In remarks at the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) Annual Membership Meeting on Wednesday (March 11) in Sarasota, Fla., RVIA Chairman Derald Bontrager told members that the association is as strong as it has ever been.
“The RV market is vibrantly healthy and growing; we are in excellent fiscal shape; we have a first-rate professional association staff representing us; and, most importantly, we have active, engaged members who volunteer their time and expertise to serve on the board and committees working to guide the association,” said Bontrager, president and CEO of Middlebury, Ind.-based Jayco Inc.
RVIA reported in a news release that Bontrager specifically focused on RVIA’s work to address the U.S Housing and Urban Development Agency’s (HUD) memorandum in October that changed the way park model RVs were measured and the expansion of the Technicians In Training (TNT) program as examples of how the association works across industry lines for the benefit of all.
“When the park model segment of our industry came under fire with the HUD decision, RVIA rallied and worked with our dealer and campground partners from across the nation to address the issue,” Bontrager said. “The unified approach spurred action and results with HUD backing off the new measurement process and preparing regulations that will define RVs by NFPA 1192 and ANSI 119.5 standards to which they are built. This will hopefully fix the HUD definition of RVs once and for all.”
The TNT pilot program was launched last year to increase the awareness of and participation in the industry’s technician training and certification programs. The effort put “boots on the ground” with field reps calling directly on dealerships in the Pacific Northwest, Texas and Louisiana. One hundred and eighty dealerships were visited with 608 RV technicians participating in 47 training events. Based on that success, RVIA will join with RV manufacturers, suppliers and dealers to fund the implementation of the program nationally over the next three years.
Coon: Shipments to Grow for Sixth Straight Year
RVIA President Richard Coon reported to attendees that wholesale RV shipments are expected to grow for a sixth straight year in 2015.
Wholesale shipments are anticipated to reach nearly 380,000 units, an increase of 3.9% from the 2014 total. The forecasted total is more than double the industry’s recession low, and would be the highest mark since 2006.
“While things look good for our industry, I think there’s still a wealth of untapped potential,” Coon said. “We need to solidify our position with current RV owners and traditional buyers while finding ways to reach non-traditional buyers who would enjoy the RV lifestyle.”
He said the growth is predicted for every product segment of the RV market in 2015, with the strongest increases expected among conventional travel trailers and fifth-wheel trailers. The industry’s resurgence reflects the ability of manufacturers to quickly deliver new features and options that appeal to changes in the marketplace.
“RV manufacturers have done a good job of positioning themselves to take advantage of a better economy,” Coon said. “As consumer confidence grows, it can only mean good things for our continued growth.”
Coon also updated attendees on the Strategic Planning Committee meeting that took place prior to the Annual Meeting.
“This group met to review our strategic plan and prioritize areas of focus for RVIA for the next two years,” he said. “They reaffirmed RVIA’s mission statement and identified pursuing several initiatives, including developing a concrete plan for success for the National RV Trade Show; bringing the definition of RVs within HUD to a successful conclusion; implementing the TNT program nationally and defining expansion for Canada; and, engaging a broader group of members in the association.”
Coon added that the recommendations of the Strategic Planning Committee will be assigned to RVIA’s standing committees for the development of specific proposals to be considered by the association’s board.
He also reported that the RVIA board approved naming Mick O’Donovan of Keystone Automotive Operations Inc. and Jeff Rutherford of Airxcel to the board and Dave Schutz of the Dometic Group as the RVIA representative on the Certification Governing Board.