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NCA Seeks Member Help on Park Model RVs

Northeast Campground Association (NCA) Executive Director Cyndy Zbierski sent an update to NCA members Thursday evening (Nov. 6) to remind them to speak up and contact their congressional representatives to support the outdoor industry on legislation that would provide a clear legal definition of RVs. The legislation, championed by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) and National RV Dealers Association (RVDA), would, among other things, prevent the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) from changing its view on how park model RV square footage is figured, as HUD signaled in an Oct. 1 memo.

Zbierski's note is below.

NCA sent its first member email alert on October 10th highlighting the need for your action to support H.R. 5658. Thank you to those who have contacted their Members of Congress on The Recreational Vehicle Certainly Act of 2014. The numbers show that many of us still need to take five minutes to understand the possible impact of this new HUD memo and to make sure our concerns are heard as an industry. Here is an update as to what is already happening in just one of our NCA member states:

"In Maryland, we are already having issues with processing titles to park model RVs.  Even though the HUD ruling is not in effect until April, at least one of our Department of Motor Vehicle divisions is questioning how to title a unit with a porch manufactured on it.  What I find amazing is how quickly this has become a 'real world' problem.

"I'll admit that when I first heard about the HUD ruling, I didn't think it affected campgrounds and was more of a manufacturer/dealer issue. But then I actually read the information provided by RVIA, RVDA and ARVC, and I knew this was not a tropical storm that would blow over – it was a full force hurricane that had taken a direct hit on our industry.  With no warning, no discussion and clearly as arbitrary as Mother Nature, HUD has caused quite a problem.  I can't say strongly enough that we all need to get involved.  It will take maybe one minute to hit the link, fill in your information and contact your representatives.  Please just do it!" – Deb Carter, Buttonwood Beach RV Resort and Executive Director of the Maryland Association of Campgrounds.

Campground operators will be able to personalize a letter to their representative and two senators and have that message sent without the hassle of searching for contact information for their members of Congress directly from the Take Action area on the above link.

By simply filling in their campground's address the software takes care of the rest. Just click Send Message and your message will reach the right people in Washington, DC.

But every campground is strongly encouraged to personalize the letters as much as possible. Campgrounds should include how many people they employ and exactly where they are located in the first paragraph of the messages.

The most important thing, though, is to click on the link to Action Alert and send a message to Washington, D.C. and to do it TODAY. Here are the numbers as of 11/4/2014:

NCA ACTIVIST STATE TOTAL NCA ACTIVISTS TOTAL ADVOCACY MESSAGES
New Jersey 44 144
Pennsylvania 28 84
New York 22 69
Connecticut 19 60
Maine 16 48
New Hampshire 15 45
Maryland 13 42
Massachusetts 11 33
Vermont 4 12

Note: By comparison, New Jersey was in fourth place nationally this week, behind Florida, California and Wisconsin and ahead of Texas, according to information provided by the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds.

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Have You Helped Yet On Park Model RVs?

November 4, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Now that attempts failed to get the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to reverse a subordinate's memo changing how HUD looks at park model RVs, leaders in the campground and RV industries are pinning their hopes on Congress to head off problems for RV parks and campgrounds across the U.S., and have made it easy for campground owners and operators to show their support

Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) and Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.), who represent the neighboring districts in the heart of the RV industry in northern Indiana, introduced House Resolution 5658, the "Recreational Vehicle Certainty Act."

Outdoor industry groups are pushing their members to reach out to Congressional representatives and voice support for the act, which would provide legal clarity that, among other things, porches on park model RVs don't count against the 400-square-foot living space limit — as had been HUD's view until last month.

Jeff Sims

Jeff Sims

"We’ve made quite a bit of progress," said Jeff Sims, director of state relations and program advocacy for the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC). As of this week, Sims told Woodall's Campground Management, 640 park had reached out to their representative and their senators. "They've sent out 2,103 messages and contacted 310 members of Congress," Sims said.

ARVC has partnered with Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) and Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI), as well as state associations that aren't affiliated with ARVC, to get the word out. "The issue is far beyond affiliation," Sims said.

"This is kind of a long shot, but we need some immediate guidance and relief because it's got a lot of our members in limbo," Sims said. As things stand, HUD will start counting factory-made porches as part of the living space for park model RVs, which have a maximum of 400 square feet of living space.

