Today’s Video #1 features a news story broadcast on Thursday (May 23) on “NBC Nightly News” about the RV industry. Focusing to an extent on Keystone RV Co. Inc., it was taped in part in Goshen, Ind., prior to the bombing at the Boston Marathon in April and news priorities prompted the network to hold the report until Thursday.
Keystone RV officials told RVBusiness they were pleased with NBC’s treatment of their company and the RV industry, timed as it was in advance of the Memorial Day weekend and the official kickoff of the summer travel season. “NBC did a story way back in the RV ‘dark days’ about people losing their jobs and how tough it was on Elkhart,” said Keystone Marketing Director Jim Mac. “They interviewed some Keystone workers in the Montana plant and decided to come back now for a ‘then and now’ report. Keystone was honored to represent the comeback of the RV industry in the national media.”
So, for the moment, RVBUSINESS.COM’s interview with Fleetwood RV Inc. President & CEO John Draheim is on Video #2 and the segment with Airstream Inc. President & CEO Bob Wheeler is in the Video 3 slot.
Editor’s Note: The following article was published by CNN Money offering a rundown of the various types of RVs available. To view the entire story click here.
It isn’t as well-known as his investments in Heinz or American Express, but Warren Buffett has a stake in the recreational vehicle industry. In 2005, Buffett made an offer to purchase Forest River Inc., an RV manufacturer in Elkhart, Ind. over the telephone just one day after he first learned about the company. Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway has since been doubling down, purchasing Coachman RV in 2008 and Dynamax Corp. in 2011 and has singled out Forest River for praise. In his 2011 letter to shareholders, he wrote: “Forest River has 82 plants, and I have yet to visit one (or the home office, for that matter). There’s no need; Pete Liegl, the company’s CEO, runs a terrific operation.”
Buffett’s endorsement came as the RV industry was recovering from a once-in-a-generation slump. RV shipments climbed back up to 273,600 units in 2012, their highest level since 2007, according to the University of Michigan Consumer Survey Research Center. The market continued to gain ground in the first quarter of 2013 with total RV wholesale shipments rising 11.2% year over year.
That isn’t peanuts. RV’s are a $10 billion industry, with 80 manufacturers and 3,000 dealers. Thor industries, maker of the Airstream, and Buffett’s Forest River control 65% of the business, which is getting a big demographic boost: More baby boomers are moving into retirement, and buying an RV is one of the ways they reward themselves when they do.
RVs fall into two general categories: towables, where the entry-level RV has no motor and must be pulled behind a car or truck; and motor homes, self-contained units where everything is within arm’s reach of the driver’s seat.
To view the entire article click here.
Along with the omelets and pork sausages in the buffet line, Doug Gaeddert, chairman of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) and a general manager of Elkhart, Ind.-based Forest River Inc., served up some straight-shooting opinions in his remarks during the RV Power Breakfast, May 9 at the Northern Indiana Event Center, a part of the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart. Here’s a few highlights from Gaeddert, who served with Dicor President Gregg Fore as a co-emcee:
Current shipment vitality: “Total shipments for the first three months of 2009 were approximately 30,500 units compared with 79,422 units for the January through March period of this year. That’s a whopping 160% jump. So, if you feel like you’ve been running faster and working harder – you have been and that’s great for all of us. It’s also great for the local communities in Northern Indiana and Southern Michigan. We’re all somewhat joined at the hip and the positive ripple effect has been felt by nearly everyone – even the local, state and federal governments who seem to be constantly complaining about revenue.”
Hershey Show & the Open House: “Not as RVIA chairman or a long-term Forest River-Pete Liegl guy, but as an industry guy, I think the Open House Week, as it has come to be known, has been a positive for the industry and hits at a perfect time. While negatively impacting the Dealer Days of Hershey, whose wholesale value has steadily declined anyhow over the years, it has more than made up for it by further enhancing the retail portion of the show. With the Open Houses immediately following Hershey, the number of dealers attending the Pennsylvania Show from outside the market who don’t show product has declined, but most, if not all of the products being displayed at Hershey, are now what’s ‘new’ for the upcoming year. This gives retail customers the opportunity to get the first look and actually purchase new industry offerings. This is something that can’t be duplicated anywhere else in North America.
