RVDA Seeking Speakers for Convention/Expo

April 22, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association’s (RVDA) Convention/Expo Committee is soliciting speakers for the education component of the RV Dealers International Convention/Expo, Sept. 30-Oct. 4, in Las Vegas. According to a press release, there are more than 50 opportunities to speak at the convention between Wednesday and Friday, and RVDA is asking those with an interest in “giving back to the industry” to join the program and inform dealers about ways to grow and improve their businesses.

The event is open to a wide spectrum of speakers from within and outside the RV industry. In all cases, the Convention/Expo Committee looks for proven experts, especially those who can attract and engage attendees. To ensure the timeliness, quality and credibility of the program, the committee works to include a number of first-time RVDA presenters and limits workshops from speakers that present year after year.  Member surveys confirm that one of the top reasons RVDA members choose to attend the annual convention/expo is the number of workshops with new topics and new speakers.

The deadline for submissions has been extended through April 29.  This solicitation is for the non-promotional and non-proprietary educational component of the event.  A speaker FAQ is available here.

RVDA’s Convention/Expo is expecting this year’s attendance will include dealer principals and team members from more than 200 dealerships, with total attendance exceeding 1,000.

To be considered, speaker submissions must be received by April 29. The submission form  document  is provided here. Incomplete submissions will not be considered. The workshop title, description, and learning outcomes should be clear, concise, and exciting — designed to attract attendees to the session by highlighting what they will learn and gain from the session.

The committee needs sufficient detail to accurately evaluate how it might fit in this year’s program. To help in the evaluation process, the committee encourages potential speakers to record a short video overview and provide it along with the workshop submission. If the workshop is selected, the video will be used to promote the session. For consistency, the speaker should state his/her name, title, company, “I will be presenting at the RVDA Convention & Expo,” session title and subtitle (if applicable), and three things workshop attendees will learn.

For more information, contact Karin Van Duyse,, or Liz Shoemaker, with 2013 Convention/Expo and use Workshop Submission in the subject line. Companies interested in sponsorship opportunities, participating in Vendor Training Plus, and exhibitor information can contact RVDA at (703) 591-7130, ext. 103 or send an e-mail to

Visit and  to register for the convention and for regular updates. The industry can also get updates by following the convention on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.

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Patton on Learning Center Board, 3 Re-elected

March 26, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) board has re-elected three members to the RV Learning Center board and elected a fourth to fill a vacancy.

According to a press release, Rick Horsey of Parkview RV Center in Smyrna, Del., Steve Plemmons of Bill Plemmons RV in Rural Hall, N.C., and Jeff Pastore of Hartville RV Center, Hartville, Ohio, all have been re-elected to three year terms on the board.  Russ Patton of Byerly RV, in Eureka, Mo., was elected to his first three-year term.

The election took place during the RVDA board meeting in Fairfax, Va., March 18-20, based on recommendations made by the Executive Committee of the RV Learning Center. New on the board, Patton is a long-time supporter of the RV Learning Center. Horsey is a former RVDA and RV Learning Center chairman and Plemmons served on the RVDA board.

Pastore, RV Learning Center chairman, noted, “Service on this important board is a privilege for all of us, and I am proud to continue working alongside Rick and Steve. And we all feel honored to have Russ Patton join us, bringing his strong commitment to education and professional development for our industry. This board is a hardworking and visionary group and I look forward to working with them.”

The RV Learning Center is supported by dealers, manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, and other RV industry members who are committed to dealership education and the high levels of customer service that is provided by educated employees. Click Here to download a contribution form.


The 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.   Visit for more information.

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RVDA Outlines Dealer-Assisted Financing Issue

January 25, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Editor’s Note: The following is an update from the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) sent to members on dealer-assisted financing.

As a new Congress gears up for 2013, one issue that continues to be on the forefront of RVDA advocacy efforts is the protection of your dealership’s ability to arrange financing for your customers. Some groups, including the Center for Responsible Lending, continue to push lawmakers and regulators for additional restrictions on vehicle financing – restrictions that could hurt RV dealers and the entire motor vehicle industry.

