For the 14th straight year, Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) spokespersons Brad and Amy Herzog will hit the road in June to “put a friendly face on the the RV lifestyle” in local media markets. According to a press release, this year’s two-month media tour has the Herzogs traveling to cities in the Midwest and Southeast.
The RV industry’s “Explore America Family” will be traveling in a motorhome provided by Winnebago Industries Inc. featuring the type of amenities that appeal to consumers and are fueling the growth in motorhome sales.
The Herzogs provide an accessible example of an RVing family. At each stop, they deliver messages of family togetherness, health and wellness benefits of RV travel, and the freedom, fun and flexibility offered by RV travel. They emphasize that RVing is a convenient way to travel, and that it’s a great option for young families with children.
The 60-day tour launches June 19 in Terre Haute, Ind., and includes stops in Nashville, Tenn.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Savannah, Ga.; Charleston, S.C.; Charlotte, N.C.; Norfolk, Va.; Richmond, Va.; Washington, D.C.; Louisville, Ky.; Indianapolis; and Milwaukee, Wis.
RV wholesale shipments to retailers continued to rise in February this year, growing 6% above last month and were 6% ahead of this same month last year on shipments of 26,120 units. This was the best February total since 2008 with nearly all vehicle categories participating in the improvement. February’s shipments pushed the year-to-date total to 50,499 units, a 16.6% gain over the first two months last year. On a seasonally adjusted basis, February shipments were at an annual rate of more than 300,000 units. Year-to-date, the seasonal rate represented more than 320,000 units annualized.
Jon Tancredi, who served the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) for the past 20 years as a public relations professional with Barton Gilanelli & Associates and more recently as president of Tancredi Public Relations, passed away Tuesday (March 12).
Tancredi, 46, was a member of the Association of Marketing Professionals, Philadelphia Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) , International Association of Business Communicators and adjunct professor, upper level PR courses, Temple University. He served on the boards of various community and youth organizations in Haverford, Pa., including youth football and cheerleading.
“Jon played a crucial role in our industry’s successful public relations effort for two decades,” said RVIA President Richard Coon in a press release. “He was a consummate professional who worked diligently and creatively behind the scenes to engineer high-level media coverage and publicity that transformed the image of RVing. But more than that, he was a great friend who was beloved and respected by our staff, our members, and his many, many friends in the RV industry. We will miss Jon and offer our prayers and condolences to his family and friends.”
“Jon was incredibly dedicated to serving the RV industry, and his tireless effort and professionalism in espousing the virtues of the RV lifestyle earned him the respect of numerous writers and producers across all forms of media,” said James Ashurst, vice president of public relations and advertising, RVIA and Go RVing. ”His passion and spirit extended well beyond our industry, as he was equally dedicated to his family, friends and community. His energy, professionalism and friendship will be truly missed by everyone here, and our deepest sympathies go out to his loved ones.”
BJ Thompson, president of BJ Thompson Associates and chairman of RVIA’s Public Relations Committee, added, “In leading the PR Committee for more than 25 years, I had the pleasure of working with Jon and seeing first-hand the incredible impact he had in moving the RV industry forward. Jon was not only an accomplished media relations expert, but a trusted friend that I and many manufacturers and suppliers had the pleasure of working with over the years. The industry has lost a true champion, and my heartfelt sympathies go out to his family.”
“Over the years, Jon got to know many dealers and worked hard to put the national and local media spotlight on RVs and RV travel,” said Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) President Phil Ingrassia. “We are deeply saddened by his passing. We will miss his enthusiasm and dedication to working on behalf of everyone in the RV business.”
Tancredi is survived by his wife, Katherine B. (nee Beck) Tancredi, son, Jack Owen Tancredi, daughter, Jenna Grace Tancredi and a new baby due April 4.; parents Lou and Maureen Tancredi, Katherine’s parents, Barbara and Jeff Morgan, and John L. Beck and Donald Longhurst; siblings Tony Tancredi of Texas, Louis Tancredi of Florida, Maria (John) Zerr of Texas, Steve Tancredi of Maryland, Anne (Alex) Lenicky of Furlong, Pa., Michael Tancredi of Media, Susan (Dale) Waters of Maryland, Shaun Miller of Westtown, Michael (Carolyn) Miller of East Goshen and many adoring nieces and nephews.
