RVIA’s Coon Appears on FOX Business Network

August 27, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 


RVIA's Richard Coon with Fox Business Network's Dagen McDowell

RVIA's Richard Coon with Fox Business Network's Dagen McDowell

Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) President Richard Coon appeared on FOX Business Network Wednesday (Aug. 26) discussing the future of the RV industry with host Dagen McDowell in a segment titled “The Road Ahead for RVs.” 

According to an RVIA Today Express release, the segment opened with McDowell admiring the Fleetwood Icon diesel motorhome lent to RVIA for the appearance on Fox, and praising its fuel efficiency, saying, “You won’t believe what that RV gets in gas mileage!” 

McDowell cited sharp declines in shipment numbers as she asked Coon about the difficulties the RV industry has faced over the past year. While Coon acknowledged that the industry was hit “harder than the auto industry” by the nation’s recession, he added, “We’ve been around for a long time, and we’ve been through lots of recessions. And we’re pretty resilient.”

Coon highlighted the many reasons for optimism for the future of the RV industry, including the fact that 16 new RV companies have started up this year, and more than 2,000 people have been re-hired in Elkhart, Ind., over the past two months.  Campgrounds are full, Coon reported, and RV rentals are up. “Business is coming back,” he said, adding, “The lifestyle is very popular, and RVing is a very inexpensive way to travel.”

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Indiana Congressional Delegation Lauds SBA Move

May 29, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

It was hard for U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly to contain his enthusiasm.

Something he and other Hoosiers, including fellow Democrat Sen. Evan Bayh, have been working on for months, became reality, according to the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune.

Beginning July 1, the U.S. Small Business Administration will offer government-guaranteed loans to finance inventory for eligible automobile, recreational vehicle, boat, motorcycle and manufactured housing dealerships. Donnelly, D-Ind., said the move is another piece to the puzzle that could get the cycle of business moving again in places like Elkhart County, part of which is located in Donnelly’s congressional district.

“This is very significant,” Donnelly said in a phone interview after attending Thursday’s announcement in Kokomo, Ind., by Karen Mills, SBA administrator. 

“It’s not just RV related, but includes marine and manufactured housing. Those are three types of mainstay products in Elkhart County, and this covers every single one of those areas.

“It gives dealers a chance to finance floorplanning,” he added. “That enables the dealers to buy more products from manufacturers and for (manufacturers) to put more people back to work.”

For the past year and a half, many dealers had been unable to purchase cars and RVs to place on their lots, because the dealers themselves did not have the financing.

Organizations they had been getting loans from either refused to make loans as credit tightened, or simply walked away from the business.

“This ends the cycle,” Donnelly said, noting it allows more than 50% of the dealers to use the program. “We think this is a big step in putting people back to work.” 

“The whole country starts buying again,” Donnelly said. “Since we do the manufacturing for all these products, all of that (business) will start to flow back into our community.”

Donnelly said Bayh greatly aided the effort. Donnelly himself had met with both Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and President Barack Obama about the problem, urging the SBA solution to guarantee the loans.

“I met with Geithner and explained the whole situation,” Donnelly said. “I had conversations with Obama last fall on the way to Elkhart and with him again last week. 

“He has been very desirous to find a vehicle to create this financing.”

In a release, Bayh, who was also in Kokomo for Thursday’s announcement along with Ed Montgomery, director of recovery for auto communities and workers, said the program “will help keep open a business that might otherwise have closed.”

“Dealerships employ tens of thousands of Hoosiers and today’s announcement will both save jobs and create new ones,” Bayh said. “For a state like ours, with a proud manufacturing tradition, this announcement is truly a lifeline.”

Floor plan financing is a line of credit that allows dealers to borrow against their inventory and then repay that debt as they sell their inventory or borrow against the line of credit again to add new inventory. 

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) called the program “a key victory on an important front.”

“RVIA has worked diligently over the past several months to have the SBA include floor plan loans in 7(a) loan guarantee program,” said RVIA President Richard Coon. “We are very pleased with the SBA announcement today and believe that the improved availability of credit for RV dealers through this program will benefit the entire industry.”

The program announced Thursday is considered a pilot program and will run from July 1 through Sept. 30, 2010, at which time the SBA will determine whether to extend the program.

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Sen. Bayh Praises SBA Help for RV Industry

May 15, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., a member of the Senate Small Business Committee, Thursday (May 14) praised the Small Business Administration (SBA) for expanding the agency’s largest lending program, a decision that will expand access to capital for more than 70,000 additional American small businesses — including many RV and automobile dealerships across the country.