Several dealers have asked RVDA to prepare some quick talking points on this issue, so they can provide information to Congressional representatives or their staff. Here are some points to make when discussing the importance of dealer-assisted financing.

More choices: A white paper by Northwood University calls dealer-assisted financing for vehicle purchases a “wonderful example of a free and competitive market which adds multiple choices for consumers.”

Saves money: “In many cases the customer would not save money by obtaining financing via a direct loan from a financial institution,” according to the report. “In fact, dealer-arranged financing rates are often more competitive than those offered by direct lenders. In order to serve their customers’ financing needs, dealers must be prepared to meet or beat the lowest APR offered to their customers by direct lenders.”

Saves time: The report says dealers often gather all of the important and necessary financial information from the customer during the sales process, saving the customer the effort of a separate trip to a financial institution to provide the same information.

More efficient: Gathering financial information up front reduces the financial institution’s cost of processing the loan. Dealers also absorb the direct and indirect costs of marketing, transacting, and meeting federal and state point-of-sale compliance regulations that accompany financing. In short, says the report, dealers reduce the loan’s retail distribution cost.

Of course, we urge dealers to add their own experiences on the benefits of arranging financing – we know there are literally thousands of success stories out there. RV dealerships tell us they have many customers who wanted to do loans through their local banks. But some of those local banks don’t have an RV program, so the customer, by financing through dealers, saved lots of money.

RVDA will keep members updated on this important issue throughout the coming months. And a reminder: RVDA established an Advocacy Fund so that when issues arise that need to be addressed, we have the financial resources to do so. Click Here to contribute, send an email to, or call the staff at (800) 336-0355 (ext. 113) for more information.


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Winnebago Earns 17th Consecutive DSI Award

November 16, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Winnebago Industries Inc. will be presented with its 17th consecutive Quality Circle Award during the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association’s (RVDA) reception on Nov. 26, just prior to the opening of the National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.

According to a press release, the ceremony will take place in the Elliot Room of the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Louisville. Thirteen manufacturers will be recognized based on results from RVDA’s Dealer Satisfaction Index (DSI) survey.

“We believe we have the best dealer network in the RV industry,” said Winnebago CEO and President Randy Potts. “We are especially honored to have our dealer partners recognize us with this prestigious award. We are particularly proud that Winnebago Industries is the only manufacturer to receive this award from RVDA every year since its inception.”

Winnebago was recognized as a Quality Circle Award winner based on overall dealer satisfaction for Winnebago, Itasca and Era motorized brands as measured in the DSI survey.

“The DSI is a valuable indicator of our dealers’ perspective on the quality of our products and services,” said Potts. “We wish to thank all our dealer partners for the confidence they have shown in Winnebago Industries in honoring us with this award. We also wish to thank our valued employees for their continued diligence to ensure that every Winnebago Industries motorhome, program and service provided is of the highest quality.”

He added, “We are particularly excited about our dynamic motorhome lineup and innovative new products that will be available soon. We plan to continue to deliver the most innovative and highest quality products, services and support in the industry for both our dealer partners and retail customers.”





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Dan Pearson Donates $10K to Learning Center

November 16, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Dan Pearson of PleasureLand RV Center Inc., St. Cloud, Minn., has pledged an additional $10,000 to the RV Learning Center, bringing PleasureLand’s total commitment to $86,350.

According to a press release, the RV Learning Center kicked off its annual fundraising campaign during the RV Dealers International Convention/Expo in Las Vegas at the beginning of October.

“Dan Pearson’s contribution of time and treasure to RVDA and the RV Learning Center is a great example of how all of us should support our organization and industry,” said RV Learning Center Chairman Jeff Pastore of Hartville RV Center in Hartville, Ohio. “We know Dan’s commitment will expand and improve our industry because it makes quality, cost-effective professional development available to our dealership personnel—and educated employees elevate our industry and expand our market.”

