Arkansas RV Dealership Hit By Tornado Sun.

April 29, 2014 by · Comments Off on Arkansas RV Dealership Hit By Tornado Sun. 

Editor’s Note: The following was reported by freelancer Rick Kessler, exclusive to, sister site to

Owner John Ward and employees of Mayflower RV/Auto have begun the long process of picking up the pieces after a tornado completely destroyed their Arkansas dealership Sunday night (April 27).

In the wake of the storm, employees at the dealership’s two other locations in Sherwood and Van Buren Townships have been helping their Mayflower coworkers sift through piles of twisted travel trailers, overturned motorhomes, autos and other debris.

To view the devastation, watch this aerial video on YouTube.

The Sherwood location is serving as a drop-off site for people to donate water, food, clothing and other supplies for victims of the tornado. One employee there said a flatbed truck loaded with bottled water had already been dropped off.

A message was delivered to Ward seeking comment, but was told Ward was understandably too busy to return phone calls. A KATV television reporter, speaking live Monday morning from what used to be the Mayflower RV main building, said employees were also too busy to talk on camera because they were cleaning up the 70 RVs and dozens of autos that had been scattered like toys.

People took to social media to pass along their best wishes to Ward and the Mayflower RV employees.

“We bought our camper from ya’ll 3 years ago, please know our prayers are with all of you & your employees! So sorry for your loss, we hope recovery is fast for you. God Bless,” stated Christy & Bob Utterback of Clarksville, Ark., on Mayflower RV’s Facebook page.

The tornado that hit Mayflower could be rated as the nation’s strongest twister to date this year, according to the National Weather Service. NWS meteorologists reportedly have confirmed it will be rated no lower than EF3, which has winds greater than 136 mph. At least 16 people died, and dozens of homes were leveled.

The tornado carved an 80-mile path of destruction as it passed through or near several suburbs north of Little Rock, including Mayflower, The Associated Press reported. It grew to be a half-mile wide and remained on the ground for much of that route, authorities said.

No one was injured at Mayflower RV. An employee on the property surveying damage Monday morning said three people who stayed on the property — two in a mobile home and one in an RV — made it to a basement inside a building that was destroyed and escaped unhurt.

The Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) reported that the Red Cross and Salvation Army are directing relief efforts for the area.

Go to or text “redcross” to 90999 to make a $10 donation to disaster relief through your mobile carrier. Charges will apply to the following month’s cellphone bill.

The Salvation Army is accepting donations online at, by phone at (800) 725-2769), or by texting “STORM” to 80888 for a $10 donation. Checks made out to Arkansas tornado Relief may be mailed to The Salvation Army, P.O. Box 738, North Little Rock, AR 72115-0738.

Town Hall Slated For RV Power Breakfast

April 14, 2014 by · Comments Off on 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, the RV/MH Hall of Fame or RVBusiness’s Elkhart office at 2901 E. Bristol Street.

Sign Up Now For RV Industry Power Breakfast

March 31, 2014 by · Comments Off on Sign Up Now For RV Industry Power Breakfast 

PrintDespite an epic winter that hampered business nationwide, the U.S. RV arena has exhibited an incredible resilience – a fact that was underscored by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) recently reporting the best February for wholesale shipments in eight years.

Unemployment in the RV-building hub around Elkhart, Ind., likewise, has settled in at 6.2%, the lowest rate since May of 2008 and a far cry from the 20%-plus levels that brought President Obama and the national press to town during the recession.

National economic analysts, at the same time, foresee the U.S. economy – based on strong recent growth – poised for its best performance in three years.

All these positive signals will likely serve as the backdrop for the 2nd Annual RV Industry Power Breakfast slated for May 8 at the Northern Indiana Event Center and RV/MH Hall of Fame. Registration for the event goes live today on the website and through banners on RVB’s daily news feed. In-person signups are offered at the Hall of Fame and at RVB’s (2901 E. Bristol Street) Elkhart office.

