Bob Parish

Bob Parish

Editor’s Note: The following column by Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) Chairman Bob Parish tracks the industry’s momentum on several fronts during the winter months.

As it is said, to everything there is a season and while some may think winter is a time for the RV business to go dormant, the exact opposite is actually the case.

The wheels on RVs go round and round all through the year. As RVIA Chairman, I witness the seasonal swirl of activity from many vantage points. Believe me, there is no hibernating going on.

Case in point: December just clocked in as the best December on record in terms of wholesale shipments to retailers of all RVs, with nearly 33,000 units dispatched. This marks a 17.6% increase over last December and pushes 2016 total RV shipments to 430,691 – the best yearly total in 40 years and the seventh consecutive annual increase in RV shipments since the end of the last recession. A more complete breakdown of the data is provided in this issue, but the topline numbers bear repeating. It’s a time to enjoy the growth and the strength of our industry.

Winter is also the time when consumer RV shows roll into towns across the country and continue throughout the spring months. To date, the shows are turning in outstanding performances. Record crowds are showing up to view more RVs on display than ever before – and people from all walks of life are buying RVs in a variety of shapes, sizes and price ranges. The positive reports from coast to coast bode well for another strong year for the RV industry.

January is a time to plan. As the calendar turned, Go RVing unveiled its 2017 national media and marketing initiatives to continue promoting RV ownership. Equipped with recent Nielsen research identifying targeted groups of potential customers, the team has developed a full-throttle campaign that incorporates TV, print, digital, promotional partnerships, and experiential components. Expanding outreach to millennials and Hispanics is a major focus. On the flip side, the PR team has been busy churning out lifestyle and business news coverage for the industry and has an assortment of upcoming media-related activities lined up to engage key influencers throughout the year.

These past months have also been a time for ramping up federal efforts. From pushing for the passage of the Outdoor Recreation’s Economic Contributions (REC) Act to forming the Outdoor Recreation Industry Roundtable and participating in inaugural events, RVIA continues to actively advocate for the industry on multiple fronts.

I personally want to thank the many members who participated in our biggest Advocacy Day ever last June and took time to meet with elected officials to enlighten them on the economic impact of the RV and outdoor recreation industries. Thanks to their groundwork, and the support of numerous House and Senate RV Caucus members, the REC Act passed. The association looks forward to working with the new Trump Administration and Congress to continue promoting and protecting members’ interests in state and federal legislation/ regulation.

Now is the time to continue our resolve as an industry to stay strong, fit and healthy. Our annual meeting (rebranded as the RV Leadership Conference) is scheduled for March 1-3 in Boca Raton, Fla. It’s the perfect opportunity for all segments of the association to come together to develop a deeper understanding of critical industry and member issues. Dynamic speakers, in-depth reports and ample time to network along the beautiful South Florida coastline beacon.

As the season shifts to spring and the RV wheels keep turning, I look forward to more busy and productive times ahead. Remember to save the date for Committee Week June 4 – 7 in Washington, D.C. That seems a long way off, but as another song says, June will be busting out all over before we know it.