In early 2012, nearly five years after opening, the RV/MH Hall of Fame was struggling financially and facing possible closure. But today, after two years under the leadership of volunteer president and treasurer Darryl Searer, the hall’s financial health is “excellent,” Searer said.
As reported by the Elkhart Truth, the nonprofit’s debt has been reduced from $5.5 million to about $2.5 million, and the hall made its May 2014 loan payment in November, six months ahead of schedule. Searer attributed the turnaround to a series of belt-tightening measures, reorganization and rebranding of the facility’s event center, renegotiation of financial obligations with major creditors and some innovative fundraisers.
“We have exceeded the goals and expectations of all of the creditors of the Hall of Fame,” Searer said.
Searer, who in March 2012 agreed to lead the hall for two years, has decided to stay on another two years as he tries to make the hall debt-free by 2020, if not sooner.
To achieve that goal, he pointed to two outstanding obligations: paying off a $550,000 bank loan used to complete the purchase of the David Woodworth Antique RV Collection, and a $3 million loan by the “Boots” Ingram family.
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RV/MH Hall of Fame President Darryl Searer has agreed to continue leading the Hall for an additional two years, according to Chairman Barry Cole. In August 2014, Searer will take on the additional responsibilities as chairman when Cole’s term expires. Searer currently serves as president and treasurer.
“This came about when Jay Hesse, president of Blue Ox, who was elected vice chairman of the board in August 2011 and scheduled to become chairman this fall, was forced to resign because of family matters–leaving the vice chairmanship open,” Cole said in a press release. “I asked Darryl if he would consider taking on the additional role of vice chairman. After lengthy deliberation, Darryl accepted. That means in August Searer will be chairman, president and treasurer.”
Despite suffering a heart attack in 2013 and undergoing quadruple bypass heart surgery, Searer said he is up to the challenge.
“Based upon Darryl’s commitment to lead the Hall for another two years, I challenge members of the RV and MH communities to honor his dedication and leadership by stepping up with major contributions to the Hall this year,” said Cole.
Searer volunteered on a noncompensation basis for two years in March of 2012 to help restructure the Hall financially to insure its future success.
Through a series of belt-tightening measures, reorganization and rebranding of the Event Center, renegotiations of financial obligations with major creditors and some innovative fundraisers, the RV/MH Hall of Fame, under Searer’s creative leadership, has managed to lower its debt from over $5.5 million to approximately $2.5 million putting the Hall of a strong financial position.
Searer brought over 50 years of experience to the Hall. He started his career in the RV industry at the age of 16, working in his father’s business, Elkhart Rivet and Register. He has also been vice president of marketing and sales for the Dometic Corp.; president and owner, MHS Supply; and chairman of Ultra-Fab Products Inc.
Searer said, “I am pleased for the opportunity to continue for two more years, as challenging as it will be. My goal during the past two years was to get the Hall where it was financially viable — we’ve done that. But our new challenge of making the Hall debt-free is incomplete. During the next two years, we hope to move as close as possible to making that a reality.”
To achieve this goal, Searer points to two outstanding obligations: paying off the $550,000 bank loan used to complete the purchase of the David Woodworth Antique RV Collection and a $3 million loan by the “Boots” Ingram family.
The Hall started making payments on the Ingram loan in August 2013. “Under the amortization schedule the Ingram loan will be paid off by 2033–but I believe we can beat that, in part, because of the continuing Ingram family’s generosity,” Searer said. “As long as we meet our monthly obligations, the Ingram’s will continue to match the principle payment by 50 percent which means the $3 million loan will pay off with $2 million.
As far as retiring the $550,000 bank loan for the Woodworth Collection, Searer is soliciting companies, foundations or individuals who will step forward with a contribution. “We are offering naming rights for the collection to any company or person that offers to pay off this debt,” he said. “What better way to honor an industry icon than have their name forever associated with this outstanding collection at the RV/MH Museum.”
Searer’s goal is for the Hall to be completely debt free by 2020, if not before.
The RV/MH Heritage Foundation is a 501-c3 not-for-profit corporation and all donations are tax deductible. Donors can use our federal ID: 35-1610362.to verify that the Hall is a 501-c3 not-for-profit corporation in good standing with the IRS.
Gifts may be made by mail, in person at the Hall, by phone at (800) 378-8694, or through the Hall’s secure web site: www.rvmhhalloffame.org.
