If you find yourself on the road this Memorial Day weekend, you might want to keep track of the recreational vehicles you see.
MSN Money reported that while not exactly a surefire economic bellwether, RV sales have been coming back after a disastrous recession for the industry, and they may be another indicator of a strengthening economy.
Elkhart, Ind., is the heart of the business, with about 83% of all North American RVs manufactured in the region. Unemployment in Elkhart soared to more than 20% in 2009 as the economic downturn deepened, RV sales plunged and several manufacturers closed their doors or disappeared through consolidation.
“When the stock market went to hell in a hand basket, when the ability to get credit went to hell in a hand basket, when your home (value) all of a sudden . . . went down so drastically, your wealth factor is pretty low. That stops motor home buying,” Richard Coon, the president of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), said recently at an industry breakfast.
But according to the RVIA, a stronger economy has pulled the industry out of a ditch. The trade group predicts more than 307,000 recreational vehicles will be manufactured and shipped this year. That number is still below the pre-recession high of 353,400 reached in 2007, but it’s nearly twice as high as the low point of just under 166,000 in 2009.
Recreational vehicles come in a wide variety of types and price ranges. Units that fit on the back of a pickup and popup camping trailers start at about $3,500. They go all the way up to tour-bus-size “home away from home” Class A vehicles, which can run anywhere from $50,000 to the hundreds of thousands of dollars. And of course you need to factor in gas prices.
Richard Curtin, the director of the Consumer Research Center at the University of Michigan, says a combination of factors is behind the recent growth in recreational vehicle sales, including an easing of credit terms and better availability of consumer loans, as well as modest gains in household income.
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Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) President Richard Coon detailed a number of key issues on the association’s agenda that will have long-term implications for the RV industry while addressing members at the March 8 Annual Membership Meeting at Ranchos Las Palmas in Palm Springs, Calif.
“RVIA is working diligently on these important items because they will play a factor in the continued success of our members and the RV market,” said Coon.
Coon said the association is continuing to identify and maximize the potential of global opportunities, noting that in addition to the established markets in North America, Europe and Australia there are potential new markets in China, Brazil and South Africa. “There are tremendous growth opportunities for RV manufacturers and suppliers across the globe,” said Coon. “RVIA is working to make it easier for our members to take advantage of these global opportunities by studying the market potential and gaining an understanding the legislative and regulatory environment in these markets.”
On a related note, Coon pointed to the ongoing efforts to harmonize United States and Canadian RV standards. “Our goal is to have a uniform standard so that American and Canadian manufacturers can do business in a more efficient, cost-effective way,” said Coon.
Coon also said the destination camping market is a new area of focus for the association. An ad-hoc Destination Camping Committee composed of RV and park trailer manufacturers as well as campground industry members was formed to determine the size, scope and potential of this market. “With destination camping taking many forms, defining what it exactly is can be a little difficult, but we do know that it is a growing part of the RV and campground industries that requires our attention,” said Coon.
Coon also told attendees that the RV industry is expected to have its best year since 2007 based on the latest RV wholesale projections from economist Richard Curtin in the spring 2012 issue of RV Roadsigns. “RVIA is projecting 265,200 units to be shipped this year, which would be a 5.1% increase over the 2011 year-end total of 252,300 units,” he said.
Recreation Vehicle Industry Association President (RVIA) Richard Coon appeared on Fox Business today (June 5) during the cable network’s noon to 1 p.m. time slot.
Coon discussed the industry’s recovery while sitting in a Voltage toy hauler fifth-wheel provided by Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc.
To view the interview click here.
Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) President Richard Coon will appear on the Fox Business cable network during the early afternoon on July 5 to discuss the industry’s recovery and its enduring popularity.
The interview will take place in a Voltage toy hauler fifth-wheel provided by Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc.
The live broadcast will showcase the industry and one of its popular product types before an affluent business audience.
The segment is expected to air between noon and 1 p.m. Check local listings for Fox Business in your area.
Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) President Richard Coon appeared today (Nov. 12) on Fox Network’s highly rated morning show “Fox & Friends” to promote the benefits of RV travel and showcase the amenities found in today’s RVs.