Callings are scheduled at the Carr Funeral Home, 935 S. Providence Rd. (Rt. 320) in Wallingford, Pa., on March 15 from 6-8 p.m. and March 16 at Grace Chapel 1, West Eagle Rd., Havertown, from 9-10 a.m. Service is at 10 a.m. Private contributions to The Tancredi Baby Fund c/o TD Bank 120 W. Eagle Rd. Havertown, PA 19083 would be appreciated.
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) 2013 Annual Meeting, March 4-7 in Orlando, Fla., provided a fast-paced look at the national trade association’s affairs and at the industry the Reston, Va.-based association represents. And the picture as presented this past week was a positive one in most every respect, as Chairman Doug Gaeddert, a general manager for Elkhart, Ind.-based Forest River Inc., pointed out in his Tuesday (March 5) Membership Meeting remarks.
“Last year, when we were together in Palm Springs, the RV market was continuing its ascent out of the abyss of 2008 and 2009,” Gaeddert told the members at the outset of his comments. “2011 year-end shipments had grown by 4% over 2010 totals. Shipments in early 2012 were running about 10% over the previous year, and projections put shipments at 265,000 units by the end of 2012.
“As we continued through 2012, the RV market built even greater momentum, ending the year at 285,750 units – a gain of 13% over 2011 and 20,000 units higher than the spring forecast,” added Gaeddert. “And the momentum keeps building. Through the early months of 2013, shipments are continuing to rise and there are outstanding reports from shows and dealerships throughout the U.S. and Canada of elevated attendance, exceptional sales results and high overall consumer interest in RV ownership.”
Current forecasts are calling for shipments exceeding 307,000 units by year’s end, added Gaeddert, noting that would be the highest annual total since 2007 and one of the best “storm adjusted” years in recent history.
Behind the upswing, Gaeddert surmised, are continued gains in household wealth due to an improving stock market and rising home values plus modest gains in income and employment. Another factor is improved credit availability and terms, as the number of companies participating in the wholesale and retail RV credit markets rises.
In other Annual Meeting business:
• RVIA President Richard Coon presented a detailed glimpse of membership and shipment trends over the past few years, while RVIA’s Vice President of Administration Mac Bryan provided a detailed look at the association’s finances indicating that the trade group, along with most of its members, has taken a big step forward from the brink of the recession.
• RVIA Vice President of Public Relations and Advertising James Ashurst offered an update on the association’s PR program as well as the Go RVing Coalition’s initial 2013 campaign.
• American Recreation Coalition (ARC) President Derrick Crandall touched on the latest issues with regard to outdoor recreation on federal lands.
• Seminars included “A Campground Outlook” from Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) Chairman and CEO Jim Rogers; “An Economic Outlook” with Lowell Catlett, dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at New Mexico State University; and a panel discussion on “Succeeding in Today’s RV Market” with Mark Beecher, Bank of the West, Phil Ingrassia, president of the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), Bob Martin, Thor Industries Inc., Bill Osborne, Navistar RV and Martin Street, Stag-Parkway Inc.
• A dinner crowd saluted Past Chairman Gregg Fore, president of Dicor Corp., an Elkhart, Ind.-based RV industry supplier, at a Chairman’s Reception and Dinner.
• The association’s executive committee met prior to the week’s general agenda, while the association’s Strategic Planning Committee also sat down prior to the kickoff of the Annual Meeting.
Rogers, meanwhile, urged the recreational vehicle sector to work more closely in the future with the accommodations component of the industry, the RV parks and campgrounds. Focusing on “mutual objectives,” he pointed out, could go a long way toward “nurturing this industry in ways it has not been” in the past.
“Just being invited today by Richard to participate with you has reminded me that I’ve been back at KOA for 13 years and this is the first time that I’ve actually had the opportunity to talk to RVIA,” said Rogers, a former Harrah’s executive from Reno in his address during the Membership Meeting. “It’s a pleasure to be here and to see so many familiar faces.”
