Today’s Video #1 features a news story broadcast on Thursday (May 23) on “NBC Nightly News” about the RV industry. Focusing to an extent on Keystone RV Co. Inc., it was taped in part in Goshen, Ind., prior to the bombing at the Boston Marathon in April and news priorities prompted the network to hold the report until Thursday.
Keystone RV officials told RVBusiness they were pleased with NBC’s treatment of their company and the RV industry, timed as it was in advance of the Memorial Day weekend and the official kickoff of the summer travel season. “NBC did a story way back in the RV ‘dark days’ about people losing their jobs and how tough it was on Elkhart,” said Keystone Marketing Director Jim Mac. “They interviewed some Keystone workers in the Montana plant and decided to come back now for a ‘then and now’ report. Keystone was honored to represent the comeback of the RV industry in the national media.”
So, for the moment, RVBUSINESS.COM’s interview with Fleetwood RV Inc. President & CEO John Draheim is on Video #2 and the segment with Airstream Inc. President & CEO Bob Wheeler is in the Video 3 slot.
Illinois drivers would have to pay an additional $2 for their license plate stickers — but not for their RVs — to help the state take better care of its parks beginning next year under legislation the Senate sent to the governor on Wednesday (Nov. 28).
Gov. Pat Quinn supported the fee hike as a way to bring in more money to fix crumbling roads, leaky roofs, trails and broken toilets in a state park system that has seen its budget cut heavily over the past dozen years, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The extra $2 would push the annual sticker cost for a regular license plate to $101. The fee increase applies to plates for motorcycles, pickup trucks, vans and cars. It wouldn’t be imposed on commercial or recreational vehicles, however.
The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D-Olympia Fields, and Rep. Frank Mautino, D-Spring Valley, passed the Senate overwhelmingly Wednesday. The House approved it last spring.
The Department of Natural Resources estimated it needs as much as $750 million for repairs. The fee increase is expected to raise more than $20 million a year. The agency will be allowed to put half that money into construction projects and the rest into staff and programs.
Agency Director Marc Miller called the action a “victory for conservation and the environment in Illinois,” saying the move allows Illinoisans to use parks without having to pay entrance fees.
The agency’s staffing level has dropped from about 2,600 employees in 2002 to just under 1,200 today, Miller said. The annual budget has dropped from $107 million to $48 million. Miller said the agency also is looking at charging fees for out-of-state visitors to the parks.
Secretary of State Jesse White opposed the bill because he wants money for license plates to be used to support drivers and roads, spokesman Henry Haupt said. One hitch: The law would take effect Jan. 1 if Quinn signs it. But renewal notices already have been sent for annual fees due Jan. 14, and the soonest White’s office expects to be able to implement the $2 fee hike would be for March renewals, Haupt said.
Shipments to retailers of all RVs were reported at 24,947 units in the October 2012 manufacturer survey, up 31.5% over last month and up 31.0% ahead of this same month last year, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) reported.
Double-digit percentage gains were recorded in all vehicle types with Class C motorhomes and conventional travel trailers climbing the most.
Year-to-date, total shipments rose to 246,228 units through October this year, up 12.4% ahead of the same 10-month period last year. On a seasonally adjusted basis, all RV shipments were at an annualized rate of 280,000 units through October this year.
See the accompanying chart for more information.
The following is an article from the Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer profiling several people that have adopted the RV lifestyle. To read the entire story click here.
Living the RV lifestyle – taking to the open road in a motor home – may not be for everyone.
But it’s a trend that’s growing, thanks to large numbers of people looking to untether themselves from their homes and seek adventures. And it’s a lifestyle that’s not just for retirees. The typical RV owner is 48 years old, with the largest gains in ownership falling to those ages 35 to 54, according to a 2011 report about RV usage from the University of Michigan.
“I mean, really, once your kids are grown and gone, do you really use all those rooms?” said Kitty Hornung, 64, who has been living the RV lifestyle for 16 years with her husband, Bill. “Besides, people are downsizing today, anyway.”
Last year, the number of recreational vehicle-owning households numbered 8.9 million, a jump of 1 million from 2005, the survey said. About 8.5% of U.S. households own RVs.
The statistics don’t surprise Tom Dreyer, who manages the Fayetteville KOA RV campsite at the Wade exit of Interstate 95.
“More and more, folks just like to get away from it all,” Dreyer said. “They’re looking for a life change, a new adventure.”
The following RV owners at the Fayetteville KOA have abandoned a life of stationary living in exchange for a more transient existence. Their reasons for the change are varied, but they all agree their new lifestyle took quite an adjustment.
For James “Jimmie” Schalla Jr., 56, and his wife, Cindy, 55, the biggest adjustment was getting used to not looking at a calendar.
“We really don’t know what day it is because we don’t look at a calendar very much anymore,” Jimmie Schalla said.