RVIA logoIn addition to campground groups, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) and National RV Dealers Association (RVDA) are working together with ARVC on the issue, which has a huge impact, Sims said.

arvc_logo_ideas_cmyk"You’re talking about nearly $145 million in potential lost revenue," he said. Though HUD's new standards will only be in effect from April on, that doesn't prevent states or local governments from looking at existing park model RVs, popular rental options in RV parks and campgrounds, differently, Sims said.

"What do you do when it’s no longer classified an RV and it certainly can’t be classified as manufactured housing because it’s not Screen Shot 2014-11-04 at 11.38.17 AMconstructed to those standards? You’ve got an investment there, overall the average investment is $21,000 per park. We’re small businesses. What do you do with that unit?

"A lot of business licenses don’t allow anything other than recreational vehicles. Are they now in noncompliance with their business licenses? Will it have to be revmoved? Will it have to be condemned? Will it have to be renovated to new codes? I don’t have the answers to that," Sims said. "When it comes to the local jurisdictions, there will be additional interpretations," Sims told WCM.

In an e-mail to ARVC and other industry partners summarizing the Oct. 22 meeting with HUD staff, Matt Wald of the RVIA said HUD officials were indifferent to campground and RV industry concerns about HUD’s reclassification of park model RVs, which it outlined in an Oct. 1 memorandum.

Deb Carter, MAC executive director

Deb Carter, MAC executive director

Maryland Association of Campgrounds Executive Director Deb Carter said HUD’s new interpretation of park models leaves campgrounds and campers in legal limbo with regard to park model RVs that were bought and installed under HUD’s previous park model guidelines, according to an announcement from ARVC.

While HUD might not take enforcement action against existing units, Carter agreed with Sims that it is likely that local tax, zoning and building officials will. She asked HUD staff whether they had considered what would become of these units when it was time to renew insurance, registration, titling, or financing for these RVs now that the HUD memo says they are no longer RVs. She asked what she could tell a local tax authority who decided to change the tax classification of park models in her campground from RVs to housing based on the HUD memo.

Matt Wald

Matt Wald

HUD staff had no answer for any of these concerns, Wald said. “In fact,” he said, “it appeared to be the first time they had heard or even considered these unintended consequences of their action. And yet they still continued to insist that this memorandum would not be withdrawn, stating that it was their ‘statutory obligation to enforce the memorandum’s interpretation,’ regardless of the effect the memo would have on the campground industry.”

Speaking on behalf of park model RV manufacturers, Dick Grymonprez of Champion/Athens Park Homes asked what possible safety concerns triggered HUD to issue a memorandum that makes factory added park model porches illegal.

“HUD’s counsel conceded that the agency did not issue the memo out of a health or safety concern, but instead that it was ‘a purely legal distinction’ that HUD staff felt compelled to make and that as such it would be enforced no matter whether it is needed or not,” Grymonprez said in ARVC's announcement.

Wald told ARVC that industry participants left the meeting frustrated and felt that the only way they can protect park model RVs is to support HR 5658, which would exempt park models of 400 square feet or less from the Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974, which forms part of the HUD code. It would also protect the legal status of park models that have been placed in campgrounds during the past two decades.

Park model RVs have previously been technically defined as recreational vehicles according to HUD, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A119.5 standard and a majority of states’ laws. This makes park model RVs exempt from property taxes. But the descriptions of park model RVs in the HUD code are not as clear as they could be and not every state clearly defines park models as a type of RV.

Sims told WCM that after that meeting, "It’s frustrating for the average park owner out here. They’re going to certainly take it on the chin and bear the brunt of this."

"There’s limited ways to correct this issue. One is through regulatory, which is very time consuming and certainly couldn’t happen prior to that April 1 date," and that one's less likely thanks to HUD's stance, Sims told WCM.

"People have bantered around you can sue HUD, but that’s too costly. We are a small association representing small businesses," he continued.

With the executive and judicial options effectively off the table, the focus is on the legislative branch. "We have put in motion every opportunity for park owners around the country, affiliated an non affiliated, to participate in this and get their message heard, their voice heard in the U.S. Congress. I don’t know how much easier we can make it," Sims said.

While he knows that campground owners are busy and "just want to run their parks," he also pointed out that "They want to do it without regulations that are going to strangle them and drown small business."

Campgrounds and RV parks in flood plains can find factory-built porches advantageous compared to porches added on in the site, at least in case of floods.