The bottom line from Rogers: There’s a big market out there in North America’s campgrounds, many of whom are camping in tents, to which a marketing-minded RV industry ought to look for growth.
“Well, we have an audience out there that are already staying outdoors, and they’re at my campgrounds,” said Rogers. “And they’re your prospects — the people that probably have a greater livelihood of buying an RV because they’re already in the outdoor lifestyle.”
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) series of 2013 Trouble Shooter Clinics kicks off Jan. 28–31 in Loveland, Colo., according to a press release. With limited space available, RVIA is encouraging service technicians to register early for the clinic.
RVIA’s revised Trouble Shooter Clinic curriculum now offers participants more class time, smaller class sizes and expanded hands-on training in a track-oriented format focusing on four specialty areas. The track schedule for the upcoming clinic is:
• Foundation/Plumbing (Jan 29 – 31/$480 per person) – The session will cover propane, pre-delivery inspection, preventative maintenance, customer care, fire and life safety, basic electricity, water distribution and monitoring systems, and pumps.
• Power Sources (Jan. 29 – 31/$480 per person) – This session will examine generators, converters, power systems, batteries, inverters and transfer switches, energy management systems and RV-C.
• Appliances (Jan. 28 – 31/$640 per person) – Water heaters, air conditioning and heating units, refrigerators and furnaces will be the focus of this session.
• Running Gear, Hydraulics, Slide-outs and Towing (Jan. 29 – 30/$320 per person) – This session focuses on running gear, axles, hydraulics, slideouts, towing and hitches.
Trouble Shooter Clinic participants attend one track at a time and need to complete the Foundation/Plumbing track, or be a certified RV Service technician, before taking the other track offerings.
Those completing the Trouble Shooter Clinic are eligible for a 10% discount on any RV service technician certification testing if taken within 90 days of the clinic.
In addition to the upcoming Trouble Shooter Clinic in Colorado, other 2013 sessions will be held in Orange County, Calif., from Feb. 18-21; South Bend, Ind., from March 25-28; Tampa, Fla., set for Aug. 5-8, tentatively: and Calgary, Alberta from Nov. 4-7.
Contact RVIA’s Education Department at (703) 620-6003, ext. 355 or visit www.rvia.org/?ESID=tsclinics to register or for more information.
A special nightly room rate of $129 is available at the Embassy Suites in Loveland for the upcoming clinic. This rate includes complimentary parking, cooked-to-order breakfast and a nightly reception. Call (800) 362-2779 to reserve and mention “RVIA Trouble Shooter Clinic” by this Friday, Jan. 11 to take advantage of the special rate.
There was steady traffic at the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA)Trouble Shooter Clinic Demonstration at the National RV Trade Show with dealers and industry members stopping by to learn more about the comprehensive technical training available through the program.
According to a press release, the Trouble Shooter Clinic Demonstration took place over the course of the three-day Louisville Show with instructors on hand to provide demonstrations and answer questions. Attendees could also receive a 10% discount on registration fees for any of the upcoming 2013 clinics in the U.S. and enter raffle drawings.
Jason Skinner of Mike Thompson’s RV in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., won free registration for a 2013 U.S.-based Trouble Shooter Clinic and Dennis West of Mid-Ohio RV in Mansfield, Ohio, won a set of RV technician textbooks.
“We were very pleased with the interest in the Trouble Shooter Clinic Demonstration,” said RVIA Vice President of Standards and Education Bruce Hopkins. “We were able to give a lot of people an introduction to what the clinics are all about and how they can benefit their service operations.”
“A key component of the success of the demonstration was the participation of the instructors who were on hand in Louisville. We are very appreciative of involvement.” Participating instructors included Glen Null, Dexter Axle Co.; Joe Riexinger, Cequent Towing Products; Bud Vandermel, Lippert Components Inc.; Wendel Sheldon; Shurlo; Garett Carolus, Keystone RV Co.; Chris Black, Norcold; Bob Horner, Dometic Corp.; Ronnie Ellison, Airxcel/Suburban; Dick Wade, Airxcel; Mike Williams, Atwood Mobile Products; Bryan Ritchie, Onan Corp.; and Kyle Johnston and Fred Louck, Girard Systems. Several companies also provided equipment, including Parallax Power Supply, Harris Battery, Precision Circuits and Magnum Energy.
