RVIA’s Committee Week 2013 will take place June 2–6 at the Mayflower Renaissance Washington in Washington, D.C., according to a press release.
Over the course of the five-day event, standing committees, the Executive Committee and the RVIA board will meet to set the association’s plans for the upcoming fiscal year. The Go RVing Coalition will also meet 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 Department at (703) 620-6003 (ext. 324) or email@example.com.
A first-ever “RV Industry Power Breakfast” featuring a prestigious slate of local and national speakers is scheduled to bring together key elements of the U.S. recreational vehicle industry with an array of area industry people and civic leaders on the morning of May 9 at the Northern Indiana Event Center and RV/MH Hall of Fame in the RV manufacturing hub of Elkhart, Ind., according to an RVBusiness press release.
The inaugural Power Breakfast, kicking off with a 7 a.m. sunrise buffet and 7:45 a.m. program, is facilitated by Elkhart-based RVBusiness magazine and sponsored by Dicor Corp., Dometic Corp., the Economic Development Corp. of Elkhart County, Forest River Inc., GE Capital, Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), Spartan Motors Inc. and Thor Industries Inc.
This new event comes at a time when RV builders and suppliers are doing fairly well in terms of national retail sales and wholesale shipments during a post-recessionary era in which about 85% of national shipments are now centered around northern Indiana’s Elkhart and LaGrange counties and an array of smaller area communities like Goshen, LaGrange, Middlebury, Bristol, Wakarusa and Nappanee, the release states.
“Officials from these towns are being personally invited to the event, as are representatives of relevant trade associations like the Reston, Va.-based Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), the Fairfax, Va.-based RV Dealers Association (RVDA) and the Recreation Vehicle Indiana Council (RVIC) in Indianapolis,” reports BJ Thompson, president of BJ Thompson Associates in Elkhart and chairman of RVIA’s Public Relations Committee who is in charge of the inaugural Power Breakfast on behalf of RVBusiness.
“There was, speaking on behalf of the RVB staff, a sense that we could all do a better job at times of working together as a cohesive force here in Elkhart to showcase the power and job-building potential of the U.S. RV industry and, at the same time, bring to Elkhart some of the general and industry-specific intelligence that exists in the current economic climate for area industry people to absorb,” stated RVB Publisher Sherm Goldenberg.
Dicor President Gregg Fore and Forest River General Manager Doug Gaeddert, immediate past chairman and current chair of RVIA, respectively, will share emcee duties at the morning event at which there will be a fast-paced slate of speakers, including a short teleconference with U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), if, in fact, the first-term senator is available with Congress in session.
Two anchor presentations are planned: In the first half, RVIA President Richard Coon, RVIA Vice President of Public Relations & Advertising James Ashurst and RVIA Vice President of Administration Mac Bryan will provide an overview of the industry’s 2012 status and a quick look at 2013’s opportunities and challenges.
In the second half, KOA CEO Jim Rogers, fresh off his January appearance on the CBS hit series “Undercover Boss,” will present some in-your-face feedback from campers who annually visit Montana-based KOA’s 489 U.S. and Canadian parks.
Tickets for the May 9 event are $25 each with tables of eight available for $175. Look for a notice shortly for online registration.
While the RV industry is more than just Indiana’s Elkhart County area and Elkhart County is more than just RVs, the two are inextricably intertwined.
“If you mention to anybody throughout the United States or Canada, you mention you’re from Elkhart, the first thing they say is, ‘Oh, that’s the RV capital,’” said Darryl Searer, head of the RV/MH Hall of Fame.
As reported by The Elkhart Truth, while the recession hit this area hard because of the discretionary nature of RVs, even as it shrank the industry shored up its position in Elkhart. Today, 83% of RVs made in North America are made in this area, said Richard Coon, president of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). “Elkhart’s a very important area, as you know,” Coon said.
The share of production of RVs on the West Coast dropped off significantly in favor of production here, where the industry really grew over the decades.