The RV/MH Heritage Foundation board announced the list of inductees who represent the RV/MH Hall of Fame Class of 2014. According to a press release, the induction ceremonies will be held at the Hall facility in Elkhart, Ind., during the annual induction dinner on Aug. 4.
“Congratulations to the 10 new honorees. All of them have had or are having outstanding careers and are richly deserving of this special moment,” Foundation President Darryl Searer. “I join their friends, family and colleagues in welcoming these new inductees who will join the honored rolls of industry leaders, pioneers and innovators who have made significant contributions the to RV and manufactured housing industries.”
Inductees from the RV Industry include:
• Debbie Brunoforte, president-owner and CEO, Little Dealer, Little Prices (RV Dealer).
• Bob Livingston, senior vice president, group publisher, Good Sam Club.
• Peter B Orthwein, chairman, Thor Industries Inc., (RV Manufacturer).
• John D Roba, founder and president of Roba and Associates. (Manufacturer’s representative for the RV and MH industries) and JR Products (supplier).
• James F Shields, president of Pan Pacific RV Centers Inc., (RV dealer).
Inductees from the Manufactured Housing Industry:
• Barry Cole, president of Manufactured Housing Insurance Services and Cole Housing Corp. (insurance supplier to RV/MH industries and MH communities).
• Ed Evans, managing partner of EPM (MH community owner and developer).
• Thomas “Tom” L. Kern, CEO, Style Crest Enterprises (RV/MH supplier).
• Richard “Dick” King, founder and CEO of King Insurance (insurance supplier to RV/MH industries).
• Gary McDanial, CEO, YES! Communities, (MH communities).
“The nine-person selection committee also deserves to be congratulated for the professional job they did in choosing this talented class of 2014,” Searer said. “We had a record number of new nominees on both the RV side and MH side and the selection committee was tasked with identifying no more than five from each camp to be honored.
He added, “The committee spent many hours over several days studying nomination forms and letters of support that were lengthy, detailed and packed with passionate advocacy for the candidates. The committee wants all candidates and their nominators to know that they read every word of every nomination and gave thoughtful consideration to everything that was written. The fact that we had so many deserving nominees this year is a wonderful testament to the renewed relevancy of and excitement for our Hall of Fame.”
To nominate future candidates for the Hall of Fame visit www.rvmhhalloffame.org to view the nomination guidelines and to download the necessary nomination forms.
“You don’t need a mansion on the hill to be somebody. It’s not the house but the people inside it.” That’s what Stephen Lee Duncan of Aurora, Colo., told Swiss citizen and photojournalist Frimmel Smith in 1998.
According to a press release, Duncan was among many people Smith interviewed and photographed in conjunction with the American Institute of Architecture to create a traveling exhibit entitled “Wheel People,” which tells the story of Americans who choose to live in manufactured homes in deference to site built housing. The “Wheel People” is now on permanent display at the RV/MH Museum.
The “Wheel People” exhibit was created in 1998-99 by Smith with the cooperation of the RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum and many state manufactured housing associations. She identified people throughout the country to interview and photograph and traveled for over one year assembling their stories into this exhibition.
After displaying the exhibit at locations around the country from Washington, D.C., Richmond, Va., Biloxi, Miss., Chicago, and others, Smith donated the entire exhibit to the RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum in Elkhart, Ind.
Darryl Searer, president of the RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum, said, “The ‘Wheel People’ exhibit is an excellent addition to our manufactured housing collection. It not only traces the evolution of manufactured housing from trailers to mobile homes and finally to manufactured homes, it also shows the diversity of those who choose to live in homes on wheels.
“From Maine to California, occupants include people of all ages and incomes, from college students to senior citizens; America’s wealthy and her poor as well as white and blue collar workers, artists, entrepreneurs, farmers, and health care professionals.”
He added, “Visitors to the museum will be able to tour historic examples of homes on wheels, experience the ‘Wheel People’ exhibit and then step outside to visit a modern manufactured home currently being constructed east of the museum facility-we expect the home, loaned and erected by Fairmont Homes, to be completed and opened to the public in early November.
“The RV and manufactured housing industries sprang from the same root, but evolved into two separate industries – recreational travel and affordable housing. It’s impossible to tell the story of one industry without including the other.