“You know, you can hardly look forward without keeping a keen eye on the recent past and realizing just how fortunate we’ve been here lately with the rising level of consumer confidence that we’re seeing across the board,” observed RVIA Chairman Doug Gaeddert, a general manager for Elkhart-based Forest River Inc., who will also present remarks at the breakfast. “Even months of inclement weather — and the resulting obstacles we’ve all faced in getting our products to market – failed to slow the pace we’ve regained over the past three years.”

Bottom line, adds Gregg Fore, president of Elkhart-based Dicor Corp. and the immediate past chairman of RVIA, the resurgent state of the market is a reaffirmation of America’s ongoing love affair with the great outdoors.

“Keeping in mind that we never know what’s around the next corner, economically speaking,” says Fore, who will again emcee the breakfast, “the fact of the matter is that the activity level at this winter’s retail shows and the general buzz right now among dealers, manufacturers and suppliers can only lead to one conclusion: That the desire on the part of millions of people to camp and recreate in the outdoors has bridged the global downturn. And that, my friends, is darn good news.”

This year’s Power Breakfast, featuring a 7 a.m. buffet and 7:15 a.m. program, is facilitated by Elkhart-based RVBusiness magazine and BJ Thompson Associates, and sponsored by Dicor, Dometic Corp., Forest River Inc., GE Capital, Jayco Inc., Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), Spartan Motors Inc. and Thor Industries Inc.

On stage for this year’s program will be representatives of RVIA, the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) and KOA, as well as the Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce and, schedule permitting, teleconference remarks from first-term U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind).

Anchoring the program’s first half will be an updated look at the industry’s Go RVing marketing campaign led by James Ashurst, vice president of communications and marketing for RVIA, with backup 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.

A high-profile panel discussion after the break will feature Forest River’s Gaeddert, Thor 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.

RV industry Convenes at ‘Power Breakfast’

April 15, 2013 by · Comments Off on RV industry Convenes at ‘Power Breakfast’ 

The RV industry has a new event coming up — and this one’s happening right in the industry’s very heart. The inaugural Power Breakfast on May 9 will include some of the biggest names in the industry, according to a news release.

It’s “a truly precedent-setting gathering” for the area and the industry, said Sherman Goldenberg, publisher of locally-based trade publications RV Business and Woodall’s Campground Management. The publication is coordinating with B.J. Thompson to bring the breakfast to the Northern Indiana Event Center at the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind.

Officials from towns around the area “are being personally invited to the event, as are representatives of relevant trade associations like Reston, Va.-based Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), Fairfax, Va.-based RV Dealers Association (RVDA) and the Recreation Vehicle Indiana Council (RVIC) in Indianapolis,” said Thompson.

Doug Gaeddert, this year’s RVIA chairman and general manager for RV giant Forest River, will share host duties with Gregg Fore, president of RV supplier Dicor Corp., his predecessor as chairman of the RVIA.

Speakers include Elkhart Mayor Dick Moore; Tim Hyland, president of the RV group for GE Capital; and Dorinda Heiden-Guss of the Economic Development Corp. of Elkhart County. Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., may address the group remotely if his schedule allows.

Jim Rogers, CEO of Kampgrounds of America Inc.

There will be two keynote addresses, one by RVIA president Richard Coon and vice presidents James Ashurst and Mac Bryan, and the second by Jim Rogers, chairman and CEO of Kampgrounds of America (KOA).

KOA, Dicor, Forest River, the EDC and GE Capital are sponsoring the event, along with Spartan Motors, Thor Industries and Dometic Corp.

Goldenberg said it’s a chance for the mid- and upper-level managers in the RV industry to get industry-wide information usually only available at major trade shows, which are held out of state.

Goldenberg said the time is right for the event, which he hopes will become an annual occurrence. “What we in Elkhart County wind up with post recession is a recreation vehicle industry that’s smaller than it was in 2006, 2007 by a significant percentage, maybe a third fewer companies at all levels: dealer, supplier, manufacturer. Yet we have 85% of national shipments generated out of greater Elkhart County … what amounts to, economically, a genuine phenomenon here. As the industry regrows, and it is regrowing, these companies in the Elkhart County zone are gaining strength and influence proportionally.

“It’s a phenomenal transformation and a generator. You watch these companies grow right now day to day,” he said.