The 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 RV Learning Center, visit, send an e-mail to, or send a fax to (703) 359-0152. The RV Learning Center is a tax exempt organization as described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions may be tax deductible as charitable donations.

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Lance to Receive DSI Award at Louisville Show

November 12, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) will honor Lancaster, Calif.-based Lance Camper Manufacturing Corp. along with 12 other manufacturers with its Quality Circle Award on Nov. 26, prior to opening of the National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.

According to a press release, the honored brands had to receive at least 15 dealer responses and score 80% or above for overall dealer satisfaction in the Association’s 19th Annual Dealer Satisfaction Index (DSI) survey.

“We’re honored by the continued recognition by our dealers as represented by the DSI Award,” says Jack Cole, president of Lance Campers. “We continually strive to build an exceptional product – constantly challenging to best ourselves. And by incorporating dealer and consumer feedback, we seem to have a successful formula.”

In consideration of the DSI Award, the RVDA asks dealers to express their level of satisfaction on a number of factors that directly affect a high quality experience for the consumer.

The 19th Annual DSI survey was conducted between April and July 2012 with 461 dealers responding.

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RVDA Issues Election Overview to Dealer Body

November 7, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Editor’s Note: The following is a letter from Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association President Phil Ingrassia offering an overview of Tuesday’s elections and initiatives moving forward.

Tuesday’s election results maintain a political status quo in Washington – with the White House and U.S. Senate controlled by Democrats and the U.S. House of Representatives led by Republicans.

In the short term, Congress and the president have only 49 days to reach consensus on billions of dollars in automatic tax hikes and federal spending cuts set to take effect in January. Congress is scheduled to return to Washington next week to work on the budget and the impending “fiscal cliff” issue.

In the long term, major issues that RVDA and its allies will continue to work on include:

Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) – The election results mean the continuation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. While RV and other motor vehicle dealers are specifically exempt from the bureau’s oversight, RVDA and its allies are deeply concerned that the CFPB will indirectly regulate RV dealer-assisted financing through joint rulemaking with the Federal Trade Commission. RVDA maintains that dealer-arranged financing is vital to the RV business, promotes competition, and provides multiple financing choices for consumers.

Health Care – The election results mean that the health care overhaul will continue. Key provisions of the law go into effect in 2014, including a requirement that businesses with 50 or more employees provide affordable health insurance for their workers. What is not clear is how much that insurance will cost. Most states will set up exchanges where individuals and companies can buy coverage. RVDA members will be invited to participate in a free RV Learning Center webinar entitled”Employer Health Care Forecast — What’s Next for Health Care Reform and the Affordable Care Act” in December. RVDA will have more details on this event soon.

• State Issue – Right to Repair Passes in Massachusetts: Massachusetts Ballot Initiative 1 (Right to Repair) passed with 85% of the vote. The Right to Repair Ballot Initiative requires motor vehicle manufacturers to make diagnostic information on all makes and models of vehicles available to all citizens and independent repair shops. The ballot initiative definition of “motor vehicle” includes all RV types. Earlier this year, RVIA secured an amendment excluding all RVs from a compromise law negotiated by auto manufacturers and independent repair shops. However, the ballot initiative supersedes the enacted legislation. RVDA will work to clarify this issue’s impact on dealers.

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RVDA Endorses TRA ‘Certified Green Program’

November 5, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) has endorsed TRA Certification International’s Certified Green RV program, adding the Elkhart, Ind.-based company’s program to its line of endorsed products and services for dealers.

TRA is the leading third-party green certification company and its Certified Green RV program measures, evaluates and certifies RV manufacturers and verifies vendors for energy efficiency and environmental friendliness.

“As an RVDA associate member, TRA has a long track record in the RV industry and its founder and president Tom Arnold is well-known for his expertise in RV standards circles,” said RVDA President Phil Ingrassia. “This endorsement will make it possible for dealers to help consumers make better informed decisions about their RV purchases, leading to increased customer satisfaction.”

