The RV industry has a new event coming up — and this one’s happening in the industry’s very heart in Elkhart, Ind. As reported byThe Elkhart Truth, the inaugural RV Industry Power Breakfast on May 9 will include some of the biggest names in the industry.
It’s “a truly precedent-setting gathering” for the area and the industry, said Sherman Goldenberg, publisher of Elkhart-based trade publication RVBusiness magazine. The publication is coordinating with BJ Thompson Associates to bring the breakfast to the Northern Indiana Event Center at the RV/MH Hall of Fame.
Officials from towns around the area “are being personally invited to the event, as are representatives of relevant trade associations like Reston, Va.-based Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), Fairfax, Va.-based RV Dealers Association (RVDA) and the Recreation Vehicle Indiana Council (RVIC) in Indianapolis,” said Thompson.
Doug Gaeddert, RVIA chairman and general manager for Forest River, Inc. will share host duties with Gregg Fore, president of RV supplier Dicor Corp., his predecessor as chair of the RVIA.
Speakers include Elkhart Mayor Dick Moore; Tim Hyland, president of the RV group for GE Capital; and Dorinda Heiden-Guss of the Economic Development Corp. of Elkhart County. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) may address the group remotely if his schedule allows.
There will be two keynote addresses, one by RVIA president Richard Coon and vice presidents James Ashurst and Mac Bryan, and the second by Jim Rogers, chairman and CEO of Kampgrounds of America.
KOA, Dicor, Forest River, the EDC and GE Capital are sponsoring the event, along with Spartan Motors Inc., Thor Industries Inc. and Dometic Corp.
Goldenberg said it’s a chance for the mid- and upper-level managers in the RV industry to get industrywide information usually only available at major trade shows, which are held out of state.
Goldenberg said the time is right for the event, which he hopes will become an annual occurrence. “What we in Elkhart County wind up with post recession is a recreation vehicle industry that’s smaller than it was in 2006, 2007 by a significant percentage, maybe a third fewer companies at all levels: dealer, supplier, manufacturer,” he said. “Yet we have 85% of national shipments generated out of greater Elkhart County … what amounts to, economically, a genuine phenomenon here. As the industry regrows, and it is regrowing, these companies in the Elkhart County zone are gaining strength and influence proportionally.
“It’s a phenomenal transformation and a generator. You watch these companies grow right now day to day,” he said.
“We thought it was just a thing to do to sit down together and appreciate what has occurred here and to recognize just how good we have it right now,” Goldenberg said. “We’re certainly on the mend. We hold this breakfast to sit down together in a business atmosphere, to generally share our thoughts on where the industry’s headed.
“We’re bringing to town the intelligence of national recreational vehicle industry leadership. They’ll share their outlook for the industry, where they think the challenges are, where they think the opportunities are,” Goldenberg said.
Response has been good so far, with many people reserving spots in the couple of weeks since the event was announced. “We’re quite pleased,” Goldenberg said.
Tickets are $25 or tables of eight for $175, though individual prices go up after April 25 to $30 per person. To register go to rvbusiness.com.
As the industry prepares for its annual pilgrimage to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) 50th Annual National RV Trade Show, Nov. 27-29, at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky., the staff of RVBusiness and RVBUSINESS.com is inviting show attendees to join them in toasting RVIA’s “Golden Anniversary” at RVB’s traditional Wednesday night Louisville party.
“RVB’s Annual Cash Bar Extravaganza” is slated for 7-11 p.m. on Nov. 28 at the Hard Rock Café Louisville downtown in the 4th Street Live Entertainment Complex, 424 South 4th Street, Louisville, Ky., 40202.
The RVIA toast takes place at 9 p.m., and the Louisville Pipe Band presents its annual bagpipe salute at 9:20 p.m. Light hors d’ouevres are provided and no RSVP is required.
“I can’t remember precisely how many years we’ve be hosting this party, which actually started among a group of friends about 20 years ago at Lilly’s on Bardstown Road, and it just grew from there,” says RVB Publisher Sherman Goldenberg. “Over the years, we’ve held the party at a variety of Louisville locations, each, frankly, more enjoyable than the last. And we’ve been doing the bagpipe serenade the whole time.
“Now, of course, it’s become an enjoyable tradition, and one that we’d like to share with the wider industry at this poignant moment in history for Reston, Va.-based RVIA, which has been hosting the National RV Trade Show all these years as the industry’s largest, product-centric, business-to-business show venue.”
