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RVIA’s Coon to Address European RV Groups

March 5, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Richard Coon

Richard Coon

Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) President Richard Coon will provide presentations focusing on the United States RV industry and RVIA in meetings with two European RV organizations this spring.

Coon’s first presentation will come at the National Caravan Council’s ( NCC) Industry Forum, taking place on March 11 at the Forest Pines Golf and Country Club Hotel in Lincolnshire, England. NCC is the trade association for the United Kingdom caravan industry, encompassing touring caravans, motorhomes, caravan holiday home and park homes. The group’s forum will examine what’s in store for the caravan industry over the next decade.

Coon will also attend the 32nd European Caravan Federation (ECF) General Meeting and the 16th Meeting of the European Leisure Vehicle Industry (MELVI), taking place together from May 6 – 8 in Stockholm, Sweden. He will address attendees during the MELVI meeting on May 7. The ECF is the umbrella group representing national organizations in the European caravan industry.

In his remarks to both groups, Coon plans to detail the RV market in the United States, discuss how RVIA supports its membership and the industry in general, and examine what steps the association took to help the industry weather the economic recession that hampered the RV market in 2009.

“Like most business, the RV industry is becoming an increasingly global entity,” said Coon. “These two meetings provide an excellent opportunity to meet with our European colleagues to share information and ideas about what we can all do to be more successful.”

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Industry to Salute RV Workers During Centennial

January 20, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

000_UntitledAs America’s recreation vehicle industry kicks off a year’s worth of celebrations to honor its 2010 Centennial, industry members are putting the spotlight on the people who have kept the industry rolling for a century — America’s RV workers, according to a release from the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).

Central to the industry’s celebrations this year will be a ”Salute to RV Workers” in the form of video tributes from industry leaders and special recognition of RV workers at a 100th Anniversary party being hosted by the RVIA on Monday, June 7, at the RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum in Elkhart, Ind.

”The RV industry recognizes that the hard-working men and women on the factory floors, in the offices, and out in the field are the heart and soul of our industry,” said RVIA President Richard Coon. ”America’s RV workers make products that bring families closer together, and we recognize that our industry’s longevity and success is a direct result of their hard work and commitment. Honoring their contributions will be a big part of our year-long RV Centennial celebrations.”

Manufacturer members of the RVIA board of directors will participate in creating a video tribute to RV workers, telling how RV industry workers’ concern and dedication translates into products that make American families closer and happier.

The video will be a centerpiece at RVIA’s 100th Anniversary party. The industry party will be an energetic extravaganza with a live band, entertaining videos, a fireworks celebration to cap the evening, centennial salutes from RVing celebrities and other VIPs and the unveiling of an RV-themed time capsule that will remain on display at the RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum. The invitation-only party is just one of many RV Centennial projects being spearheaded by RVIA as part of a campaign that promises to lift the spirits of the RV industry and help kick off its second century on a high note.

In an effort to help bring the RV Centennial celebration to the industry and to RV enthusiasts, RVIA also will conduct a national tour of the official Centennial mascot titled ”Centennial Charlie’s Cross-Country Caravan: 100 Days Celebrating 100 years of RVing.” Charlie is an American black bear stuffed animal — inspired by the bear in Go RVing’s 2010 Ambassadors of Affordability ad campaign — that RVIA will ship to RV consumer shows and industry plants to generate enthusiasm and provide additional media centennial opportunities. The stuffed animal’s visits will be chronicled in a presentation to be shared with the industry and on YouTube.

In April, an RVIA media tour with RV historian and media spokesman David Woodworth will launch, showcasing a 1916 telescoping RV alongside a state-of-the-art RV that features the latest designs and technologies. A satellite media tour will run in conjunction with Woodworth’s tour to distribute the centennial story to news outlets nationwide.

RVIA will also provide media and consumers with 100 days of fun RV facts and travel trivia on Twitter. These efforts will focus on the industry’s history of creativity and innovation while segueing into a look at today’s products and the RV market’s robust future.

To highlight the year-long celebration of the RV Centennial, RVIA is designating June as RV Centennial Celebration Month, a focal point for the industry to rally around just as Americans are gearing up for summer and the vacation season. RVIA is working to have official proclamations issued from both President Obama and Congress and is also pursuing state-level recognition of RV Centennial Celebration Month.

Throughout the year, the official RV Centennial website — RVCentennial.org — will serve as a clearinghouse of information and a source of free resources to help industry members incorporate the 100th Anniversary celebrations into their company-specific efforts. The website offers the official, downloadable RV Centennial logo for companies to use in marketing efforts; a four-minute RV Centennial video for members to post on their own websites and to share with constituents; a photo gallery of images of antique RVs for use in promotional materials; a white paper, press releases and news articles about the RV Centennial; and an open message board where industry members can exchange celebration ideas and plans with colleagues.

”We have a lot of exciting things planned for the RV Centennial celebration and are energized by the opportunity it offers all of us to demonstrate our strength and unity, to counteract the difficult economic conditions we’ve faced and to draw positive attention to the RV industry in the coming year,” Coon said.

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RVIA: Use FEMA Units for Homeless Haitians

January 19, 2010 by · 6 Comments 

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) is quietly promoting the idea that unused travel trailers set to be auctioned by the General Services Administration (GSA) be sent to Haiti to house those left homeless by last week’s tragic earthquake.

Coon outlined the association’s efforts in a note to RVIA board members on Monday (Jan. 18), and told RVBUSINESS.com today that RVIA lobbyists are contacting the appropriate federal agencies to pitch the idea.

”Our lobbyists are checking with the appropriate agencies,” said Coon, who added that the RV industry stands ready to provide traditional RVs for housing in Haiti.