The SBA last week announced an expansion of its 7(a) loan program, effective next week through Sept. 30, 2010, according to a press release. The temporary 7(a) loan size standard will allow businesses to qualify based on net and average income. Under the new rules, a small business qualifies for SBA loan assistance if:

  • The company and its affiliates have a net worth not exceeding $8.5 million and
  • The company and its affiliates’ net income over the preceding two completed fiscal years does not exceed $3 million after federal income taxes (excluding any carry-over losses)

It is estimated that 50% of RV manufacturers and 75% of RV dealers will now qualify for loans under the SBA’s expanded criteria.

“To turn around our economy and help middle class Hoosiers make ends meet, we have to free up capital for small businesses, which are the primary engine of Indiana’s economic growth,” Bayh said. “This is a significant expansion of the largest federal loan program to help small businesses meet payroll and other operating costs. This move by the SBA will provide a lifeline to Indiana’s auto dealers, parts suppliers, and RV manufacturers and help thousands of middle class families who rely on these industries to make a living.”

“We’re encouraged that the SBA is expanding the definition of businesses that qualify for SBA loans to support investments in  working capital, machinery and equipment,” said Richard Coon, president of the Recreation Vehicle  Industry Association (RVIA). According to Coon, the direct consequence of the current credit squeeze  for worthy companies has been lost jobs with RV manufacturers, suppliers and dealers.

 “The new loan criteria couldn’t come at a more important time,” Coon added. “When coupled with an  emergency rule being considered to permit 7(a) guarantees for dealer floor-plan inventory purchases,  these new SBA changes will benefit a large segment of RV manufacturers, dealers and suppliers.”

 Bayh continues to urge the SBA to expand the 7(a) loan program to include purchases of floorplan inventory, a change that would provide much-needed working capital for RV dealers and result in the retention of thousands of jobs nationally, including many in Indiana.

For more information about SBA’s revisions to its small business size standards, visit and click on “Small Business Size Standards.”

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Coon: New ‘Stars’ Will Surface in RV Industry

May 7, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

Despite the RV industry’s current setbacks, new companies have been surfacing to replace some of those lost to the recession over the past two years, Richard Coon, president of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), told state campground association leaders during the recent National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds’ (ARVC) 2009 National Issues  Conference in Washington, D.C.

“As bad as it looks for some of the traditional names (manufacturers),” Coon said, “there will be other stars two years from now. It’s hard to predict who, but this is how this country operates. Existing companies are not sitting still. Some of the guys are adding new product, and they are moving forward.”

Coon, in reviewing the industry’s current status with a Power Point presentation, said that in addition to tight retail and wholesale credit, shaky consumer confidence has rocked the industry.

“The consumer used to be rich and now he wonders if he’s going to have enough to survive,” Coon said. “People are worried about whether thy are going to have a job.”

Although the association still has 91 manufacturer members, he added, the entire RV industry is going through a shakeup with 17 RV companies dropped from the association in recent months.

Coon told the assembled state campground association leaders that they need to consider wider sites because of RVIA’s decision to allow members to build fifth-wheels up to 430 square feet in the setup mode, along with the advent of telescoping slideouts.

“Manufacturers are going to build what the consumers want,” he said. “I’m sure it’s become a pain for a lot of the older campgrounds, especially where you put your utilities. But that part’s not going to get better; it’s going to get worse.”

The industry’s Go RVing marketing expansion campaign’s media budget has been cut to $3.5 million this year — down from a high of about $15.5 million in 2007 — because of declining RVIA seal sales which finance the program, Coon reported.

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Coon Touts Green RVing on ‘Fox and Friends’

April 20, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

In a segment titled “Go RVing and Go Green” on the popular Fox and Friends morning show on Saturday (April 18), President Richard Coon, president of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), touted the RV industry’s innovations in creating fuel efficient, environmentally friendly RVs.

The segment, secured through the efforts of RVIA’s public relations team, featured Forest River Inc.’s R-Pod ultra-light travel trailer and Damon’s Avanti type A motorhome as examples of the industry’s latest innovations. As the camera panned the units’ features, Coon discussed the affordable amenities offered by both models, saying about the towable, “This unit is smaller, lighter, but it’s compact – and has everything in it.”

He pointed out that ultra-light travel trailers like this are small enough to be hauled by the new crossover SUVs or even a minivan. About the motorhome Coon said, “It’s one of the new, high efficiency, eco-friendly diesels. I have a Suburban that I drive that gets somewhere between 14, 15 and 16 miles per gallon – and this gets the same.”

Later in the show, the weatherman teased the weather report from behind the wheel of the Class A motorhome.  He said, “These things (motorhomes) have gotten pretty cool,”  and called the motorhome “a really nice ride” before saying that now is a good time to buy an RV.

RVIA Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Gary LaBella said, “Coon’s appearance on the top-ranked cable news morning show Fox and Friends, a show watched by an average of 1 million potential RV owners, helped to drive home the message that the RV industry is innovative and adapting to the times. Interviews like this are incredibly helpful in getting out the good word about RVing, and wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of members like Forest River and Damon, who provided vehicles for the segment.”