"It's a huge issue. It really is. Everybody is coming together — manufacturers, dealers and the park operators — because we’re really all in this together. It has a major impact on everyone," Sims said. It's a matter of protecting existing investments in parks and also promoting future growth.

"One of the single largest segments of our industry has been park models. For campground owners that are going to rent those out and it provides the consumer the opportunity to enjoy the outdoor recreation industry without the investment of the equipment," Sims told WCM. "It exposes another segment of the population to the outdoors."

The site at RVACT.com has a page, accessible here, that lets campground and RV park operators not only find their representative and senator, but also provides pre-written sample text that can be sent to their legislators with the click of a button.

"We’ve modified it and simplified it. I don’t know any other way to assist the park owners in identifying their members of Congress and getting the message to them.

"This isn’t a time to be a spectator. This is time to get in the game," Sims said. "It’s simple, it’s easy but it can make a difference."

 

 

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Have a Hot Tub? Check The Drain Cover

The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) is warning park operators to check their spa drain suction covers, many of which are the focus of a nationwide recall.

Waterway Plastics of Oxnard, Calif., has recalled its Designer Pro Series Suction Covers due to a risk of entrapment.

For repairs, contact Waterway Plastics toll-free at (866) 719-6044, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific Monday through Friday, or visit the company’s website at www.waterwayplastics.com<http://www.waterwayplastics.com> and click on "Recall" under Resources for more information.

To view a full list of spa models these covers are installed on, click here: http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/2015/Waterway-Plastics-Recalls-Spa-Drain-Suction-Covers/

ARVC monitors recall notices from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and sends relevant recall notices to affiliated state executives along with information to members via the ARVC State Brief and ARVC News.

Product recalls have been issued this year for a variety of products widely used in campgrounds, RV parks and resorts, which are listed below along with phone numbers for the respective manufacturers who have issued the recall notices:

  • Coleman Rubber River Tubes sold exclusively at Walmart due to skin irrigation hazard: (800) 835-3278.
  • Hewlett-Packard Notebook Computer AC Power Cord due to fire and burn hazards: (877) 219-6676.
  • Kidde Smoke / Carbon Monoxide Alarms due to alarm failure: (844) 553-9011.
  • Northstar Liquid Fuel Lantern due to fire hazard: (800) 835-3278.
  • Siemens SBGA-34 Fire Alarm due to alarm failure: (800) 516-9964.
  • Trident Pool Gate Latches due to failure to secure hazardous areas: (800) 409-3901.
  • Trident Ultraviolet Sanitation System for Pools due to fire hazards: (800) 621-5886.
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States Join With ARVC's Park Model Push

October 20, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

After a conference call with state executives last week, the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) announced it was coordinating a grassroots effort to support a legislative proposal in Congress to clearly define recreational vehicles.

While the legislation is something ARVC and the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) have long sought, the push gained urgency when the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced it was changing course on park model RVs and including factory-built porches in its figuring of the 400-square-foot maximum for living space in park model RVs.

State associations have started to pass the information along to members to emphasize ARVC's request. For instance, both the Arizona and California associations of RV parks and campgrounds sent out ARVC's information to members today (Oct. 20).

In addition, California's Executive Director Debbie Sipe included additional information, writing to members, "It's very important that we all contact our representatives in Washington, D.C., to tell them how we feel about HUD interference with our industry. "

"The form is easy to fill out (I just did mine), the system will even pick your proper Congressional representatives for you.  You can use the standard letter that's already there, or even better, customize it to fit your particular campground," Sipe wrote.

To access the online letter directly, click here.

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ARVC Promoting Letters To Help PMRVs

arvc_logo_ideas_cmykThe National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) announced it is urging private park owners across the country to join an online letter-writing campaign in support of legislation to protect the legal standing of park model RVs as recreational vehicles.

The legislation, HR 5658, was introduced after the Department of the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a new regulatory interpretation memorandum that redefines park models with factory added porches as manufactured homes, effective April 1.

Jeff Sims

Jeff Sims

“We are mobilizing private park operators across the country to support HR 5658 because if park model RVs with factory built porches are no longer defined as recreational vehicles, local zoning officials could require them to be removed from campgrounds,” said Jeff Sims, ARVC’s director of state relations and program advocacy, adding, “The regulatory change could also make park models subject to local property taxes.”

ARVC told state campground association executives in a conference call this morning (Oct. 17) that an automated letter writing program has been developed that gives park operators the ability to send electronic letters in support of HR 5658 to their congressional representatives. ARVC and its state affiliates are emailing links to the letter this week so that they can participate in the campaign.

