RV Industry Rolling; On Track for Big Year

January 3, 2014 by · Comments Off on RV Industry Rolling; On Track for Big Year 

The recreational vehicle industry is having one of its best years ever and is on track to reach its projected 10% gain in shipments.

As reported by the Goshen (Ind.) News, even in the traditionally slow month of November, shipments of recreational vehicles continued to surge. The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) said wholesale shipments of RVs to retailers jumped 5.8% in November over the same month in 2012.

And as of the end of November, the industry had shipped 299,451 RVs, the largest year-to-date total in six years. The growth in year-to-date shipments was 12.2%, according to the RVIA statistics.

The growth is a continuation of the industry’s climb back to prominence after the 2008-09 recession. And the growth is expected to continue into 2014.

“The growing strength in RV shipments is due to the strong affinity consumers have for RV travel and ownership coupled with strengthening economic conditions that have been rising like home and stock values, improved availability of credit, continued gains in jobs and incomes, and higher consumer confidence,” said Bill Baker, senior director of communications for the RVIA.

“Things are good,” said RVIA President Richard Coon when he addressed his membership at the National RV Trade Show in early December. “Growth is everywhere, not just in North America interestingly enough. Growth in the RV industry is going up and up and up.”

For the full article click here.

RVIA Wants to Work With Campground Owners

December 6, 2013 by · Comments Off on RVIA Wants to Work With Campground Owners 

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.”

Opinion: RV Open House is Gaining Traction

September 20, 2013 by · Comments Off on Opinion: RV Open House is Gaining Traction 

This map of Elkhart County shows some of the RV firms (shown in blue) that were exhibiting new products this week during the Sixth Annual Elkhart County RV Open House. Displays were most prolific along the C.R. 6 Corridor (shown in the top right inset) anchored by the Thor Industries Inc. at the RV/MH Hall of Fame. Map courtesy of RVBusiness.

Editor’s Note: The following is a column by Woodall’s Campground Management and RVBusiness Publisher Sherman Goldenberg offering some thoughts on the Elkhart County RV Open House which ran this week in northern Indiana.

As soon as my stomach lining returns to normal, I’ll do a more thorough assessment of Elkhart’s 2013 Open House. At the time of this writing, in fact, it wasn’t even over, although things were winding down pretty good at midday Thursday (Sept. 19) amid some heavy September rains.

But rain aside, I’ll go out on a limb and say this: In most every respect, from the professionalism of the presentations to total attendance to the general atmosphere of the entire affair around the northeast side of the RV-building hub of Elkhart this week — especially Tuesday and Wednesday — the Open House succeeded in taking another significant step forward this year toward becoming an industry fixture for most of the nation’s recreational vehicle manufacturers and virtually thousands of RV dealers from coast to coast as well as Canada.

There are also signs that, with Open House soirees held by key area vendors like Lippert Components Inc., Dometic Corp., ASA Electronics and Coast Distribution/Husky, this growing ad hoc trade show could someday become more of an important venue for a wider array of OEM suppliers. But hold that thought for the moment because, right now, the supplier role is still clearly secondary.

And while the industry’s two market share giants, Thor Industries Inc. and Forest River Inc., both showed their best sides at their huge respective exhibits at the Hall of Fame and on County Road 6, it was at last night’s climactic Forest River cocktail party at which things seemed to coalesce in my mind as to how far things have come since Forest River’s Pete Liegl first got a gleam in his eye in 2009 during the onset of the recession for a casual kind of dealer get-together during which retailers could cool their jets and relax and, at the same time, perhaps buy some product along the way.

It worked then and, I think most participants will quickly agree, it’s working today in a big way as the industry emerges from the global downturn in a fairly impressive manner. That’s certainly the view of Jeff Babcock, a general manager for Forest River who took a few minutes to chat with He says things have gone really well from his perspective. “Yeah, we got a better turnout,” said Babcock. “We’re probably up 10% peoplewise from last year. I think 4,000 is about the mark on registrations – 4,000 individuals. As far as dealerships, I don’t know the number.”

That’s 4,000 registrants at Forest River alone, not including dealers who came into Elkhart to visit literally dozens of other manufacturers. Thus, it’s fair to say, the hotels were packed for miles.

