Mike Geffre enjoys spending time with his grandchildren and going camping. So while he was browsing for an RV at the annual Liebelt RV Spring Indoor Show on Sunday in Aberdeen, S.D., he brought along his two granddaughters and their two friends.
“(I’m looking for) something reasonably priced that’s big enough so I can take my grandchildren camping,” said Geffre, 60, of Aberdeen.
As reported by the Aberdeen News, Geffre’s granddaughters along with their two friends scampered in and out of the more than two dozen RVs on display at the annual event. Models on display ranged from simple designs that had tables, sinks and a single bed to more elaborate ones with wooden cabinets, ceiling fans and multiple beds.
The show, which started Saturday (March 16) and runs through March 24 in the Holum Expo Center at the Brown County Fairgrounds, has been in Aberdeen for more almost 40 years, said Tom Badger, who helps coordinate the event and works at Liebelt RV.
Badger estimates the opening weekend had about 1,200 to 1,400 people walk through the doors of the Holum Expo Center. Two things draw people to the show: The latest developments in RV technology and the decorations put up as a part of the show, he said.
Wedged among the crevices between each massive trailer were cardboard cutouts of movie characters. The themes varied from Harry Potter to the Wizard of Oz to Pirates of the Caribbean. Some decorations were made by hand by employees of Liebelt RV, Badger said. Some decorations took three weeks to build and three days to install, he said.
As far as technological innovations, Badger said some of the latest models had multiple kitchens and multiple bathrooms.
“They come here to look and dream and see what’s available,” he said, adding that some customers buy RVs while they’re at the show. There were even a few on display that had stickers saying the specific model was already sold.
Neal Jones, 55, of Aberdeen hasn’t visited the show in a few years and was impressed with some of the additional kitchens on the RVs. He was examining one model that had a many of the kitchen amenities — stove, chopping board and sink — in an outdoor unit.
While he said some people may not consider traveling in an RV to be camping, he does. Even if you have the conveniences of a kitchen and bed, you’re still outside, Jones said.
Don Heinz, who has an RV model from 2001, was also browsing through.
“We got one, but we always look to see what the new stuff looks like,” he said. He added there was likely a big difference in his model and what’s on the market now.
“They do a lot in 12 years and they change a lot,” he said.
The Battle Creek Camper & RV Show, sponsored by the Michigan Association of Recreation Vehicles & Campgrounds (MARVAC), experienced a 20% increase in attendance over the 2012 show, according to a press release.
The show ran March 7-10 at the Kellogg Arena in downtown Battle Creek. MARVAC reported that it was a later starting date – the show normally runs in January – and early spring type weather may have accounted for a higher number of visitors purchasing RVs and also showing greater interest in the campground and accessory displays.
This was the second spring show sponsored by the association with two more events scheduled for Flint and Traverse City over the next two weeks. This year’s Detroit Camper & RV Show experienced record attendance at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi in mid-February. MARVAC member dealers are reporting strong show sales and higher than usual lot traffic in the first two and half months of 2013.
MARVAC is a statewide, non-profit organization dedicated to encouraging growth in the recreation vehicle and private campground industries while contributing to Michigan tourism. For more information, visit www.marvac.org.
Jeff and Dorenda Bell threaded their way through a majestic fleet of Berkshires and Charlestons, as well as the more modest Ever-Lites and Grey Wolfs during last weekend’s 56th annual Colorado RV, Sports, Boat and Travel Show at the National Western Complex in Denver, Colo.
As reported by the Denver Post, they’re not in the market for a high-end recreational vehicle but wanted to fantasize just a bit about tooling around the country in a $600,000 McMansion on wheels.
“We just like to look at everything and dream,” said Dorenda Bell as they checked out the newest models displayed at the
The Bells are in good company. Last year’s RV show drew more than 30,000 people, and more were expected at the show this year.
Most will also be merely looky-loos. But others will arrive with intent to buy one of the 150 motorhomes, fifth-wheels and travel trailers off the lot. After all, financing is available.
“There really is a price range for everyone,” show spokeswoman Laurie Hallowell said.