Searer said that the “Wheel People” exhibit adds an important and interesting chapter to our goal of telling our story and interpreting our heritage. “Even those who have visited the museum in the past, I encourage them to come by again as our exhibits are always changing and evolving,” he said.
RV/MH Hall of Fame President Darryl Searer’s recent quadruple bypass heart surgery hasn’t diverted his attention from the Hall’s mission and goals, according to a press release. As he continues his recovery at home, Searer said, “We’ve come a long way in the past 18 months, but we still have some exciting opportunities ahead.”
When Searer volunteered to accept the position of president of the Hall in March 2012, his mission was to help the Hall get its financial house in order and to make the Hall debt free.
“While we are proud of the success of the original “$100,000 match” and the “Burn the Bank Note” campaign which paid off the bank loan in 13 months – more than three years ahead of schedule – we still have two more loans to go before we are debt free,” he said. “This goal could not have been achieved without the generous support of members of the RV and manufactured housing industries, and especially, the Boots Ingram family who contributed $150,000 in matching grants toward retiring the bank note.”
Searer said the at of the two remaining notes, the $3 million note to the Ingram family is more pressing as “it will pay off with $2 million,” due to the Ingram’s 50% match on every principle payment. The other outstanding note is a $600,000 loan to the bank, which saved the Hall $565,000 in settling the debt for the antique RV collection.
With the original bank note retired, the Hall started making payments on the Ingram loan in August 2013, three years ahead of schedule. Searer said, “Under the amortization schedule the Ingram loan will be paid off by May of 2030. But I believe we can beat that, again, in part, because of the Ingram family’s generosity.”
He added, “As long as we meet our monthly obligations, the Ingram’s will match the principle payment by 50% which means the $3 million loan will pay off with $2 million. That means for every $100 contributed by individuals and companies in the RV/MH industries, the loan principle will be reduced by $150.”
Searer’s goal is for the Hall to be completely debt free by 2020, if not before.
For those who would like to make a contribution toward the Ingram family’s $1 million challenge grant, the Hall has made it easy to contribute. Contributions can be made through the Hall’s secure website by clicking here or by mail or phone. If paying by check or money order, make payable to the RV/MH Hall of Fame.
$1 Million Ingram Family Challenge
RV/MH Hall of Fame
21565 Executive Parkway
Elkhart Indiana 46514
With the Oct. 31 deadline fast approaching, the RV/MH Hall of Fame Selection Committee has issued a call for nominations for the Class of 2014.
RV/MH Hall of Fame Chairman Barry Cole noted, “If you know of anyone who you believe deserves to be nominated for induction into the Hall of Fame now is the time to send in his or her nomination. On a regular basis colleagues ask, ‘Why isn’t this person or that person in the Hall of Fame?’ Chances are, the reason is that no one has ever nominated them. My advice to them is, ‘nominate them – don’t wait for someone else to do it.’”
Darryl Searer, Hall president, added, “The Hall welcomes nominations from all RV and manufactured housing sectors, including manufacturers, dealers, campgrounds, housing communities, suppliers, user groups, trade media and associations, for the class of 2014 and beyond.”
The RV/MH Heritage Foundation board recently approved a new and improved process for nominating and has made the nomination guidelines and forms available online at www.rvmhhalloffame.org/pages/nominations.cfm.”
According to the new guidelines, anyone can nominate a person to the Hall of Fame that meets the eligibility requirements. The only people who may not be considered are those who currently serve on the Hall’s Selection Committee. To be eligible the nominee must be, or have been, an active participant in any segment of the recreation vehicle or manufactured housing industries for a minimum of 25 years.
In addition, the nomination form must be filled out in its entirety and be accompanied by three supporting letters (no more, no less) that meet the Hall’s guidelines. Incomplete nominations cannot be considered. If the nominee is not selected within three years, he or she remains eligible only if the nomination is resubmitted and refreshed with additional information.
When evaluating a potential nominee, the selection committee will consider the nominee’s overall contributions to the good of the industry that include both his or her positions, accomplishments and innovations on the job as well as volunteer work both inside and outside the industry. Special emphasis is placed on volunteer work done on behalf of state and national associations and owner groups, the Hall of Fame itself and other industry-related organizations and causes. Favorable responses to these two basic questions are good starting points for Hall consideration.