2013 Trouble Shooter Clinic Schedule
RVIA’s 2013 schedule of Trouble Shooter Clinics kicks off Jan. 28–31 at the Embassy Suites in Loveland, Colo. Other sessions will take place Feb. 18–21 at the Radisson Hotel Ontario Airport in Ontario, Calif.; March 25–28 at the Century Center in South Bend, Ind.; a session in Tampa, Fla., in the July/August timeframe; and Nov. 4–7 in Calgary, Alberta.
RVIA’s Trouble Shooter Clinics now offer participants more class time, smaller class sizes and expanded hands-on training in a track-oriented format featuring four specialty areas.
Participants attend one track at a time and need to complete the Foundation track, or already be a certified RV service technician, before taking any of the other three tracks. The tracks being offered in the 2013 sessions include:
• Foundation/Plumbing – 3 days (24 hours) for $480 per person.
• Running Gear, Hydraulics, Slide-Outs, & Towing – 2 days (16 hours) for $320 per person.
• Appliances – 4 days (32 hours) for $640 per person.
• Power Sources – 3 days (24 hours) for $480 per person.
The registration fee equates to approximately $20 per credit hour. Trouble Shooter Clinic attendees will receive a 10% discount on any RV service technician certification testing, if taken within 90 days following the clinic.
To register for a Trouble Shooter Clinic or receive more information, please contact RVIA’s Nancy Jo Bell-London in the Education Department at email@example.com or (703) 620-6003, ext. 355.
RV industry members are urged to register now for the 2nd World RV Conference with the event nearing capacity and the registration deadline approaching. Hosted by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), the 2nd World RV Conference will take place Jan. 17 – 20, 2013, at the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel in Tampa.
According to a press release, a full schedule of “informative meetings, compelling speakers and festive social events will highlight the event,” which is bringing together RV industry leaders from around the world to share market information and statistics, discuss technical issues and standards, and explore how RV companies can work together in an increasingly interconnected world RV market.
Speakers and Sessions
Marco Annunziata, chief economist and executive director of Global Market Insight at General Electric Co., will be the event’s keynote speaker at the luncheon on Jan. 18. In his remarks, he will examine how the increasingly complex global economy impacts business trends and markets.
The 2nd World RV Conference will also feature a series of plenary sessions the mornings of Jan. 18 and 19. These presentations will provide attendees with reports on established and emerging RV markets throughout the world from industry leaders in Europe, Japan, Australia, China, South Africa and North America.
The afternoon of Jan. 18 will feature a series of concurrent workshops focusing on critical topics facing RV executives. The sessions include: “World Product Standards Workshop,” “Advertising and Promotion Workshop,” “World Campground Standards,” “RV/Caravan Rental Business,” “RV/Caravan CEO-Chairman Panel Discussion,” and “Newest Emerging RV/Caravan Markets.”
The 2nd World RV Conference will also give attendees ample opportunity to network and socialize at numerous festive social events, including special lunch and dinner events. Visits to the Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA) Florida RV SuperShow and Lazydays RV Super Center are also on the schedule.
For more information and a comprehensive event schedule, click on the 2nd World RV Conference button on www.rvia.org.
The RV industry’s recovery from the Great Recession has picked up speed.
Recreational vehicle makers are churning out higher numbers of travel trailers bound for dealers’ lots and, ultimately, campgrounds, Businessweek reported.
Overall shipments from manufacturers to dealers — a key measure of consumer demand — are expected to rise 10% in 2012 and could gain another 4.5% next year, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) said Tuesday (Nov. 27).
Through September, shipments were up nearly 11% from the same period last year, the group said. The higher-than-expected number had dealers, manufacturers and suppliers feeling more optimistic as they gathered this week for an annual industry trade show.