To read the entire article click here.
Some condominium owners in Wildwood, N.J., near the Boardwalk’s southern end, are not happy campers since the city announced plans to possibly allow access on the wide beaches to recreational vehicles, the Cape May Herald reported.
“To use Cresse Avenue as egress for the RVs to come on and off (the beach) is not going to work,” said Mike McCardy, an Ocean Towers condominium owner. “There is too much traffic, there are too many children, there’s too many people. It’s going to create a public safety hazard.”
McCardy voiced concerns about allowing beach access to recreational vehicles during the June 27 City Commissioners’ meeting.
“We’re not here for campgrounds. It’s going to be an RV park, which is trailers. There is plenty of support within our community that we want to work with the city to find an amicable solution to not have RVs parked in front of us.”
McCardy also stated if an “amicable solution” could not be reached the condominium association would petition the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) as well as filing an injunction to stop recreational vehicles from accessing the beach at Cresse Avenue.
In many places throughout the city vehicular access to the beach is limited by the width of openings. Cresse Avenue, however, allows trucks and other large vehicles to be taken onto the beach. According to Mayor Ernest Troiano, over 200 tractor-trailers used during the recent Kenny Chesney concert were brought onto the beach via Cresse Avenue.
“We want to work with the city to make everybody happy,” said McCardy. “But make no mistake, there is enough support within our community to hire a study and file an injunction against the city for the allowed use. We don’t want them. We want them on the southern side of the Convention Center.”
McCardy told commissioners the southern end of the city is a residential area. “We are residential. It’s more residential than towards the center where the piers are.”
“All the hotels across Ocean Avenue are not residential,” responded Troiano. “They are commercial.”
The city is looking at the possibility of bringing recreational vehicles on its beaches to help generate revenue.
Click here to read the entire story.
For Kirk Wong of southwest Washington, there’s only one way to travel: He loads up his 37-foot motorhome with two kids, four bikes, two dogs and a tortoise, and he and his wife Andrea take off for some much-needed, uninterrupted family time.
“In our house we’re always scattered and our schedules have us running,” Wong told MSNBC.com. “But in the RV, this time is invaluable. The boys take turns sitting next to me when I drive, we talk. For me, it’s never about the destination; it really is about the journey.”
Suzi and Jason Jewett of Forest Grove, Ore., hail the benefits of traveling with their 29-foot travel trailer this way: “It drives family time,” she said. “We actually sit down together and we can play board games for hours.”
More than 30 million Americans travel by RV. Despite high fuel prices, this number seems to be on the rise, with more families realizing a surefire way to spend time together and enjoy nature in a comfy home on wheels.
Brent Peterson, author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to RVing” (the third edition was just published), cites another reason for the rise.
“Air travel is becoming uncomfortable and expensive enough that it’s pushing more people into RVing,” he said. “RVing has grown through hard economic times, and if done right, it can be economical.”
Many young families, he said, start by pulling a pop-up trailer and then move up to bigger RVs as their needs grow. By seeking out $30 campgrounds, fixing your own meals and traveling at times of lower fuel prices, families can enjoy cheaper trips than had they flown, stayed in hotels and eaten out every meal.
“I don’t have the ability to save money when I’m traveling without my RV because I have to stay in a hotel, buy meals and pay for every little thing,” Peterson said. “Traveling by RV gives you choices.”
And it is the choice that appeals to the Wong and Jewett families, too. The Wongs, who this summer plan to take weekend trips to the Oregon coast and a bigger trek to Yosemite National Park in August, like that they don’t need a travel agenda.
“If we see a basketball court or a water park or a nice lake, we just stop and check out,” he said, adding that his younger son is crazy about basketball. To decide which campground to stay the night, he checks out RVParkReviews.com.
Wong also likes that he can often get three or four hours of driving under his belt, home-brewed coffee in hand, before his boys, ages 13 and 15, even crawl out of bed.
Jewett enjoys the options her trailer’s floorplan gives them. In the evenings, she can close off the small bunk-bed room in the rear for her 5- and 2 ½-year-olds to sleep in while she and Jason play board games or read with their 13-year-old son. She said they typically stay in nice campgrounds with pools, mini-golf courses or recreation centers so there is something for everyone, often choosing campgrounds from the member-based Thousand Trails.
The Jewetts originally bought the trailer four years ago just before their 8-week sabbaticals from Intel. They spent the time off trekking to Crater Lake, Yosemite and Grand Canyon national parks, as well as Las Vegas, Monterey, Santa Cruz and back through Florence, Ore.
“It was something fun that we could involve the kids in and we wanted to use the money for something we’d have for longer than just eight weeks,” said Jewett, now a manufacturing manager for Care Innovations. “It allows us to get out into nature more than if we just had tents.”
