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Town Hall Slated For RV Power Breakfast

PrintThe Recreation Vechicle Industry Association (RVIA), which has been working closely with people in the RV park and campground industry and will soon open a new satellite office in Elkhart, Ind., will present several current-interest topics during a casual, off-the-record session in conjunction with the RV Industry Power Breakfast on May 8 at the Northern Indiana Event Center in the RV/MH Hall of Fame.

The RVIA Town Hall Meeting is scheduled for 10:30-11:30 a.m. following the main program in Ingram Hall, according to RVBusiness. Presenters for each topic will be introduced with background and updates before opening for discussion.

Topics and presenters are as follows:

• National RV Trade Show (Louisville) – Discussion will include new show features that are under consideration and analysis of location and reorganization of show staff. Presenters: James Ashurst, RVIA vice-president of communications & marketing and Scott Graham, RVIA’s new national show director.

• RV Service Technician Training Pilot Program – Update of pilot program findings and direction of the program, successes and hurdles. Presenters: Sharonne Lee, RVIA director of technical information and Mel Adams, Airxcel Inc. president.

• Trends in Extended-Stay Camping – Update on extended-stay and destination camping trends to identify opportunities through coordinated initiatives of private and public campgrounds. Presenters: Matt Wald, RVIA park trailer executive director and Jim Rogers, Kampgrounds of America Inc. CEO.

• RV Transportation Update – Review of the initiatives being explored to address expediting the shipment of RVs from manufacturers to dealers. Presenters: Jay Landers, RVIA director of government affairs and Maryellen Adams, employment network account executive.

• Legislative and Regulatory Developments – Update and analysis of current legislative and regulatory issues affecting the RV industry; e.g., “vehicle” titles for park models, RV-specific franchise laws and the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program and its extensive impact regarding products containing imported wood. Presenter: Dianne Farrell, RVIA vice president of government affairs.

All attendees to the Power Breakfast, facilitated by RVBusiness magazine (sister publication to Woodall's Campground Management), are invited to the Town Hall Meeting as part of their event registration.

“We’re eager to open up a genuine, off-the-record conversation among our guests,” said BJ Thompson, event coordinator and Town Hall moderator. “We’ll be connecting people that have a front-row seat to the real-life conditions surrounding these topics with those who know how to affect change. And that’s really the essence of what the Power Breakfast is all about.”

Tickets to the Power Breakfast ($30 for singles or $225 for a table of 8) are available at RVBusiness.com, the RV/MH Hall of Fame or RVBusiness’s Elkhart office at 2901 E. Bristol Street.

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Utah Recognizes Park Model RVs as Vehicles

Utah Governor Gary Herbert is expected to sign in to law legislation that was supported by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) and passed by the state’s Senate and House to classify park model RVs as vehicles under Utah law for purposes of registration, titling and taxation, according to a written update from RVIA.

The legislative initiative in Utah is part of RVIA’s continuing effort to clarify the regulation of park model RVs as a type of RV for state titling and taxation purposes.

Effective on Jan. 1, 2015, the new law:

• Establishes a definition of a park model RV within the motor vehicle code and revises the definition of vehicle to include park model RVs.

• Requires park model RVs to be registered annually.

• Establishes that park model RVs upon registration will be issued a decal in lieu of license plates.

• Requires that 2015 and newer park model RVs must be titled, and allows owners of older park model RVs to request that the DMV issue a title for older park model RV.

• Exempts park model RVs from the requirement for a vehicle identification number (VIN) inspection prior to initial registration.

• Exempts park model RVs from the requirement that vehicles over 12,000 pounds GVWR have the GVWR displayed on the left and right sides of the vehicle.

• Clarifies that park model RVs cannot be registered and licensed as part of an interstate fleet.

• Establishes a registration fee for park model RVs based on weight at $69.50 for each park model RV of at least 12,000 pounds gross laden weight but not exceeding 14,000 pounds, plus $19 for each 2,000 pounds above 14,000 pounds.

• Excludes park model RVs from the Motor Vehicle Business Regulation Act (car franchise law).

• Includes park model RVs in the tangible personal property tax provisions and establish a tax rate equivalent to that of a travel trailer.

The full text of the bill can be found here.

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RV Shipments Continue Growing

Wholesale shipments of all RVs continued to rise in January but at a slower pace than last year.

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) reported that wholesale shipments totaled 25,467 units, 4.5% greater than the same month last year and the best January total since 2007. Folding camping trailers and truck campers were the only categories of RVs to see a decline.

Severe weather across the country affected the ability to build, ship and sell new product in January this year and there is confidence of even better results in the coming months.

Towable RV shipments grew to 22,199 units in January, 1.8% better than a year ago. Motorhomes were up 26.8% on shipments of 3,268 units raising this category to 12.8% of all RV shipments in January.