“We made up a lot of ground this year,” said Jeffrey Pastore, owner of Hartville RV Center in northeastern Ohio. “We’re seeing a lot more buyers walking in the door, and we’re seeing those buyers with more money in hand.”
“It was dreadful,” said Tom Stinnett, an RV dealer in southern Indiana. “There were a lot of us wondering if we were going to make it.”
Shipments to dealers slumped to 165,700 units in 2009 from 353,400 in 2007. Weak demand and evaporated credit left dealer lots clogged with RVs and forced the industry to lay off tens of thousands of workers. This year’s shipments are expected to be better — hitting 277,300.
Jobs are coming back, too. The industry’s workforce has risen to 375,000 from less than 250,000 in 2008, according to RVIA. It’s still below the 530,000 from 2007.
Driving the industry’s gradual comeback have been less-expensive towable RVs attached to pickups or hitched to other vehicles.
Towables, which now account for about 90% of the new RV market, cost between $8,000 and $100,000, with an average price of $32,000, according to RVIA. Before the recession hit, towables represented eight out of every 10 new RVs shipped.
By contrast, stand-alone motorhomes range in price from $55,000 to $1.5 million for top-of-the-line, bus-like vehicles. The average price is $100,000 for the amenity-filled moving homes.
“It’s a given that consumers love to do this, or there would be no market at all because they don’t have to have it,” Stinnett said. “But they’re simply not willing to commit as much money.”
KZ RV, based in Shipshewana, Ind., has regained about three-fourths of its pre-recessionary business, but the manufacturer has seen the shift in consumer demand toward towables. Its most popular products cost between $10,000 and $35,000 — well off its top-of-the-line RVs, which run about $90,000, said Andy Baer, the company’s vice president of sales.
“Seven years ago they didn’t give a thought to buying a top-of-the-line product, kind of similar to the housing industry,” Baer said. “People are more in tuned with what the reality is that they can comfortably afford today.”
Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Thetford Corp., which supplies toilets and sinks to RV makers, saw its business plunge by 70% during the recession. It survived the downturn because RV owners upgraded existing models, said Executive Vice President Kevin Phillips. Now, the company is having a good year as existing RV owners purchase upgrades and entry-level buyers enter the market, he said.
Winnebago Industries Inc., best known for its premium products, also has adjusted to the new market.
The company, headquartered in Forest City, Iowa, is rolling out towable products again after a decades-long absence from that market.
And Winnebago has stepped up its presence in the market for entry-level motorhomes priced in the $60,000 to $70,000 range. Those vehicles offer fewer features and amenities than their pricier counterparts.
“That’s where we see a lot of the movement in the industry,” said Scott Degnan, the company’s vice president of sales.
Winnebago’s profits soared in its last fiscal year, which ended Aug. 25. Winnebago earned $45 million over those 12 months, up from $11.8 million in the prior year. Revenue rose 17 percent to $581.7 million.
The RV industry today (Nov. 27) launched the 50th National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., at “Outlook 2013: A Golden Opportunity” an informative, entertaining program that provided details of the industry’s prospects for 2013 and an update on advertising and public relations initiatives.
The event began at 7:30 a.m. and was attended by approximately 1,000 RV manufacturers, dealers and industry representatives. Go RVing Co-Chairs Bob Olson and Tom Stinnett partnered with RVIA Public Relations Committee Chairman B.J. Thompson and RVIA Vice President of Public Relations and Advertising James Ashurst for a multimedia presentation recapping 2012 accomplishments in the advertising and public relations arenas, according to a news release.
“We have a strong public relations team at RVIA,” Thompson told the audience. “I’m proud of the work we’ve done to promote the RV lifestyle, combat misperceptions and position the industry as growing, vibrant and innovative.”
Thompson discussed a few of the industry’s media relations successes, including coverage on TV networks such as ABC News, FOX News Channel and HGTV. He also highlighted digital media placements and detailed RVIA’s plans to commit more resources to online outlets in the future.
