Registration hasn’t started and the invitations haven’t gone out yet, but the RV industry expects this year’s RV Open House Week in mid-September to be bigger than ever.
“We still expect a helluva turnout. We expect a bigger and bigger turnout,” said Jeff Babcock, one of the general managers at Forest River Inc. “As every year comes and our business grows, we expect it to keep getting bigger and bigger.”
The Elkhart Truth reported that at Keystone RV Co., the biggest brand of the other RV giant, Thor, company officials are hearing lots of buzz about the open house, though Jim Mac, Keystone spokesman, said, “attendance is pure speculation. We are optimistic that it will be as large or larger than last year.”
To read the entire article click here.
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) board wrapped up Committee Week, held June 2-6 at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel in Washington, D.C., by approving a host of committee recommendations at their meeting on Thursday.
In addition, RVIA named two new members to its board. Mike Farmer, vice president of sales and marketing for Carefree of Colorado, will fulfill the term of the company seat being vacated by Jeff Rutherford, who is leaving Carefree of Colorado to join Airxcel. Jim Hammill, president of Roadtrek Motorhomes, will assume that company’s seat which had been filled by Jeff Hanemaayer who is resigning.
In the area of industry education, the board gave approval to a new pilot program designed to help increase awareness of and participation in industry technician training and certification programs. Kicking off in July, the six-month pilot effort will utilize in-field representatives visiting RV dealerships in the northwest (Idaho, Oregon and Washington) and south central (Louisiana and Texas) United States to test the new approach. The effectiveness of the pilot program will be reviewed at the end of the six-month period.
The field reps will work to establish relationships with service managers and technicians to identify those involved in service areas at the dealership and gather contact information. They will also examine what service training has been received at the dealership and what training may be needed. If training in a specific area is needed, the field rep would work to facilitate making that training available to the dealership and others within the region.
In other actions, the RVIA Board approved:
• Using the term “park model RVs” for public relations and marketing purposes while using either of the terms “recreational park trailers” or “park model RVs” for regulatory and standards purposes.
• Adopting the 2014 editions of the NFPA 1192, NFPA 70 (NEC) and ANSI 12V Standard effective May 1, 2014, with a mandatory enforcement date of Sept. 1, 2014.
• Investigating the feasibility of participating in the development of a global RV standard (ISO) to identify the potential benefits of such an endeavor.
• Adding Class B motorhomes to the “Retail Sales Activity” (12-month Rate of Change) section of the Monthly Marketing Report beginning with the July report.
• Raising the spare/demo unit fee at the California RV Show from $300 to $400 for 2013.
• Increasing the registration fees at the show for nonexhibiting attendees from $60 to $100 for members and from $120 to $200 for non-members for 2013.
The RVIA board actions were the result of recommendations from many of the association’s standing committees that met from June 2-4. Programs with specific budgets for FY2014 are pending until final approval by the RVIA Executive Committee at its August budget meeting and the RVIA Board at its September meeting.
The recent acceleration in car sales is impressive, but there’s an even better sign the U.S. economy is getting back on track: surging sales of recreational vehicles. Bloomberg Business Week reported that makers of RVs shipped 32,054 machines in the U.S. in April, a 19% increase from a year earlier, according to data compiled by the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).
RVs are a notable niche because it takes no small amount of consumer confidence to buy a gas-guzzling home on wheels. Between 2007 and 2009, more than half of the RV market disappeared. Light-vehicle sales, by contrast, dropped by 36%. “No one needs an RV,” said Jeff Tryka, a spokesman for Thor Industries Inc., one of the biggest U.S. RV makers. “It’s a purely discretionary purchase, while there’s always going to be a base-level demand for cars.”
The motorhome and towable RV business, a $14 billion market in the U.S., is on track for its best performance since 2007. For the year to date, shipments are up 13% and RVIA expects more than 307,000 vehicles to roll by January. The sales boost doesn’t matter much to Detroit, but it’s big news about 200 miles away in Indiana, where roughly half of the country’s RVs are made. It’s also great for companies like privately held Jayco Inc., the Forest River Inc. unit of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, and Thor, which cranks out some of the most popular RV brands.