This weekend’s offerings range from simple pop-up camping trailers for $4,000 to 44-foot-long Class A motorhomes with bedrooms outfitted with queen size beds, satellite, 32-inch LCD TVs and three-burner ranges with an oven. The base retail price for a Class A starts at about $120,000 and runs to $550,000 — or more.
And people are buying them, despite a massive hit delivered by the Great Recession of 2008. In that year, RV sales plummeted by 32.9%t with only 237,000 shipments. Another bad year followed in 2009, but in 2010, the industry rebounded with a 46.2% hike in RV shipments, followed by 4% growth in 2011 and a 13 percent increase in 2012, industry officials said.
In Colorado, sales of fifth-wheel campers and other recreational trailers were up 14% in 2012, said Windish RV Center manager Jim Humble.
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Bigger, better and newer was the focus at the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds E-Plex in Springfield, Mo., where people were dreaming of spring and summer camping trips.
Vendors said crowds were good for the weekend Springfield RV Megashow, where those who attended were able to see dozens of new recreational vehicles and trailers on display. Some of those visiting said the vehicles seem to be getting larger, the Springfield News-Leader reported.
Kenneth and Jessica Dawn, of Republic, said they would prefer to stick with something not so large, such as their current 26-foot camper.
“There’s a trend, everything is getting bigger and lighter,” Kenneth Dawn said. “I’m not sure I like that. Not everyone wants to have to pull behind a one-ton truck. It’s getting harder to find the smaller ones.”
Dawn also said he, his wife and 2-year-old daughter like to camp in an area where low tree limbs would make it hard to park a large vehicle.
Maurice Guerin, of Columbia, on the other hand, has a 39-foot fifth-wheel he’s considering trading in for something at least that size. He said he started with a pop-up trailer 20 years ago and keeps upgrading every few years.
“They’re light and they pull better,” he said of the new models. “Like anything else, they keep getting better.”
He said the vendors at the event were competing with each other in price. He thought he could replace his RV for somewhere in the mid-$40,000 range.
Rodney Sullins, of Sullins RV near Branson, said this year’s Megashow was the busiest he has seen in the last seven or eight years.
“The traffic is great,” he said. “The economy for RVs seems to be fine.”
He said there does seem to be a trend toward what he called “bigger and fancier” RVs and trailers. He said customers like many new features, such as self-leveling, that have come out in the last year or two.
He also said the large pickups needed for hauling the trailers get better gas mileage now, making it more feasible for customers to pull a large trailer.
“The same truck is now getting 20 miles to the gallon instead of 13,” he said. “GM and Ford have really stepped up there.”
Melissa Adams, business manager for Mid-America RV of Carthage, agreed that the crowds were good. She said the company brought 14 units to the event and had sold seven of them by Sunday afternoon.
Organizers for the 28th Annual Fort Myers RV Show, held Jan. 24-27 at the Lee Civic Center, reported the event drew over 12,300 patrons while generating sales for dealer and vendor participants. According to a press release, the show was sponsored by Region 1 of the Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA).
“Everyone I spoke with at the show was generally pleased with the buying interest the public had,” said FRVTA Region 1 President Dan Wylie of Dream RV. “In fact, we had several dealers who achieved double-digit sales. All dealers came away with many sales leads they can now follow up over the coming weeks.”
While no attendance records were set, Show Manager Jack Carver said he was gratified the public responded so positively, especially following the economic turmoil the industry has suffered over the previous years. “We worked hard to put on a quality event that created a buying situation for all participants,” he said. “I’m very thankful the show was successful.”
This year’s annual event featured 17 dealers displaying well over 600 new RV units of all types, styles and price ranges. The show also staged 85 vendors selling everything from resort lots, insurance and permanent roof coatings to repair services and other enhancements for the RV lifestyle.
“Everyone seemed to be selling whatever they brought,” said Show Chairman Chris Morse of Skip Eppers RVs. “I’m still busy with traffic and additional sales a week after the show.”
Wylie added, “We are proud to offer dealers, vendors and patrons the best the RV Industry has to offer and look forward to helping spread consumer interest in the RV lifestyle.”
In advance of a highly anticipated spring selling season, Prime Time Manufacturing announced today (Feb. 4) a 71% increase in retail registrations for the month of January, according to a press release.
