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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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New Guidelines Set on RV/MH Hall Nominations

January 30, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

At a recent board meeting, the RV/MH Heritage Foundation approved a major change in its bylaws that streamlines the procedure and criteria for nominations to the Hall of Fame.

“The Hall’s Selection Committee worked tirelessly for more than six months reviewing the previous bylaws and procedures and then crafting these important new bylaws and guidelines,” said Hall President Darryl Searer in a press release.

Guidelines for Nominations

• Who can nominate a person to the Hall of Fame?

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.

• Who is eligible?

1. 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. The Hall’s board does have the power to choose a nominee who has earned selection while falling short of the 25-year threshold, but will exercise that power only in special circumstances.

2. The nomination form must be filled out in its entirety and must be accompanied by three supporting letters (no more, no less) that meet the Hall’s guidelines for these letters. 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.

• What is the Selection Committee looking for?

Consideration will be given to the nominee’s overall contributions to the good of the industry, to include both his or her positions, accomplishments and innovations on the job as well as volunteer work both inside and outside the industry, with special emphasis 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:

1. Is the nominee a respected, accomplished, honorable person who has done right by his business partners?

2. Has the nominee contributed to the good of the industry beyond doing his job well?

• How does the process work?

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 inducted at the Hall’s annual Induction dinner in August. The Hall’s bylaws allow for up to 10 inductees per year.

Searer 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.”

Those who are interested in nominating a candidate to the RV/MH Hall of Fame may request the necessary nomination forms from the Hall’s office or download the forms from the Hall’s website at www.rvmhhalloffame.org/pages/nominations.cfm.

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.

 

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Thor’s Martin Donates $5,000 to Hall Fundraiser

January 4, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Thor President and COO Bob Martin (right) and Darryl Searer (left), Hall of Fame president.

Bob Martin, president and COO of Thor Industries Inc., recently made a personal contribution of $5,000 toward the RV/MH Heritage Foundation’s “Burn the Bank Note” campaign.

According to a press release, Martin presented his check in December following Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels’ visit to the RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum when he presented his 2004 campaign motorhome to the museum which is on loan from the Indiana State Museum.

Thor sponsored the presentation of the event.

“The RV museum is a wonderful testament to the innovators and product innovations that have made the RV industry successful and resilient for over 100 years,” Martin said. “We are proud to support this beautiful display of vintage and historically significant RVs.”

Hall President Darryl Searer noted, “Bob’s personal donation is evidence that his commitment to the Hall’s success goes beyond Thor Industries’ continuing support. In addition to this contribution Bob was a driving force in Thor’s decision earlier this year to contribute $25,000 and another $25,000 from the Thompson Family Foundation Inc., a charitable foundation created by Wade F.B. Thompson, Thor co-founder.”

The “Burn the Bank Note” campaign’s goal is to raise $150,000 in voluntary contributions by April 30. If that goal is reached the Robert “Boots” Ingram family has offered a $50,000 challenge grant, and that would pay off the Hall’s bank note to 1st Source Bank.

Searer said that the bank loan to 1st Source Bank has gone from $840,000 in early 2012 to only about $200,000 now.

The RV/MH Heritage Foundation is a 501-c3 not-for-profit corporation and all donations are tax deductible. Gifts may be made by mail, in person at the Hall, by phone at (800) 378-8694, or through the Hall’s web site at www.rvmhhalloffame.org.”

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Elkhart Councilman Questions Deal With Hall

December 26, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

An Elkhart, Ind., city councilman said he has asked a state agency to review an agreement between Elkhart and the RV Hall of Fame.

According to a report by the Associated Press, David Henke told the Elkhart Truth that he has sent a copy of the pact to the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance for review. He contends that the agreement should have been approved by the city council rather than the city’s board of public works.

RV Hall of Fame officials had stopped paying the city its compact fee for utility service several years ago, claiming it should be exempt due to its nonprofit status, the newspaper reported. Over the years, the hall accumulated a $115,000 debt with the city.

Under the deal negotiated by Mayor Dick Moore, the city forgave the debt and gave the hall a discounted rate on the compact fee in return for the hall’s agreement to resume making regular payments. Under the new deal, the hall will pay about half what it was billed before.

“In my opinion, this was our only option,” Moore told the Truth. “It was (either) do something to get them paying again or disconnect the service, close them down and get nothing.”

The hall didn’t return a call from the Associated Press seeking comment Tuesday.

The city’s board of works approved the deal on Nov. 20, one day after the council voted against the mayor’s proposal to give similar discounts to other nonprofit groups. Some council members were critical of the deal while it was being negotiated a few months ago, but they didn’t take any formal action to stop it.

Henke said he thinks the city council should have had a final say on the deal because the fee revenues go into a fund that it controls. The newspaper said the deal came to the board of works because it was a utility issue, but the council set the fee rates by ordinance.

The fees are currently based on assessed value of property, and Henke said they should instead be based on usage. Moore said the fee policy is under review.

Henke claimed Moore doesn’t work closely enough with the council and acts unilaterally instead.

“This is not in the best interest of our community nor does it represent the process as depicted by Indiana Constitution,” Henke said in a statement.