Last week, ARVC President and CEO Paul Bambei co-signed a letter to HUD Secretary Julian Castro with Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) President and CEO Richard Coon and Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) President Phil Ingrassia in which they urged Castro to withdraw HUD’s regulatory interpretation memorandum until Congress has a chance to amend HUD law to protect the current status of park models.

HR 5658 was introduced in September by Republican Reps. Marlin Stutzman and Jackie Walorski of Indiana and Republican Rep. Sean Duffy of Wisconsin. It would exempt park models of 400 square feet or less from the Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974, which forms part of the HUD code. It would also protect the legal status of park models that have been placed in campgrounds during the past two decades.

Park model RVs have previously been technically defined as recreational vehicles according to the HUD, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A119.5 standard and a majority of states’ laws. This makes park model RVs exempt from property taxes. But the descriptions of park model RVs in the HUD code are not as clear as they could be and not every state clearly defines park models as a type of RV.

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ARVC Now Tracks Related Product Recalls

arvc_logo_ideas_cmykThe National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) announced it is now providing its state affiliates with information on product recalls that could affect health and safety of private park operators and/or their guests.

ARVC monitors recall notices from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and sends relevant recall notices to affiliated state executives along with information to members via the ARVC State Brief and ARVC News.

Product recalls have been issued this year for a variety of products widely used in campgrounds, RV parks and resorts, which are listed below along with phone numbers for the respective manufacturers who have issued the recall notices:

  • Coleman Rubber River Tubes sold exclusively at Walmart due to skin irrigation hazard: (800) 835-3278.
  • Hewlett-Packard Notebook Computer AC Power Cord due to fire and burn hazards: (877) 219-6676.
  • Kidde Smoke / Carbon Monoxide Alarms due to alarm failure: (844) 553-9011.
  • Northstar Liquid Fuel Lantern due to fire hazard: (800) 835-3278.
  • Siemens SBGA-34 Fire Alarm due to alarm failure: (800) 516-9964.
  • Trident Pool Gate Latches due to failure to secure hazardous areas: (800) 409-3901.
  • Trident Ultraviolet Sanitation System for Pools due to fire hazards: (800) 621-5886.

Based in Centennial, Colo., ARVC is a national trade association representing the interests of privately-owned RV parks, resorts and campgrounds. Membership comprises RV park and campground owners and operators, industry suppliers, franchisors and others committed to promoting the growth and welfare of the RV park and campground sector of the outdoor hospitality industry through development and implementation of legislative, regulatory, educational and promotional programs and activities.

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ARVC Backs RVIA On Park Model RV Laws

arvc_logo_ideas_cmykThe National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) announced today (Oct. 9) it is supporting legislation sponsored by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) that would clarify the definition of a manufactured home to exclude park model RVs. It is also supported by the RV Dealers Association (RVDA).

The legislation, HR 5658, was introduced in September by Reps. Marlin Stutzman and Jackie Walorski (both R-Ind.) and Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.). It would exempt park models of 400 square feet or less from the Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974, which forms part of the HUD code.

Park model RVs are technically defined as recreational vehicles according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A119.5 standard and a majority of states’ laws. This makes park model RVs exempt from property taxes. But the descriptions of park model RVs in the HUD code are not as clear as they could be and not every state clearly defines park models as a type of RV, according to ARVC.

As a result, ARVC and RVIA representatives said they spend a considerable amount of time on the phone each week with municipalities across the country that question whether park model RVs should be subject to property taxes. ARVC maintains that park model RVs should only be taxed as personal property.

Matt Wald

Matt Wald

HUD is also revisiting its interpretation of some of its enforcement positions with regarding to the line between RVs and manufactured housing, according to Matt Wald, RVIA’s executive director for park model RVs.

“It is RVIA’s position that RVs, built for recreational, seasonal and camping use, belong in campgrounds or other recreational areas while manufactured housing, built as permanent residences, belongs in housing communities,” Wald said.

While the distinction between park model RVs and manufactured housing is well understood by those with intimate knowledge of HUD law, the language of existing law is not clear enough for lenders, zoning and tax officials, who often try to tax park models as manufactured housing, Wald said.

“RV lenders are concerned that, given new banking regulations, they need more clarity as to where the line between RVs and manufactured housing is drawn if they are going to continue to make consumer loans for some types of RVs,” Wald said.

