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RV Caucus & RVIA Host Capitol Hill Campfires

July 24, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

RVIA brought an Airstream and a Winnebago to Capitol Hill to help educate members of the U.S. Congress July 23, 2014.

RVIA brought an Airstream and a Winnebago to Capitol Hill to help educate members of the U.S. Congress July 23, 2014.

When the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) leadership started to work with the members of the fledgling Congressional RV Caucus to create a formal “kickoff” event, they decided to go a little different route than the normal cocktail party with speakers at a podium.

Instead, RVIA set up daytime tours of two RVs on Capitol Hill and an evening event featuring four campfires around the room to promote one-on-one interaction with industry leaders, said Dianne Farrell, vice president of government affairs for RIVA.

The Congressional RV Caucus, created last June by Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., and Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., includes Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Mich., Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Mich., Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., and Rep. Andre Carson, D-Ind.

Ross and Walorski asked RVIA to host the reception as they attempt to grow the caucus, Farrell said.

And the results were better than Farrell hoped. Among the roughly 200 attendees, “we had probably 10 to 15 members of Congress, plus chiefs of staff and legislative assistants,” Farrell said. With receptions happening every evening on Capitol Hill, the turnout was very strong.

“We had a very good event with an excellent turnout. We were shoulder-to-shoulder in a room. We tried to have a very casual event with very little podium speaking. We set up campfires around the room,” Farrell said, noting campfires represented RV manufacturers, RV dealers, campgrounds and the outdoor recreation industry. “We had two industry leaders at each campfire, and attendees had a chance to talk with each of the leaders at each fire (which, since they were indoors, were electric).”

Doug Gaeddert, general manager of Forest River Inc. and RVIA chairman, joined his RVIA successor Derald Bontrager, president and CEO of Jayco Inc. as the experts at the RV manufacturers’ campfire.

Phil Ingrassia, president of the RV Dealers Association (RVDA) was joined by Brett Richardson, RVDA’s director of regulatory and legal affairs, and Lance Wilson, executive director of the Florida RV Trade Association at the RV dealers’ campfire.

Jeff Sims, legislative director of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) was joined at the campground campfire by Deb Carter, operator of Buttonwood Beach RV Resort in Maryland.

The Outdoor industry’s campfire introduced attendees to Derek Crandall of the American Recreation Coalition and Christy Goldfuss, deputy director of the U.S. National Park Service.

Also there was Smokey the Bear, who posed for selfies. “That appealed especially to younger Congressional staffers and the attendees who have children in their lives,” Farrell said. “We gave them a s’mores kit as a parting gift with one of the roller roasters KOA (Kampgrounds of America Inc.) gives out.

“We discovered in the course of the evening that a number of members of congress are avid RVers or prior RV owners. It was very surprising how many RVs infiltrated the members,” she said.

The event was a success, by Farrell’s figuring. “We’re just trying to build some awareness right now and educate. We feel like we accomplished something, and it’s going to be wonderful for the visibility of the industry on the hill.”

As the caucus grows, it will help RVIA’s legislative efforts, Farrell said. “It will give us kind of a go-to group of people who are better educated about the industry and its needs and are better positioned to weigh in on issues that affect our industry.”

 

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Webinar Helps RV Dealers With Obamacare

July 3, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

If you want want to provide the best benefits plan for your employees, you need to know the law — and much of it is new. A free webinar from the Mike Molino RV Learning Center will guide employers through the best processes for selecting the right benefits program, the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) said in a written announcement.

The RV learning center, through a partnership with KPA, will present the webinar at noon ET on Thursday, July 10. RV dealers’ participation in the free, live event helps support the learning center’s development of new programs. Register at the KPA website.

Kathryn Carlson, vice president for human resources products at KPA — a dealer services and marketing company — will discuss the implications of the Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act on current benefit programs, as well as provide information on options for self-insurance, private exchanges, and traditional plans.

Because employee benefits represent such a big chunk of dealership budgets, the information from this webinar can make a big difference to your bottom line, RVDA said. Dealers cannot afford to be ignorant of changes in the law and this webinar will shed light on the best ways to be in compliance and provide for employees.