If you’re curious about RV travel, Peterson recommends renting one before making a big purchase. Cruise America is the nation’s largest RV rental chain, and others are El Monte RV and Camping World. The Recreational Vehicle Rental Association (RVRA) has a complete list of rental companies on its website.
The typical base rate for a seven-day rental on a five-to-seven-passenger RV is $600-plus, or nearly $100 a day, according to Peterson’s book. That does not include taxes, mileage fees (about 32 cents per mile), hourly generator fees (about $3) nor, of course, gas. To save money, Peterson advises checking rental sites for specials; going at non-peak travel times; and bringing your own linens, pillows, and eating and cookware. A must: Make rental reservations to get the RV you need with enough space as early as possible.
Similarly, Peterson said, start RVing as early as you can, in particular when your kids are young. Car seats and seat belt laws apply. RVing, he said, is a great memory-maker, and a fun and easy way to be together.
“With kids, having an RV is the great equalizer,” Peterson said. “You can overpack, have the comforts of beds and a kitchen, and still get out into nature together.”
The RV sector is on the road to recovery after being decimated by the recession, losing 260 dealers and three big manufacturers nationwide.
“We’re probably having the best year we’ve had in several years and we’re trying very hard,” said Bo Beaubrixey, general manager at the Camping World dealership in Valencia, Calif. “People want to use their RVs and go camping. All the campgrounds are full (this season). Even high gas prices are not stopping people from using their RVs.”
The Los Angeles Daily News reports that the store’s sales have increased between 25% and 30% from the recession low, Beaubrixey said. He declined to provide specific numbers.
After the economy tanked, people were still coming into the store looking to buy but could not get financing, he said.
Buying an RV is similar to buying a car, but banks want a 20% down payment and the payments are stretched over 10, 12, 15 or 20 years, Beaubrixey said.
This sector measures its strength in shipments of travel trailers and motorcoaches from manufacturers to dealers. It has been on the upswing since 2009, said Phil Ingrassia, president of the national Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA).
Through the end of May, RV shipments increased 8.6%t to 127,454, compared with 117,352 in the first five months of 2011, he said.
For all of this year the industry is forecasting a 6.9% increase in shipments to 269,700. That’s an increase of 62.8% from the recession low of 165,700 in 2009.
“It’s definitely on the rebound,” Ingrassia said. “RVs are a discretionary purchase. One of the things we look at is consumer sentiment. When consumer sentiment takes a dive, usually RV shipments drop as well.”
Camping trailers dominate the market, but coach sales have been on the rise, too.
The association does a dealer census every five years and there were 3,000 nationwide in 2007. He expects the figure to be significantly lower when the 2012 figure is released, though business is starting to recover.
“Now we’re seeing some expansion and consolidation. We’re not seeing dealers close like they did in 2008 and 2009,” Ingrassia said.
Niel’s Motor Homes on Sepulveda Boulevard in North Hills has been in the RV industry since 1953, making it the oldest dealer in Los Angeles County.
Dealership general manager Jim Royal said business began perking up about a year ago, but he did not provide specific numbers.
“Sales (levels) are not what they were in ’07 and ’08. This business was doing very well, and pretty much overnight it changed,” he said.
But the dealership got a bump in its service business.
“People were keeping their motorhomes longer and keeping them up rather than trading them in on a new one,” Royal said.
Sales of used RVs are also gaining strength as the economy slowly recovers.
“I used to ask the (buyer) do you want a new one or a used one and he’d say `New, I never buy used.’ You don’t hear that anymore,” Royal said.
Eighty percent of the store’s customers are repeat buyers, he said.
One of those is Gerald Knight of Agua Dulce, who currently owns a Fleetwood 40-foot coach. It’s the third RV he’s bought at Niel’s.
Knight brought his rig in for service last week because he’s planning a trip to Big Sur over the holiday with his two sons.
His coach has a rear-mounted diesel engine with a 125-gallon tank, according to Fleetwood’s specification sheet, and a fill-up would cost $487 at Friday’s prices.
That not a deterrent to Knight, who takes about six trips in the coach each year.
Knight, a driver in the entertainment industry, likes the flexibility offered by an RV.
“If you really like a place you can stay longer. You’re not tied into a hotel. You’ve got so many options here,” he said. “The state parks with the woods or the beaches.”
The price range of motorized RVs covers a broad spectrum. Campers on pickup truck bodies start in the low five figures and bus-style coaches can reach the high five figures or more.
The coach the Clemenses bought cost about $130,000, and has flat-screen televisions, including one mounted outside the coach, a roaming satellite antenna and it can sleep seven.
Considering all the features, it was a bargain, the Clemenses said.
The Clemenses have taken the Thor Challenger to Las Vegas and Lone Pine. This is their first extended trip, and the couple likes the ride.
