusiness brand — trademarks, domain names, the print publication and the RVBUSINESS.com website.

In the process, RVB, along with Editor Bruce Hampson, has moved from its Southern California headquarters to Elkhart, Ind.

RVBusiness has assembled a team of editorial and sales people under its new ownership, G&G Media Group LLC, that’s positioned to maintain and enhance its competitive edge and move it ahead aggressively on all fronts throughout 2011 and beyond,“ says Goldenberg.

“We think the industry will appreciate the continued presence of a professional mainstream trade journal with an enhanced eye to all industry factions,” he adds. “RVIA, RVDA, RVAA, REDEX, Route 66, Camping World, RV D@ily Report, manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, the Louisville Show and northern Indiana’s emerging Open House Week are all on our radar as we plot a centrist course toward mainstream – fair and balanced – news. And we intend to remain the ‘A-book’ for RV manufacturers.”

Gardner, best known for the Elkhart-based publishers’ rep firm that bears her name, Beverly Gardner & Associates, is backed up on advertising sales by her daughter, Ally Kollat, and sales associate Wendy Thorne. And the initial response from industry advertisers has been encouraging. “We’re excited about the opportunities that lie ahead,” said Gardner, “both editorially and commercially.”

Goldenberg adds, meanwhile, that one well known tradition will, in fact, continue in the new age of RVB – the “Louisville Tea Party,” a popular soiree held annually on the last night of RVIA’s National RV Trade Show. “It’s part of the tradition that we’ve cultivated over the years – bagpipes and all,” says Goldenberg. “We couldn’t imagine dropping the ball at this point.”

RVB’s new contact information:

CORPORATE & ADVERTISING SALES OFFICES:

RV BUSINESS/G&G MEDIA GROUP LLC
2901 E. BRISTOL STREET, SUITE B
ELKHART, IN 46514
(800) 831-1076
(574) 266-7980, fax (574) 266-7984
WWW.RVBUSINESS.COM

SHERMAN GOLDENBERG, PARTNER/PUBLISHER
OFFICE: (574) 457-3370
CELL: (574) 457-6637
sgoldenberg@rvbusiness.com
sgoldenberg@g-gmediagroup.com

BEVERLY GARDNER, PARTNER/ VP NATIONAL AD SALES
(800) 831-1076
(574) 266-7980 x12
bgardner@rvbusiness.com
bgardner@g-gmediagroup.com

BRUCE HAMPSON, EDITOR
(800) 831-1076
(574) 266-7980 x13
bhampson@rvbusiness.com
bhampson@g-gmediagroup.com

ALLY KOLLAT, NATIONAL AD SALES
(800) 831-1076
(574) 266-7980 x11
akollat@rvbusiness.com
akollat@g-gmediagroup.com

WENDY THORNE, NATIONAL AD SALES
(800) 831-1076
(574) 266-7980 x14
wthorne@rvbusiness.com
wthorne@g-gmediagroup.com

TRINA NISSLEY, PRODUCTION MANAGER
(800) 831-1076
(574) 266-7980 x10
tnissley@rvbusiness.com
tnissley@g-gmediagroup.com

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Ruzicka Named Executive Director at REDEX

March 16, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Priority RV Network logoCorey Ruzicka has been named executive director of the Recreational Dealers Cooperative Association (REDEX), the RV sales cooperative doing business under the Priority RV Network name.

He succeeds John  Mancinelli who served the past three years.

Ruzicka, 54, is well familiar with REDEX, the nation’s largest RV cooperative with approximately 70 locations across the U.S. He served in an administrative capacity for REDEX for 11 years, from 1998 to 2008, when he was employed with Wheeler Advertising in Texas.

“I am honored to get back to working with the dealers and vendors and geting back to the organization,” Ruzicka told RVBUSINESS.com. “I am thrilled to be back. It will be a lot of fun.”