RVIA’s PR team will broaden the impact of the segment by merchandising it on Twitter and Facebook. It will also appear in “Going Green” section and is available on the FOX website:

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RVIA’s Coon to Appear on Fox News Saturday

April 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Richard Coon, president of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), is scheduled to appear on Fox News Saturday morning (April 18) during the 7 a.m. hour.

Coon will be a guest on the Fox & Friends morning show at approximately 7:30 a.m. EST.

Coon will be interviewed live about the RV industry’s eco-friendly innovations.  The appearance will showcase two examples of this innovation: the Forest River Inc. R-Pod, a lightweight towable; as well as the Damon Avanti, a sleek Class A motorhome that gets 15 miles per gallon.

Coon will be on hand to talk about the industry’s latest designs, to tell viewers about the fun, freedom and affordability of RV ownership and travel and to deliver the message that the RV industry is optimistic about its future despite the nation’s current economic difficulties, according to an RVIA release.

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RVIA Gears Up for Committee Week 2009

April 13, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Richard Coon

Richard Coon

Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) members will meet to plan the association’s agenda for the next fiscal year and beyond at Committee Week, set for June 8-11 at the Willard InterContinental Hotel in Washington, D.C.   During the four-day event, the association’s standing committees, executive committee and board of directors will meet to develop strategies and programs for the upcoming fiscal year. 

The Go RVing Coalition and Committee on Excellence are also scheduled to meet in conjunction with Committee Week on Monday, June 8.

“Committee Week is one of the association’s most important events,” said RVIA President Richard Coon in a news release.  “The work done during the week charts the course for RVIA for the next year.  Especially in the current challenging times, it is important for RVIA’s many committed and talented committee members to gather and discuss the association’s next steps.”

On Monday, June 8, Committee Week participants will gather for a Chairman’s Luncheon to honor Carl Pfalzgraf’s service as chairman of the board from 2006 – 2008.

Since RVIA’s annual meeting was canceled due to economic conditions, the membership meeting will be a featured event at Committee Week this year. The two-hour luncheon program will be held Tuesday, June 9, and will feature Richard Curtin, director of consumer research at the University of Michigan. Curtin will give his projections for the RV industry for the upcoming year.  Coon will also present his views on the association and the industry.

Most committee meetings are open to guest attendance; however anyone planning to attend a meeting for a committee of which they are not a member should contact the RVIA staff liaison or the committee chairman for information on the guest policy.

Committee Week is once again taking place at the historic Willard InterContinental, located just two blocks from the White House in the heart of Washington, D.C.’s business district. 

For more information about Committee Week or to register for the event, contact Doreen Cashion in the Meetings and Shows Division at (703) 620-6003 (324) or

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RVDA Takes Middle Road on Buy-Back Issue

April 10, 2009 by · 3 Comments 

The Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) contends that its hands are tied with regard to the issue of RV manufacturers being forced — under various circumstances — to buy back product from dealers.
So the national trade association, based in Fairfax, Va., isn’t taking a concrete stand one way or the other in what is becoming a major issues within the RV industry.
”We are a national dealers association made up of dealers from many states,”  said RVDA Chairman Larry Troutt, owner of Toppers Camping Center in Waller, Texas, in a Q&A session with RVBusiness due for publication next month. ”It’s not our position to take a position on what the states do.”
In a March 9 letter to RVDA President Mike Molino, Richard Coon, president of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), asked RVDA to  support amending or defeating ”buy back” legislation pending in 17 states, warning that RV manufacturers and dealers alike could be put out of business by the slew of legislation. 
However,  Molino immediately dismissed the request and has continued to do so as recently as a meeting held this week.
At issue are what RVIA characterizes as onerous provisions requiring inventory, in some cases regardless of age, to be repurchased by manufacturers ”with or without cause,” along with ”blue sky” requirements that would mandate manufacturers to compensate dealers for the value of their businesses and ”facilities assistance” for up to three years.  
”The dealers in the different states will take initiatives (that) we will support, possibly reinforce, at their request,” Troutt told RVBusiness. ”But we do not think it is appropriate to take initiatives as a national dealer organization that would cause dealers in different states to have to abide by some ‘law’ that they didn’t initiate or address themselves within their states. It’s a state’s rights thing.
”I’m not aware of any (dealer) who disagrees with that.”
RVDA Treasurer Andy Heck, president of Alpin Haus, Amsterdam, N.Y., said coordinating state laws would be too large a task for RVDA to muster.
”Each state has different laws,” Heck said. ”(Buy back laws) just happen to be one of them. For RVDA to get involved at the state level would be a gigantic task.”
Debbie Brunoforte, RVDA 1st vice chairman and owner of Little Dealer, Little Prices in Mesa, Ariz., said dealers are ”reasonable (and) fair-minded” and that manufacturers should communicate directly with dealers about state laws that concern them.
”The difference between RVIA and RVDA is that most of the manufacturers are in Indiana and a couple of other places,” Brunoforte said. ”Yet, (RVs) are retailed throughout the entire country. So RVIA has to have a more political view and I understand that. At RVDA, we have dealers in every single state, and we’ve always felt that dealers in a particular state should choose how they want to do business.”