“Becky Lenington and the folks at the Pennsylvania RV & Camping Association (PRVCA) have done an awesome job of developing Hershey into one of the most outstanding retail shows on the continent. They draw people from a wider geographic area and in larger numbers than ever before, and dealers sell a ton of product. This has become, in my opinion, a destination show of the highest quality. I’m not going to get drawn into a comparison though of it versus Tampa or Pomona. They’re all tremendous shows!
“Hershey kicks off the fall schedule and Louisville effectively closes it. Post-Louisville surveys over the last couple of years have shown that the majority of dealers participating will continue to go to the Open Houses and will continue to attend Louisville – and don’t want to change the time frames of either. Seems pretty simple: They like both of the events as well as the timing. Obviously it’s not unanimous, but it’s an overwhelming majority. With that being said, I predict a certain degree of consolidation will occur among these other fall events, just as it has occurred in other sectors of the industry over the last few years. Nature will take its course over time, but nobody will successfully force it.”
RVIA’s Louisville Show: “Although industry shipments have been rising rapidly over the last few years, the number of OEMs, suppliers and dealer/owners has shrunk by around a third. With an approximate 33% reduction of players in these key categories, not even taking the campground ownership consolidation into consideration, why in the world would you expect attendance at this show to have grown? In my opinion, Louisville has hit the leveling-out point, and with possible further industry consolidation ahead, I don’t see it growing significantly, but I do see it remaining steady and continuing to grow in value.”
RV-Specific Legislation: “Cars and RVs shouldn’t operate according to the same rules. As our industry continues to grow, mature and consolidate, I believe it will become even more important that we see RV-specific legislation replace automotive legislation in those states in which we as an industry are governed by car laws. Oklahoma is an excellent recent example of a win/win/win for our industry by everyone working successfully together to get RV-specific law into place. RV manufacturers, RV dealers and RV suppliers deserve to play by rules specific to our industry. We are the RV industry, not the car industry – and proud of it.”
RV Transportation Issues: “One challenge which the industry seems to face every year in the spring is a shortage of finished goods transportation availability. As many of you are aware, this sector is currently struggling to keep up and will be until at least the first week of July. We are attempting a new and different approach by utilizing RVIA’s resources to see if we can’t help smooth it out for the long haul.
“RVIA is exploring several possible strategies in hopes of being able to positively impact the RV transportation sector for both the United States and Canada. No promises at this point, other than we are diligently working on it. If successful, however, it will be too late to affect spring and summer of 2013. We hope to be able to help the industry improve the peak shipping periods of 2014.”
Credit Availability: “I think it is crucial our industry — which includes all of us — remains disciplined in our approach to credit. Solid practices are one of the keys to our growth remaining real and sustainable. If we slip back into the same lax practices the industry utilized in 2008, we’ll end up with the same result. 2009 reminded me of a fastball I once threw that was hit back at me a hell of a lot faster than I threw it, resulting in my second broken nose and a busted tooth! Let’s not throw that same fastball as an industry again!”
Industry Relationships: “Probably the single coolest thing to me about being involved in the RV Industry for all of these years is the people. Take a minute to look around the room. Most of us compete with each other, sell to each other, buy from each other, finance each other, represent each other, write about each other and, yeah, probably even cuss at each other sometimes. But at the end of the day, we’re also basically good friends. It’s a close-knit industry that, while growing rapidly, is also getting smaller at the same time.”
The good times are coming back for the recreational vehicle industry.
As reported by the Goshen News, speakers at the RV Power Breakfast Thursday (May 9) morning contended that while the industry is still far below its output of the pre-recession years, growth has occurred in the past two years and is expected to continue through the end of 2013.
“We had some good times back in the 70s,” said Robert M. “Mac” Bryan, Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) vice president of administration while he stood in front of a screen full of numbers recounting the historic ups and downs of the industry. But all the recent numbers are moving upwards.