Henke predicted the Indiana attorney general’s office might be asked to review the agreement.

 

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Indiana Governor’s Nostalgic Tour Ends at Hall

December 20, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Governor Daniels (left) presents the keys for his iconic 2004 campaign motorhome to BJ Thompson, a member of the Executive Committee of the RV/MH Heritage Foundation.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels yesterday (Dec. 19) delivered his iconic 2004 campaign motorhome — dubbed “RV-1” — to the Heritage Foundation Inc.’s RV/MH Hall of Fame where the road-weary Damon DayBreak Class A will be on display for the foreseeable future while on loan from the Indiana State Museum.

Daniels, who will step away at the first of the year from his elected position to assume the presidency of Purdue University in Lafayette, Ind., drove north from Indianapolis with a handful of aides while TV cameras chased him in his 2003 Class A with its troubled shocks and white exterior covered with thousands of signatures of Hoosier constituents who helped the moderate Republican win election in 2004 and again in 2008.

The drive from Indianapolis up north to Elkhart was for Daniels, he confided in his brief remarks at the Hall of Fame, somewhat of a nostalgic one as he prepares to leave office.

“We’ve just completed a very sentimental journey,” Daniels, considered a likely GOP presidential candidate early on in the recent primaries, told the assembled media. “With me on board during the last drive of RV-1 were the two still-young men who were out there with me for 16 months on the first campaign as well as the second, and Bill Oesterle, who originally came up with the idea of letting people sign it – a stroke of genius.

“So, we had a lot of laughs all the way up,” added Daniels, who’s well known for his penchant for riding motorcycles around the state. “There’s a memory and story behind almost every signature on there and every place it’s been.”

Daniels was welcomed to the Elkhart facility by Bob Martin, president and COO of Thor Industries Inc., which originally built the eight-year-old coach and sponsored a small reception at the Hall on Wednesday, and BJ Thompson, a Heritage Foundation board member who emceed the event.

On the business front, Daniels then singled out the RV industry for its leadership in helping turn around the Indiana economy, and he praised the old Damon motorhome with 58,000 miles on the odometer for the accessibility it offered him in reaching the citizenry of Indiana.

“We went into this recession with a high percentage – maybe 60-some percent – of all the RVs in the country made in Indiana,” said Daniels. “Coming out of the recession, I’m told, that total is more than 80%. What does that say? It says that we had a superior business climate and when companies were put to the test in a tough market — and forced to choose between what (plants) they were going to keep or close — almost without exception they chose Indiana. We’re so proud that this industry is centered even more here in our state than it was a few years ago.

“And if Thor ever needs a personal testimonial for the quality of their products, I’m their man,” said Daniels, adding that people constantly ask him about RV-1 more than they ask him about himself. “We took old Bessie here on trips it was never really designed for. We took it on dirt roads, gravel roads, one-lane covered bridges. There were no leisure cruises for RV-1, but it stood up. We were marveling on the way up, although the shocks are pretty much gone, how well she was still running. It’s a high quality product. That’s the way I know you build them up here.”

 

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IMHA-RVIC Honors Hall Execs Searer, McNulty

December 14, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Tom McNulty (left) accepts “Citizen of the Year” from Adriane DeRose president of IMHA-RVIC

The Indiana Manufactured Housing Association-Recreation Vehicle Indiana Council (IMHA-RVIC) honored RV/MH Hall of Fame’s Darryl Searer, president, and Tom McNulty, vice president, with its “Citizen of the Year” award. The ceremonies took place at the Sheraton Indianapolis City Centre Hotel during the IMHA-RVIC Annual Christmas Party and Awards Banquet on Dec. 7.

According to a press release, the awards were based on Searer’s and McNulty’s successful efforts to bring the RV/MH Hall of Fame back from the brink of financial disaster to the doorway of a bright future and opportunity.

McNulty accepted the awards on behalf of himself and Searer, who was unable to attend the awards presentation.

McNulty said, “Both Darryl and I thank you for this award and this great recognition. One of the wonderful things about an award like this is that it was totally unexpected, and I believe that makes it even more meaningful.”

McNulty was quick to point out to the audience that much of the Hall’s success has been through the concerted effort of the board and a dedicated, professional team.

He said, “Initially, the team consisted of Al Hesselbart, Charlene McNulty, Susan Weaver, me and a great group of volunteers. We were joined in April by our new captain and president, Darryl Searer, whom you honor tonight, and our newest team member, Stacey Walworth.”

Earlier this year, the Hall faced a financial crisis that threatened to cause the board of directors to make the difficult decision that would have resulted in closing the Hall facility and selling off its assets, including the building. During this period, McNulty worked unceasingly to keep the Hall’s doors open.

But that all changed in April when Searer, semi-retired chairman of Ultra-Fab Products Inc., volunteered with no compensation to accept the position of president and COO.

“I know of no one other than Darryl who had the ability through his business experience, knowledge of the players involved and his love of the RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum that could have made the team function so smoothly,” noted McNulty. “It was through his leadership and business sense that we have substantially lowered our debt and now hold our destiny in our own hands. It’s a marvelous feeling being able to sleep better with the knowledge that the future of the Hall, the gem of our industry, is finally secure.”

 

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