Wald told Woodall's Campground Management that the entire outdoor hospitality industry needs to stand together and urge members of Congress across the country to support the legislation to clarify definitions.

ARVC and RVIA are also collaborating in an effort to identify states where legislation can be developed specifically to exempt park models from property taxes. Such legislation became law in Utah last year, for example.

Jeff Sims

Jeff Sims

Jeff Sims, ARVC’s director of state relations and program advocacy, said he often provides park operators with talking points and code sections they can share with city officials to clarify their questions about park models. In others, Sims reaches out to city officials directly to inform them that park models are a type of RV.

Sometimes, however, private park operators bring problems on themselves when they fail to register their park models with their state’s department of motor vehicles. While they may think they are saving money by avoiding the DMV registration fee, the tactic can backfire on them later if local officials question whether their park model is indeed a type of vehicle and they do not have a DMV registration form to prove that it is.

Private park operators can also create problems for themselves and for the RV and outdoor hospitality industries in general if they allow people to live in park model RVs on a permanent basis, according to ARVC. Park model RVs are designed and legally permitted for seasonal or part-time use.

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ARVC Focuses On Changes To Standards

Jeff Sims

Jeff Sims

In addition to performing a watchdog role in protecting private parks from new laws and regulations that increase the cost of doing business, the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC) announced it is making a strategic move to rewrite many of the nationally recognized standards for private parks.

These standards are contained in a variety of federal laws and regulations, including the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1194 Standard for Recreational Vehicle Parks & Campgrounds; the National Electric Code NFPA 70; the Uniform Plumbing Code; and the Americans With Disabilities Act Series 1006.

ARVC formed an NFPA 1194 committee earlier this year and is developing a series of proposed changes in the next revision cycle that will address Americans With Disabilities Act requirements for campsites; evictions and ejections; lengths of stays; as well as zoning and taxation issues involving park model RVs.

ARVC is focusing its attention on NFPA 1194 because that is the nationally recognized standard that the association uses when it works with state and local governments involving proposed regulations.

“By taking a proactive role in developing new industry standards, ARVC can get ahead of the legal curve and provide a framework that can guide legislators and regulators moving forward,” said Jeff Sims, ARVC’s director of state relations and program advocacy, in a written announcement.

“Since new regulations and laws are made by officials who often have little or no knowledge of the campground business, it behooves us to develop our own positions on a number of topics and to share these position statements with the state and federal agencies and legislative bodies,” Sims said.

Sims cautioned, however, that just because ARVC is asserting the private park industry’s positions doesn’t mean that every ARVC recommendation will be incorporated into the NFPA code.

“This is a very extensive process,” he said, adding that the closing date for NFPA public input is Jan. 5. The final updates to the code are expected to be completed in 2017.

While ARVC is continuing to refine its positions on a number of topics, the association is also working with the U.S. Access Board “to achieve regulations that are reasonable and attainable by the private RV park and campground industry to meet the needs of all guests,” Sims said.

ARVC also supports legislative and regulatory action to enable park operators to meter electricity at individual campsites. While park operators are not public utilities and do not resell electricity, ARVC believes that park owners should be able to recoup the actual costs of electricity by their guests.

“Some campers may use a small amount of electricity and others may use a substantial amount,” Sims said. “Submetering addresses this issue by enabling RV park and campground owners to allocate electricity to their guests according to their actual usage as opposed to applying a flat fee to everyone, which discourages the conservation of electricity.”

ARVC’s NFPA 1194 Committee includes Garry Cole of Shelby (Ohio)/Mansfield Kampgrounds of America (KOA); Wade Elliott, president of Utility Supply Group in Kingston, Wash.; Mark B. Hazelbaker of Kasieta Legal Group LLC in Madison, Wis.; Pat Hittmeier, president of KOA in Billings, Mont.; Michael Hobby of Moon Landing RV Park and Marina in Cross Hill, S.C.; Rob Schutter, president and COO of Leisure Systems Inc. in Milford, Ohio; and Sims.

Comments involving NFPA 1194 and other regulatory or legislative issues involving private parks should be sent to Sims at jsims@arvc.org. ARVC members can obtain a copy of NFPA 1194 from the online store at www.arvc.org at a members-only discounted price of $27.

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ARVC Presents Campground Industry Awards

The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) recognized the achievements of top private park operators, state associations and industry volunteers last week during its annual Outdoor Hospitality Conference and Expo in Knoxville, Tenn.