“We thought it was just a thing to do to sit down together and appreciate what has occurred here and to recognize just how good we have it right now,” Goldenberg said. “We’re certainly on the mend. We hold this breakfast to sit down together in a business atmosphere, to generally share our thoughts on where the industry’s headed.

“We’re bringing to town the intelligence of national recreational vehicle industry leadership. They’ll share their outlook for the industry, where they think the challenges are, where they think the opportunities are,” Goldenberg said.

Response has been good so far, with many people reserving spots in the couple of weeks since the event was announced. “We’re quite pleased,” Goldenberg said.

Tickets are $25 or tables of eight for $175, though individual prices go up after April 25 to $30 per person. To register go to

WCM’s Bob Ashley Receives RVIA Honor

March 15, 2013 by · Comments Off on WCM’s Bob Ashley Receives RVIA Honor 

Bob Ashley

Bob Ashley, a columnist for Woodall’s Campground Management and RVBusiness   magazines, has been honored by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) with its “Distinguished Service in RV Journalism” award.

The award was announced at the RVIA annual meeting last week in Orlando, Fla.

Ashley is an Indiana-based freelance writer/editor and a 25-year newspaper veteran who has focused on the RV industry and national recreation issues for 18 years.

Ashley writes a regular column, titled “On Campgrounds,” for WCM, in which he talks about current business trends with campground owners and operators around the country, and “Public Domain” for RVB.

He also writes for other trade publications.

The RVIA’s script on the announcement follows:

“The Distinguished Achievement in RV Journalism Award is presented to journalists for exemplary coverage of the RV industry or RV travel. Bob Ashley has covered the RV industry for nearly 20 years as both a trade writer for RVBusiness and a reporter for enthusiast publications such as Motorhome and Trailer Life. He specializes in writing about the research, development and production of RVs and in his career has covered the industry’s evolution in product development from the frontlines. He also examines key legislative issues affecting the RV industry in his “Public Domain” column in RVBusiness.”

The award will be presented during Committee Week in June.

Sept./Oct. Issue of RVB Now Available Online

September 13, 2012 by · Comments Off on Sept./Oct. Issue of RVB Now Available Online 

Sept./Oct. cover of RVBusiness

Led by increasing numbers of travel trailers and fifth-wheels moving through the RV industry’s pipeline — those two segments accounted for more than 84% of all RVs sold last year and are logging year-to-date increases on the current calendar — it’s no surprise that 2012 is shaping up as the “Year of the Towable.”

It’s also the cover story for the September/October issue of RVBusiness magazine, sharing space with the upcoming 5th Annual Elkhart County RV Open House Week. The entire issue is now available in digital form on the RVBUSINESS.COM website.

Open House, in fact, commands a special 30-page section in this issue that includes interviews with Forest River Inc.’s Pete Liegl, Thor Industries Inc.’s Bob Martin and others focusing on next week’s “unofficial” trade show playing out on the streets of Elkhart County. There is also an inside look at new-model debuts planned for the event and a special dining guide for out-of-towners — and the most extensive map of Open House exhibitors available anywhere.

In addition to listing the specific location and display hours for every participating RV manufacturer, the exclusive RVB map also details show information for a growing number of Elkhart-based RV suppliers playing host to visiting dealers at their company headquarters and local manufacturing facilities.

With upwards of 4,000 dealer personnel expected for Open House, this issue of RVBusiness provides invaluable information during their stay — and it’s accessible online in the most reader-friendly format available. Simply scroll down to the bottom right of the RVBUSINESS.COM home page and click on the cover image.

RVBusiness and Woodall’s Campground Management are both published by G & G Media Group LLC.

RV Industry Newsmaker of the Year: RV Open House

January 16, 2012 by · Comments Off on RV Industry Newsmaker of the Year: RV Open House 

Aerial view of Forest River Inc. dealer meeting in Elkhart, Ind., in 2009.

RVBusiness magazine has selected the continued emergence of the Elkhart County RV Open House as the “RVB Newsmaker of the Year” for 2011.

Click here to read the story posted online at the magazine’s website,