KOA CEO Returns For RV Breakfast
Hundreds of people who make their living in the recreational vehicle business will again convene with the industry’s national and regional leadership as well as area civic leaders on the morning of May 8, for a fortifying breakfast and a thought-provoking business agenda during the 2nd Annual RV Industry Power Breakfast at the Northern Indiana Event Center and RV/MH Hall of Fame in the RV-building hub of Elkhart, Ind.
This year’s Power Breakfast, featuring a 7 a.m. buffet and a 7:15 a.m. program emceed by Dicor Corp. President Gregg Fore, immediate past chairman of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), is facilitated by Elkhart-based RVBusiness magazine and sponsored by Dicor, Dometic Corp., Forest River Inc., Thor Industries Inc., Jayco Inc., GE Capital, Kampgrounds of America Inc. and Spartan Motors Inc.
The mission of this annual event, developed in an era when a revitalized and somewhat consolidated industry has circled its wagons around Elkhart County in a big way – with 85% of the nation’s wholesale RV shipments now originating from the greater “Michiana” area – is much the same as last year’s successful inaugural event, reported RVB Publisher Sherman Goldenberg, who also publishes Woodall's Campground Management.
“There’s a sense among some industry people in northern Indiana’s RV-building zone not only in Elkhart, but in other communities like LaGrange, Shipshewana, Topeka, Middlebury, Millersburg, Syracuse, Bristol, Goshen, Wakarusa, Nappanee and Decatur, that we could all do a better job of working together as a cohesive force at times here and that it wouldn’t hurt any of us to slow down for a moment – once a year — to showcase the dynamic, job-generating power of this industrial sector,” said Goldenberg.
“At the same time,” he added, “we’ll bring home some of the industry-specific intelligence that’s available from a national advocate like RVIA, which recently held its annual meeting in San Diego.”
RVBusiness teams with Elkhart-based BJ Thompson Associates in coordinating the May breakfast, which also spotlights representatives from the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), the Go RVing Coalition and Kampgrounds of America Inc. as well as the Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce and, schedule permitting, teleconference remarks from first-term U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind).
“The RV industry last year took another step forward in terms of recovery, posting a 12.4% gain in 2013 wholesale shipments thanks in part to the upswing of the general economy and outdoor recreation in particular, and we’re looking for more of the same in 2014 and beyond,” noted BJ Thompson, veteran chairman of RVIA’s Public Relations Committee. “Having said that, the RV sector tends to ebb and flow with the American economy and we need to keep people – including rank-and-file personnel here in northern Indiana – apprised of the trends, obstacles and opportunities that exist now and down the road.”
Among those stepping up to the Power Breakfast podium will be RVIA Chairman Doug Gaeddert, a general manager for Elkhart-based Forest River, as well as RVIA President Richard Coon and KOA CEO Jim Rogers – all three of whom will be available after the 7-10 a.m. breakfast program for an off-the-record “RVIA Breakout Session” covering any number of topics that attendees might choose to bring up.
Meanwhile, the breakfast program will include two anchor segments, the first being an updated look at the industry’s Go RVing marketing program led by James Ashurst, vice president of communications and marketing for RVIA, with an assist from RVDA President Phil Ingrassia and Go RVing Coalition Co-Chairmen Bob Wheeler, president of Airstream Inc., and Tom Stinnett, principal of Tom Stinnett Derby City RV Center.
Anchoring the program’s second half will be a fast-paced panel discussion featuring a roster of six influential manufacturers and suppliers in addition to Gaeddert, including Thor Industries President & CEO Bob Martin; Jayco Inc. President & COO Derald Bontrager; Lippert Components Inc. CEO Jason Lippert; Patrick Industries Inc. President & CEO Todd Cleveland; and Airxcel Inc. President & CEO Mel Adams.
Look for an announcement shortly regarding tickets, which will be available ($30 for singles or $225 for a table of 8) online or by visiting the RV/MH Hall of Fame or RVB’s (2901 E Bristol Street) Elkhart office.