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Hall of Fame Beats ‘Challenge Grant’ Deadline

May 1, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

RV/MH Hall of Fame

Editor’s Note: To view a related video from FOX 28, Elkhart, Ind., click here.

With less than 12 hours to go before the RV/MH Hall of Fame’s April 30 deadline and $20,000 shy of meeting the Ingram Family’s $50,000 challenge grant, two “angels” stepped forward.

According to a press release, donations of $15,000 and $5,000 raised the total to $150,000, reaching the desired goal set forth in the Hall’s “Burn the Bank Note” fundraising campaign.

“The Ingram’s offered a $50,000 challenge grant if supporters of the Hall could raise contributions totaling $150,000 by April 30 – and we did, said Darryl Searer, president of the RV/MH Hall of Fame. “On behalf of the Hall’s board, I would like to thank all of those who contributed and helped us achieve this success. I continue to be amazed by the generosity of those who believe in the Hall’s mission and continue to open their hearts and pocketbooks. We cannot thank them enough.”

Searer said that the Hall’s bank loan to 1st Source Bank had been reduced from $840,000 in early 2012 to $50,000.   He said, “I spoke with Tony Ingram last night with the good news and was assured that the $50,000 check is in the mail and we’ll be able to pay off the bank loan soon. As soon as the Ingram’s check arrives, the bank loan will be retired with a blazing “Burn the Bank Note” ceremony.”

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Spring Hall of Fame Show Sees Strong Traffic

April 29, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sunday morning, Elkhart-based Total Value RV of Indiana reported five sales and “great traffic.”

An early morning rain shower may have dampened the grounds Sunday (April 28) at the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind., but it apparently did little to stymie enthusiasm and turnout for the final day of the first-ever Spring Hall of Fame RV Show, hosted by the Indiana Manufactured Housing Association-Recreation Vehicle Indiana Council Inc. (IMHA-RVIC).

“The show’s been going very well,” noted Matt Rose, director of recreation vehicles for Indianapolis-based IMHA-RVIC. “Friday was a little slow, but Saturday’s traffic was wonderful. And even with the rain today, there’s been a steady stream of people coming in all day. The cloudy skies have not deterred the crowd at all. I don’t have anything to compare it to because it’s the first year, but the traffic has been surprisingly good.”

According to Rose, the spring event grew out of a request from dealers familiar with other RVIC events.

“Four of the seven dealers showing here were with us in South Bend, and two of them were at our show in Fort Wayne,” Rose pointed out. “They did so well in those locations that they asked the association to do a spring show to help kick off the summer selling season.

“The dealers are quite happy with the show,” he added. “They are doing very, very well. One dealer reported selling two units just in the morning on Friday.”

With an open, well-equipped display that ranged from Flagstaff SuperLite travel trailers by Forest River Inc. to Thor Industries Inc.’s Palazzo and Tuscany motorhomes, Elkhart-based Total Value RV of Indiana Inc. had what salesman Scott Moody termed a “fantastic” show.

“We’ve already sold five units – three motorhomes and two trailers,” Moody told RVBUSINESS.com on Sunday morning. “It’s been a real good show. Today we got a little rain, but the first two days the weather was perfect and we had great traffic.”

The first-ever Spring Hall of Fame RV Show featured motorized and towable units from seven regional dealers.

Gary Miller, with Wana RV Center, also was pleasantly surprised by the amount of traffic.

“It’s going good,” Miller said. “There were quite a few people out yesterday; today, it’s been slower, but there’s still a lot of people out here — quite a few more people than I was expecting, actually.”

According to Miller, Wana RV Center doesn’t necessarily participate in RV shows to generate on-site sales, but to promote increased traffic through its Shipshewana, Ind., showroom.

“We don’t really come to the shows to necessarily sell units – we’re here mainly to display, and encourage interested people to visit our lot where we have a lot more units, different floorplans. This is mainly to introduce them what we have.”

Based on dealer feedback and local turnout, Rose anticipates that the Spring Hall of Fame RV Show will become a regular event.

“We’re planning to make it an annual event,” Rose said. “And as well as the dealers are doing, I am confident that they will want to do it again next spring.”

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Hall of Fame Show Opens With Healthy Traffic

April 27, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

What’s not to like? These days in the recreational vehicle business, that pretty much sums up everything.

As reported by the South Bend Tribune, even in the opening hours of the spring RV show at the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind., Friday (April 26), Dave Titus liked what he was seeing.

“I am already pleased with the traffic out here this morning,” said Titus, owner/manager of International RV in Elkhart. The show, which continues Saturday and Sunday, was only 90 minutes old, and Titus already had sold one RV.