Ruzicka will operate from his office in Tampa, Fla. He will continue with Priority RV Insurance while assuming the duties of the executive director of the co-op. He assumes his new duties following the REDEX annual meeting April 18-20 in Las Vegas.

Ruzicka brings immense knowledge of the industry and an unmatched passion for the success of REDEX to the position, according to REDEX. The board said it is confident the group will have continued success and increased growth in membership and programs through Ruzicka’s leadership.

From 1981 to 1996, he lived in Northern Indiana and worked for Coachmen Industries Inc. and Holiday Rambler Corp., where he was the marketing manager for Holiday World.

“Corey is really a perfect fit for us,” said Michael Peay, REDEX president. “He understands the dealers’ and vendor sides. The board is very excited about this change We have good programs that benefit the dealers and we’re excited about where we’re going. Our dealers had a good year last year and are having a great spring. With Corey’s leadership, we expect to add membership this year and improve our member programs.”

Meanwhile, the REDEX  board of directors and the dealer members thanked Mancinelli for his dedicated service to the non-profit co-op and wished him continued success in his future endeavors.

Mancinelli, 68, a 40-year veteran of the RV industry including service at Camping World and Lazydays, said he has no plans to retire. He called his resignation from REDEX “a friendly departure” and predicted a smooth transition for REDEX under Ruzicka’s leadership.

REDEX is the nation’s largest RV sales cooperative and has some of the industry’s largest dealers in its network. Its dealers sold more than 11,834 new towable and motorized RVs in 2010, according to an incomplete tally from Mancinelli. The tally, the first time REDEX did a rolling stock survey among its members, did not include sales figures from 13 members, so the actual sales figure is much higher, he noted.

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REDEX to Focus on Private Labeling Services

May 20, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Priority RV Network logoAfter reviewing its options, the Recreation Vehicle Dealer Exchange Association (REDEX) has decided to focus on private labeling services under the Priority RV Network brand name, but not RVs or aftermarket products.

”To put our names on a chemical product or lift jacks or refrigerators, how is that going to make the consumer feel closer to our organization?” said REDEX Executive Director John Mancinelli.

”Now, if it’s Priority RV Insurance or a Priority RV Extended Warranty and we take care of them, that’s powerful,” Mancinelli said. ”That is a true benefit to our customers and that’s what we want to promote.”

The decision to focus on services rather than products came during REDEX’s annual meeting April 19-21 attended by about 100 people representing 40 of REDEX’s 46 member dealerships at the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nev.

Michael Peay, new REDEX president

Michael Peay, new REDEX president

During the meeting, Paul Skogebo, who founded REDEX in 1996, stepped down from his position as president and resigned from the REDEX board. He was replaced by Michael Peay, owner of Holiday World of Houston with stores in Katy and League City, Texas, and Las Cruces, N.M.

”I thought it was time for REDEX to get new blood, new leadership,” Skogebo, co-owner of Robert Crist & Co. RV, Mesa, Ariz., told RVBUSINESS.com. ”REDEX has mushroomed since it was founded 14 years ago and it’s going to continue to grow with our Priority programs and the leadership we have.”

Peay, an original REDEX member, said REDEX’s Priority RV Network branding initiative is important to the growth of the organization and to consumers.

”We feel that we can offer customers advantages by helping them to recognize dealers who are working together through this branding method,” Peay said.

Association members may pick and choose from among the services that the Priority One Network offers. Members, however, all agree to give reciprocal priority service to consumers purchasing RVs from other REDEX dealerships.

Peay likened REDEX to the Ace Hardware network, which consists of individually owned stores associated with the Ace brand.

”We feel branding is fairly important,” Peay said. ”If we can pool our buying power so that we can give a vendor more business and in return they give us a little discount that we can pass on to our customers, that gives us a competitive advantage.”

Mancinelli said the REDEX name ”will always be there” but only in a business-to-business context. ”As far as the consumer is concerned, they don’t know REDEX at all,” Mancinelli said. ”They know Priority RV Network.”

