“Rollin’ on TV” (ROTV), a 3-year-old production company from Mattapoisett, Mass., will be producing a special video episode on RVBusiness magazine’s annual “Best of Show” promotion during the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) 50th Annual National RV Trade Show, Nov. 27-29 in Louisville, Ky.
The half-hour segment is set for a primary airing in late December and early January through a growing TV network reaching 20 million viewers in 27 states and will focus on three new RVs that the magazine’s Indiana-based staff deems the 2013 model year’s most interesting new products on display at Louisville — one of which will be designated as the “Best of Show.”
All three will also be publicized in RVB’s Jan./Feb. issue.
“People ask whether ‘Best of Show’ honors are for a unit we think will gain the most market acceptance and, therefore, the most sales — or whether it’s for the most innovative and cutting-edge design, regardless of marketability,” said RVBusiness Publisher Sherman Goldenberg. “But the fact of the matter is that it ordinarily winds up being a combination of both.”
This segment and a separate trade show-related ROTV episode being taped at Louisville will be seen — and often rebroadcast — on an array of TV outlets affiliated with ABC, Fox, My NetWork TV and the WB Network. Additionally, it will be shown on three regional sports networks and will receive national coverage on the Dish Network on Cox Sports Network, reported ROTV Executive Producer Joe Moniz.
“Besides the overall show coverage,” said Moniz, “this special episode, for which we’re currently working to line up an anchor sponsor, will include interviews and segments on the award-winning RVs with company representatives for both the main ‘Best of Show’ manufacturer as well as those representing the other units in contention for the honor.
“We think that RVBusiness is on to something with this ‘Best of Show’ idea, and we would like to help them amplify this whole concept in the future like Motor Trend’s ‘Car of the Year’ award.”
With the recreational vehicle industry often leading the nation in and out of economic downturns, economists are watching closely a recent upsurge in wholesale RV shipments as a good sign that the U.S. economy is on the path to recovery. That’s the positive atmosphere in which this year’s 2nd Annual RVBusiness Top 50 Dealer Awards dinner and reception will be held Wednesday evening (Oct. 7) during the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association’s (RVDA) annual RV Dealers International Convention at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
The awards are presented by RVBusiness, a leading trade journal published by Affinity Media, not only for the demonstrated survival skills of these 50 dealerships during one of the deepest U.S. economic downturns in memory, but also for the continuing commitment of these U.S. and Canadian retailers to professionalism, civic involvement, association activities, best practices and, more than anything else, consumer care.
The RVBusiness staff in August first announced the selections for the second annual Top 50 awards, based on nominations from North American RV manufacturers. A volunteer panel of industry veterans in August then concluded its review of dealer applications in the RV-building center of Elkhart, Ind.
“We had an overwhelming response from our manufacturer nominees this year,” said RVB Publisher Sherman Goldenberg. “The number of applicants received was about 40% more than what we had in 2008. So, before judging even started, we considered this year’s program a success, and that was largely due to the many quality dealerships submitting applications. Because there were so many worthy RV dealers who applied, it was a much more difficult selection process this time around.”
RVBusiness Top 50 dealers are not ranked, although 10 Blue Ribbon retailers are singled out for special recognition and a Dave Altman Award for lifetime achievement in RV retailing and exceptional corporate citizenship will also be presented to one of the Top 50 dealers at the awards dinner.
Former – and possibly future – Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is slated as the keynote speaker at this year’s event. In his current role as a Fox News talk show host, Huckabee in March taped an episode of his “Save Our Town” series in Elkhart, Ind., a northern Indiana city where the U.S. RV business is centered that has garnered more than its share of national media attention this year for the recession’s impact on its businesses and residents.
“Given the current national political climate and the ongoing debate between the two political parties – and the ways in which these debates directly impact the recreational vehicle industry, we consider Mr. Huckabee an excellent and thought-provoking choice for an enjoyable evening in Las Vegas,” said Goldenberg. “And that goes for industry people of all political persuasions – Republican, Democrat, Libertarian or otherwise.”