Can’t attend at this time? Register anyway and you will receive links to the materials for later viewing. Dealers interested in prior webinar topics will find them on the RV Learning Center’s webinar page.  If you have any questions or feedback, please contact Becky Ross at bross@kpaonline.com  (866) 356-1735 or Karin Van Duyse at the RV learning center at kvanduyse@rvda.org  (703) 591-7130.

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Lance Camper Earns RVDA Recruitment Award

October 10, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association’s (RVDA) Sue Caldwell Memorial Award for outstanding achievement in membership recruitment was presented to Lance Camper Manufacturing Corp. on Oct. 3 during the RVDA Annual Meeting in Las Vegas.  The annual meeting is held in conjunction with the RV Dealers International Convention/Expo.

RVDA Chairman Jeff Hirsch noted that Lance was instrumental in adding 115 dealers to the association’s membership ranks during 2013. This award is presented to an individual or organization that recruits at least five new members in a 12-month period.  National Sales Manager Gary Conley accepted the award on behalf of the company.

Hirsch noted, “This is a great example of what happens when industry partners work together.”

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RVDA Extends Confab Education Opportunities

October 4, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

While the 2013 RV Dealers International Convention/Expo sponsored by the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) and RVDA of Canada wrapped up on Friday (Oct. 4) in Las Vegas with a super session addressing F&I compliance issues, association executives stressed there are still opportunities to benefit from continuing education programs held during the event.

According to a release, links to selected workshop PowerPoint presentations will be posted soon on www.rvlearningcenter.com and www.rvda.org. There will also be an order form for audio presentations.

Kathryn Carlson from KPA, a convention workshop presenter, will also be scheduling a follow-up webinar on health care reform in partnership with the Mike Molino RV Learning Center. Details of that session will be announced soon.

A total of 1,106 industry representatives registered for the 2013 RV Dealers International Convention/Expo, a 9% increase over 2012. A total of 467 dealers attended, compared to 456 in 2012.

In 2014, the RV Dealers International Convention/Expo will be held the week of Nov. 9 at Bally’s in Las Vegas, Nev.

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Jim Shields Receives RVDA’s Summers Award

October 4, 2013 by · 2 Comments 

Jim Shields

The Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) Board of Directors honored Jim Shields of Pan Pacific RV Centers with the organization’s highest honor, the James B. Summers Award for 2013 on Oct. 3 at the organization’s annual meeting in Las Vegas. Shields was recognized for his long-term service to RVDA, including a term as chairman, his role in unifying RV dealers in California — leading to the creation of CalRVDA — and his eagerness to help struggling dealers to succeed.

Shields received the award surrounded by past JBS recipients gathered on the stage.

In presenting the award, RVDA President Phil Ingrassia called Shields “one of the great thinkers in our industry. He’s continually trying to improve the process and make things better — at the dealership, in the industry, and at RVDA.”

In addition to serving as RVDA Chairman, Shields’ service to the organization includes co-chairing the Government Relations Committee, participating in the RVDA marketing task force, and as a term as director of the RV Learning Center board.

The Summers award honoree is chosen by the RVDA board each year by secret written ballot from nominations made by association members. The award, created in 1986, is named for RVDA’s first CEO in recognition of service to RVDA.

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RVDA Announces New Date, Site for Con/Expo

October 3, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The leadership of the U.S. Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) and RVDA of Canada have announced a pivotal decision to move their annual convention — the RV Dealers International Convention/Expo — to an early November timetable and to another Las Vegas casino from the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino where they’ve held their annual show for a decade.

RVDA Chairman Jeff Hirsch and RVDA of Canada Chairman Ian Moore informed their respective memberships Wednesday (Oct. 2) during the opening general session of the 2013 Con/Expo.

“It is a challenge to make changes to an event that has proved to be as successful as the RV Dealers International Convention/Expo,” said Hirsch, president of New Hampshire-based Campers Inn. “But, as the RV business matures and changes, so have we. Through the state representatives on the Board of Delegates, we heard the message loud and clear that early October was not the best time for our convention. Most of us are still trying to ring the cash register.

“As a result, dealers can’t bring some of their valued employees who would truly benefit from this convention experience.”