REDEX offers Priority RV insurance, road care, certified pre-owned RVs, extended warranties, protectorant and a camping club. A Priority RV Network emblem is attached to each RV sold by association members to raise the network’s visibility.

The association’s website — priorityrvnetwork.com — details its products and acts as a clearing house for members to sell new and used RVs.

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REDEX Expanding into Branded Consumer Products

September 21, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Priority RV Network logoThe Recreation Dealers Cooperative Association (REDEX) is continuing to evolve into a consumer-driven organization to augment the RV dealership-based buying group it was founded to be.

That evolution will continue during a meeting of REDEX’ 43 dealers during the National RV Trade Show Dec. 1-3 at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky. There, members will discuss new consumer products as diverse as water hose and toilet tissue bearing REDEX’ Priority RV Network retail brand.

”When the RV consumer goes into parts stores, we want the products that he uses on an everyday basis to be branded Priority RV Network,” said John Mancinelli, Bowling Green, Ky., REDEX executive director. ”Getting the consumer involved in private labeling doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have a private-label RV.”

Formed in 1996 as a dealer cooperative, REDEX announced the Priority RV Network private-label initiative during its annual meeting in April in San Antonio, Texas, when Mancinelli was hired Previously, REDEX marketing had been under the direction of Texas-based Wheeler Advertising.

The organization will keep the REDEX name for its business-to-business functions, Mancinelli said, but is shifting its public image for consumer aspects to Priority RV Network.

“At one time, REDEX was strictly a buying group,” Mancinelli said. ”That’s what they became good at. But when (wholesale lenders) pulled out of the RV market and the economy came tumbling down, the question was what is REDEX’ value?

”I was brought on to bring a more retail-flavor to REDEX,” said Mancinelli, a former Lazydays RV Superstore and Camping World executive.

Like the rest of the RV industry, REDEX experienced some setbacks during the recession. At one time representing 51 dealers with more than 100 locations, REDEX membership now includes 43 dealers with about 85 locations. Still, the organization represented $2.5 billion in sales of new and used RVs in 2008.

Mancinelli said that beyond continuing to provide REDEX members with buying-group heft, the organization will “develop products and services that are aligned with the RV consumer.”

”That could be Priority RV Network service, road care, insurance, camping club — any number of things,” he said. ”We are just starting to get a retail presence.”

REDEX’ website (priorityrvnetwork.com) is in the development stage but already offers consumers information on Priority RV certified- and extended-care programs, insurance and a search function to find new and used RVs and parts and services at Priority RV Network dealerships.

Noting that earlier REDEX efforts to launch private-label RVs haven’t gotten off the ground, Mancinelli said that REDEX may approach manufacturers with a suspended brand to establish exclusive relationships with REDEX to bring the brand back, Mancinelli said.

”What we are looking for is a manufacturer to use a name that they had put on the shelf and help them resurrect it,” Mancinelli said. ”That will happen one day, but we’re not there yet.”

In January, Priority RV Networks will publish a catalog with promotions to kick off the year.

‘The dealerships that are using the Priority RV program already are experiencing upgraded business,” Mancinelli said. ”I see us emerging as a very strong organization in the not-too-distant future.”

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REDEX Group Launches Retail Initiatives

May 5, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

REDEX, the member-owned cooperative of independent RV dealers, is rebranding itself as the Priority RV Network and embarking on an aggressive retail marketing campaign that will include parts and accessory sales in as many as 50 dealerships yet this year. And REDEX eventually plans to expand into rentals and a camping club, according to Executive Director John Mancinelli,

“This dealer cooperative will become a customer-driven organization,” says Mancinelli, following the organization’s April 28-29 annual meeting at the Hyatt Hill Country Resort in San Antonio, Texas. “Some organizations are good at selling customers who arrive at their dealership. Our outlook is to have the RV customer seek us out because of our unified and comprehensive nationwide programs that are a great benefit to the consumer.”