Dominion RV Solutions and RVBusiness are gearing up for a new webinar series that will focus on the latest industry news and trends impacting RV dealers across the country. According to a press release, this is the first of their new Navigator Webinar Series, which provides dealerships with sales, marketing and service-best practices.
The first webinar, scheduled for March 20 at 1 p.m. (Eastern), will focus on maintaining a positive dealer presence on the Internet. Guest speakers will include RVBusiness Publisher Sherman Goldenberg, Dominion RV Solutions General Manager Tim Custer and Traffic Log Pro Dealership Development Manager Kelvin Stroud.
The Internet is having an increasing impact on the success of a dealership, according to the release. As a result, maintaining a solid online reputation “is critical to RV dealers across the country,” and the webinar will discuss a variety of innovative strategies to improve dealers’ online reputation. Participants will learn effective strategies for facilitating and responding to customer reviews, as well as new ways users are searching for information online.
“We are launching this educational webinar series to provide RV dealers with the information and tools they need to be successful in the RV industry today,” said Custer.
The webinar is free; however, space is limited. Those interested in attending should register online at https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/502598655.
Special “Open House Week” and “Louisville Show” issues plus unique new trade promotions and Internet offerings are all part of the 2011-12 agenda for the new owners ofRVBusiness, according to a Monday (April 18) press release.
Partners Sherman Goldenberg, publisher, and Beverly Gardner, vice president of national advertising sales, announced in late March the acquisition from Affinity Group LLC of the RVBusiness brand — trademarks, domain names, the print publication and the RVBUSINESS.com website.
In the process, RVB, along with Editor Bruce Hampson, has moved from its Southern California headquarters to Elkhart, Ind.
“RVBusiness has assembled a team of editorial and sales people under its new ownership, G&G Media Group LLC, that’s positioned to maintain and enhance its competitive edge and move it ahead aggressively on all fronts throughout 2011 and beyond,“ says Goldenberg.
“We think the industry will appreciate the continued presence of a professional mainstream trade journal with an enhanced eye to all industry factions,” he adds. “RVIA, RVDA, RVAA, REDEX, Route 66, Camping World, RV D@ily Report, manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, the Louisville Show and northern Indiana’s emerging Open House Week are all on our radar as we plot a centrist course toward mainstream – fair and balanced – news. And we intend to remain the ‘A-book’ for RV manufacturers.”
Gardner, best known for the Elkhart-based publishers’ rep firm that bears her name, Beverly Gardner & Associates, is backed up on advertising sales by her daughter, Ally Kollat, and sales associate Wendy Thorne. And the initial response from industry advertisers has been encouraging. “We’re excited about the opportunities that lie ahead,” said Gardner, “both editorially and commercially.”
Goldenberg adds, meanwhile, that one well known tradition will, in fact, continue in the new age of RVB – the “Louisville Tea Party,” a popular soiree held annually on the last night of RVIA’s National RV Trade Show. “It’s part of the tradition that we’ve cultivated over the years – bagpipes and all,” says Goldenberg. “We couldn’t imagine dropping the ball at this point.”
RVB’s new contact information:
CORPORATE & ADVERTISING SALES OFFICES:
RV BUSINESS/G&G MEDIA GROUP LLC
2901 E. BRISTOL STREET, SUITE B
ELKHART, IN 46514
(574) 266-7980, fax (574) 266-7984
SHERMAN GOLDENBERG, PARTNER/PUBLISHER
OFFICE: (574) 457-3370
CELL: (574) 457-6637
BEVERLY GARDNER, PARTNER/ VP NATIONAL AD SALES
(574) 266-7980 x12
BRUCE HAMPSON, EDITOR
(574) 266-7980 x13
ALLY KOLLAT, NATIONAL AD SALES
(574) 266-7980 x11
WENDY THORNE, NATIONAL AD SALES
(574) 266-7980 x14
TRINA NISSLEY, PRODUCTION MANAGER
(574) 266-7980 x10
G&G Media Group LLC, a new Elkhart, Ind., publishing firm launched by two well-known RV industry veterans, has announced the acquisition of the flagship trade journal RVBusiness (RVB) from Affinity Group.
The sale to current RVB Publisher Sherman Goldenberg and Beverly Gardner, proprietor of Beverly Gardner & Associates, an Elkhart, Ind., publishers representative firm, includes the popular RVBUSINESS.com website and relevant trademarks.
“RVBusiness is a venerable and respected trade name with a strong following,” said Goldenberg, who will transition from his position as a vice president and publisher for Affinity Group as a result of the sale. “And we’re appreciative to the folks at Affinity Group for giving us the opportunity to continue providing both print and web services to North America’s RV manufacturers, suppliers, dealers and distributors under the RVBusiness brand name.”