If a completed nomination form and three properly prepared seconding letters are received by Oct. 31 of any year, the nominee will be in the pool of candidates considered for the following year’s class and for two years beyond that if not selected that year. The Hall’s Selection Committee will announce its selections in January and those chosen will be honored at the Hall’s Annual Induction dinner in August. The Hall’s bylaws allow for up to 10 inductees per year.
Cole said, “The Selection Committee is made up of an equal number of members of the RV and manufactured housing industries, and members will only vote on nominees from their respective industries.”
Once the nomination form and supporting letters have been completed, the nominations may be submitted by mail, in person at the Hall, or by fax at (574) 293-3466.
“Time is running out for nominations to the Hall’s Class of 2014,” Cole said, “so I urge my colleagues to honor their friends and co-workers by submitting their nominations before the Oct. 31 deadline.”
Darryl Searer, president of the RV/MH Hall of Fame, is progressing well after undergoing a successful emergency quadruple bypass surgery yesterday (Aug. 21) morning at the Memorial Hospital in South Bend, Ind.
“Over the past weekend Darryl suffered what he considered possibly symptoms of a heart attack and contacted his cardiologist,” said Hall Chairman Barry Cole in a press release. “An examination on Monday proved inconclusive so more extensive tests, including an exploratory heart procedure, were conducted on Tuesday. His doctor concluded that Searer, in fact, had suffered a mild heart attack and his condition serious enough that he should undergo immediate emergency quadruple bypass surgery.”
In addition to his duties at the Hall, Searer is also the semi-retired chairman of Ultra-Fab Products, Inc., an Elkhart, Ind.-based supplier of OEM and aftermarket RV products.
“He is blessed by catching this in time, and please join me in sending a prayer his way as he continues his recovery,” said Cole.
The RV/MH Hall of Fame Museum, based on the northeast side of Elkhart, Ind., recently received a collection of historic Fleetwood RVs from the early days of now defunct Fleetwood Enterprises Inc., Riverside, Calif.
According to a press release, the coaches were donated by the Crean Foundation. “Andy Crean, son of Fleetwood founder and Hall of Fame member John Crean, acquired these RVs from the bankruptcy of Fleetwood Enterprises specifically to present to the RV/MH Hall of Fame in his father’s memory,” noted Hall President Darryl Searer,
The RVs, now on display in the museum, include a 1950 12-foot Fleetwood Sporter that was the very first trailer built when Fleetwood grew out of Coach Specialties Co., a builder of venetian blinds for trailers. Also donated were a Fleetwood Sportster, a later version of the same trailer; a 1969 Pace Arrow that was the first motorhome produced by Fleetwood; and John Crean’s 1985 working prototype for the iconic 1986-87 Bounder which introduced the basement model concept to RVs.
Accompanying the early RVs is an extensive collection of Fleetwood documents and memorabilia from the company’s early days which will be added to RV/MH library collections.
“After learning of the Crean Foundation’s gift, we faced the problem of the costs of transporting the collection from California to the museum in Indiana,” Searer said. “That problem was solved when Wilbur Bontrager (Jayco Inc.) and Joel Pladson (RV transport company Starfleet) agreed to underwrite the expense and bring the collection to Elkhart. This collection of early Fleetwood RVs adds a new dimension to the museum’s extensive inventory of historic RVs.”
In addition to the Fleetwood collection, the RV/MH museum received a 1947 Westcraft 24-foot Westwood Coronado from its original owner, John Culp, who purchased it in 1947 upon his return from duty with the U.S. Navy during World War II. He used it continuously for 65 years, traveling throughout the U.S. and snowbirding each winter in Florida.
Culp, a charter member of the Tin Can Tourists vintage trailer club, and his trailer appeared in many TV documentaries on vintage trailer life. The Westcraft trailer is displayed on the large patio in front of the Hall of Fame building.
The Coast Distribution System Inc., one of North America’s largest aftermarket suppliers of replacement parts, accessories and supplies for the recreational vehicle and outdoor recreation industries, today reported a 117.7% increase in net income on improved sales for its second quarter, ended June 30.
Morgan Hill, Calif.-based Coast posted earning of $1.1 million, or 23 cents per diluted share, up from $0.5 million, or 11 cents per diluted share, in the second quarter. Sales for the quarter increased 4.3% to $35.6 million compared to net sales of $34.1 million in the second quarter of 2012, primarily as a result of strengthening economic conditions and increasing consumer confidence.