“I wasn’t around when it started, but from what I understand it’s mainly centered around that area because of the Amish population which brings a strong amount of craftsmanship. It was a good place to be,” Coon said.
Jayco Inc., a home-grown RV success story, started in Middlebury and is still there.
“I can’t think of any other place I’d rather be than right here in Middlebury, Ind., Elkhart County, Ind., for home,” said Derald Bontrager, CEO of the company his father started.
“I think one of the more important things for us and the reason we stay put here is the workforce is second to none, in my mind, anywhere in the country. Just loyal, hardworking, consistent, honest. I could go on and on. They’re just a great work force we’ve been blessed with,” he said.
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Wholesale shipments of all RVs surged ahead in the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) January 2013 survey of manufacturers, rising to 24,379 units. This increase was 30.5% greater than the total shipped during the same month last year. While the gain was greatest for conventional travel trailer shipments, all vehicle categories participated in the gains this month. Seasonally adjusted, January’s total was measured at annualized rate of more than 340,000 units, 12.2% better than the rate recorded in December 2012 and more than 30% better than the annualized rate recorded in January, one year ago. Conventional travel trailers, Class A and C motorhomes reported shipments more than 30% greater than in January 2012.
Middlebury, Ind.-based Jayco Inc. today (Feb. 6) announced changes in its senior management team as a further step in its plan to “strategically position the company for long-term growth,” according to a press release.
• Devon Miller has been named vice president and general manager of the Jayco Towables division.
• Akos Sefcsik has been appointed vice president and general manager of the Starcraft RV division.
• John Ganyard will become vice president and general manager of the Jayco Motorhome Group division.
In making the announcement, COO Jim Jacobs said that the management changes are part of the company’s previously announced plan to structure Jayco into three operating divisions. “We are committed to a strategy of aligning our resources to the specific product needs and opportunities within the markets we serve,” he said. “And we believe this management team will allow us to raise our customer focus and improve the speed at which we develop new products and ideas.”
In December, as part of the company’s restructuring plan, Jayco announced that Jacobs had been promoted to COO of the company. Until that time, he had been general manager of the Starcraft RV and Jayco Motorhome Group divisions.
A veteran of nearly 30 years of service with Jayco, Miller began his career in the company’s parts distribution division and has served in various production and operations management capacities. Most recently, he was vice president of operations for Jayco’s Middlebury towables production.
Sefcsik has served as vice president of operations of Jayco’s Twin Falls, Idaho, facilities since 2009. He is a 20-year veteran of Jayco and has held a variety of assignments in manufacturing and industrial engineering.
Ganyard joined Jayco in February of 2011 and most recently was vice president of administration. He has more than 25 years of experience in human resources and manufacturing management.
Thor Industries Inc. reported a 24.2% increase in sales for the company’s fiscal second quarter, ended Jan. 31.
Preliminary consolidated sales in the second quarter were $741.4 million compared with $597 million in the second quarter last year. RV sales were $636.1 million, up 27% from $501 million the previous year. Towable sales jumped 17.6% to $522.4 million from $444.2 million a year ago while motorized sales more than doubled to $113.7 million from $56.8 million. Bus sales were $105.3 million, up 9.7% from $96 million in the second quarter last year.
For the six months, sales totaled $1.62 billion, a 27.6% increase from $1.27 billion last year. RV sales gained 32.1% to $1.4 billion compared with $1.06 billion the year prior. Towable sales during the period rose 23% to $1.16 billion compared with $943.3 million last year and motorized sales increased to $235.9 million from $119.3 million. Bus sales were $219.5 million, up 5.9% from $207.3 million last year.
Cash, cash equivalents and investments on Jan. 31 were $107.2 million. Thor said the decrease in cash balances was due in large part to the payment of the $1.50 per share special dividend declared by the board and paid in December 2012.
Consolidated backlog on Jan. 31 was $822 million, up 27.1% from $646.9 million last year. RV backlog was $616.6 million, an increase of 49.4% from $412.8 million at the end of the second quarter of fiscal 2012. Towable RV backlog increased 25.2% to $375.4 million and motorized RV backlog more than doubled to $241.2 million Bus backlog was $205.4 million compared to $234.1 million at the end of the second quarter of fiscal 2012.