The coach has 10-cylinder truck engine and runs on regular gas and the fuel gauge on the 80-gallon tank was only at the halfway mark by the time they reached Kingman Ariz.
They planned to arrive in Owensboro, Ky., on Sunday after stops in Albuquerque, N.M., and Oklahoma City, Okla.
They will eventually cover about 4,000 miles on the trip that includes a stopover in Branson, Mo., and Norman, Okla., before arriving back at their home in Tehachapi.
“The trip’s been great, although I-40 is clearly in need of resurfacing,” Mark Clemens said.
RVs have had a strong presence in the media this spring as the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) continues its aggressive media relations outreach. Media reports reflect messages promoted by RVIA about the benefits of RVing and the RV industry’s recovery.
RVIA President Richard Coon appeared in a live interview on Fox Business on May 25 to discuss the resurgence of RV sales. Coon attributed the industry’s recovery to consumers responding to innovative new products being offered by RV manufacturers, according to a news release.
The previous day, May 24, two Massachusetts television stations aired live reports on the RV travel market ahead of the Memorial Day weekend. The Fox Morning Show on Fox 25 Boston toured a Coachmen Class C motorhome and interviewed Brian Sullivan with Campers Inn Raynham about the benefits of RV travel. The “Dan and Kim in the Morning” show on WGGB Springfield interviewed Marc LeBrecque of Diamond RV in-studio about why now is a great time to RV and how to get started.
On Sunday, May 20, The New York Times published a story chronicling a reporter’s week-long West Coast trek in a rental RV. The article described the freedom and flexibility that comes from traveling with your own kitchen and bathroom facilities.
An April 11 broadcast of the PBS Newshour also examined the RV industry’s comeback despite the nation’s economic uncertainty. PBS reported on Elkhart’s drop in unemployment due to RV industry hiring.
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) has retained Edward Han to serve as the director of Asia affairs to help coordinate the association’s efforts in China and serve as a liaison with the Chinese and Japanese governments.
In this role, Han will pursue RVIA’s China initiatives and promote U.S. products to the Japanese market. This includes working with the governments from both countries on standards and regulatory issues, according to a news release.
A managing partner at Synorica Resources, Han has been advising U.S. companies on their China operations for more than 20 years. He previously worked for China’s Customs Agency and the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade.
Han began working with RVIA as a consultant in 2007 and has participated in each of the association’s trade missions to China. “Edward has a keen understanding of RVIA’s goals for the Chinese RV market and established relationships with our members and with key governmental contacts responsible for overseeing RV issues. With this background and experience, he is very well-suited to guide our activities in China and Japan,” said RVIA Vice President and General Counsel Craig Kirby, who is the liaison with RVIA’s China Committee.
Han, who was born in China but is now a U.S. citizen, is fluent in Chinese and English. He holds an MBA from the University of Texas – Pan American and a B.S. in Management from the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) latest RV Consumer Demographic Profile, scheduled to be released to the industry this fall, shows RV ownership has reached a new peak while also offering promising news on future RV purchase intentions.
The research, conducted by Richard Curtin, RV industry analyst and director of consumer surveys at the University of Michigan, reveals the number of RV-owning households has grown to a new peak of 8.9 million households, up from 7.9 million in 2005. Nearly one-in-nine (8.5%) U.S. households now own RVs, up from 8.0% in 2005, according to an RVIA news release.
“Today’s record RV ownership levels reflect the enduring appeal of the RV lifestyle despite recent economic challenges,” said RVIA President Richard Coon.
In addition to showing that RV ownership rates have climbed steadily, the new RV Consumer Demographic Profile also offers promising news on future RV purchase intentions.
When RV purchase intentions are combined across current owners, former owners and new market entrants, a total of 21% of all U.S. households stated intentions to purchase an RV in the 2011 survey. This is on par with the 23% rate in 2005 and ahead of the 16% rate in 2001.
“These purchase intentions expressed in the new RV Consumer Demographic Profile are very encouraging for the industry,” added Coon. “The survey results gathered this year in a challenging financial environment track closely with the 2005 data when the economy and consumer outlook was much brighter. Overall, the results clearly indicate continued strong demand for RVs in the years ahead.”
Seventy percent of current RV owners plan to purchase another RV to replace their current unit. When compared to the purchase intentions of current owners in prior surveys, the 2011 data indicates a strong increase in new vehicle purchase intentions.
Among new market entrants, defined as households that have never owned an RV in the past, 14% planned on purchasing an RV in the future with more than a third of them intending to purchase a new RV.
Of all former owners, 27% plan to purchase another RV in the future. Here age was a determining factor with younger former owners (age 18-34) more likely than older former owners to purchase another RV. This underscores the need for the RV industry to stay in touch with recent former owners and to continue to present them ownership options.