During two segments (click here to view segment 1 and here to view segment 2) that aired live just outside of Fox’s studios in Manhattan, Coon gave viewers a tour of a Class A Fleetwood Discovery motorhome and a Bullet Premier Ultra Lite travel trailer from Keystone RV, the RVIA reported in a news release. The two fully loaded units were among several offered by RVIA manufacturer members for possible use in the report, which focused on RVs as the ultimate “glamping” or glamorous camping – a popular new travel trend.
As he toured each vehicle, Coon highlighted the many reasons why RV travel is popular and pointed out the many comforts and conveniences available to consumers, including gourmet galleys, entertainment centers and comfortable living, dining and bedroom suites.
“This has everything you have in your house,” said Coon.
In addition to today’s coverage on “Fox & Friends,” the RV industry has recently been featured on NBC ‘s “Weekend Today,” CNBC and Fox Business Network, as a result of aggressive media outreach by RVIA and its public relations agency, Barton Gilanelli & Associates.
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) and its public relations agency, Barton Gilanelli & Associates, have arranged for RVIA president Richard Coon to appear live on FOX News on Nov. 12
The upcoming national segment will report on the resurgence of the RV industry and the comforts found in today’s RVs. Coon will tell viewers about the many benefits of RV ownership, as he gives them a walkthrough of a modern towable and motorized RV.
To this end, Gary LaBella, RVIA’s vice president and chief marketing officer, said FOX News producers are looking for a great-looking towable to highlight as part of the segment. “There are no specific requirements for the towable RV so please offer any of your products. If the producers select your RV, it would need to be ready for TV and in front of FOX’s Manhattan NYC studio at 5 a.m. on Nov. 12,” LaBells said in a recent e-mail to RVIA members.
Please send a link to the towable product you’d like FOX News to consider to Barton Gilanelli’s Jon Tancredi at firstname.lastname@example.org by 2 p.m. (EST) Thursday (Oct. 28).
“As we are dealing with a live segment on a network news program, show producers and breaking news could preempt, cancel or change this segment at anytime. This is a great opportunity to increase brand awareness for your company and product on network television. I hope you will consider participating,” LaBella concluded.
Speaking to members at Recreation Vehicle Industry Assocation (RVIA) Membership Meeting at the Century Center in South Bend, Ind., Wednesday (June 9), RVIA President Richard Coon and Chairman Jim Sheldon detailed a number of long-term issues on the association’s radar screen as the RV industry begins to recover from the market downturn.
“These are important items and trends that need to be considered as the RV industry moves forward because they will play a factor in our continued success,” Coon said, noting that the RV industry is becoming more global, according to a press release.
“The RV lifestyle is no longer just a North American or European phenomenon. The industry continues to develop in China, Australia and South Africa, and this provides opportunities for the RV industry,” he said.
Among the other issues, he discussed:
In addition, Coon reviewed actions by the RVIA Board of Directors over the past year and detailed the make-up of the RVIA Board and Executive Committee for attendees at the meeting.
“We have an active, engaged Board composed of manufacturer, spplier and at-large members serving alongside the past chairmen of the association,” Coon said. “And, our executive committee members provide a tremendous amount of experience and expertise. As an association, we are fortunate to have such strong leadership.
Sheldon said that with the RV market beginning to rebound it was a fitting that the industry gathered in the South Bend and Elkhart, Ind. area for RVIA Committee Week meetings.
“It has been a tremendous week for our industry, coming together here in the RV capital of the world to celebrate the RV Centennial as the industry begins to travel the road to recovery,” Sheldon said.
He praised the RVIA Government Affairs department for success on several federal and statue issues, including their work on new light-duty truck mileage standards that preserve towing capacity.
“The new standards could have been much more stringent, but the fact that towing capacity has not been significantly impacted is a critical win for the industry,” Sheldon said.
Sheldon then detailed achievements in the Standards and Education department with notable highlights that included the development of the 2011 editions of the National Electrical Code, NFPA and ANSI standards for the RV industry; the development of an RV service technician standard that details the position’s skill and competencies; and the creation of an apprentice program that will provide a learning foundation and on-the-job exposure for potential technicians.