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association announced Friday that March shipments of 28,923 units were up 2.8% over March of last year, and 10.7% better than February this year.

It’s no surprise to Titus.

“I think this year is going to be a record breaker for us and for the industry as a whole,” he said.

His own dealership had record-breaking months in January and February, he said. And he sees it continuing. “You look at the (demographic) spread out here,” he said, surveying the large open grounds with RVs adjacent to the Hall of Fame. “I’ve seen people out here with little bitty kids to people up to 75 to 80 years old,” Titus said. “Everybody is doing it.”

To read the entire article click here.

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Rogers Staying at KOA after ‘Power Breakfast’

April 23, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

KOA CEO Jim Rogers

When Jim Rogers comes to Indiana’s Elkhart County next month for the RV Power Breakfast, the Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) chairman plans to stick around through Mother’s Day weekend and stay at the local KOA, according to a press release and a report by the Elkhart Truth.

The weekend, according to current plans, will give local campers two chances to get to know Rogers: They’ll get to screen Rogers’ “Undercover Boss” episode and hear about his experience taping the show, and they’ll also get to help out the KOA charity effort to help children with cancer.

Rogers will speak May 9 at the inaugural RV Industry Power Breakfast at the RV/MH Hall of Fame east of Elkhart, a first-ever event for which some 300 industry-related diners are already signed up. Rogers will bring his camping industry experience to the RV manufacturers and dealer groups in attendance at the breakfast for which tickets are still available at RVBUSINESS.com and at the RV/MH Hall of Fame.

Then, he’ll stick around to help promote the major fund-raising weekend for KOA Care Camps, a network of 52 specialized summer camps across North America for children with cancer. The 10th-annual event raises money to give the children a free week of summer camp.

“KOA Care Camps are very dear to my heart, and I’m so proud that my campers are able to help out these special children at a time when they really need the relief that at Care Camp brings,” said Elkhart County/Middlebury KOA owner Hope Perkins in a written announcement about the event. “For thousands of children each summer, KOA Care Camps are an important part of their cure.”

Rogers said, “I can’t wait to come to the Elkhart County/Middlebury KOA to help our campers get a great start on their summer camping season. We’re going to have a ton of fun, and I know owner Hope Perkins has a full weekend of great activities planned that will certainly make it a weekend to remember.”

Rogers went undercover for an episode of the CBS series “Undercover Boss” in January, and after an ice cream social May 10, campers at the Elkhart County KOA will get to watch the episode and hear Rogers’ insider perspective.

Campers who pay to stay Friday night get the next night free, and get to enjoy a vendor and craft fair from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., including children’s crafts and a fishing tournament. There’s also a haystack supper followed by a silent auction and a live auction benefitting the charity along with the vendor booth fees.

Sunday morning will feature church services, followed by a pancake breakfast.

Campers can make reservations by phone at (800) 562-5892 or online at at http://e2.ma/click/xiq6d/19pjue/9blfs.

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RVIC Hall of Fame Show Slated for April 26-28

April 18, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The first-ever Spring Hall of Fame RV Show will be held at the RV/MH Hall of Fame & Museum in Elkhart, Ind., April 26-28.

Hosted by the Recreation Vehicle Indiana Council (RVIC), the event will feature six of the area’s top dealers kicking off their summer selling season with special show pricing. Dealers will display the best of their inventory and the selection will include RVs to fit every budget.

“The show offers a tremendous opportunity for buyers to see and compare different models from many different manufacturers,” said Show Director Matt Rose who also serves as director of Recreation Vehicle for RVIC. “And the nice thing is they can see it all here instead of driving around town.”

The show kicks off Friday at 10 a.m. and will run through the weekend.

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Hesselbart’s Book on RV Industry Goes Digital

April 17, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Al Hesselbart

The RV industry history book by RV/MH Hall of Fame historian Al Hesselbart has been accepted for digital publication and is now available for Amazon Kindle readers.

“The Dumb Things Sold…Just Like That” features stories of the evolution of each different type of recreational vehicle and short biographies of many of the early pioneers and visionaries that have led the growth and development of the RV industry.

It is now available from the Amazon Kindle store or, in print version, from the RV/MH Hall of Fame, the RV Bookstore on line, or from Amazon.

Hesselbart is the RV/MH Hall of Fame & Museum historian, curator and librarian. Besides his duties at the Hall of Fame, Hesselbart is a frequent speaker at RV rallies and events across the United States. Last September, he also served as one of the keynote speakers at the 1st National China RV Show in Beijing.