“We’re basically sold out, and we’re just trying to find places (hotels) because, you know, we cut registration off last week and we were still getting calls from people who wanted to come in,” added Babcock. “I mean, we had a ton of dealers. And this place was packed both nights. We had a big country western band in here last night. And everybody’s been out in the displays. Again, we got lucky with weather on the first two days. And our venue is just the best in terms of being able to show a maximum number of products and floorplans. We’ve had more than 600 units on display. The dealers say it’s better than Louisville. The atmosphere’s great. Really, you can’t walk around Louisville with shorts on. This is the place. This is my favorite venue for a wholesale expo.

Dealers check out product at Forest River Inc.’s display during this week’s Open House. (Photo by Shawn Spence)

“The dealers just like coming here. It’s the right time of year. It’s the right weather. Things are kind of slowing down, retailwise. They don’t have to be at their dealerships all the time. And they come here, and, again, I think it’s our venue and the amount of product they can see here. They love it. You know, at Louisville we’ve got 100,000 feet. Here, we’ve probably got about 30 acres worth of RVs.”

Babcock says Forest River served close to 3,500 meals each night, and, while it’s hard to gauge the numbers ahead of time, the caterers were real close to running out of prime rib on Tuesday night. “I see this thing just getting bigger every year,” added Babcock. “I don’t think this will ever go away. Now, I can’t say that Louisville will ever go away either. I’m just saying that this won’t go away. It’s just the right time of year. Dealers love coming here for this show. And, again, you get to see so much product here that you can’t show at Louisville.”

The buying atmosphere was also good for Forest River and, from what we were hearing, for an array of other manufacturers as well.

“The best,” he noted. “I mean, we’ve sold a ton of stuff – both towable and motorhomes – our sales guys are knocking it out of the park. And we just want to thank all the dealers for coming out. Without the dealers we don’t have anything. “

And that’s the bottom line for now.


Opening Day at RV Open House ‘Phenomenal’

September 18, 2013 by · Comments Off on Opening Day at RV Open House ‘Phenomenal’ 

Just a fraction of the hundreds of RVs that are on display this week in Elkhart County. This view is a portion of the Thor Industries Inc. display around the RV/MH Hall of Fame. The Indiana Toll Road (in background) passes by the site, giving motorists a view of the new models.

Thousands of RV dealers from across North America came to Elkhart County, Ind., to see thousands of recreational vehicles on display Tuesday (Sept. 17), the first full day of Elkhart RV Open House Week, the Elkhart Truth reported.

Tom Peay of Idletime RV in Allen, Okla., has been coming since Forest River Inc. started the event in 2008. In the middle of the Thor Industries Inc. brands’ mini-town outside the RV/MH Hall of Fame, Peay said, “I believe we get more good out of this than Louisville,” which is where the post-Thanksgiving annual industry trade show is put on by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).

Doug Peay said the advantage of the open houses for dealers is that “we get to see everything new. Pretty much all of the big boys are set up here.”

Matt Zimmerman, president of Keystone RV Co., one of the exhibitors, summed up the start to their open house with one word: “Phenomenal.”

Click here to read the entire story.



GE Capital: RV Industry Enjoys Increased Sales

September 4, 2013 by · Comments Off on GE Capital: RV Industry Enjoys Increased Sales 

Recreational vehicle manufacturers are seeing double-digit growth and RV dealers are selling through products at an increasing rate, said GE Capital, Commercial Distribution Finance (CDF).

According to a press release, that’s consistent with the positive activity seen in the U.S. middle market overall, according to the National Center for the Middle Market (NCMM), a partnership between GE Capital and The Ohio State University Fischer College of Business. The mid-market consists of approximately 200,000 companies with revenues of $10 million to $1 billion, which includes many participants in the RV industry.

“As the U.S. economy continues to experience slow and consistent growth, growing consumer confidence is spurring retail sales of RVs,” said Tim Hyland, president of CDF’s RV group. “We expect that the industry will remain on a growth trajectory through the 2014 selling season. That’s supported by the information gathered by the NCMM.”