So, Moore reported, the new schedule for future conventions, which is designed to give dealers more of a chance to take advantage of the October market and more of a break after Elkhart’s September Open House, looks something like this:

• 2014: Week of Nov. 9

• 2015: Week of Nov. 1

• 2016: Week of Nov. 6

• 2017: Week of Nov. 7

Meanwhile, the Con/Expo will move to 2,800-room Bally’s Las Vegas, another Ceasar’s property that offers more of a high-profile location on the Vegas Strip as well as a simple chance to change the game, so to speak. A room block will also be available at Caesar’s Paris Las Vegas.

“In Canada,” said Moore, “we heard from many members that they enjoy the Las Vegas experience, but after a decade at the same hotel, it’s time to go somewhere else — with a strong preference for a Las Vegas strip location. So with that input, your RVDA leaders had to work together to figure out the next phase for our joint RVDA-RVDA of Canada Convention.”

Does this present yet another obstacle for those in the industry who had entertained the idea of an all-industry convention week in which manufacturers, suppliers, distributors and dealers could all participate? That’s how it appears, at least for the next few years.

“Over the past year we’ve had many discussions on an all-industry event with industry stakeholders,” said Hirsch. “These discussions continue. We are in the discovery stage to determine feasibility in a co-located event. But there are many considerations.

“Many of you have spoken,” he continued. “There are strong opinions about having an independent event designed by dealers, for dealers. There are financial considerations for RVDA, RVDA of Canada and any partners. And finally, the jam-packed schedule at this convention and other events makes planning activities for an all-industry gathering a formidable task.”

Weighing all options, said Moore, owner of Big Boys Toys, Nanoose Bay, B.C., the two trade associations were pleased to make this rather surprising announcement. “It secures RVDA’s preferred dates in an extremely competitive environment for meetings here in Las Vegas,” he concluded.

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RV Learning Center Renamed to Honor Molino

October 2, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Jeff Pastore, chairman of the RV Learning Center Board of Directors, announced a name change to the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association’s (RVDA) RV Learning Center Wednesday (Oct. 2) during the opening general session of the 2013 RV Dealers International Convention/Expo in Las Vegas.

The center has been renamed in honor of Mike Molino, RVDA’s longest-serving CEO. Molino was president of RVDA from 1996 to 2012. “The Mike Molino RV Learning Center” honors Molino’s groundbreaking leadership in promoting continuing education and educational opportunities for dealers and their staffs.

“Working with RVDA dealer leaders and other industry partners, Mike was the driving force behind a number of initiatives at RVDA that continue today — including public affairs advocacy, industry relations, and Go RVing,” Pastore said in a news release. “But what really stands out for many of us is Mike’s unwavering commitment to and leadership in continuing education.”

Molino, working with volunteer leaders, began the RVDA Education Foundation — which later became the RV Learning Center. He was also instrumental in creating certification programs for fixed-operations staff and the partnership with RVIA for the tech cert prep program.

The Mike Molino RV Learning Center is dedicated to providing dealers and their employees with innovative ways to operate RV dealerships through an array of education resources including publications, distance learning, live workshops, online products, training, and certification programs for RV dealership personnel.

For more information on the Mike Molino RV Learning Center, visit www.rvlearningcenter.com.

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October Now a ‘Good Month’ for the RV Industry

September 30, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Phil Ingrassia

Editor’s Note: Phil Ingrassia, president of the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), penned this column for October’s RV Executive Today:

It wasn’t long ago that the conventional wisdom in the RV industry was that business traditionally started to slow down in October in many parts of the country.

Well, not any more. Retail data from recent years shows that, in the words of Tom Walworth of Statistical Surveys, “October is a good month.” Here’s the breakdown of national RV retail registrations in October during the past few years, according to Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Statistical Surveys:

• 2009: 12,196

• 2010: 13,610

• 2011: 13,420

• 2012: 14,956

Those October numbers are closer to what U.S. dealers sell in March, with the smell of spring in the air. In fact, the only months with fewer than 10,000 national retail deliveries are now December and January — dealers retailed more than 10,000 units in both February and November in 2011 and 2012.

So, everyone is making adjustments to what is now a year-round sales cycle — including your national advertising campaign. When Go RVing began in the late ’90s, the industry’s media buys were front-loaded to coincide with the spring and summer RV travel season. Go RVing typically would scale back advertising significantly in the fall and early winter months, but with families and empty-nesters on the go and buying RVs all year-round, a new approach is needed.

