The theme for this year’s convention is “Reaping Benefits and Harvesting Success.” About 200 TRVA members representing RV dealerships, manufacturers and suppliers and the campground industry are expected to attend. The convention will be held at the Westin Riverwalk.
Victor T. Vandergriff, who led the lobbying effort to create the new state agency independent of the Texas Department of Transportation and now heads the new agency as chairman, will be the featured speaker at Sunday night’s President’s Banquet.
Also appearing at the convention will be Ed Serna, executive director of the new agency, and Carol Kent, interim director of the agency’s enforcement division.
“These three people are the most key people in the state of Texas involving the RV industry,” said Clark McEwen, TRVA executive director.
TRVA lobbied extensively in the 2009 session of the Texas Legislature to get motor vehicles out of TexDOT and handled by an independent agency like the new Texas DMV.
“We think once everything is up and running, the concerns our industries have will be addressed more efficiently and quicker by a stand-alone agency,” McEwen said.
Vandergriff formerly served as vice president of V.T. Inc. and Automotive Investment Group, the largest private retail automotive group in the United States. Vandergriff was involved as an owner, dealer and executive manager in the automobile industry for more than 25 years. He and his family have owned and operated automobile dealerships for more than 80 years in the Dallas-Fort Worth region.
The convention will feature two panel discussions of industry experts. The first will focus on retail store/merchandising, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department update and “Red Flag” and compliance issues. The second will focus on the new agency as well as on parts and service issues.
Other speakers include Terry Cooper, ‘The Texas RV Professor,” and Walter Preble, a former Kampgrounds of America Inc. executive and now an innovative KOA campground operator in Rusk, Texas.
Roundtable discussions following the panel discussions are open-ended and tend to focus on “hot button” issues of the day.
For the first time, TRVA will honor member RV parks and campgrounds with awards going to the top small, medium and large parks of the year.
An auction, sponsors’ trade show, golf and poker tournaments and other awards also are scheduled for the convention, for which McEwen said he expects an upbeat mood at this year’s convention.
“We’re affected by the downturn like everybody else,” he said. “But we’re fortunate in Texas our economy has weathered better. The 2008-2009 downturn drained the reserves of a lot of dealerships but everybody is enthusiastic now. Are we where we want to be? No. But the vast majority are happy they’re in Texas.”