RV shipments from manufacturers were 353,400 units in pre-recession 2007, then dropped to 165,700 units by 2009. Since then the industry has had steady growth, with gains each year through 2012. When 2012 ended, 285,900 units had been shipped. The RVIA forecast for this year’s shipments is 307,300 units.
The North American demographics favor the RV industry, Bryan said. Based on historical data there are 8.9 million RVs in use now and there should be about 11 million RVs in use by the end of the decade. To reach that milestone the industry will have to produce about 350,000 units on average each year, he said.
Reflection on hard times
“With creativity and imagination, there is no limits to the amount of RVs that can be sold in the next decade,” he told the industry leaders. “And I see no lack of either in this room.”
But there most likely were fewer RV members at the breakfast than would have been attending in the past. Richard Coon, RVIA president, said that in 2008 the trade organization had 555 member companies. Membership was 410 members in 2013.
That decline of 26% is due to the recession and the resulting consolidation and winnowing that occurred.
“Since 2008, 53 companies have gone away,” Coon said of the industry. Eight of those RV companies were absorbed by others. He said only one company quit the organization during the recession and has not rejoined.
A positive trend is that there have been 23 new RV-related companies created in recent years, Coon said.
Always a preacher of the RV gospel, Coon was a strong advocate before, during and now after the recession for the RV lifestyle and the quality of products produced.
Even during the height of the recession, the travel trailer segment of the industry remained strong, according to Coon and in 2012 that segment was still solid.
And, consumers can find a travel trailer bargain.
“The price of a conventional trailer is almost the same as it was 15 years ago, but the product is better,” Coon said. “That is a real tribute to the people in the room.”
To read the entire article in the Goshen News click here.
A crowd of about 400 manufacturers and suppliers showed up bright and early Thursday (May 9) for the RV Power Breakfast at the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind, to learn more about the industry’s future, according to a report by the South Bend Tribune.
On the heels of an excellent first quarter and projections for the fourth straight year of increased shipments, they received more good news.
From north of our borders to the Far East, the short- and long-range forecasts look promising for the industry, said Richard Coon, president of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).
In the case of China, it will take 10 years, Coon said, but the potential is huge. “China has tremendous potential for the manufacturers here,” he said. “It’s just barely starting to come about.”
“Go back and take a look at the auto industry in China,” Coon said in an interview after his talk. “The U.S. manufacturers have been working 10 years to bring that to fruition.
“China last year took over as the world’s leading producer of automobiles. What’s interesting about that is most of those are partnerships with U.S. manufacturers.”
That’s what the RV industry is hoping to have, too, he said.
“Everybody is worrying about them copying and coming back here,” he added, before again citing the automobile industry. “They’ve been doing it for 10 years. Somebody name me a Chinese-built car in the United States today. No such thing. There’s so much market there they can’t meet the market demand in their own country. They’re not going to come over here for quite a while.”
To read the entire article click here.
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) has unveiled the schedule for Committee Week 2013, set for June 2-6 at the historic Mayflower Renaissance Hotel in Washington, D.C. According to a press release, the association’s standing committees, Executive Committee and board will meet to develop strategies and programs for the upcoming fiscal year at this annual event.
The Go RVing Coalition will also meet during Committee Week on June 3.
In addition to the full slate of committee meetings, other key events on the schedule include:
• 2014 RV Market Outlook – Economist Richard Curtin, director of consumer research at the University of Michigan, will provide the first forecast for the RV market in 2014 and examine the current economic climate at the Joint Committee Luncheon on June 3.
• RVIA’s Capitol Hill Advocacy Day – RVIA members will visit Capitol Hill on June 5 to meet with legislators and their staff to discuss key issues critical to the RV industry.
• Networking Events – Several joint-committee luncheons and receptions, including the opening reception the evening of June 3 at the National Museum of Crime and Punishment, will give Committee Week participants the opportunity to establish, renew and build upon the relationships critical to business success.