Coast noted it has been slowly reducing its presence in the marine aftermarket this year. As a result, the increase in overall net sales reflects stronger growth in RV market sales offset by a decrease in sales to the marine market. Also contributing to the increase was an increase in sales of Coast’s higher margin proprietary products to specialty retailers and mass merchandisers, which represents a relatively new distribution channel for the company.
Gross profit in the second quarter of 2013 increased by $1.5 million, to $7.1 million, resulting in an increase in gross margin to 20.1% from 16.4% in the same quarter of 2012. SG&A increased 7.4% to $5.1 million from $4.8 million in the prior year while operating income more than doubled to $2 million from $0.8 million.
For the first six months, Coast reported a net profit of $158,000, or 3 cents per diluted share, compared to a net loss of $841,000, or 18 cents per diluted share for the same period in 2012. Net sales increased 4.5% to $61 million from $58.4 million the year prior. The increased sales resulted in a 26% increase in gross profits to $11.3 million in $9 million in the same period of 2012. The increase in gross profits was partially offset by a $737,000, or 7.5%, increase in SG&A expenses in the six months ended June 30, 2013. As a result of these factors, Coast reported operating income of $0.8 million in the first six months of 2013 compared to an operating loss of $0.8 million for the first six months of 2012.
“We have maintained a strategic focus on growing market share and focusing on expanding sales of our higher-margin proprietary products. In the second quarter that strategy began to pay off as we saw a 27% improvement in gross profit on a much smaller increase in net sales, highlighting the profit opportunity associated with our proprietary products and new market channels. We have also seen gathering momentum in the RV market as consumers have continued to engage in the RV lifestyle, which is a strong driver for our business,” said Coast’s CEO Jim Musbach. “We remain committed to our strategic goal for 2013 of returning to profitability through continued investment in our higher-margin proprietary products. We plan to establish new product supply relationships, including relationships that enable us to increase the products that we source from lower cost, but high-quality, overseas suppliers, to support our growth strategy as we focus on our rapidly recovering core RV market. All of these factors make us confident about our ability to achieve our profit goals for the full year.”
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The RV/MH Hall of Fame recently elected seven new members to its board, according to a press release.
“These new board members will join the existing board members in helping us meet the challenges as we move forward and take the Hall of Fame to new levels of success,” said Chairman Barry Cole.
The new board members include: Dick Jennison, Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) (MH); Joe Stegmayer, Cavco Industries Inc. (MH); Mark Wasson, Bluelinx Corp. (RV, MH); Mick Ferkey, Greeneway RV (RV); Dana Nelsen, RV Pro Magazine (RV); Beverly Gardner, RV Business Magazine (RV); and Raymond Padgett, Blue Ox (RV).
Filling out the Hall’s board are: Barry Cole,* chairman, MH Insurance Services (MH); Darryl Searer,* president/treasurer, RV/MH Hall of Fame/Ultra-Fab Products Inc. (RV); Jay Hesse,* vice chairman, Blue Ox (RV); Ross Kinzler,* secretary, Wisconsin Housing Alliance (MH); Bill Garpow.* past chairman, Retired RPTIA (RV); Bob Fields,* Aridian Technology Co. (RV); B.J. Thompson,* BJ Thompson Associates (RV); Jim Scoular,* Jimsco (MH); Gary LaBella,* Former RVIA vice president and chief marketing officer , retired (RV); John Evans, E & R MH/RV Window Service (RV, MH); Leo Poggione, Craftsman Homes Inc. (MH); Bob Livingston, Trailer Life, Motorhome Magazine (RV); Ron Younkin, Greenlawn Companies (MH); Mike Schneider, MAS Associates (RV); Don Magary, Web Site Management/RV News Magazine (RV). (*asterisk indicates members on the board’s executive committee).
The following members retired from the board having served their terms: Sherman Goldenberg, RV Business Magazine (RV); and Ron Wheeler, Wheeler Advertising (RV).
Searer noted, “It has been a pleasure serving with Sherman Goldenberg and Ron Wheeler. Their guidance and support during the Hall of Fame’s dramatic turnaround over the past year was invaluable and I’ll miss their support and sage advice.”