“Prime Time, like our dealers, has been very bullish on retail sales prospects going into 2013,” said Ken Walters, national sales manager for Wakarusa, Ind.-based Prime Time. “Our product managers unveiled a strong lineup of new, innovative floorplans, features and programs last fall at the Elkhart Open House and Louisville shows. Our dealers sensed the opportunity, aggressively stocked inventory, and subsequently had great success at the early retail shows. We expected strong growth, but a 71% increase over last year has been a pleasant surprise.”
Many of Prime Time’s largest dealers have benefited from record-level consumer traffic at their respective retail RV shows.
“With historically low interest rates still in place, there seems to be an upbeat attitude with our customers and they are coming out to buy a new RV,” said Eddie Unger, corporate sales manager of Tom Raper RVs in Richmond, Ind. “The Prime Time brands continue to be a hot seller for our dealerships and we have gotten off to a big start with their products so far this year.”
A division of Forest River Inc., Prime Time was founded in 2009 and enters 2013 as a top 10 brand in travel trailer and fifth-wheel registrations, according to Statistical Surveys Inc.
“It’s easy to show a 71% increase when you’re just starting, but we’ve been around the block a few times now and to still be growing at this rate is a huge compliment to our team here at Prime Time and our incredibly loyal dealers,” noted Walters.
Jacksonville, Fla., RV dealers say the positive feedback that’s coming from last week’s Florida RV SuperShow in Tampa, coupled with strong sales of recreational vehicles locally the last quarter of 2012, are pointing toward a strong showing at the upcoming Jacksonville RV MegaShow.
The Florida Times-Union reported that the Jacksonville Equestrian Center will play host to the four-day event a third consecutive year. The show opens Thursday (Feb. 7) and runs through Sunday.
Tom Tibbitts, regional president of the host Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA), says the group expects to attract about 7,000 visitors to the show — about 1,000 more attendees than last year.
“I talked to one dealer at the Tampa show who said his sales were up nearly 35% from last year,” Tibbitts said. “Based on the response there, I’m expecting we’ll have a lot more interest and a bigger turnout at our show this year. Based on everything we’re hearing, the RV industry appears to be making a rebound.”
This will be the 28th year the FRVTA’s Region 6 has sponsored the event in Jacksonville. Tibbitts believes the show should feel the momentum established in Tampa.
“Attendance was up and sales of RVs were strong, primarily because of excellent attendance and RV pricing by individual dealers,” he said. “And the aftermarket vendors reported excellent exposure to their merchandise, campgrounds and services compared to 2012.”
A potentially more telling sign is the fact that additional campsites had to be found at the Florida State Fairgrounds where the event was held.
“Based on our experience this year in Tampa, I think the retail public waiting in the wings for the economy to recover aren’t going to sit back anymore,” said Lance Wilson, FRVTA executive director.
Wilson notes that his industry looks to sales in Florida, and specifically the Tampa SuperShow, as the “bellwether” for the year’s RV sales nationwide. Based on attendance, which could reach 55,000 once all the numbers are in, 2013 is shaping up to be a better-than-expected year in RV sales.
“The most important thing for us this year is that no people showed up with agendas on taxes or gas prices,” Wilson said. “They looked at a lot of product and made a lot of decisions. Financing was available and the price was right. Everything looks good heading into our biggest season.”
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With the early retail RV shows now in the rearview mirror, Thor Motor Coach reports the company is continuing to see an influx of new buyers for its products.
“The 2013 RV shows have been great, getting this year started on the right note,” said Joel Grimm, national sales manager for gas motorhome sales. “Our dealers have achieved excellent sales at our retail shows this year. Consumers are seeking out our products as a result of our great dealer base, introduction of new model features and the positive feedback from our ‘Shield of Protection’ customer service programs.”
New product offerings include:
• Thor Motor Coach’s HD-MAX high-definition exterior finishes with durable gel coat on select brands of motorhomes.
• All-new Four Winds and Chateau “Super C” motorhomes built on the Ford F550 chassis and powered by the 6.7L Power Stroke turbo diesel engine.
• Four Winds and Chateau 26A Class C motorhomes, offering a compact floor plan with walk-around queen bed slide.