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RVIA: Million+ Snowbirds Head South

Sun-N-Fun RV Resort in Sarasota, Fla.

Snow in 49 of the 50 states is good news for the sun belt. Campgrounds in southern California, Texas, Florida and Arizona are seeing a boom in occupancy for December-March with travelers seeking a respite from this winter's ravaging snow and plummeting temperatures.

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) reports that more than one million RVers will use their RV this winter to head to warmer climates, spending on average 12 weeks at campgrounds throughout the sun belt, according to a press release from the RVIA.

"RVing has always been popular in the winter months but this year has been exceptionally successful for campgrounds. Every segment of traveler is discovering that RVing is affordable, easy and most importantly, flexible," said Richard Coon, RVIA president. "RVers can stay at a campground for as long as they would like or travel throughout the season without worrying about any long-term commitments, an option not afforded traditional seasonal rentals. If you want a new view, just pick up and go."

The most popular sun-belt state for snowbirds is Florida, with campgrounds seeing an ever-expanding demographic of travelers who will spend the winter months working while escaping the cold weather.

"We are at 100% occupancy for February and March and up 20% for April over last year. This winter has been great for us," said Tim Deputy, general manager of Sun-N-Fun RV Resort in Sarasota, Fla. "We're seeing the retirees that you would expect to be snowbirds, but also a growing number of younger folks who are telecommuting. With technology, you can really work anywhere, so why not spend the winter on the beach if you can?"

However, campgrounds are doing more than just relying on good weather and warm beaches to attract the competitive snowbird market. They're adding amenities that rival traditional hotel resorts. Two years ago, Sun-N-Fun (which was profiled in January's issue of Woodall's Campground Management) opened an 18,000-square-foot spa and wellness center with an indoor swimming pool, infrared sauna and steam room. They also offer an onsite masseuse and sports therapist. Perhaps the most unique aspect of this campground is the Neurogym, equipped with computer programs and equipment that helps people learn how to reduce their stress and improve their mental well being.

"One of our programs is called Peak Brain Happiness," said Deputy. "It's designed for golfers and tennis players. We also have programs that help people quit smoking and reduce weight, too." While such extensive health and wellness facilities may seem like extreme investments, Deputy said the resort is trying to be responsive to the needs of its guests, who range from single working professionals and families to empty nesters and retirees.

"Many of our younger guests are interested in physical fitness, while many of our older guests are looking for tools to help rejuvenate themselves, both physically and mentally," Deputy said.

Services and amenities are increasingly more important for a campground to compete with other snowbird accommodations. The Golden Village Palms RV Resort in Hemet, Calif., has garnered a reputation for outstanding entertainment seven days a week with tribute bands, jazz performances and dinner shows. They also cater to the pet-friendly traveler with a dog park and weekly Bark & Wine parties.

A significant portion of the snowbird community has always been RV travelers but a new trend is growing. Park model RVs are cabin-like homes built on RV chassis and are perfect for people who don't want to or can't own an RV, but still want the luxury of a home-away-from-home for much less than a seasonal condo or apartment rental. Park models now outnumber other RVs at the Sun-N-Fun RV Resort, with 600 RV sites, 810 privately owned park models and 105 park-model rentals.

Kathi and John Volger have traded in their fifth-wheel RV and bought a park model that they keep at Sun-N-Fun. "We had snow in New Jersey before Halloween this year and it was dark by 4 p.m.," Kathi Volger said. "We did a lot of sitting around complaining about the cold and couldn't wait to get to Florida for the winter." Because the Volgers own their park model, they can leave everything they want behind when they return home at the end of the season.

Arizona-based Carefree RV Resorts, which offers more than 10,000 RV and park-model sites throughout the sun belt, expects to see a 6% increase in revenue over last winter. "The snowbird business is stronger than ever. The convergence of a steadily recovering economy, the demographic bulge of baby boomers who embrace travel and leisure, the ease of connectivity for travelers, and the growing appeal of RVing as a vibrant lifestyle will likely fuel growth for decades," said Colleen Edwards, president of Carefree RV Resorts. "What's particularly encouraging is that the snowbird season is extending every year with many of our guests, who have traditionally checked out in March, staying through April."

Texas has seen a particularly robust season this year as well, with parks from the central part of the state, known as the Texas Hill Country, to the southern border of the Rio Grande Valley reporting a year-to-year increase ranging from 5%-37%, that is credited to the severe winter weather in the north. But it's not just the campgrounds that are benefiting from this winter's frigid temperatures and record-breaking snow.

"According to a University of Texas Pan Am study of snowbirds, they spend nearly $100 a day when visiting Texas; so the economic impact to the whole community is significant," said Brian Schaeffer, executive director and CEO of the Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO).