While REDEX will remain the business-to-business name of the organization, Mancinelli says REDEX dealers, who claim to be the leader in RV sales for all private and publicly held dealer organizations, wanted a more receptive retail/consumer name. That’s how the Priority RV Network nameplate evolved. 

“Priority RV Network is a fitting name for our cooperative because our dealers want our customers to know they take Priority in all aspects of our business,” said Mancinelli in a press release. “Our mission statement reflects our attitude towards our customers.”

As for the nationwide launch of the parts and accessories program in San Antonio, Mancinelli said “90% of our dealers have already signed up for this program, and we expect that number to grow in the next few weeks. Priority RV Network will open 50-plus Priority RV Parts Stores this summer. Our first catalog represents approximately 200 parts and accessories priced at or below the industry leading retailer’s pricing. We feel very confident that we will grow this brand to 100 locations in the next 18 months.”

The Priority RV Parts Stores program is being developed by Voyles & Co., with the dedicated support of NTP Distribution, which Mancinelli describes as “arguably the most consumer-oriented RV parts distributor” available. “This is an unbeatable combination,” he noted. “Voyles & Co. is a marketing firm specializing in the RV aftermarket for more than 30 years, coupled with a progressive distributor at the ready to launch a national program designed to give the RV customer an alternative for one-stop parts and accessory shopping.”

Four to six catalogs will be produced annually, with a wide range of products available at competitive prices. The catalogs will list participating nationwide dealers and introduce and promote other programs now available to Priority RV Network dealers/consumers, including:

  •  Customers buying from a Priority RV Network dealer that need service while traveling more then 100 miles from their selling dealer will receive priority service at any REDEX location.
  •  Dealers who send in insurance quotes and receive payment for quotes, policy sales and renewals “build a book of business and profits in just a few years.”
  • An exclusive roadside assistance program with a dedicated Priority RV toll-free number and administration.
  • Extended warranties private labeled for the network. Dealers are reporting an increase of penetration and profitability on these exclusive products.
  • Only the cream of the pre-owned RV crop qualify to be part of this program, states the REDEX release. A 240-point inspection certificate accompanied by a 90-priority-rv-network-logo1day warranty boost RV sales and profitability.

REDEX, meanwhile, has a newly developed consumer based website www.priorityrvnetwork.com that will feature rolling stock inventory from member/owners. “This site,” states the release, “will be ranked in the top three or four for RV sales in the US, and if there is an uptick in participating dealers, it could rank one or two in the nation.  This umbrella site and the direct website www.priorityrvpartsstores.com will house our parts catalog, where consumers can place orders online, as well as enrolling in other Priority RV products and services.

“Many of the listed programs are new and are just being added to the web site,” adds the release. “As one could imagine, the web site will be in constant change with the growth of the Priority RV Network.”

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REDEX Ready to Unveil New Retail Initiative

April 17, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

Priority RV Network logoThe Recreation Dealers Cooperative Association (REDEX) will unveil a
 private-label retail initiative during its annual meeting April 28-29 at the Hyatt
 Hill Country Resort in San Antonio, Texas.


”We didn’t have any retail exposure at all,” said John Mancinelli, who in
 March was named  executive director of REDEX with offices in Bowling Green,
 Ky.


REDEX was formed in 1996 as a dealer cooperative and currently has 51
members with combined revenue of about $2 billion who accounted for the sale of
 50,000 new and used RVs in 2008.


”We took on a new name — Priority RV Network (www.priorityrvnetwork.com)
– and in San Antonio we will be introducing new products and programs and
talking about how we will move forward,” Mancinelli continued.
 The organization will retain its REDEX nomenclature for its
business-to-business operation, Mancinelli said.


Retail programs will include customer service,  extended care, roadside
 assistance, certified RVs and a camping club along with other services,
 Mancinelli said.


About 45 dealers representing more than 90 locations are expected to attend
 the San Antonio meeting as well as 18 vendors including Bank of the West,
US Bank, Reed Brothers Insurance, P&H Group, Coach-Net and distributors NTP
 Distribution and Stag-Parkway Inc.