“People around this industry recognize the prestige and sense of authority that RVBusiness brings to the table,” added Gardner. “We’re assembling a team in G&G that should greatly enhance that status.”
The RVBusiness sale comes at a time of considerable change for Affinity Group, which is turning up the focus on its consumer-centric business and publications.
Affinity Group Inc. (dba Good Sam Enterprises) CEO Marcus Lemonis confirms that trade-oriented publications, events and promotions are no longer a good fit for the company, which is more focused on the end-consumer. It currently generates a range of consumer websites and print titles, including Highways, Trailer Life and MotorHome magazines plus the Trailer Life and Woodall’s campground directory titles. Additionally the company operates the Good Sam Club, Camping World retail stores and a variety of insurance products and services.
“With RVBusiness and RVBUSINESS.com being such long-term pillars in the RV industry and the industry’s reliance on RVBusiness for independent news on a daily basis,” said Lemonis, “it’s become difficult with the industry consolidation both on the manufacturing and dealer sides for us to remain independent as much as we try to be — because of industry perceptions — and to stay focused on our core competency.
“It is not the core competency of the company to provide independent news service, and the industry is in dire need of the true independent news source,” added Lemonis. “Thus, we’ve decided to enter into a letter of intent with Sherm Goldenberg, a 26-year employee and contributor to RVBusiness and the Affinity Group, and his partner, Beverly Gardner, so that the longstanding success that RVBusiness has experienced can continue.”
G&G looks to maintain and improve its web and print services, said Goldenberg, adding that the magazine also looks for a return in the near term to a monthly print publishing cycle from the bi-monthly format to which it turned a year ago coming out of the recession. Contact Gardner at email@example.com, Goldenberg at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Convinced that the industry’s future is brighter than its recent past, RV Business is rolling out its 2nd Annual RV Business Top 50 Dealer Awards program for 2009 – almost exactly a year after the California-based trade journal first introduced this bar-raising, quality-focused concept into the recreational vehicle sector.
The first group of 50 dealers was recognized in September at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas during the annual RV Dealers International Convention/Expo.
“I’m not going to pretend that we didn’t look around at the current economic environment earlier this year and wonder what to do about our RVB Top 50 program for 2009 because these obviously aren’t the best of times for businesses throughout North America,” says RVB Publisher Sherman Goldenberg. “But when we looked around, we saw vital players on several fronts staying the course, not the least of which was an array of industry suppliers and manufacturers. At the same time, RVDA is forging ahead with its Con/Expo, Oct. 6-9 at the Rio, and RVIA’s own leadership, faced with similar headwinds, is tackling this year’s Louisville Show, Dec. 1-3 at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville.
“That’s the kind of grit that makes the world go round,” Goldenberg added. “But what really caught our attention was the continued support of last year’s RV Business Top 50 Dealer Awards sponsors, companies that have stood their ground with an eye to the industry’s inevitable turnaround and to an agenda that looks beyond the current recession.”
Those sponsors include ADP Lightspeed, Blue Ox, Coach-Net, Cummins Onan RV Generators, Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp., Protective and RV Trader.
The goal is to select 50 of North America’s best RV retailers in terms of consumer care, best business practices and general professionalism, according to Goldenberg, noting that Canadian manufacturers and dealers are invited for the first time to participate this year as well.
“While RVB’s staff realizes that this is a highly subjective matter, attempting to recognize 50 dealers apart from all the rest,” said Goldenberg, “we do so on the assumption that the very act of nominating, selecting, honoring and promoting those who generally strive to do the best they can is in itself a worthy exercise that brings to the forefront the quality themes outlined by the all-industry Go RVing Coalition’s Committee on Excellence.”
Already underway is the first phase of the program through which nominations are solicited from U.S. and Canadian manufacturers, each of whom is being asked to nominate five of their best and most professional dealers for excellence in handling aftermarket parts stores, sales lots, service bays, F&I departments and employee training, as well as civic and charitable pursuits.
RVB then sends each of those dealers a letter congratulating them for having been nominated as one of North America’s elite RV retailers and asking them to fill out an application and submit it by July 10. This year’s application, based on dealer input from 2008, is somewhat less intrusive with regard to financial matters.
BJ Thompson Associates, Mishawaka, Ind., then oversees a review of those applications by an independent panel of industry “experts,” none of whom are directly associated with RVBusiness or its parent company, Affinity Group Inc.
