Bill Estes, group publisher of RV publications for Affinity Group Inc. (AGI), announced his retirement after almost four decades as an influential journalist, book author and editor for a host of RV consumer publications by the Southern California firm.
“I am very happy for Bill as he enters his long-awaited world of retirement,” said Mike Schneider, AGI president and CEO. “It will be very difficult for me personally, and all of us in the company to lose on a daily basis the guidance and support of a person who has accomplished so much in his distinguished career with this company.”
Estes worked for the Los Angeles Times before joining Southern California-based Trailer Life Publishing Co. Inc. in 1968. As the company grew, Estes became technical director for all RV publications at a time when the RV marketplace was in its infancy and lacked third-party insight into the emerging lifestyle of recreation vehicles.
“Bill’s credibility in the marketplace was so strong that a number of RV industry entrepreneurs succeeded in this business in large part because of his careful product evaluations, product testing and technical suggestions,” Schneider said.
Estes later became publisher for Trailer Life and MotorHome magazines, eventually rising to Group Publisher for all RV magazines published by parent company AGI, Ventura, Calif.
Estes was recognized in 1980 as the first recipient of the RVIA Distinguished Achievement in Journalism Award. He also received a special award in 1984 from President Reagan for his work in Trailer Life on the national park and forest system and was inducted into the RV/MH Hall of Fame in 2002.
“As a leading advocate for the RV consumer, a tireless and devoted staffer for the RV magazines and a highly respected representative to the RV industry for AGI, Bill has achieved iconic status in the RV market,” Schneider said. “His integrity and honesty in reporting about the RV lifestyle and related issues have become the standards for responsible industry journalism.
“For example, in the early 1980s, Bill almost single-handedly and courageously brought to light problems associated with overloading of micro-minimotorhomes,” Schneider added.
Estes, whose last day at AGI is May 19, will continue representing AGI in a consulting role as he travels around the U.S. in his motorhome.