2011 Class Inducted into RV/MH Hall of Fame
Outgoing Airstream Inc. Chairman Larry Huttle, Fairmont Homes and Gulf Stream Coach Inc. Chairman James F. Shea Jr. and former Affinity Group Inc. President and CEO Mike Schneider led a stellar group of manufactured housing and recreational vehicle luminaries Monday night (Aug. 1) as inductees into the RV/MH Heritage Foundation Inc.’s RV/MH Hall of Fame.
Altogether, 10 members of the Class of 2011 were honored at the reception and induction dinner at the Elkhart, Ind., facility, RVBUSINESS.com reported.
The 2011 class also included Robert Azevedo, an RV dealer from Alpine RV in San Francisco, Calif., and a founding member of the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) who helped establish both the California RV Dealers Association and the South Bay Dealers Association.
In addition, two individuals were honored posthumously for their careers. The late Harold “Hal” Gerring, an RV and housing manufacturer from Shipshewana, Ind., was considered an innovator in the industry, pioneering fiberglass sidewalls and headliners at his Ger-Win Vans. Bill Gorman, the 1994 recipient of RVDA’s James B. Summers award, was a recognized expert on dealership management.
Huttle, who began his career in the RV industry with Winnebago Industries Inc. in the early ‘70s before moving on to Airstream, regaled the audience with his eye-opening recollections of his initial forays in the industry — including driving to visit a large dealer in the Dakotas only to be met with a chain stretched across the driveway and a note that the location would reopen in April. Later, in the ‘80s, Huttle joined a group that worked to resurrect the flagging Airstream brand in Jackson Center, Ohio. That group, of course, succeeded in breathing new life into the Airstream product line and in laying the groundwork for the legend that Airstream has become. Huttle, by the same token, has been instrumental in Thor Industries Inc.’s involvement in, and support of, industry associations.
Shea, for his part, has proven to be an able CEO of award-winning Fairmont Homes and an ambassador in the manufactured home arena while overseeing Gulf Stream’s RV portfolio of products as well. Taking the reins at the company founded by his father, James F. Shea Sr., in 1971, the younger Shea is one of the founders of the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) and a leader in the development of the landmark Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000. In 2002, Shea was honored with the National Housing Quality Award by the National Association of Home Builders.
Also recognized for his life’s work in the RV industry was Schneider, who built his reputation as the CEO of Ventura, Calif.-based Affinity, a publishing house and long-time industry marketing leader. Schneider, who came up through the ranks at the company beginning with a staff position on MotorHome magazine, helped to turn the company into the largest RV-oriented consumer organization in the country, overseeing magazines, services, clubs — including the Good Sam Club — and shows. Schneider is a member of the Go RVing Coalition, the RV/MH Hall of Fame board and the RVIA Public Relations Committee.
Affinity, now doing business as Good Sam Enterprises LLC, is parent company of Woodall’s Campground Management and WOODALLSCM.com
Among the MH inductees: George Allen, a MH community management consultant from GFA Management in Greenwood, Ind.; Leonard Brown, a housing retailer from West Valley View Inc. in Allegany, N.Y.; James Knott, a housing retailer from J & B Homes in Carlsbad, N.M.; and John Martin, an industry association executive from MHI in Locust Grove Va.
Founded in 1972, the RV/MH Hall of Fame has installed more than 320 leaders over the last 39 years, adding plaques for each to the walls of the facility along the Indiana Toll Road on the north side of Elkhart.