Tim Hyland, GE Capital

Despite harsh weather in the spring that affected retail activity in some regions, RV dealers are turning their inventory at a healthy rate of more than 2X. Turnover is a ratio showing how many times a dealer’s inventory is sold and replaced annually. Another measure of dealer health is aging — the ratio of inventory less than one year old to the amount greater than one year old. This ratio shows that aging has steadily declined over the past two years, maintaining a very positive level of less than 10%.

The mid-market reported sustained increases in revenues and employment during the second quarter, reversing declines seen earlier in the year, said the NCMM in its second quarter Middle Market Indicator. Stabilizing top-line growth and increased employment are fortifying optimism in the RV industry and in the broader economy.

Strong and lasting growth and revenue performance in the middle market is fueling increased confidence in the national and global economies. Business leaders expect revenue growth to continue, and they expect to add jobs at a more rapid pace over the next 12 months.

“Dealers have been prudent in their stocking behavior over the past several years,” Hyland noted, “but we’re seeing signs that they are gaining confidence, which aligns with the overall sentiment in the mid-market. As a result, the ordering and stocking levels may increase as dealers seek to avoid missing sales opportunities in a market that continues to improve.”

CDF has supported the RV industry with flexible inventory financing products for more than 30 years. Inventory financing, also known as floorplan financing, allows dealers to stock, market and sell a wide variety of products from RV manufacturers.

CDF also tracks trends in the RV industry related to inventory finance through its network of independent dealers, then reports on those trends to create awareness and understanding of market dynamics. It has significantly expanded its analysis over the past several years; it now provides manufacturers and their dealer customers with a robust array of performance statistics, which are available via CDF’s proprietary online business intelligence tools.

Demand Spurred Winnebago Plant Reopening

August 20, 2013 by · Comments Off on Demand Spurred Winnebago Plant Reopening 

Middlebury, Ind.-based Winnebago Industries Towables Inc. has reopened its second production facility, with the new 2014 Raven fifth-wheel as the first product to come off the line.

“We are very excited to reopen the SunnyBrook plant,” said Winnebago Industries Towables President Johnny Hernandez in a press release.  “Due to increased demand for our Winnebago brand products, which doubled in volume within the last year, as well as the redesign of the entire SunnyBrook product line, we needed to reopen the second production facility. The SunnyBrook building has a footprint of over 200,000 square feet, providing a great deal of capacity to continue to increase our production long-term.”

Along with the brand new Raven mid-profile fifth-wheel, Sunset Creek stick-and-tin travel trailers and Remington laminated fiberglass travel trailers have also been redesigned for 2014.

“As a result of increased dealer orders for our exciting new products, we plan to continue to ramp up production and hire an additional 60 employees within the next year,” Hernandez said.

Thor Posts Record 4Q Sales; Backlog Improves

August 6, 2013 by · Comments Off on Thor Posts Record 4Q Sales; Backlog Improves 

Elkhart, Ind.-based Thor Industries Inc. Monday (Aug. 5) announced record sales as well as an improved backlog for the fourth quarter and full year ended July 31.

Sales in the fourth quarter were $1.023 billion, up 15.2% from $888.2 million in the fourth quarter last year. RV revenue was $913.2 million, representing an 18.6% rise from $769.9 million a year ago. Towable sales were up 12.6% to $745.3 million while motorhome sales enjoyed a 55.8% jump to $167.9 million.

Bus sales were $110.1 million, down 6.9% compared to $118.3 million in the fourth quarter last year primarily as a result of the sale of SJC Industries on April 30.

For the full year, revenue grew 19.6% to $3.69 billion from just over $3 billion last year. RV sales grew 22.8% to $3.241 billion from $2.640 billion, including a 15.9% increase in towable sales to $2.650 billion and a 67.1% surge in motorized sales to $591.2 million. Bus sales were $448.8 million, up 0.9% from $444.9 million last year, including the results of SJC Industries for the first nine months of fiscal 2013 and 12 months of fiscal 2012.

RV backlog on July 31 was $441.5 million, up 31.7% from last year. Towable RV backlog increased 1.7% to $228.4 million and motorized RV backlog nearly doubled to $213.1 million.

With the decision to sell the bus business, which was announced on July 31, the financial results of the bus segment will be presented as discontinued operations for all periods presented in the upcoming annual report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which the company expects to file in late September.