Mancinelli said REDEX will continue to provide business-to-business 
opportunities for its dealership members apart from its retail outreach program.


”We think we have a really good idea how to make this work,” he said.


”The whole idea is that REDEX will have two functions. One is to have the b2b
vendor program that give us an advantage in the marketplace. But there also
 will be an external side where we want to be visible in the RV consumer
 marketplace so that consumers can have the same advantage.


”We want consumers to recognize the fact that there is advantage of doing
 business with a Priority RV dealer.”


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Industry Cautiously Optimistic for ’09 Prospects

March 20, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Ted and Kay Watts have been cruising the USA in their 300-square-foot recreational vehicle for 15 years, motoring up to eight months a year while keeping a permanent home in St. Charles, Mo.

“Our goal is to see all the national parks and historic sites in the U.S.,” Kay Watts says while hooking up her RV at Cherry Hill Park here.

But, according to a report in USA Today, with the economy reeling the two are meeting with their financial planner in April to determine whether they can continue to travel as much, given the drop of their retirement accounts. “As long as we’re healthy, we’d like to continue,” Ted Watts says.

Times are rough for the RV industry. Tightening credit and a lack of financing options are keeping new customers on the sidelines. Shattered consumer confidence is forcing many RV owners to cancel extended trips.

For years, RV dealers could do no wrong. The number of units sold grew for five consecutive years until 2007, and there are now 8.2 million RVs on the road.

But in 2008, when gas prices hit $4 a gallon and the recession gained strength, RV shipments fell 33% from 2007 to 237,000 – and could drop to 130,100 in 2009, according to the latest forecast from University of Michigan economist Richard Curtin.

The industry’s woes were brought to the forefront last month when President Obama pitched his economic stimulus plan in Elkhart County, Ind. “The RV Capital of the World” has seen its unemployment rate spike to more than 15% this year largely due to the industry slowdown.

The downturn does mean that RV prices – which range from $10,000 to $400,000 – are “easily down 25%,” says John Mancinelli of the Recreation Dealers Cooperative Association, or REDEX, the largest dealer cooperative.

Campgrounds are offering incentives to get families to stay longer and urging budget-conscious travelers to try local spots. Mike Gast of Kampgrounds of America, which runs one of the largest U.S. campground networks, says its bookings are down about 6% this year and rates will remain flat for many locations in 2009.

KOA runs a yearly May promotion that lets all customers paying for Friday night to stay Saturday for free. This year, it will run the promotion in August as well for loyalty program members.

“Our members are telling us their reservations are coming in pretty good. They were expecting a down year,” adds Linda Profaizer, president of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).

But in a year when maintaining the current level of business is considered solid growth, industry officials are cautiously optimistic.

Like the rest of the industry, El Monte RV, a rental company in the Los Angeles area, relies heavily on bookings from in-bound Europeans, and their early reservation volume, though down slightly from a year ago, has been “relatively good,” says Joe Laing, an El Monte executive.

Still, it’s too early to tell. A vast majority of customers book within 30 days of travel, and the busy summer season is still a few months away. “It’s worrisome and we’re seeing customers are waiting longer to make advance reservations,” Gast says.

USA Today reported that the industry is also hoping to benefit from the country’s newfound sense of frugality by pitching RVs as a cheap way to travel. “People are economizing. But the good thing is that we seem to have become part of (that),” Laing says.

Time is also ripe for purchasers who can qualify for financing or are willing to bring larger down payments, says Steve Richardson, owner of Riverside, Calif.-based Richardson’s RV Centers. Apart from deep discounts, some dealers are even offering a free moped or car as an incentive.

Phil Comploier, a retired electrician who lives in his 263-square-foot RV and splits time mostly between College Park and Fort Lauderdale, wants to trade up to a larger vehicle. But if he trades it in at a dealer, he “may have to take a beating.”

“It will all depend on how my 401(k) looks,” he says.

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