Arnold noted, “We are extremely proud to have earned the RVDA endorsement and pledge to continue our company’s leadership role in evaluating and certifying construction practices that are not only easier on the environment, but more efficient for the companies producing RVs.”

For additional information regarding the TRA Green Certified RV program, and a list of manufacturers who have earned the TRA Green Certification, go to To see a full listing of all RVDA-endorsed products and services, click here.



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Participation Up at RVDA’s Partners in Progress

October 12, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Some 320 dealers, sales managers and other employees participated in 10 brand committee meetings that took place on Oct.1-2 during the RV Dealers International Convention/Expo, representing a 10% increase from last year.

According to a press release, brand committee attendance is limited to dealers who sell new units built by a particular manufacturer. The purpose of the meetings is to seek mutual solutions to issues that arise in the relationship between dealers and the manufacturers whose products they sell. The goal is to raise the level of customer satisfaction and, as a result, grow the industry.

Several manufacturers who participated in the meetings said they received valuable feedback from their dealers, which will help them improve operations and expand their market shares.

Brand committees meet in person during the annual convention and by teleconference when needed during other times of the year.

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Hirsch Named as RVDA Chairman for Two Years

October 5, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) named Jeff Hirsch as its a new chairman during this week’s RV Dealers International Convention/Expo in Las Vegas, which concludes today (Oct. 5). Hirsch is president of multilocation dealership Campers Inn headquartered in Kingston, N.H.

Speaking to convention attendees, Hirsch said he intends to emphasize the importance of RVDA membership. “One of my goals this year as your chairman . . . is to help RVDA continue to grow and evolve so that membership is seen as vital,” he said. “We need to reach out and connect with every dealer possible.”

Hirsch also expressed an interest in finding ways to reach the next generation of RV dealers by targeting younger executives and creating programs to serve their needs.

In a move to accommodate Second Vice Chairman Bob Been’s departure from the board due to an unforeseen family issue, Hirsch will serve for two years while Outgoing Chairman Andy Heck of Alpin Haus RV, Albany, N.Y., will remain on the board for another year.

Also, RVDA said that no first vice chairman would be named this year.

Other officers include: Second Vice Chairman John McCluskey, Florida Outdoors RV Center, Stuart, Fla.; Treasurer Brian Wilkins, Wilkins RV Bath, N.Y.; and Secretary Amy Pennington, RV Outlet Mall Georgetown, Texas.

Elected to serve on the RVDA board are Will Jarnot, Pleasureland RV Center Inc., St. Cloud, Minn., and Ron Shepherd, Camperland of Oklahoma, Tulsa.

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Dealers Honored by RVDA at Vegas Convention

October 5, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Outgoing Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) Chairman Andy Heck presented the Chairman’s Service Award to three dealers and one associate member on Oct. 3 during the RVDA’s annual meeting at the 2012 RV Dealers International Convention/Expo. In addition, Butch Thomas was presented with the prestigious James B. Summers Award.

According to a press release, the Chairman’s Service Award recognizes individuals who have made a significant contribution to RVDA and the industry and is presented at the chairman’s discretion each year.

Dealers receiving awards were Bob Been of Affinity RV Service and Sales, Prescott, Ariz.; Jeff Hirsch of Campers Inn of Kingston, Kingston, N.H.; and Tim O’Brien of Circle K RVs in Lapeer, Mich.

All three of the honored dealers have extensive records of leadership and service on RVDA boards and committees and Heck thanked them for their “incredible assistance” to him during a time when the organization was recruiting for and transitioning to a new president. “Since I was the chairman, I knew I could not work on the various issues that come with a change alone,” Heck said. “I looked to Bob, Jeff and Tim for support and guidance.”

Been has served as RVDA second vice chairman and as a board member in addition to leading the association’s Audit and Finance Committee. He is the chairman of the Keystone Brand Committee and is active in the Arizona RVDA.

Hirsch has served in every RVDA officer position and as New Hampshire state director. He was named to the board for the first time in the early 1990’s and was elected RVDA chairman during the Annual Meeting on Oct. 3, succeeding Heck.