The Mayflower Renaissance Washington is a luxury hotel and historic landmark. Proclaimed by President Truman to be Washington, D.C.’s “Second Best Address” after the White House, the hotel is on the National Registry of Historic Places and a Historic Hotel of America. Located just blocks from the White House, metro stops and dining and cultural hot spots, the 4-diamond property offers a splendid center for exploring the city.
For more information about Committee Week, contact Doreen Cashion in the Meetings and Shows Division at (703) 620-6003 (ext. 324) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The complete schedule appears below:
The RV industry history book by RV/MH Hall of Fame historian Al Hesselbart has been accepted for digital publication and is now available for Amazon Kindle readers.
“The Dumb Things Sold…Just Like That” features stories of the evolution of each different type of recreational vehicle and short biographies of many of the early pioneers and visionaries that have led the growth and development of the RV industry.
It is now available from the Amazon Kindle store or, in print version, from the RV/MH Hall of Fame, the RV Bookstore on line, or from Amazon.
Hesselbart is the RV/MH Hall of Fame & Museum historian, curator and librarian. Besides his duties at the Hall of Fame, Hesselbart is a frequent speaker at RV rallies and events across the United States. Last September, he also served as one of the keynote speakers at the 1st National China RV Show in Beijing.
When Jim Rogers speaks at the inaugural RV Industry Power Breakfast next month at the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind., he plans to share good news for the Elkhart-based RV industry.
As reported by The Elkhart Truth, the CEO of Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) sees a huge potential for growth in the RV market.
“What’s important for us all to realize is we have just scratched the surface. When you go through a capacity reduction that’s happened in the last five years, when you have to let people go … I think we’re stronger together than apart, and by bringing the three sectors of the manufacturer, the dealer and the campground together we can optimize the potential that exists within the north American marketplace,” said Rogers in a phone interview.
“It’s bigger than the assembly line. You have a community there that needs to see some hope and some opportunity for the future,” and Rogers believes Elkhart County has that hope and opportunity in the RV industry.
Rogers is chairman and chief executive officer of KOA, which owns 26 campgrounds and works with franchisees who run another 461 campgrounds in the U.S. and Canada.
When he got the invitation to speak at the power breakfast, he jumped at the opportunity, and he credits Sherman Goldenberg, publisher of industry publication RVBusiness magazine, with a great idea.“It’s quite the accomplishment because Sherman to me kind of represents the United Nations of the RV world. He brings all the different components together, which I think is one of the things exciting to us,” said Rogers. “The campground sector hasn’t had a lot of engagement with the manufacturers or the dealers,” even though the campgrounds end up as the proving ground for many of the RVs made in the Elkhart County area.
To read the entire article click here.
The celebration of the Class of 2013 being inducted into RV/MH Hall of Fame will be held Aug. 5 at the Hall of Fame’s Event Center in Elkhart, Ind., according to a press release.
“Our newest board member and chairman of the 2013 Induction Dinner committee, Mark Wasson (Bluelinx Corp.), has some exciting new venues for this year’s program and I encourage all the friends of this year’s inductees and industry members to make their reservations early,” said Darryl Searer, Hall president.
Wasson said that one of the new features this year’s program is a private cocktail party honoring all the past inductees, board members and the Class of 2013 inductees and their families. This event begins at 4:30 p.m. and is being hosted by the RV/MH Heritage Foundation board.
Those being inducted in the Class of 2013 include: Craig M. Bollman, a housing community developer/operator from Mobile Home Communities in Littleton, Colo.; Theresa M. Desfosses, a housing industry veteran of retail, communities, and manufacturing from State Manufactured Homes in Old Orchard Beach, Maine; Kirwan Elmers, an RV bus converter from Custom Coach in Columbus, Ohio: C.M. Fore (deceased), an RV manufacturer from Foretravel Inc. in Nacadoches, Texas; Lawrence C. Lippert, an RV and MH industry supplier from Lippert Components Inc. in Goshen, Ind.; Thomas P. Meyers, a housing manufacturer from Guerdon Industries in Louisville, Ky.; Claude N. Palmer (deceased), a housing retailer from Palmer Homes in Waverly, N.Y.; Mathew Perlot (deceased), an RV manufacturer from Safari Motorhomes in Harrisburg, Ore.; and Thomas Walworth, an RV and manufactured housing industry consultant and statistician from Statistical Surveys Inc. in Grand Rapids, Mich..
