Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 9.17.54 AMU.S. and Canadian RV manufacturers have nominated 300 RV retailers for the 2015 RVBusiness Top 50 Dealer Awards program, the results of which will be announced by early October so that most T50 dealers will have time to book flights for the RV Dealers International Convention/Expo. Nov. 2-6 at Bally’s on the Las Vegas Strip. The awards will be presented at a Nov. 4 RVBusiness Top 50 Dealer Awards reception.

The reception is free to all Con/Expo attendees, reported Sherman Goldenberg, publisher of RVBusiness and Woodall’s Campground Management magazines, adding that completed dealer applications are to be submitted by Aug. 15. Short extensions are available for those contacting BJ Thompson Associates (BJTA), an Elkhart, Ind.-based agency coordinating the program.

BJ Thompson, for his part, said things are going rather smoothly, partly because of a new approach to getting those applications into dealers’ hands.

“In the past,” said Thompson, “we had used e-mail and regular postal mail to send T50 applications to dealers. We had mixed success in getting the applications through to the correct person or through to the dealership, as it often was lost in the cloud of mail that a dealer typically receives. This year, (BJTA’s) Barb Riley stepped up and sent the majority of the applications to dealers via certified mail, and we are having greater success getting the mailing the attention it deserves. So I’m pleased to report that the 2015 T50 application process is going well.”

The RVBusiness Top 50 Dealer Awards program, focusing on retailers’ overall professionalism and commitment to best practices in all business aspects, is facilitated by BJTA and RVB and underwritten by Ally Financial Inc., Dicor Corp., Dometic Corp., Cummins Power Generation, Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp., GE Capital Commercial Distribution Finance (CDF), Protective Asset Protection and Lippert Components Inc.

“Since reintroducing the program last year, we’ve been amazed at the warm reception it’s received from dealers in general,” said Goldenberg, co-owner of RVB’s parent firm, G&G Media Group LLC, with Vice President of Sales Beverly Gardner Jacobson. “Almost every day, we see the RVBusiness Top 50 dealer logos on websites, e-mails, retail show promotions, lapel pins and advertising, even company-branded polo shirts like those worn in a staff photo we just received from Minard’s Leisure World Ltd. in Weyburn, Saskatchewan.”

Meanwhile, two special dealer awards selected in September along with the rest of the RVBusiness Top 50 Dealer Awards have been renamed to honor two industry leaders:

• The special award for overall commitment to civic involvement and charitable giving will henceforth be known as the “Arthur J. Decio Humanitarian Award sponsored by Ally Financial Inc.” in recognition of the Skyline Corp. founder, now one of the industry’s leading elder statesmen and most renowned philanthropists.

• The other special tribute – honoring a Top 50 dealer for their outside-the-box business strategies and overall business creativity — has been renamed the “Gaylord Maxwell Innovation Award sponsored by Lippert Components Inc.” A former educator, RV dealer and RV consumer lifestyle advocate, the late Gaylord Maxwell championed RV consumer issues and helped spearheaded a benchmarking Consumer Care Commission in the 1980’s.

While things have indeed gone well with the application process, Thompson said there are still a few dealers reticent to answer specific questions that they feel are too intrusive. That concern, says Thompson, is nothing new and is something that the panel of experts that does the selections – comprised of six individuals with a combined 230 years of RV industry experience – will take into account.

“In the course of discussing the application with dealers, some of them have said they were uncomfortable with providing financial information to the extent or detail that the application calls for,” said Thompson. “In those cases we suggest, as we have before, that the dealer complete as much of the application as they can or wish to. We point out that the panel of experts judges dealerships based on the information contained in the application.

“A more complete application gives the judges a better understanding of the dealership,” he added. “But we also suggest that the judges take the entire application into consideration with special attention given to how the dealer measures, attains and maintains high levels of customer satisfaction and outstanding product service. Those are critical sections of the application.”

Thompson, the former long-term RVIA Public Relations Committee chairman, retains possession of all paperwork.

“Because we ask the dealers to be as open as possible regarding their operations so the judges can properly identify dealer excellence and what makes them extraordinary,” Thompson told RVBUSINESS.com, “we are particularly sensitive to the confidential nature of the information. Therefore, we are careful to maintain control of the applications to retain their confidence. The applications are secured and are not shared with anyone outside of the Top 50 judging process.”

Contact Goldenberg at 574-457-3370 or 574-457-6637 or  HYPERLINK “mailto:[email protected][email protected], BJ Thompson at (574) 255-5000/ext. 501 or HYPERLINK “mailto:[email protected][email protected], or Barb Riley at (574) 255-5000/ext. 505 or [email protected]