“Thor achieved solid gains in revenue for the second quarter as the momentum of our RV products introduced in the fall continued at Louisville in late November,” said said Peter B. Orthwein, Thor Chairman and CEO. “Indications from the early RV retail shows have been very positive, with increased traffic and higher sales levels, reflecting continued strength in our industry. Despite the improvements in RV sales, the overall environment in the towables market remains very competitive and elevated levels of incentives associated with orders placed at the fall Open House are reflected in our sales and our second-quarter operating results that we expect to report on March 7. In addition, the bus business continued to be characterized by aggressive competition during the second quarter.”
Thor Industries Inc. gained the most in three months after the maker of RVs and buses said sales surged 30% to a fiscal first-quarter record.
Bloomberg reported that Thor shares climbed 12% to $44.96 in midday trading after advancing as much as 14%, the most intraday since Aug. 3. The Jackson Center, Ohio-based company’s stock had risen 46% this year through yesterday.
Sales for the quarter ended Oct. 31 rose to $876.8 million, Thor said in releasing preliminary results. The average of analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg was $745.5 million. Thor said in a statement that its order backlog at the end of October was $720.4 million, up 41% from a year earlier.
According to Bloomberg, sales of recreational vehicles are monitored as a sign of an improving economy because motorhomes and travel trailers are discretionary purchases that consumers defer during a slump.
The Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) will honor RV brands built by 13 manufacturers with its Quality Circle Award Nov. 26, prior to opening of the National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.
According to a press release, these brands/manufacturers received at least 15 dealer responses and scored 80% or above for overall dealer satisfaction in the association’s 19th Annual Dealer Satisfaction Index (DSI) survey.
“The DSI Quality Circle Award recognizes the high level of success these manufacturers have had in working with their dealer business partners,” said RVDA Chairman Jeff Hirsch of Kingston, N.H.-based Campers Inn. “Their commitment to continuously improving products and services ultimately helps dealers serve customers better and preserves our industry’s share of consumers’ discretionary dollars.”
The towable RV manufacturers/brands receiving awards are (in alphabetical order by manufacturer): Airstream Inc.; CrossRoads RV (Zinger/Z-1/SE/Hampton); Forest River Inc. (Flagstaff travel trailers and fifth-wheels, Palomino RV travel trailers and fifth-wheels, Rockwood/Roo expandables, Sierra/Sandpiper, Indiana-built Surveyor/r-pod); Heartland RV LLC (Big Country/Elk Ridge, Bighorn/Landmark, Cyclone/Road Warrior/Torque, North Trail/Wilderness, Prowler); Jayco Inc. (Eagle/Super Lite/HT, camping trailers, Jay Feather/Select, Jay Flight/Swift/SLX, Pinnacle, White Hawk); Keystone RV Co. (Bullet/Premier, Cougar/X-lite, Passport, Raptor); KZRV LP (Durango, Sportsmen/Sportsmen Classic, Spree/Spree Escape); Lance Camper Manufacturing Corp. (truck campers); and Prime Time Manufacturing Inc. (LaCrosse/Trace, Crusader/Sanibel).
The six motorized RV brands/manufacturers receiving awards are (in alphabetical order): Forest River; Jayco/Entegra; Leisure Travel Vans/Triple E RV; Pleasure-Way Industries Ltd.; Tiffin Motorhomes Inc.; and Winnebago/Itasca/ERA.
When rating the brands/manufacturers, RVDA asks dealers to express, confidentially, their level of satisfaction on eight core issues: Sales support; sales territory; vehicle design; vehicle reliability/quality; competitive price/value; parts support; dealership warranty support; overall dealer communications
The 19th Annual DSI survey was conducted between April and July 2012. Four hundred and sixty-one dealers responded to the DSI this year and provided 2,709 brand ratings, an average of nearly six per dealer. A summary of the DSI survey aggregate results will appear in the November issue of RV Executive Today.