Underwriting this year’s program are RVB’s “Leadership Alliance” sponsors for 2009, including “platinum” co-sponsors ADP Lightspeed, Salt Lake City, Utah; Blue Ox, Pender, Neb.; Coach-Net, Lake Havasu, Ariz.; Cummins Onan, Minneapolis, Minn..; Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp., Gaffney, S.C.; RV Trader and RVTraderOnline.com, Norfolk, Va.; and Ultra-Fab Products, Elkhart, Ind.; and “Gold” sponsor Protective Asset Protection Division, Chesterfield, Mo.
Tickets for the $120-a-plate dinner ($99 for RVDA members, Con/Expo exhibitors and Top 50 dealer guests) are available at the convention or through the following registration link (http://www.rvbusiness.com/top-50-dealer-awards/2009-registration-form/).
To view the complete list of the Top 50 dealers and to learn more about members of the Leadership Alliance, visit www.RVBusiness.com.
About the Top 50 RV Dealers Program:
The program’s purpose is to showcase credible role models and establish best business practices benchmarks at the retail level of the RV industry in terms of staff training, performing warranty and service work, managing aftermarket stores, superior consumer care and being good citizens of their respective communities. The dealerships were selected among those nominated as the best by the nation’s RV manufacturers. The program was founded and coordinated by RVBusiness magazine with additional support provided by the Leadership Alliance.
Affinity is the nation’s largest provider of outdoor clubs, services, media and events that service the safety, security, comfort and convenience needs of the North American recreational vehicle and outdoor enthusiast market. By providing information, insights, and resources, the company champions the fun, freedom, and adventure of recreation in motion. The company works to enhance its customers’ recreational experiences and build the communities that share and promote their fun and adventurous lifestyles.
Affinity is organized into four different business units – Affinity Media, Affinity Clubs, Affinity Events and Affinity Ventures. Their corporate headquarters is located in Ventura, Calif. Subsidiary operations and divisions can be found at multiple locations throughout the United States.
During the winter, sales at Alpin Haus, an RV dealership in Amsterdam, N.Y., were somewhat stagnant, but when April came it was “like a switch went on again,” says President Andy Heck.
Still, Heck said the news this spring is both good and bad, according to The Leader-Herald, Gloversville.
“It’s kind of a mixed bag,” he said, noting Alpin Haus is slowly transitioning into its “true summer season.”
Alpin Haus, which last year was selected as one of the top 50 recreation vehicle dealers in America by RV Business magazine, sells many other types of big ticket items.
“April has been very good for RVs, boats and pools,” Heck said. “It’s actually pacing better than the past. It’s definitely a lot more dollars (being spent).”
Heck said towable vehicles are “going great,” but sales of motorhomes are lagging.
He said he believes people are buying more boats, pools and towable RVs with the intention to stay in the region. But he said sales of motorhomes, in which people tend to travel long distances away from home, aren’t doing as well.
“That still has been challenging,” Heck said. “There’s still a little buyer’s uncertainty.”
He’s hoping that “switch” stays on for a long time.
“People think maybe we’re better off in the economy and things are starting to pick up again, maybe,” Heck said.
Dougie Aguilera, a sales consultant at Brown’s Ford in nearby Johnstown, said the consumer’s shopping habits can be volatile.
“I think it’s like a rollercoaster,” he said.
Aguilera said he believes what triggered the nation’s economic decline wasn’t necessarily an uncertain housing market, but the $4.25 per gallon gas prices last summer.
He said his dealership found then that people didn’t want to purchase the SUVs, pickup and work trucks that are needed for this area.
“People held off and were scared,” he said.
But now that gas prices are about half what they were in 2008, he said things are “picking up” at Brown’s Ford.
“I think people put things on hold,” Aguilera said.
Sales of the four-wheel drive trucks that are so important to the area are on the rise again, he said.
“In the last several months, there’s been a renewed demand,” Aguilera said.
Sales tax revenues in Fulton County — where Amsterdam and Johnstown are located — jumped by about $228,000 for the first quarter of the year from a year ago, so people are apparently starting to spend more money locally on consumer goods. The city of Johnstown, realized a $164,862 increase for the first quarter from the same period a year ago.