Editor’s Note: The following is a column authored by Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) Chairman Derald Bontrager for RVIA Today tracking events that have jumpstarted the RV industry in 2015. Bontrager is President and CEO of Middlebury, Ind.-based Jayco Inc.
The other day as I paid my bill at the gas station, which was under $40, I thought –Wow, is this ever amazing! Then my mind went to the consumer and,more specifically the RV buyer, and the positive impact this same experience must be having on everyone. Not only does it leave more discretionary dollars to purchase an RV, but the positive psychological impact this has on consumers cannot be understated.
Personally, I don’t believe that gas prices alone swing the RV market very far one way or the other. However, when you combine more affordable gas prices with low interest rates, strong credit availability, lower unemployment, and a rising stock market then you have all the ingredients for another robust year for the RV industry. And, if the encouraging news from early retail shows are an indicator, then the RV market is off to a great start.
In another positive development, the industry received some very encouraging news on the HUD issue concerning how park model RVs are measured. Meanwhile, Dianne Farrell, Matt Wald and the Government Affairs team along with an ad hoc committee headed by Gregg Fore continue work to clear up once and for all the government definitions of RVs, park model RVs, and manufactured housing. When this is completed it will be a huge benefit for the entire industry and a significant accomplishment that we as individual companies likely could not achieve on our own.
I and others from the RV industry traveled down under to Melbourne, Australia, for the World RV Conference hosted by the Caravan Industry Association of Australia from Feb. 25-27. Richard Coon addressed the conference on the state of the U.S. RV market, and we also heard from RV officials with Japan, South Africa, Europe, Canada, and Australia.
These reports in conjunction with breakout sessions, renowned speakers, and the networking opportunities made for a very informative and productive conference underscoring that RVing is a truly global industry.
TheWorld RV Conference is being followed by RVIA’s Annual Meeting, taking placeMarch 10-12 at the Ritz-Carlton in Sarasota, Fla. I know, I know…no rest for the weary! This event is a tremendous opportunity to network with your peers, hear compelling presentations and learn more about all RVIA does on our behalf.
This year a special emphasis is being placed on Young Achievers with association members being refunded the registration fee for bringing a key young manager to the meeting to introduce them to the association.
I hope to see you at the Annual Meeting this year. If not, then I hope you mark your calendar for next year’s event. It is a great way to support the industry and promote your company.