Last July the RVIA board approved an increase in the seal fee from $4 to $35 as the RV industry was in the midst of the worst sales slump in more than 30 years. Seal fees and income from two major shows — the Louisville National RV Trade Show and the retail California RV Show in Pomona — are RVIA’s primary source of income.
The board’s action Thursday rolls back part of that increase. The board also ordered that a board subcommittee review seal fees in 90 days to determine whether further reductions are warranted, according to RVIA President Richard Coon.
”Business has picked up better than we originally expected,” Coon told RVBusiness. ”Sales the first part of the year have been better than we expected. And now that we are doing better, we are going to back off the seal fees.
”We all agreed when we put in the increase that it was only temporary.”
The GoRVing market expansion assessment will remain unchanged at $46 for folding camping trailers and truck campers; $61 for travel trailers and fifth-wheels; and $74 for motorhomes.
The on-and-off negotiations between RVIA and RPTIA are on again at the request of RPTIA, which abruptly called off talks last fall.
RPTIA Chairman Curt Yoder, vice president of park trailer manufacturer Kropf Industries Inc., spoke to the RVIA board Thursday about restarting the unification talks.
”Our door is always open to that,” Coon said. ”He explained that when they took the vote (to call off negotiations) that there was a misunderstanding. We are interested in seeing if we can pull the thing together.”
Coon said he hoped that a decision could be made by Jan. 1.
”When we first started talking we had a goal of working toward January 2011,” Coon said. ”That might still be reasonable. We worked through most of the issues in our earlier discussions.”
In addition, the RVIA board voted to invite RPTIA members to display product at the 2010 Louisville Show scheduled for Nov. 30-Dec. 4 at the Kentucky Exposition Center.
In other action the RVIA board:
- Amended the association bylaws to have interim appointments to the board complete the remainder of the term for the seat that is being assumed. Previously, board appointees were required to stand for re-election in the next association elections.
- Named the following to the board: Dometic’s Doug Whyte to the Supplier seat vacated by Art Wyatt, who recently retired from the company; Evergreen Recreational Vehicles LLC’s Mike Schoeffler to the RV Manufacturer seat vacated by Dynamax Corp.’s DeWayne Creighton, who resigned; and Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp.’s Jonathan Randall to the At-Large seat vacated by Country Coach’s Jay Howard, who resigned.
- Approved the FY2009 audit report recommended by the Audit Committee and delegated authority to the committee to review and accept the association’s annual filing of IRS Form 990.
- Increased the fee for units entering the California RV Show’s demo area from $125 to $200 starting this year.
- Named Newmar Corp. President Matt Miller to replace Jayco’s Dave Eash on the RVDA/RVIA Technicians Certification Governing Board.
- Announced that the September RVIA board meeting will be Sept. 14-15 at the Hotel Park City in Park City, Utah.
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) board of directors Thursday (April 1) will discuss reducing the seal fees members are charged for each unit they build. In addition, it will consider reopening discussions with the Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA) about a possible merger or reunification.
Originally scheduled for Feb. 11, the meeting at the Washington Court Hotel in Washington, D.C., was postponed by a snowstorm that buried the East Coast.
”I think it’s going to be an upbeat meeting from the standpoint that the industry is doing a lot better than a year ago or even when we met in Washington in June for Committee Week,” said RVIA Chairman Jim Sheldon, a Monaco RV LLC executive.
The fact that the RV industry appears to be in recovery mode following the worst economic slump in 30 years has prompted consideration of reduced seal fees. February wholesale shipments were the best they’ve been in nearly two years, and seasonally adjusted, represented an annualized total shipment rate of more than 231,000 units.
RVIA’s board last June increased the portion of the seal that goes directly to the organization — as opposed to supporting the industrywide Go RVing Coalition — from $4 to $35 per unit.
”At that time, the association was bleeding money,” Sheldon said. ”At the same time, the members didn’t want us to throttle back on dealing with the issues of concern to the association. We needed something to shore up our reserves, particularly because of what we thought would be reduced levels of show revenues from the Louisville and Pomona shows.”