Wholesale shipments to retailers of all RVs continued to improve in 2012, reporting totals of 18,976 units in RVIA’s September survey of manufacturers – a gain of 12.7% over the same month one year ago. On a seasonally adjusted basis, shipments in September were at an annualized rate of 254,400 units, down 10.6% from the August pace and the lowest annualized total since January of this year. Even so, actual September shipments of all towable RVs were up 10.3% from the same month one year ago while all motorhome shipments were up 34.6%.
Comparing the past nine-month period to the same period one year ago, all RVs were reported at 221,281 units in 2012, a gain of 10.7% year-to-date. Travel trailer shipments have grown by 16,446 units this year and continue to command the largest unit volume of all vehicle types. Fifth-wheel travel trailers have gained 3,986 units while Class A motorhomes were up 719 units and Class C motorhomes improved by 385 units compared to this same period one year ago. Only folding camping trailers were lower in volume through September this year as compared to the corresponding nine-month period in 2011.
A federal judge gave his final approval Thursday (Sept. 27) to a $42.6 million class-action settlement between companies that made and installed government-issued trailers after hurricanes in 2005 and Gulf Coast storm victims who claim they were exposed to hazardous fumes while living in the shelters.
The Associated Press reported that U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt ruled from the bench after hearing from attorneys who brokered a deal resolving nearly all remaining court claims over elevated levels of formaldehyde in trailers provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) following hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Roughly 55,000 residents of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas will be eligible for shares of $37.5 million paid by more than two dozen manufacturers. They also can get shares of a separate $5.1 million settlement with FEMA contractors that installed and maintained the units.
Gerald Meunier, a lead plaintiffs’ attorney, said the deal provides residents with “somewhat modest” compensation but allows both sides to avoid the expense and risks of protracted litigation.
“Dollar amounts alone do not determine whether a settlement is fair and reasonable,” he said.
Jim Percy, a lawyer for the trailer makers, said Engelhardt would have had to try cases individually or transfer suits to other jurisdictions if the settlement wasn’t reached.
“It was not going to end quickly, and it was going to be even more monumental for all the parties concerned,” he said.
Formaldehyde, a chemical commonly found in building materials, can cause breathing problems and is classified as a carcinogen. Government tests on hundreds of trailers in Louisiana and Mississippi found formaldehyde levels that were, on average, about five times what people are exposed to in most modern homes.
FEMA isn’t a party to the settlements and had downplayed formaldehyde risks for months before those test results were announced in February 2008. As early as 2006, trailer occupants began reporting headaches, nosebleeds and difficulty breathing.
Only three plaintiffs have opted out of the settlement with the trailer makers. Engelhardt opened the floor to objections during Thursday’s hearing, but nobody spoke up. The judge said he didn’t receive any formal, written objections, either.
Engelhardt presided over three trials for claims against FEMA trailer manufacturers and installers after he was picked in 2007 to oversee hundreds of consolidated lawsuits. The juries in all three trials sided with the companies and didn’t award any damages.
Plaintiffs’ lawyers have accused the trailer makers of using shoddy building materials and methods in a rush to meet FEMA’s unprecedented demand for temporary housing.
Meunier, however, said it was difficult for plaintiffs’ attorneys to prove a link between formaldehyde exposure and residents’ health problems because many trailers couldn’t be tested until months or even years after the fact. Many residents never sought treatment for their symptoms, he added.
“It was both challenging in the legal and factual sense,” he said.
A group of companies that includes Gulf Stream Coach Inc., Forest River Inc., Vanguard LLC and Monaco Coach Corp. will pay $20 million of the $37.5 million settlement with the trailer makers.
Shaw Environmental Inc., Bechtel Corp., Fluor Enterprises Inc. and CH2M Hill Constructors Inc. are among the FEMA contractors that agreed to pay shares of the separate $5.1 million settlement.
Only a handful of formaldehyde-related claims are still pending, including those against FEMA by a group of Texas residents.