“Thor achieved record sales for fiscal 2013 as the continuing growth of the towable RV market was enhanced by the momentum in the motorized market. We are pleased with the strong fundamentals of the entire RV market and we are excited by the growth prospects in both towable and motorized RVs as we enter our new fiscal year,” said Bob Martin, Thor president and CEO. “In September we will be showcasing our newest RV models as we connect with our dealers at our Open House in Elkhart, which we expect will set a positive tone for the upcoming year.”



RV Industry Sees ‘Release of Pent-up Demand’

July 23, 2013 by · Comments Off on RV Industry Sees ‘Release of Pent-up Demand’ 

Consumers, such as these at the Florida RV SuperShow in January, are buying new RVs at a healthy clip through the first half of 2013.

Midway through the summer driving season, signs of the U.S. recovery go by in a blur as vacationers ply the byways either driving or towing proud new recreational vehicles.

Investor’s Business Daily reported that shipments of motorhomes jumped more than 30% this year through May versus the same period in 2012, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). Shipments of comparatively less expensive travel trailers rose 11%. Trailers make up a bigger slice of the RV fleet, with sales of 128,037 through May compared to just over 15,000 motorhomes.

Most of the units are being bought by dealers to place in inventory, rather than sales to the final owner. Still, the rise in confidence is a welcome change after the industry rolled over early and hard when the economy tumbled. RV sales fell off nearly 50% from peak to trough.

The industry is particularly sensitive to factors such as consumer discretionary spending and rising fuel prices. It “rolled over” before housing and other sectors, and “was in an all-out free fall” by 2006, said Kathryn Thompson, CEO of Thompson Research Group.

“This industry is about as discretionary as you can get,” Thompson said.

Pent-Up Demand

The RV industry started upshifting somewhat in 2010. Sales accelerated in the second half of last year.

“You’re seeing a release of pent-up demand,” said analyst Gerrick Johnson of BMO Capital Markets.

“People who hadn’t bought anything are now replacing (aging RVs),” he said.

Much of that rebound is due to increasing consumer confidence, buoyed by rising home prices and the stock market’s advance to new highs.

To read the entire article click here.

‘RV Capital’ Posted Biggest 2012 Job Growth

July 2, 2013 by · Comments Off on ‘RV Capital’ Posted Biggest 2012 Job Growth 

Elkhart County is national pacesetter in 2012 jobs growth.

There is another strong sign of an economic rebound in Elkhart County in Northern Indiana, hub of the RV industry. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks Elkhart County tops in the nation for job growth in 2012.

The bureau says employment in the area increased 7.4% from December 2011 to December 2012, compared to a national rate of 1.9%.

Within the boundaries of Elkhart County, manufacturing was the fastest driver of job growth, with manufacturing employment in Elkhart County gaining 5,479 jobs during 2012, an 11.6% growth rate in this segment vital to north-central Indiana.

Approximately 83% of the nation’s RVs built in 2012 come from Indiana, with the bulk of that total from Elkhart and adjacent LaGrange counties.

RVIA Distributes the 2012 RV Industry Profile

June 27, 2013 by · Comments Off on RVIA Distributes the 2012 RV Industry Profile 

Cover of the 2012 Industry Profile.


The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) “2012 Industry Profile,” which provides a statistical portrait of RV production and sales from last year, has been published and is now available to the industry.

The publication offers a detailed look at RV production and shipment statistics, including historical comparisons of shipment figures and dollar volume.

It also contains production breakdowns by product type and shipment destination, according to a news release.

An analysis of the production highlights and a demographic profile of the RV consumer are also included in the publication.

Key findings from the 2012 Industry Profile include:


  • Wholesale RV shipments reached their highest annual level since 2007 at 285,700 units, a 13.2% increase over the previous year.
  • The total retail value of those shipments neared $11 billion ($10.8 billion), a 20% increase over the $9.03 billion total in 2011.
  • Indiana continues to lead the country in RV production, manufacturing 83% off all RVs in the U.S.
  • Texas is the top destination for RV shipments, receiving 8% of the total. California (5.87%), Michigan (4.98%), Florida (3.52%) and New York (3.19%) round out the top five.

A copy of the “2012 Industry Profile” was sent to all RVIA members. Additional copies for members as well as industry contacts are available through the publications store at


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