According to a press release, Park of the Year awards were given to RV parks and resorts based on several criteria, including customer service, employee training, operational excellence, national directory ratings and community service.

Winners included:

• Small Park of the Year: Big Meadow Family Campground, Townsend, Tenn.

• Medium Park of the Year: Shelby/Mansfield KOA, Shelby, Ohio.

• Large Park of the Year: Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve & Campground, Santee, Calif.

• Mega Park of the Year: Sun-N-Fun RV Resort, Sarasota, Fla.

Parks that made exemplary efforts to become environmentally friendly received ARVC’s Plan-It-Green award. The winners included:

• Big Creek RV Park in Annapolis, Mo., which received the award in the small / medium size park category.

• Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve & Campground, Santee, Calif.

Marketing awards were presented to state campground associations that produced the best statewide campground directories. Marketing award recipients included:

• Small State Association category: Maryland Association of Campgrounds.

• Medium State Association category: Ohio Campground Owners Association.

• Large State Association category: California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds.

Top-performing state campground association executives were also recognized, including:

• State Executive Director of the Year: Beverly Gruber from the Pennsylvania Campground Owners Association.

• State President of the Year: Karl Littman of the Virginia Campground Association.

David L. Berg of Red Apple Campground in Kennebunkport, Maine, received the Stan Martin Memorial Award, which recognizes RV park and resort operators who serve as role models for their peers in the industry through their exceptional volunteerism. Berg also received the Chairman’s Award, which recognizes those who go beyond the call of duty to further the outdoor hospitality industry.

David Tetrault of the Northeast Campground Association received the Pioneer Award, which recognizes campground industry pioneers.

The Supplier of the Year award was given to Wade Elliott of Kingston, Wash.-based Utility Supply Group, a leading provider of electrical pedestals, meters, hand driers and other electrical supplies for campgrounds and RV parks.

During the awards ceremony, ARVC also announced the establishment of the Dick Hartford Memorial Plant a Tree Program, which was established in honor of Dick Hartford, the founder of Evergreen USA, who passed away in early October at the age of 68.

Hartford formed Evergreen in the 1980s, when campgrounds found it very difficult to obtain liability insurance. But Hartford joined forces with 25 campground owners and formed Evergreen as an insurance company owned by and for campgrounds. ARVC launched the Dick Hartford Memorial Plant a Tree Program by distributing more than 500 long leaf pines and Colorado Blue Spruce saplings to awards ceremony attendees.

The ARVC Foundation also presented its Above and Beyond Awards to Dick Hartford and to Judy LaPorta of Little Oaks Campground in Cape May Courthouse, N.J. LaPorta has spent a multitude of hours working during ARVC’s annual conferences, taking the lead in hosting the foundation information booth and supporting all of the foundation events.

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ARVC's Paul Bambei Putting Out Industry Fires

August 9, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Paul Bambei

As high profile wildfires burned public lands across the state of Colorado in June, Paul Bambei, president and CEO of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), was busy putting out some fires of his own.

From his office in the Denver suburb of Centennial, Bambei couldn’t see any of those wildfires which captured media attention and prompted some well-timed damage control efforts from both ARVC and Camp Colorado, the state campground association. But he could feel the heat that some ARVC decisions – even one made before he joined the association as CEO late in 2010 – were creating.

In particular, Bambei had what he called a serious discussion around Memorial Day with Richard Coon, president of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), over ARVC’s decision not to provide moderate financial support for Go RVing Coalition activities. Historically, that support ranged between $50,000 and $100,000 annually and was delivered by Bambei’s predecessor, Linda Profaizer, during RVIA’s Committee Week in June each year.

“The association (ARVC) felt it needed some recognition for the contribution and that was a way to get it rather than just sending in a check,” Profaizer explained to WCM. “For several years early on, ARVC members contributed more than dealers to the program,” although the campground sector has generally been lukewarm in its support of the RV-centric Go RVing marketing campaign because of its focus on recreational vehicles. There was a feeling for a period of years that the Go RVing advertising did not adequately reflect campground settings. It reflected RVs in neutral settings.

The last check presentation came in 2010 after which time the ARVC board voted to drop such support from the ARVC budget and leave funding up to individual member parks.

Starting in 2011 and continuing in 2012, member parks could send donations to the ARVC office and a single check was written to Go RVing, usually in June. That check totaled $6,000 in 2012, Bambei said. No check had yet been written for 2013 when Bambei was interviewed by Woodall’s Campground Management on June 27.