When the RV market bottomed out in 2009, Thor’s payroll dropped to 5,400 workers; today it employs 8,800. And in anticipation of higher demand, it just bought a factory in Wakarusa, Ind., equipped with 35 booths for painting giant campers. The company will give a progress report when it announces earnings later today. Last quarter, Thor posted income of $19.9 million—a 45% increase from a year earlier.
To read the entire article click here.
Ron Spike purchased a Rockwood Windjammer travel trailer at Ruff’s RV Center in Euclid, Ohio, two months ago.
According to a report by the Cleveland Plain Dealer, in the months since he joined the 8.9 million U.S. households — or 8.5% of all American households that now own RVs — Spike is part of a growing community of people who see upscale camping or traveling as a great way to relax.
“I parked mine at a campground in Geneva. Even though it’s about 40 minutes from our home in Lyndhurst, it’s still like going on vacation,” said the 62-year-old recently retired truck driver whose wife Marlene will join the retirement ranks this month. “There’s no stress out there. It’s so relaxing.”
Across town, Ron Revelt of Olmsted Township stopped by Moore’s RV in North Ridgeville to pick up a part for his decked-out fifth-wheel, his third and last purchase made in 2008. But he couldn’t help but check out an even more luxurious recreational vehicle during his visit.
“They keep coming up with more new neat things,” said Revelt, 73, a retired teacher and pilot who talked of new safety features and luxuries in the kitchen and bedrooms. “There’s always something I want.”
Nationwide, sales are rebounding because of new destination campers like Spike and repeat customers like Revelt who travel the country. They represent renewed hope for an industry that has suffered blows since the recession but is now attracting more younger people and families.
To read the entire article click here.
The first quarter was kind to the recreational vehicle industry. Building on three years of continuous growth, the RV industry experienced an 11.2 percent gain in units shipped in the quarter compared to the first quarter in 2012. And that growth is expected to accelerate.
As reported by the Goshen News, the industry’s forecast issued earlier this year by Richard Curtin of the University of Michigan predicted a 7.5% gain in units shipped for 2013. That gain would mean 307,300 RVs would be sent by manufacturers to dealers. Such a gain would be a significant jump over the low year of 2009, when 165,700 units were shipped during the height of the recession. But a much larger gain would be needed to reach the record year of 2006 when 390,500 RVs went out the doors of local RV factories.
“Every year has been an up year since 2009 if you graph it out,” said Doug Gaeddert, Forrest River’s general manager and chairman of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), which compiled the quarterly totals.
“One thing,” Gaeddert said of the reason for the continual gain, “is the economy is in much better shape than the media would lead you to believe.”
He said the bank industry has solved its credit crunch, which resulted in RV dealers being unable to finance inventory during the recession and consumers who wanted to buy RVs having to have the best of credit and lots of collateral.
Another factor in the resurgence of the industry is that more people in North America are reaching the ages where they want to travel and camp in RVs.
“The demographics are in the right place,” Gaeddert said. “So the sun and the moon and the stars are lined up real well.”
To read the entire article click here.
Pacific Coachworks Inc. (PCW), Southern California’s luxury recreational vehicles manufacturer, is launching new 2014 models for its Econ, Tango and Panther travel trailers, as well as its Sandsport and Powerlite toy haulers and fifth-wheels.
The launch, in collaboration with Johnnie Walker RV in Las Vegas, will appear on Animal Planet’s TV series “Tanked” starting at 6 p.m. PST Friday (May 31).
The episode highlights a custom fish tank built into PCW’s Econ trailer. “Tanked” follows brothers-in-law, business partners, best friends and rivals Wayde King and Brett Raymer as they travel the country building show-stopping custom aquariums.
“We strive to continuously enhance the RVs our company manufactures and dealers and customers have become partial to our quality products,” said Jeff Daily, general manager of Riverside, Calif.-based Pacific Coachworks. “We pay close attention to the comments and requests received and our team works diligently to apply any changes necessary to continually offer the best RV product.”
For details regarding “Tanked,” visit www.animalplanet.com/tanked.
For other Pacific Coachworks news, visit www.pacificcoachworks.com. You can also email the company at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (951) 686-7294.
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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.