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Agenda in Place for Hall Induction Celebration

April 15, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

RV/MH Hall of Fame

The celebration of the Class of 2013 being inducted into RV/MH Hall of Fame will be held Aug. 5 at the Hall of Fame’s Event Center in Elkhart, Ind., according to a press release.

“Our newest board member and chairman of the 2013 Induction Dinner committee, Mark Wasson (Bluelinx Corp.), has some exciting new venues for this year’s program and I encourage all the friends of this year’s inductees and industry members to make their reservations early,” said Darryl Searer, Hall president.

Wasson said that one of the new features this year’s program is a private cocktail party honoring all the past inductees, board members and the Class of 2013 inductees and their families.  This event begins at 4:30 p.m. and is being hosted by the RV/MH Heritage Foundation board.

Those being inducted in the Class of 2013 include: Craig M. Bollman, a housing community developer/operator from Mobile Home Communities in Littleton, Colo.; Theresa M. Desfosses, a housing industry veteran of retail, communities, and manufacturing from State Manufactured Homes in Old Orchard Beach, Maine; Kirwan Elmers, an RV bus converter from Custom Coach in Columbus, Ohio: C.M. Fore (deceased), an RV manufacturer from Foretravel Inc. in Nacadoches, Texas; Lawrence C. Lippert, an RV and MH industry supplier from Lippert Components Inc. in Goshen, Ind.; Thomas P. Meyers, a housing manufacturer from Guerdon Industries in Louisville, Ky.; Claude N. Palmer (deceased), a housing retailer from Palmer Homes in Waverly, N.Y.; Mathew Perlot (deceased), an RV manufacturer from Safari Motorhomes in Harrisburg, Ore.; and Thomas Walworth, an RV and manufactured housing industry consultant and statistician from Statistical Surveys Inc. in Grand Rapids, Mich..

Following the cocktail party for Hall of Fame members, a cocktail reception for everyone attending the Induction Dinner ceremonies begins at 5:30 p.m. followed by a gala dinner and induction ceremony at 7 p.m.  All day Monday, the attendees will be able to tour the Hall’s many attractions, including the antique unit collection in the museum, library and the GoRVing Hall.

Wasson said, “Among the other activates planned is a 50-50 raffle at the door and a vacation package raffle valued at $5,000.”  In addition, Wasson is negotiating with a nationally-known speaker to deliver the event’s keynote address (name to be announced later).

In addition to the induction ceremony, Art Wyatt, this year’s golf chairman, says the 2013 Golf Classic fundraiser will start at 7 a.m. with a full breakfast followed by a shotgun start at 8:30 a.m. followed by an awards presentation.  This year, the event will again be hosted by The Bent Oak Golf Club in Elkhart. Wyatt promises this year’s competition to be fun-packed, and he is recruiting sponsors to help make that happen.

Searer said, “We expect this year’s events to be the best ever, thanks to the hard work of Mark Wasson for the dinner and Art Wyatt for the golf tourney and their respective committee’s as well as the Hall’s staff and volunteers. You’ll not want to miss this exciting annual event.”  He added the Hall is seeking sponsors for the various Induction Dinner events as well as the golf tournament.

A tradition started last year, Searer will deliver his short annual State of the Hall address reviewing the Hall’s successes over the past year.

To sign up online for either or both the Induction Dinner and Golf Tournament visit http://www.rvmhhalloffame.org.

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RV Hall, FMCA Roll Out ‘Hall of Honor’ Promo

April 9, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Individuals and couples who sign up for the RV/MH Hall of Fame’s Hall of Honor lifetime membership between now and May 1 will receive a 50% discount off the regular membership costs. In addition, Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) members are receiving an additional bonus directly from FMCA in the form of a $10 gift certificate.

According to a press release, the discounted prices are available to anyone who joins the Hall of Honor before the cutoff date. Normally, the cost is $50 for a single membership and $75 for couples. During this promotion, the cost is only $25 for singles and $37 for couples.

The Hall of Honor membership is for the lifetime of the member and benefits include a membership card that affords free admission to exhibits and all areas of the RV/MH Hall of Fame & Museum and Library. Each member will also receive a lapel pin and decal.

To support this promotion, FMCA sent approximately 80,000 e-mails to its members inviting them to join the Hall of Honor and earn the FMCA gift certificate.

FMCA Executive Director Jerry Yeatts noted, “Our members appreciate what the RV/MH Hall of Fame brings to the RV industry and the RV lifestyle so we are happy to help the Hall in any way we can. This seemed like a great opportunity for FMCA and the Hall of Fame to work together to benefit this worthwhile organization.”

Non-FMCA members who own a qualifying motorhome and join FMCA before July 20, and pay $50 for their first year’s dues, will receive a bonus of their second year, according to Yeatts.