This year, Go RVing’s new “AWAY” ad featuring a tailgating theme made its debut Labor Day weekend and will continue to air throughout the fall in conjunction with college football ad buys with ESPN and CBS Sports.

The new ad is part of Go RVing’s attempt to leverage the strong connection between RVing and tailgating season and to keep positive messages about RV travel in front of consumers throughout the year.

Have a great fall selling season, and thanks for your support.

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RVDA Renewing Agreement with Caliper Corp.

September 10, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) has renewed its longstanding endorsement agreement with Caliper Corp. for employee assessment and testing.

For nearly a half-century, Caliper has consulted with more than 28,000 companies on improving every aspect of their workforce — from hiring and selection to employee development and succession management.

Starting with accurate, objective insights, Caliper clients benefit from the time-tested personality assessment, the Caliper Profile. Caliper assessment tools enable clients to reduce the high cost of turnover, help first-time mangers excel, and create solutions that are tailored, practical and adaptable.

“Over the years, RV dealers and RVDA itself have used the Caliper Profile to hire top performers in customer service and sales,” said RVDA President Phil Ingrassia.  “Caliper provides employers with useful tools that help them develop talent and work on team-building for a more productive workforce.”

For more information about Caliper programs and services, go to www.calipercorp.com. To see a full listing of all RVDA-endorsed products and services, click here.

 

RVDA is the national association representing RV retailers. The association’s members include RV dealers, RV rental operators, and RV AfterMarket sales and service locations.   Visit RVDA at www.rvda.org.

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RVDA Reports 13 New Speakers for ’13 Confab

June 25, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Thirteen new speakers are confirmed for the 2013 RV Dealers International Convention/Expo. According to a press release, five new presenters are in the Sales Track alone.

Sales professionals attending track workshops will spend two days learning about effective ways to use new technology, how to reach consumers who increasingly rely on digital advertising, how to build solid relationships with consumers and close sales on the show floor. There will also be information about recent trends and best practices in sales, including a rundown of what works today — and what doesn’t.

The event takes place Sept. 30–Oct. 4 in Las Vegas at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino. The convention is sponsored by RVDA, RVDA of Canada, and the RV Learning Center. The theme is “Education: Your Competitive Advantage,” and the program has been broadened and enriched to include more education for more staff.

These Sales Track workshops offer RV sales professionals the opportunity to learn new techniques and tactics from internationally recognized speakers, making this a “can’t miss” event for those who want to close more sales. In addition to the five new sales presenters, this year’s topics are also new, reflecting the rapid advances of technology and putting into context the latest data about today’s consumers.

New for 2013 Sales Track presenters chosen by the Convention/Expo Committee include:

• Pierre Trudel, a Canadian marketing consultant with 25 years marketing experience who teachers at the University of Montreal’s world renowned business school.

• Gary McGugan of NEEDS Selling Solutions, sales consultant and business executive.

• Paul Webb of Paul Webb Training.

• Barry Siskind, a globally recognized consumer show sales consultant.

• David Nelson of VitalSmart, consultant, entrepreneur and international trainer.

Workshop titles range from “Advanced Business Communications” to “Double Your Sales” to “The Science of Leading Change.” In addition to the five new sales presenters confirmed thus far, Roger Vergara, who has spoken at prior RVDA Conventions, has been confirmed to speak this year about digital advertising. Additional speakers will be confirmed in the coming weeks. For a full listing of all workshops, including schedules and detailed descriptions, go to the RVDA website.

The convention will provide relevant learning opportunities for dealers and key members of their staff. In addition to Sales, tracks are in place for Dealer/GMs, and Parts and Service Managers. The 2013 convention will also feature an exhibit hall filled with the RV industry’s top companies offering products and services to help dealers improve profitability.

Companies interested in Vendor Training +plus, partnership opportunities, sponsorships, and exhibitor information can contact RVDA at (703) 591-7130, ext. 103 or send an e-mail to jnewhouse@rvda.org.

Visit www.rvda.org and www.rvlearningcenter.com to register for the convention and for regular updates. You can also get convention updates on LinkedIn and Facebook.

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