Following the cocktail party for Hall of Fame members, a cocktail reception for everyone attending the Induction Dinner ceremonies begins at 5:30 p.m. followed by a gala dinner and induction ceremony at 7 p.m. All day Monday, the attendees will be able to tour the Hall’s many attractions, including the antique unit collection in the museum, library and the GoRVing Hall.
Wasson said, “Among the other activates planned is a 50-50 raffle at the door and a vacation package raffle valued at $5,000.” In addition, Wasson is negotiating with a nationally-known speaker to deliver the event’s keynote address (name to be announced later).
In addition to the induction ceremony, Art Wyatt, this year’s golf chairman, says the 2013 Golf Classic fundraiser will start at 7 a.m. with a full breakfast followed by a shotgun start at 8:30 a.m. followed by an awards presentation. This year, the event will again be hosted by The Bent Oak Golf Club in Elkhart. Wyatt promises this year’s competition to be fun-packed, and he is recruiting sponsors to help make that happen.
Searer said, “We expect this year’s events to be the best ever, thanks to the hard work of Mark Wasson for the dinner and Art Wyatt for the golf tourney and their respective committee’s as well as the Hall’s staff and volunteers. You’ll not want to miss this exciting annual event.” He added the Hall is seeking sponsors for the various Induction Dinner events as well as the golf tournament.
A tradition started last year, Searer will deliver his short annual State of the Hall address reviewing the Hall’s successes over the past year.
To sign up online for either or both the Induction Dinner and Golf Tournament visit http://www.rvmhhalloffame.org.
The Crean Foundation recently contributed $60,000 toward the RV/MH Hall of Fame’s “Burn the Bank Note” Challenge. According to a press release, the donation was earmarked to honor the memory of Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. founder John C. Crean.
According to Hall President Darryl Searer, the goal of the “Burn the Bank Note” challenge is to raise $150,000 in voluntary contributions by April 30 in order to qualify for the Robert “Boots” Ingram family’s $50,000 challenge grant that would pay off the Hall’s bank note to 1st Source Bank.
The Crean Foundation’s donation along with other contributions brings the total raised in excess of $120,000 leaving just under $30,000 to be raised before the deadline.
Other recent contributions include a $10,000 donation by Lyle D. & Nellie R. Reed Charitable Foundation to honor the memory of Clarence Fore, founder of Foretravel; $2,000 by Ace Fogdall RV to honor the memory of its founders Ace and Florence Fogdall; $1,000 by Michael A. Schneider, MAS Associates; and numerous other contribution of less than $1,000.
While Searer is pleased by the generosity of those who continue to support the Hall, he emphasized the urgency of raising the additional $30,000 by April 30.
“Time is running out for us to qualify for the Ingram Family’s $50.000 challenge grant,” he said. “It would be a shame to leave that amount on the table and miss the opportunity to pay off our bank note. I urge everyone who enjoys the benefits of working in the RV/MH industries, as well as those who participate in the lifestyle, to step up to the plate and contribute whatever amount they can.
Searer said that the Hall’s bank loan to 1st Source Bank has been reduced from $840,000 in early 2012 to less than $80,000 now, adding, “If we reach our goal and receive the Ingram Family’s challenge grant, we’ll be able to pay off the bank loan on May 1.”
Since the RV/MH Heritage Foundation is a 501-c3 not-for-profit corporation, all donations are tax deductible. Donors can use our federal ID#: 35-1610362.to verify that we are a 501-c3 not-for-profit corporation in good standing with the IRS.
Gifts may be made by mail, in person at the Hall, by phone at (800) 378-8694, or through the Hall’s secure web site at www.rvmhhalloffame.org.