Hall President Darryl Searer said, “FMCA has been a great partner for us over the years and annually makes a significant cash contribution. We are indebted to them for their support and this latest effort to help us promote our Hall of Honor membership is typical of their generosity.”

Searer added that during the first few days of the Hall of Honor promotion memberships have soared.

“The special discounted Hall of Honor pricing is available to anyone who joins before May 1, not just FMCA members, so I urge everyone who would like to receive this great benefit package and also to benefit the Hall of Fame and museum to sign up before the deadline,” he said.

New members can sign up by mail, in person at the Hall, by phone at (800) 378-8694, or through the Hall’s secure web site at www.rvmhhalloffame.org. To access information click on the Hall of Honor logo.

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Crean Foundation Gives 60K to Hall Campaign

April 3, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The Crean Foundation recently contributed $60,000 toward the RV/MH Hall of Fame’s “Burn the Bank Note” Challenge.  According to a press release, the donation was earmarked to honor the memory of Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. founder John C. Crean.

According to Hall President Darryl Searer, the goal of the “Burn the Bank Note” challenge is to raise $150,000 in voluntary contributions by April 30 in order to qualify for the Robert “Boots” Ingram family’s $50,000 challenge grant that would pay off the Hall’s bank note to 1st Source Bank.

The Crean Foundation’s donation along with other contributions brings the total raised in excess of $120,000 leaving just under $30,000 to be raised before the deadline.

Other recent contributions include a $10,000 donation by Lyle D. & Nellie R. Reed Charitable Foundation to honor the memory of Clarence Fore, founder of Foretravel; $2,000 by Ace Fogdall RV to honor the memory of its founders Ace and Florence Fogdall; $1,000 by Michael A. Schneider, MAS Associates; and numerous other contribution of less than $1,000.

While Searer is pleased by the generosity of those who continue to support the Hall, he emphasized the urgency of raising the additional $30,000 by April 30.

“Time is running out for us to qualify for the Ingram Family’s $50.000 challenge grant,” he said. “It would be a shame to leave that amount on the table and miss the opportunity to pay off our bank note. I urge everyone who enjoys the benefits of working in the RV/MH industries, as well as those who participate in the lifestyle, to step up to the plate and contribute whatever amount they can.

Searer said that the Hall’s bank loan to 1st Source Bank has been reduced from $840,000 in early 2012 to less than $80,000 now, adding, “If we reach our goal and receive the Ingram Family’s challenge grant, we’ll be able to pay off the bank loan on May 1.”

Since the RV/MH Heritage Foundation is a 501-c3 not-for-profit corporation, all donations are tax deductible. Donors can use our federal ID#: 35-1610362.to verify that we are 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 at www.rvmhhalloffame.org.

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Larry Lippert Will be Inducted Into Hall in Aug.

March 6, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Larry Lippert

Goshen, Ind.-based supplier Lippert Components Inc. (LCI) announced that its founder, Larry Lippert, will be inducted into the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind., on Aug. 5 at the annual Heritage Foundation Induction Dinner.

After serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Lippert returned home with little money and no formal education. After two years at Redman Industries, Larry founded Lippert Components in 1956 in a small facility in Alma, Mich., first supplying to the manufactured housing industry with aluminum and steel roofing.

In 1959, he began LCI’s chassis and chassis parts business. The company enjoyed steady growth until Lippert’s retirement in 1977 when he handed the reins to his son, L. Douglas Lippert. Today, as part of Drew Industries Inc., LCI is one of the largest suppliers to the mobile home and recreational vehicle industries, employing more than 5,100 people in 11 states.

Lippert’s grandson, Jason, currently serves as CEO of LCI and could not be more proud of his grandfather and the legacy he left behind.

“I am very thankful to the Hall of Fame for selecting my grandfather – he is great man and so very worthy of this honor,” said Jason Lippert. “It means a lot not only to me and my family and those inside and outside the industry who know my grandpa, but also to the employees of our company that its founder is being recognized for the mark he left on this industry. I have always looked up to my grandfather and father as mentors and on behalf of the entire team here at Lippert, I can say that we are truly proud to be serving out the legacy 57 years after he founded this company.”

Lippert, 87, still lives with his wife of 66 years, Dorothy, in Alma. At the RV/MH Hall of Fame induction ceremony, his extraordinary family will surround him, including his two sons, six grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren.

Commenting on the upcoming event, Larry Lippert said, “While I certainly appreciate this recognition, it is the employees who make up the company. I’d like to thank everyone who was involved with LCI from the very beginning and helped me to make it a success. Without these folks, none of this would be possible.”

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