Helping fuel this boom is the strong performance of the RV industry that is surging back from the great recession. 2013 shipments hit a four-year high of 321,127 units – up 12.4% over 2012 totals and nearly double the amount of RVs shipped in 2009 at the depth of the recession for the industry.

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Dick Grymonprez Re-elected to RVIA's Board

Dick Gyrmonprez

Dick Grymonprez, director of park model sales for Champion/Athens Park Homes, was re-elected as a Park Model RV representative for a three-year term to the board of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).

He was one of eight RVIA members elected during board elections elections that took place in August, the RVIA reported.

In the election for two Manufacturer seats, Matt Miller, president, Newmar Corp., was re-elected to a three-year term while Bob Martin, CEO, Thor Industries, Inc., was newly elected to the board for a three-year term as well.

Incumbents Adam Dexter, president and CEO, Dexter Axle Co., and B.J. Thompson, president, BJ Thompson Associates, were re-elected to the Board as Supplier members for three-year terms. Martin Street, president and CEO, Stag-Parkway, Inc., was also elected to a three-year term in a Supplier seat.

The election for two at-large representatives saw incumbents Bob Harbin, president and CEO, Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp., and Bob Parish, vice president, GE Capital, hold onto their seats for three-year terms.

The elections took place from Aug. 5-28 with official representatives from member companies casting their votes electronically through an on-line ballot. Those elected to the board begin serving their terms on Oct. 1, 2013.

The board has the highest level of authority in the association’s organizational structure and is responsible for association matters on a broad policy basis.

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RVIA/HGTV Partners for '14 RV Product Show

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) is now working with producers of HGTV’s annual RV special, which has premiered on New Year’s Day for the past 13 years, for the 2014 edition of the program, which has been the cable networks highest rated special for the past several years.

According to the RVIA, filming will take place at America’s Largest RV Show in Hershey, Pa., show in early September. RV manufacturers are being asked to forward information about new models, features, innovations or accessories that their company will have on display at the event to RVIA’s director of media relations at kbroom@rvia.org or by calling him at (703) 620-6003, ext. 304.

While RVIA cannot guarantee your product will be featured, RVIA would like to be sure producers are aware of the newest, most innovative and interesting products our industry is making.

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July Shipments Rise 15%; Motorized Up 46%!

Wholesale shipments of all RVs continued at a torrid pace in July where manufacturers reported a total of 26,212 units for the month, an increase of 14.7% ahead of the same month one year ago, the Recreaiton Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) has reported.

Conventional and fifth-wheel travel trailers and Class A and Class C motorhomes grew the most with truck campers and Class B motorhomes off slightly.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, wholesale shipments in July were at an annualized rate of more than 339,000 units, nearly 12% greater than the previous month and ahead of this same month last year by more than 14%. Through July, manufacturers have reported a total of 201,120 units shipped to retailers, up 13.1% over this same period last year.

See the complete report below.

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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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RVIA June Shipments Up 12.1%, YTD Up 12.8%

Through the midway point of 2013, RV wholesale shipments tracked by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) have climbed to 174,871 units, 12.8% higher than the same point last year, the RVIA has reported.

Motorhome shipments have jumped by 33%, rising from 19,425 units this year versus 14,576 units last year. Towable shipments have grown from 140,412 units to 155,446 units, a gain of 10.7%.

Total monthly wholesale shipments to retailers of all RVs were reported at 30,856 units in the June survey of manufacturers, an increase of 12.1% compared to this same month last year. This marked the 18th consecutive monthly total that was ahead of the same month one year earlier.

Towable RVs increased 8.7% on shipments of 27,409 units, while motorhome shipments were ahead by 48.2% on 3,447 units shipped to dealers in June. Seasonally adjusted, June’s total represented an annualized rate of 302,700 units.

The full shipment data appears below:

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Louisville Show Will Stay at KEC Through 2015

Kentucky Exposition Center

Officials of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) have agreed to return their largest annual trade show to the Kentucky Exposition Center (KEC) in Louisville, Ky., through 2015, with renewal options through 2019.

As reported by the Courier-Journal, RVIA’s National RV Trade Show is one of only five shows that use all 1.2 million square feet of the center’s exhibit space. It usually draws more than 12,000 attendees and generates nearly $8 million in local economic impact.

The 2013 trade show is scheduled for Dec. 3-5 at the center. The 50th anniversary event in 2012 drew 68 manufacturers and 235 suppliers displaying the latest recreational vehicles and related products. Attendees included dealers, warehouse distributors, accessory store owners and campground operators.

The show, which has been in Louisville for nearly 30 consecutive years, is not open to the public. For information, go to www.rvia.org.

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