Those selections will be announced in RVBusiness, on RVBUSINESS.com and at the 2nd annual awards reception and dinner on the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 7, at the Rio in Las Vegas during this year’s RVDA Con/Expo. Invited to the all-industry dinner – along with Top 50 dealer principals, their families and key personnel – are all industry people interested in mixing with their peers, viewing the awards presentation and hearing the views of special celebrity guest speaker Mike Huckabee, who has endeared himself to the American public as a former Arkansas governor, a soft-spoken political candidate, an emerging TV personality, a guitar-strumming conservative folk hero and a likely 2012 GOP presidential candidate.
After the event and following party draw to a close, RVBusiness will promote the winners in print, on its website and with press releases targeted at award recipients’ area newspapers. Named dealerships also get RVBT50 window decals and pins and exposure to millions of active RV enthusiasts in the pages – and on the websites – of Affinity Media’s RV-related consumer magazines, Trailer Life, MotorHome, Highways, Coast to Coast and Camping Life.
Here are the answers to nine RVB Top 50 questions that often surface:
(1) How are multi-store operations handled? We’re again limiting all multi-store nominees to one award, regardless of how many storefronts they have.
(2) Does size matter when it comes to the Top 50? No, a dealership’s acreage or annual revenues are not in themselves relevant. Excellence can exist at any level.
(3) Does it matter if a given dealer is nominated by several manufacturers? How many times a dealer is nominated is not viewed as a problem.
(4) Is each award winner publicly linked to a nominating manufacturer? In other words, will it be public knowledge who nominated whom, and will that linkage be part of the award presentation? No. We’re fully aware of the fact that some manufacturers, for their own reasons, may choose to submit their nominations in strictest confidence, and we’re more than willing to keep it that way.
(5) Can a manufacturer nominate five dealers for each of its brands? In all fairness, we can’t accept five nominations for every brand because we’d be swamped with candidates. So, realizing that this is a highly subjective matter, we’re agreeing to accept additional nominees from a manufacturer’s stand-alone divisions.
(6) Do you rank the Top 50 dealers in order – from No. 1 to No. 50? No, again, we’re not ranking them, although we do plan to focus on five Blue Ribbon performers as the top finishers among the 50 award recipients. And we’ll recognize one of those five retailers – above and beyond the rest — as the Dave Altman Award winner, named after the late Southern California retailer and industry activist.
(7) How do you buy tickets to the Oct. 7 awards dinner? Call (800) 719-1085 or download a registration form at RVBUSINESS.com.
(8) Are park trailer dealers part of the program this year? No, not yet.
9) ) Where do I direct additional questions regarding the Top 50 program? Fax BJ Thompson Associates at (574) 674-6802 or e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org or call BJ Thompson or Barb Riley at (574) 674-6300. Goldenberg can be reached by fax at (574) 457-8295, e-mail at email@example.com or phone at (574) 457-3370.
“RVers spend vast amounts of time in the great outdoors, so it’s only natural that they want to help preserve and improve the environment they enjoy so much,” said Sue Bray, vice president and executive director of the Good Sam Club. “These two initiatives give participants the opportunity to make a real difference for generations of RVers to come.”
More than 9 million people in the U.S. now own RVs. For thousands of RVers, The Rally is the event and vacation destination of the year. RV newbies and veterans alike will gather to share the wildly popular recreation lifestyle through seminars, exhibits, entertainment, games and meetings with industry experts from around the world.
The Rally is an annual event hosted by the Good Sam Club, the world’s largest RV owners’ group with more than 1.5 million member families nationwide, along with Camping World President’s Club, Camp Club USA, Coast to Coast Resorts, Woodall’s and Trailer Life and MotorHomemagazines. All the organizations are either owned by or affiliated with Affinity, the nation’s largest provider of outdoor recreation clubs, services, media and events, headquartered in Ventura, Calif.
RVBusiness magazine and RVBUSINESS.com are also owned by Affinity.
Going Green contest participants are asked to submit an initial outline of their projects by April 10 to Bob Difley at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by mail to “Going Green” ideas contest 2009, 2575 Vista del Mar Drive, Ventura, CA 93001.
Daily admission is $10 for adults, and a second day’s free pass can be obtained at The Rally site; children 12 and under are free. Admission is also free for Albuquerque area Boy Scouts and their immediate families on Sunday, April 19, provided they wear their Boy Scout uniforms. RV sites start at $169 for two people. Additional information and registration can also be found online at www.therally.com.
For more information, visit www.therally.com. To learn more about Brawdy’s adventure, log onto www.brianbrawdy.com or www.wonderexplorebelieve.net.