• New 27.1 floorplan compact in TMC’s A.C.E. motorhome line, featuring a king-size bed and full wall-slide in a Class A coach that measures 28 feet, 7 inches.
• The Tuscany 34ST diesel motorhome offering high-end amenities while giving RVers improved maneuverability with an overall length of 35 feet.
• The Outlaw 37MD toy hauler with dual slide rooms, sliding patio door access to the garage and a ramp door that converts to a patio.
• The Hurricane 34E gas-powered Class A motorhome featuring a bath and a half floorplan.
• High-end Windsport 34F Class A with full-wall slide, a wide open living area, oversized shower and Denver Mattress king-size bed.
“New products, floorplans, eye appeal and a concentrated effort to offer the best value in the market help us build increased retail desire for Thor Motor Coach products,” said Adam Gudger, national sales manager for diesel motorhomes.
For more details about Thor Motor Coach Motorhomes and upcoming RV Shows visit http://ThorMotorCoach.com.
With temperatures hovering near “You’ve got to be kidding me,” Michigan residents’ thoughts this time of year often fast forward to summer. And for many, those lazy daydreams of summer usually involve camping and RVing.
The Macomb Daily reported that the timing of winter RV shows — including the upcoming 47th annual Detroit Camper & RV Show — couldn’t be better.
The Michigan Association of Recreation Vehicles and Campgrounds (MARVAC) is sponsoring the 47th annual show Feb. 6-10 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi. All types of new 2013 recreation vehicles including more than 275 units and 50 brands, will be displayed. Folding campers, motorhomes, travel trailers, truck campers, fifth wheel travel trailers and toy haulers are among the models visitors will see.
“There’s nothing like going to an RV show to cure your cabin fever,” MARVAC Executive Director Bill Sheffer said. “Where else can you get the opportunity to walk around and see, in the case of the Detroit show, 275 new RVs? You’re not just looking at picture of them on the Internet.
“An RV show is also the place to talk to campground owners. We’re finding more and more people are literally making their camping reservations with campgrounds owners who have a booth at the show.”
In addition to the Detroit-area show, MARVAC will host RV exhibitions in Battle Creek (March 7-10 at Kellogg Arena), Flint (March 14-17 at the Perani Arena & Event Center) and Traverse City (March 22-24 at the Grand Traverse County Civic Center). The 24th annual Detroit Fall Camper & RV Show is Oct. 2-6, also at the Suburban Collection Showplace.
Although attendance numbers haven’t been tabulated, reports from attendees at the Florida RV SuperShow Jan. 15-20 at the Florida State Fairground in Tampa indicate there was strong traffic and brisk sales.
“It was absolutely unbelievable,” said Mark Hollan, general manager of the Camping World store in New Port Richey, Fla., who reported selling 40 Itasca motorhomes from Winnebago Industries Inc. ”People have been staying on the sidelines and they have jumped in. I’ve been doing that show for 25 years and it’s the biggest show I’ve ever had and the deals are all solid.”
Dave Kelly, marketing director with the host Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA) said attendance was good, although numbers won’t be tallied until later in the week.
”We’re knocking on last year’s numbers,” Kelly told RVBUSINESS.com.
Last year, the Florida RV SuperShow saw more than 54,000 people pass through its gates, which was reported as record attendance. Kelly said that show space was also up by double digit percentages this year compared to 2012. ”It shows to us the importance that the industry puts on this show,” Kelly said.
Jeff Rank, president of Forest River Inc. subsidiary Prime Time RV, said the company had ”record breaking” sales.
”Traffic was absolutely awesome,” Rank said. ”We were really, really pleased. What we were seeing down there was what we are seeing at all the shows we’ve attended. There is a high sense of optimism. Right now, our retail customer is in a pretty good mood.”
Sid Johnson, Jayco Inc. marketing director, said sales of both motorized and towable RVs in Tampa were the best since 2007. ”Our guys are saying attendance was much heavier than it was for the last two or three years at least,” Johnson said. ”It’s a little early to draw conclusions on how the year is going to go, but most of the shows our guys have been to so far have been pretty strong, pretty positive.”