The absence of a moderate contribution from ARVC was addressed by the RVIA behind closed doors during RVIA’s Committee Week in early June in Washington, D.C. Ahead of that, an ARVC board member alerted Bambei to RVIA’s concern, and he called Coon.

Following is Bambei’s recollection of that discussion.

“I applaud what Go RVing has meant for our industry. Anything that stokes our industry and makes our industry more relevant to the consumer is something I am in favor of,” Bambei said. “And ARVC will always support it.”

But in explaining the board’s decision in 2010, Bambei said, “What they were trying to do was push the decision for funding for Go RVing to the members within ARVC who are the direct beneficiaries of it. They are encouraged to write a check and fund it if they see value. And if not, then they don’t.

“ARVC’s role is to promote the program, which we do on our website and we are the funnel that administers the funding that comes from our members back to RVIA. What got some of the RVIA folks a bit excited was that the funding levels have dropped.”

Bambei agreed the drop in financial support is “dramatic” but quickly added, “We make decisions each day on a much more limited budget. Ours (budget) is about one tenth of what RVIA’s is. It’s a completely different dynamic for us to be able to write a big check out of our pockets for something that is a branding investment that mostly RVIA gets a benefit from. The program is geared to people who are thinking about buying an RV. Does this program necessarily translate into somebody showing up at one of our member parks? You can argue both sides of that. As we track those leads, it is the members themselves who see it more than anyone else. If they’re not seeing that, they are not compelled to write a check.”

ARVC Still Supports Go RVing

“The important thing I want to stress is, we still support Go RVing. It’s just an individual business decision by each member whether they want to support it. ARVC as an organization supports it. Our Go Camping America website is the search engine for Go RVing. We didn’t ask for any contributions to redevelop GCA’s website when we were paying for that upgrade the past year. It’s reciprocal. It’s all for the common good.”

RVIA President Richard Coon addresses the 2013 RVIA annual meeting held in Orlando, Fla.

Reviewing his discussion with Coon, Bambei concluded, “We vowed to do a better job of communicating. Speaking for myself, I haven’t done a great job of that. I invited Richard to our conference in Knoxville in November and to our ARVC Business Forum (which meets during the conference). There are a lot of things we should be cross-channeling. We will try to do that more often and do a better job of it. What’s important is, we both awoke to a mutual concern. He told me he would take our discussion back to his board and he said they wouldn’t be happy. I said I understood that. I’m just sorry it didn’t get clearly communicated back to them.”

Coon, for his part, acknowledges that he has worked to build a better dialogue recently between the recreational vehicle industry and the campground sector in the hope that the entire industry can more closely work together – something that’s never really occurred in the past. “Look, RVIA has been working over the last couple of years to build more unity with the industry, not just our sales,” Coon said.

Coon says it’s consistent with other initiatives RVIA has undertaken over the past two or three years in its effort to better unify the industry. “We've done a good job in the areas of bringing Canadian people with us so we understand the Canadian market and their needs,” he added. “We've done a good job bringing the park model people back to the association, which are a big part of the industry. But one of the elements that is missing in the big picture is the campground industry, which we haven't had a lot of communication with in the past.”

'Superior Quality Parks' Issue

Meanwhile, Bambei and ARVC did some backpedaling on a decision announced earlier this year that ARVC would assign a designation of “Superior Quality Parks” to any ARVC member park where the owners, managers or other key employees had completed certain certificates in the new Outdoor Hospitality Education Program (OHEP).

“The original designation was meant to acknowledge a park’s commitment to education and improvement through their staff,” Bambei told WCM. “We don’t want to rate parks on anything else. We leave that to others. I don’t want to be the one with white gloves that determines whether a bathroom is clean. But we have a new education program that is being heralded by the people who use it and understand it. We want to recognize parks that try to improve through that program.”

David Gorin

Former ARVC president David Gorin took ARVC to task when he heard about the new designation. His viewpoint appeared in his In Sites column in the June issue of WCM.

By the time that column appeared, Gorin and Bambei had already spoken and Bambei agreed the precise designation could be amended.

ARVC subsequently renamed the designation “Superior Quality Staff.”

“We have communicated the change to all the state executives, to our board, the ARVC Foundation and to all our members. Everybody seems to be satisfied,” Bambei said.

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