The threats of two approaching hurricanes and the stormy economic climate failed to dampen the spirits of 225 people attending the 28th annual Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA) State Convention Sept. 5-7 at the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
Attendance was down about 15% from last year’s convention, according to Lance Wilson, FRVTA executive director, “but we’re happy with the attendance we got, and it was a very enthusiastic group.” The convention theme was “Passport to Tomorrow…RV Ready.”
The trade association represents more than 500 dealers, manufacturers, campgrounds, dealers, insurers and lenders in the Sunshine State. Wilson said that although the association has lost three of its 128 dealers this year and several multi-site dealerships have consolidated their business, new members from the service sector offset this loss. Overall, membership has held steady during the year.
According to Wilson, FRVTA members have a positive outlook going into the upcoming winter season, which starts in October. “The campgrounds reservations are up, actually,” Wilson said. “The campground business has been doing well through the summer. They’re expecting a good winter.”
During the gathering, Gary LaBella, vice president and chief marketing officer for the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), and Mike Molino, president of the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), provided their insights into the current state of the industry and a look ahead over the next 18 months.
Four state representatives took part in a roundtable discussion on how the Florida’s budget crisis will affect state services. The consensus was that Department of Transportation services are likely cuts in the next budget, Wilson said. The Florida Legislature does not meet again until next March but holds committee meetings and hearings throughout the year.
The association honored outgoing officers and executive committee members. They were: President Sherry Perkins, Tri-Am RV Sales, Ocala; Vice President Donnie Davis, Cummins Power South, Tampa; Treasurer Larry Shaffer, Rivers Bus & RV, Jacksonville; Secretary Gunars Mansons, American Insurance, Fort Lauderdale; and Honorary Chairman Scott Schmidt, Southern Strategies, Fort Myers.
The executive committee members for 2008-09 are: Perkins, honorary chairman; Davis, president; Shaffer, vice president; Sam Abdo, treasurer, Holiday on Wheels, Panama City; and Rob Rothenhausler, secretary, Ocean Grove RV, St. Augustine.
FRVTA members also took part in an annual golf outing and toured nearby St. Augustine.