Tim O’Brien was RVDA chairman from 2010-2011, served as past chairman for the last year and has held every officer position in addition to positions as an at-large delegate, Michigan state director, and chairman of the Industry Relations Committee.

Associate member Jim Musbach of The Coast Distribution System Inc. was honored for his strong support of RVDA programs over the years and his efforts to help make RVDA membership payment programs more flexible for some dealerships hit hard by the economic downturn. In addition, Musbach was noted for his arrangement of a special credit RVDA received that had the net effect of increasing RVDA’s revenue by $50,000 during the last fiscal year.

Thomas Earns James B. Summers Award

Thomas received the James B. Summers (JBS) award for 2012 at the RVDA Annual Meeting. He was honored for his long and close association with RVDA, including 30 years as a dealer member, service on the board and his current work promoting the value of the association to dealers.

After a successful career running an RV dealership, Thomas now serves the organization by making hundreds of phone calls to recruit association members. He played a key role in both the formation of the RV Rental Association and the Missouri RVDA.

“There are some people, when you see them or hear their name, you think R-V-D-A,” said RVDA President Phil Ingrassia. “For 30 years, Butch ran a successful RV dealership, until he sold the business in 2005. A master story-teller, there isn’t much Butch hasn’t seen happen in this business.”

Recounting Thomas’s recent contributions, Ingrassia said, “Butch understands the importance of being politically active and was part of the legislative effort to keep RV dealers out of the jurisdiction of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.”

The JBS Award, created in 1986, is named in honor of RVDA’s second chief staff officer James B. Summers, who passed away in 2010. It is the highest award a member can receive for consistent and outstanding service to the association. The board of directors selects the winner each year by secret ballot from among nominations submitted by association members.



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Cmdr. Lippold Stops in at RVDA Headquarters

September 18, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

From Left; RVDA Vice President of Administration Ronnie Hepp, Commander Kirk Lippold, USN (Ret.), and RVDA President Phil Ingrassia at RVDA headquarters in Fairfax, Va.

Commander Kirk Lippold, USN (Ret.), commanding officer of the USS Cole when it was attacked by al Qaeda in the port of Aden, Yemen, stopped by the Recreation Vehicle Dealer Association (RVDA) headquarters in Fairfax, Va., on Sept. 14.

According to a press release, Lippold was in the Washington area for media appearances, where he analyzed the recent uprisings in the Middle East and discussed his new book “Front Burner.” Lippold will sign copies of the book, which describes his efforts to prevent the Cole from sinking after the attack which killed 17 crew members, at the upcoming RV Dealers International Convention/Expo. Books will be available for purchase on Oct. 2 at the reception in the Expo at the Diversified Insurance booth, No. 411.

Lippold and his crew distinguished themselves by saving the American war ship from sinking during one of al Qaeda’s most brazen acts of terrorism prior to Sept. 11, 2001.

For complete details on the RV Dealers International Convention/Expo, visit

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Joint Show Committee: ‘Status Quo Thru 2014’

July 20, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

RV manufacturer, supplier, dealership and association representatives serving on a Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA)-Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) joint committee examining the calendar for national RV industry events are recommending that the National RV Trade Show take place as scheduled from December 2-4, 2014 in Louisville, Ky.

While advising no changes to the existing schedules for the National RV Trade Show or the RV Dealers International Convention/Expo, the committee also recommended that RVIA and RVDA continue to gather more information from industry stakeholders about the timing of industry events.

In June, the RVIA board indicated it would consider moving the National RV Trade Show from late November/early December to a late September/early October time frame in 2014. The RVDA board indicated it would consider moving the RVDA Convention/Expo later in the year to accommodate the move.

“In the near term, it became clear that we need more information from manufacturers, dealers and suppliers concerning the industry event calendar before entering into any agreement to change the dates of the National RV Trade Show,” said RVIA Chairman Gregg Fore of Dicor Corp.

