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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 dcashion@rvia.org.

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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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