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RVIA Wants to Work With Campground Owners

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December 6, 2013 by   - () Leave a Comment

John Soard stands inside one of Fairmont Homes' units in Louisville during the 2013 RVIA show.

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association's (RVIA) 51st Annual National Trade Show ran Dec. 3-5 in Louisville, Ky., and during the show RVIA leadership expressed a growing appreciation for — and desire to work with — the campground industry.

"They really are the missing leg of our three-legged stool," said RVIA's Matt Wald, the organization's executive director for park trailers. The manufacturers build RVs, the dealers sell them and the campgrounds are where people take them and use them.

While RVIA and Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) work closely, including on the industry's Go RVing marketing campaign, RVIA is learning about the campground side, because "we don't know what we don't know," Wald said. "We're coming to appreciate the difficulties" that campgrounds face, especially dealing with growing seasonal camping. The RVIA wants to help tackle zoning, taxation and environmental issues.

"It's all of these issues where the customer's impacted. It's not the OEMs' problems, it's not the campground's problem, it's the customer's problem."

RVIA's desire to work with campgrounds, Wald acknowledged, is "a different way of doing business. It's what's good for the industry."

He thinks there's a huge market of people who don't realize the variety of accommodations available at campgrounds today, and that RVIA can help change that.

In addition to the association's hopes to work with campgrounds, the RVIA and the Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA) are about 18 months into a two-year trial unification, and park-model RV makers were pleased with the progress.

"I think the transition's been well received," said Tim Gage, national vice president of park models, cabins and specialty products for Cavco Industries. RVIA's resources are great, he said, and "Matt Wald's done a phenomenal job for us."

Gary Duncan, who heads the Forest River Park Model Division, echoed Gage's comments, saying park models fit in with the RVIA. "That's what this product is, it's an RV."

Curt Yoder, vice president of Kropf Recreational Park Trailers, said he's pleased with the services the RVIA provides for park model builders and he's happy with the transition. Looking ahead, "we'd like to see more exposure" as part of the industry's advertising efforts.

John Soard, general manager and national sales manager of Fairmont Homes Inc.'s park model division, said, "we have some overseas possibilities that are creeping up on us here," including opportunities in the Japanese market. "RVIA's really been helping us with that," he said. "There's a lot of benefits to being part of RVIA.

Dick Grymonprez, director of park model sales for Champion/Athens Park Homes, has a view like Soard as one of the leaders of the mothballed RPTIA and now a member of the RVIA's leadership team. His assessment on the transition? "It's been excellent."

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