With shipments increasing and retail RV sales recovering, at least to some degree, Sheldon said, the board will consider reducing the seal fee.
”Rather than saying that the new fees are the new paradigm, the board will be looking to see if we can reduce that fee somewhat because we are doing well.”
A recommendation on whether to reduce the seal fee will be made to the full board by the RVIA Executive Committee that will meet Wednesday.
Sheldon said he couldn’t say whether the board will vote to reduce the seal fee. ”I don’t want to second guess the board,” he said.
Surprisingly, the on-again-off-again question of whether RVIA and RPTIA will reunify follows a vote by RPTIA members to overturn a RPTIA board decision last November to ”cease all negotiations” with RVIA.
The talks had been going on for a year and their abrupt cancellation came as a surprise to RVIA.
Bill Garpow, RPTIA executive director, said the second vote occurred after some members argued there ”hadn’t been a straight up-or-down vote” on the question during initial balloting.
”We are saying that we would like to continue the discussions,” Garpow said. ”It was not a vote on whether we will merge with (RVIA) or reunify with them.”
Recreation park trailer manufacturers were RVIA members until October 1994 when they left the organization and formed their own group based in the Atlanta suburb of Newnan, Ga.
”(RVIA President) Richard Coon and I are both pleased that they have rethought their position and that they want to reopen the negotiations,” Sheldon said. ”Our board is already on the record of wanting to listen to what they have to say.”
RPTIA President Curt Yoder, vice president and co-owner of park trailer manufacturer Kropf Industries Inc., will speak to the RVIA board about reopening negotiations.
Also at the board meeting, reports on the association’s activities will be given by Sheldon and Coon, while RVIA Treasurer Bob Olson of Winnebago Industries Inc. will review the association’s financial standing and present the Audit Committee’s report for fiscal year 2009.
Also planned is a look at the RV market’s future from RVIA Vice President of Administration Mac Bryan, a report on RV Centennial activities from RVIA Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Gary LaBella and an update on legislative issues from RVIA Vice President of Government Affairs Dianne Farrell.
Richard Coon, president of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), returned Tuesday (March 16) from speaking to the annual meeting of the National Caravan Council Ltd. (NCC) in England, an 800-member organization of RV manufacturers, dealers and campgrounds.
”They have been suffering through the same thing we have,” Coon told RVBUSINESS.com. ”Their (retail RV) sales are down a little more than half and they hear about us coming out of the economic downturn and they are wondering what we have done as an industry to help that along.”
”They are a little behind as far as recovering. The banks there did the same thing that the U.S. banks did, restrict floorplan and retail financing.”
The meeting March 11-12 at the Forest Pine Country Club in Brigg in North Lincolnshire about two hours north of London, was in the area where most RV/caravan factories are located — England’s Elkhart County, Ind., so to speak.
While noting that the U.S. has had three major recessions since the late 1970s and early 1980s, Coon explaimed that the current downturn hasn’t been nearly as severe as 1980 when fuel availability and high interest rates buffeted the U.S.
”Fuel allocations back then were worse that the ‘Great Recession’ that we’ve been going through now,” Coon said.
Each time, he told U.K. executives, the North American RV industry rebounded — including a run of 15 years when sales topped 200,000 units a year. “My whole point was telling them that we tend to forget about the past,” said Coon.
As far as countering the downturn, Coon outlined RVIA’s lobbying efforts to stabilize RV sales with federal tax breaks for consumers and to make low-interest loans available to RV dealers through the Small Business Administration. He also explained the production of a DVD about the U.S. RV industry that was distributed to dealers seeking floorplan financing to take to local banks and credit unions.
For all the similarities between the English and U.S. manufacturers, there are basic differences, Coons said.
”They see the two as completely different markets,” said Coon, noting that few fifth-wheels are built in England. ”They don’t have any pickup trucks.”
Coon will repeat his presentation to a broader audience May 6-9 at the European Leisure Vehicle Industry Association in Stockholm, Sweden.