“It used to be that people only got news from print publications, television or radio,” Thompson said. “Times have changed. More than a third of adult Americans own a tablet or smart phone to read news stories or watch video clips.”
This year, RV coverage appeared in several major digital outlets, including Yahoo! News, SheKnows.com and MadeMan.com.
Stinnett and Olson reported on strong results from the new “AWAY” Go RVing advertising campaign. The pair emphasized the campaign’s strategic shift to focus on media brands that provide the opportunity to build cross-platform partnerships.
“Consumers are really engaging with our message,” Stinnett said. “We’ve experienced great success in our first year of targeting brand-building partnerships. Our co-branded initiatives with Great American Country and Outdoor Channel drew 46,000 new leads.”
The new ads, which debuted in early 2012, resonated with consumers, Olson told attendees.
“Our research demonstrates that consumers look favorably on what our industry is selling,” Olson said. “Our messaging about RVs allowing consumers to spend more time doing the things they want to do with the people they want to do them with — works. It reinforces the need to keep getting our industry’s message out to as many consumers as possible.”
Ashurst closed the presentation by discussing some of the plans for Go RVing in 2013.
“Next year you will see a return of some of our best performing partners, as well as several new offerings,” Ashurst said. “One such deal is a sizeable partnership with Discovery Networks’ newest lifestyle cable network, Destination America, which will explore the people, places and stories of the United States while celebrating the tenacity, hard work and humor that characterizes our great nation.”
In addition, Go RVing will partner with Travel Channel and will expand its outreach to the Hispanic market.
The RV industry recovery from the economic downturn will continue to build strength in 2013, as shipments are expected to rise to 289,900 — a 4.5% increase over the projected 2012 total of 277,300 units, Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) Vice President James Ashurst, standing in for President Richard Coon, told attendees today (Nov. 27) at “Outlook 2013: A Golden Opportunity,” the kick-off event to the 50th Annual National RV Trade Show.
Addressing approximately 1,000 RV manufacturers, dealers and industry representatives on, Ashurst presented a positive outlook for the industry’s future, based on new projections from Dr. Richard Curtin, director of consumer surveys at the University of Michigan, in RVIA’s quarterly forecasting newsletter RV Roadsigns.
The rise in shipments to 277,300 units by year-end 2012 would be a nearly 10% gain (9.9%) over the 2010 total of 252,300 and include double digit gains in conventional travel trailers and Class A motorhomes. The expected increase in 2013 would mark three consecutive years of RV market growth.
“RV shipments are trending up,” Ashurst said. “We’ve had good crowds and strong business at fall shows, and demographics are in our favor. It is time to shine for the RV industry.”
According to the new forecast, most of the 2013 gain will come in conventional and fifth-wheel trailers and by type A motorhomes. Conventional and fifth-wheel trailers are expected to account for 86% of all RV shipments in 2013 — which would be an all-time high.
The continued strength in 2013 RV shipments is due to rising consumer confidence and improved economic conditions; however, a failure by America’s political leaders to bridge the “fiscal cliff” could significantly alter the industry’s fortunes in 2013, Ashurst cautioned.
“Our forecasts are affected by volatility in the economy,” Ashurst said. “If Congress and the President don’t act on the fiscal cliff before the end of the year, federal tax rates will rise, mandatory cuts in government spending go into effect, and the economy could go into recession.”
During his presentation, Ashurst walked the audience through RVIA’s 2013 projection for each of the major RV product types:
- Travel trailers: up 5% to 180,200 units.
- Fifth-wheel trailers: up 7% to 68,800 units.
- Truck campers: up 3% to 3,500 units.
- Folding camping trailers: down 17% to 9,000 units.
- Class A motorhomes: up 8% to 15,400 units.
- Class B motorhomes: up 10% to 2,300 units.
- Class C motorhomes: down 2% to 10,700 units.
“We’ve had a good year in 2012 in terms of sales and in how we’ve been able to promote RVs to our core markets,” Ashurst said. “There’s a lot of versatility in the RV market — many products, price points and how they’re used. There is strong demand for RVs, and we are optimistic about our industry’s future.”