“Both organizations agree that facility and program commitments mean moving the dates for RVDA and RVIA events is not possible at this time,” said RVDA Chairman Andy Heck of Alpin Haus Inc.

In 2012, the RV Dealers International Convention/Expo is set for Oct. 1-5 at the Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas while the National RV Trade show is slated to run Nov. 27-29 at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville.

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El Monte RV Reports 15% Uptick in Rentals

July 5, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Things are looking up at El Monte RV – not that they ever really looked down.

Mike Dwan, the company’s national sales director, says he’s seen a big uptick in business over the past year, the Pasadena (Calif.) Star-News reported.

“Our rentals have always been good,” he said. “We might be up about 15% on rentals for this year over last year. But in terms of sales we’re probably up 40% over last year.”

Those numbers speak to a national trend.

The recreational vehicle sector measures its strength in shipments of travel trailers and motorcoaches from manufacturers to dealers. It’s been on the upswing since 2009, according to Phil Ingrassia, president of the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA).

Through the end of May, RV shipments increased 8.6% to 127,454, compared with 117,352 in the first five months of 2011, he said.

For all of this year the association is forecasting a 6.9% increase in shipments to 269,700. That’s an increase of 62.8 percent from the recession low of 165,700 in 2009.

“It’s definitely on the rebound,” Ingrassia said. “RVs are a discretionary purchase. One of the things we look at is consumer sentiment. When consumer sentiment takes a dive, usually RV shipments drop as well.”

Camping trailers dominate the market, but coach sales have been on the rise, too.

Dwan said there’s been a lot of pent-up demand among consumers to buy RVs.

“People are tired of sitting on the fence and waiting for the government to stop playing their games,” he said. “They are out, and they’re spending some money.”

And when people are spending, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have some of the lowest prices around. El Monte RV is primarily an RV rental business, but the company does sell used vehicles at a big discount.

“We sell nothing but used units,” Dwan said. “We have roughly 1,600 units in inventory nationwide, so our national business is off the charts. Our units are anywhere from a third to half off of what a new vehicle would cost.”

The increasing health of the industry is also reflected by the fact that Airstream Inc. opened a new Airstream Los Angeles dealership in San Gabriel just two months ago.

The dealership, at 1212 E. Las Tunas Drive, offers a variety of the stylish, aluminum-skinned vehicles.

Ken Baker, the facility’s general manager, said Airstreams have a special place in the RV world.

“There is not another RV built like an Airstream,” he said recently. “They have easy towability, they’re stable on the road and they are aerodynamic.”

They’re also well made. Before leaving the production floor, every Airstream spends 40 minutes under 100 pounds per square inch of water pressure in a special booth to ensure that it’s water-tight.

The RVDA does a dealer census every five years and there were 3,000 nationwide in 2007. He expects the figure to be significantly lower when the 2012 figure is released, though business is starting to recover.

“Now we’re seeing some expansion and consolidation. We’re not seeing dealers close like they did in 2008 and 2009,” Ingrassia said.


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RVDA to Analyze Health Care Law for Members

June 29, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Following yesterday’s Supreme Court decision to uphold the federal health care reform law, the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) said in the latest RV Executive Today Online that it will be monitoring important developments and keeping its members informed.

While the effects of the ruling are being analyzed, RVDA members who are looking to adjust or implement health care coverage can contact RVDA’s endorsed health insurance consultant, Mass Marketing Insurance Consultants Inc. (MMIC), at (800) 349-1039 or visit their website.

MMIC contracts nationally with a number of health insurance companies to provide a variety of benefits. MMIC creates customized insurance programs for individual dealerships, rather than being limited to plans from one insurance company. Coverage is available to individual members and to firms with two or more employees.

With group coverage, all active full-time employees — including owners, partners, and officers — are eligible. Spouses and dependent children are also eligible to apply, with some exceptions.

The cost of the coverage for the RVDA program may be paid in whole by the employer or shared with the employees. However, the employer’s contribution must be at least 50% of the total cost.

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