Originally, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) purchased the trailers for emergency housing after the 2005 Gulf Coast hurricanes. Tens of thousands went unused and remain in storage lots.

”We are just trying to make government officials aware that there are a lot of FEMA trailers in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana that could be used by the poor people in Haiti,” said RVIA President Richard Coon told RVBUSINESS.com.

One problem in sending FEMA units to Haiti is the negative publicity garnered by lawsuits alleging that recipients of the trailers following hurricanes Katrina and Rita were harmed by high levels of formaldehyde in a handful of trailers.

One lawsuit already has been decided in favor of Gulf Stream Coach Inc., while Fleetwood Industries Inc. settled a second one. Others are still in federal court in Louisiana. ”I’m sure the government will be thinking about all the bad publicity they might get,” Coon said.

He said federal officials have yet to respond to the idea.

The GSA on Friday announced that it was delaying for two weeks the planned auction of 15,000 trailers that are stored in Hope, Ark.

”There are units down there that the Haitians could use for housing and so could the people who are going down there to help,” Coon said.

”I’m sure the Haitians would love to have an RV or a (FEMA) temporary housing unit,” Coon said. He noted that travel trailers and recreational park trailers now are built to meet strict formaldehyde standards set by the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

”The RV industry stands ready if anyone wants to buy more travel trailers,” he said.

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Coon Gives Positive Forecast at RVIA Breakfast

December 1, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Richard Coon at Outlook Breakfast (Photo courtesy of RVIA)

Richard Coon at Outlook Breakfast (Photo courtesy of RVIA)

Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) President Richard Coon said today (Dec. 1) that the RV industry is primed and ready for recovery, emphasizing the continued popularity of RVing among customers and potential buyers and the recent uptick in wholesale RV shipments as evidence that the worst of times may be over for the RV industry.

Coon delivered this industry forecast at the  “Outlook 2010: Let the Sun Shine” market expansion showcase, kicking off the 47th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.

“We have survived the Great Depression…numerous recessions and market downturns…fuel crises…acts of terrorism and wars. But we have endured,” Coon said. “Why? Because RVs are woven into the fabric of America. Americans love RVing, they love our products and how they enrich their lives, allowing them to spend time in the great outdoors with loved ones.”

According to a news release, Coon pointed to a strengthening stock market, slowing job loss, higher productivity, increasing home sales, and rising manufacturing hours as reasons for economic optimism; while noting that weak consumer confidence, continued high unemployment and anemic consumer spending still present challenges.

But the most telling sign that the RV industry is on the road to recovery can be found in wholesale shipment numbers, which have been trending upward for several months. Coon reported that, in October, total units were 16,600, an increase of 23% over October 2008 shipments. Seasonally adjusted, October shipments hit an annual rate of more than 216,000 units, marking the third consecutive month that annualized shipments topped 200,000 units.

Based on these positive developments, Coon reported that University of Michigan economist Richard Curtin now forecasts wholesale shipments to finish this year at 159,500 units.

Looking ahead to 2010, Curtin sees RV shipments climbing by 27% to 203,500 units, with increases spread across all vehicle types:

  • Travel trailer shipments are expected to climb 31% to 130,400 units
  • Fifth-wheels are expected to jump 25% to 42,800 units
  • Folding camping trailers will increase by 11% to 13,900 units
  • Truck campers will see an 11% rise to 2,000 units.

Motorized segments are also expected to see gains:

  • Class A motorhome shipments are set to rise 20% to 6,100 units.
  • Class B motorhomes will hit 1,400 units on 17% growth
  • Class C motorhomes will increase by 30% to 6,900 units.

During his talk, Coon briefly outlined RVIA’s plans to lead celebrations of the RV industry’s 100th anniversary in 2010, and encouraged industry members to take part in noting the proud past and bright future of the industry. “As we head into a new year, we should all resolve to have the courage to believe in our industry’s recovery, and resolve to overcome these difficult times” he said.

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RVIA’s Coon Addresses ARVC’s Park Membership

November 13, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

insites09The RV industry has had a very tough couple of year, but even in the RV industry there are signs of a turnaround, Richard Coon, president of the Reston, Va.-based Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), said at this week’s InSites Convention in Orlando, Fla., sponsored by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).

In his remarks to InSites attendees, Coon said 30 of 105 RV manufacturers have gone out of business during the current recession. On the other hand, 15 new companies have launched RV manufacturing businesses during the last two years and RVIA statistics show a mere 1% drop in shipments during the third quarter compared to the same period last year.

Coon said there are several reasons why the RV industry has continued to survive, despite tough economic times. “The basic (need) for RVs is deeply rooted in family values (and) the enduring appeal of the natural environment,” he said. “This appeal will overcome any economic barriers.”

At the same time, Coon said, the camping lifestyle is drawing growing levels of interest, not only among Americans, but to people around the world. He noted that more than 50 representatives from China will be attending the National RV Trade Show in Louisville in December and that many of them have expressed interest in learning how to develop campgrounds.

Coon also said it behooves the RV and private park industries to find more ways to work closer together.

“You guys are as close to the consumer as anyone I know of,” Coon said. “You have information that I know you’d love to share with the manufacturers that you hear every day – complaints or interest in the products – and we have to have more avenues to bring that message forward to the manufacturers.”

Coon added, “We need to set up a hotline for you in the campgrounds” so that private park operators and their guests can quickly find product and service information “without a lot of hassle.”

Coon also said the RV and campground industries need to develop better standards for handling sewage “or we will become regulated.”

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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 http://www.sba.gov/size/indexwhatsnew.html 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 www.GoRVing.com “Going Green” section and is available on the FOX website: http://www.foxnews.com/search-results/m/22117461/go-rv-go-green.htm#q=RV.

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