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RVIA Answers LA Times’ Critique of Industry

April 8, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Richard Coon, president of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), wrote the following Letter to the Editor which was published in the  Los Angeles Times on Saturday (April 4) in response to the Times’ March 29 story titled “The RV: Going the way of the dinosaur?” 

Coon’s letter read as follows: 

The recreation vehicle industry has been hit hard by the economy, but we  believe better days are ahead — not behind us, as The Times’ article suggests.
You create the impression that all RVs are high-end motorhomes, when in fact 80% of the market consists of towable RVs that average $23,000 retail. You ignore how RV manufacturers are adapting by producing lighter and more fuel-efficient vehicles. New models include the first-ever RV hybrids, ultra-light composite trailers and green technologies such as fuel cells and solar panels.

We agree that the biggest problem facing the industry is “dried-up credit,” not a lack of consumer interest or demand. Encouraging retail traffic and the innovation going on within the industry indicate that the long-term outlook remains positive. We are looking forward to the road ahead — just like all of America’s 30 million RVers.

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RVIA Board Hikes Fifth-Wheel Size to 430 Sq. Ft.

April 2, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) has authorized its members to hike the maximum size of fifth-wheel trailers from 400 to 430 square feet and still meet association standards.

The change takes effect immediately.

Additionally, RVIA, as part of an alliance  developing with the Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA), will consider reducing the size of travel trailers from 400 square feet to 320 square feet, the size allowed until Jan. 1, 2008, RVIA President Richard Coon told RVBusiness.

”That is part of our developing arrangement with RPTIA,” Coon said following RVIA’s March 27 board meeting at the Embassy Suites Chicago-O’Hare in Rosemont, Ill. Coon said that the expanded fifth-wheel square-footage limit should affect units only in the setup mode. ”You pull out the slideouts and the old number (400 square feet) just doesn’t cut it,” Coon said. ”People are wanting to build units that are a little bit bigger. This doesn’t have to do with length, it has to do with slideouts.”

Travel trailers larger than 320 square feet will be considered park models, should the change be adopted, Coon said. 

With regard to RVIA’s often stormy relations with RPTIA, it has established an ad hoc committee to explore the potential for RPTIA members to rejoin RVIA some 16 years after park-model builders were ejected from the RV-building dominated trade association. 

Afterward, recreational park trailer manufacturers set up their own association, now headquartered in Newnan, Ga.

The accommodation, from all appearances, has a lot to do with the tough economic times and the need for these once disparate elements to pull together.

Market trends, at the same time, have prompted a convergence in product types.”We want to work together for a couple of years in an alliance to see what we can do about rolling RPTIA into RVIA, if they are comfortable with that,” Coon said. ”We have some issues about what their needs are going to be and they have issues about how we are going to treat them. Each of us is looking for some good faith on the part of the other going forward.”

Early last year, RPTIA harshly criticized RVIA when it allowed  manufacturers to increase the size of travel trailers to 400 square feet and effectively caused RVIA to scrap earlier plans to allow fifth-wheels to be larger than 400 square feet.

In other business the RVIA board:

  • Adopted recommendations from a committee that met in January to update its strategic plan. 

   Priorities include insuring sufficient RV wholesale and retail financing, pursuing a favorable business environment for            RVIA members, growing and expanding the RV market, protecting the health and well-being of RVIA, providing industry      information and knowledge, creating a positive RV experience for all consumers and fostering continuous RV product              improvements.    

  ”We are taking a multi-pronged approach on the economy as part of the strategic plan,” said RVIA spokesman Bill Baker.       ”We are continuing to work with the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury and the Small Business Administration to free       up lending in that area.

   Several federal legislators have written to the SBA supporting RVIA’s argument that the definition of small business should    be increased to 500 or fewer employees and gross earnings of $25 million or less so that small and mid-sized RV                        dealerships can qualify for SBA loans.       

   The current definition of a small business is one that earns an average of less than $7 million over three years. 

   ”This is aimed at dealerships to finance floorplans, but smaller manufacturers also could qualify,” Baker said.

  • Decided to refund the $4.05 cost of the RVIA seal to affix to RVs meeting RVIA standards purchased by companies that have left the organization. The Go RVing assessment on each seal — $46 for folding camping trailers and truck campers to $61 for travel trailers and fifth-wheels and $74 for motorhomes — will not be refunded on the premise that the manufacturer already will have benefited from the market expansion program.
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