RVDA convention logoWith the value of industry networking and problem-sharing escalating on the heels of the Great Recession, recreational vehicle retailers have an added incentive to attend this year’s RV Dealers International Convention/Expo, Oct. 6-9 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas: RVDA’s Brand committees.

Created in late 2007 by the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) board of directors, the committees first convened at the 2008 Con/Expo to bring together dealers who carry the same manufacturers’ brand in an effort to improve dealer-manufacturer business relationships. Ten of the 13 committees are scheduled to gather during the upcoming four-day program.

“Brand committee face-to-face meetings and telephone conference calls provide opportunities for discussing topics in a candid and confidential manner with the goal of finding all-win, cost-effective solutions to industry-wide problems,” noted RVDA Director of Industry Relations Jeff Kurowski in the September issue of RV Executive Today. This has proven especially true during the past year, as manufacturer and dealer closings and an influx of new OEMs has altered the industry’s landscape.

His remarks were echoed by Jeff Hirsh of Campers Inn of Kingston, Kingston, N.H., chairman of the KZ Brand Committee, which conducted a telephone conference in July following the 2010 KZ RV product introduction at the company’s Shipshewana, Ind., headquarters. “Brand committees are a true partnership that will allow us, dealers and manufacturers, to mature together,” he said.

Among the brand committees that have scheduled meetings at the Rio during the upcoming Con/Expo:

Tuesday, Oct. 6:

  • Heartland: 2:30 to 3:45 p.m., Tango Room
  • Damon: 2:30 to 3:45 p.m. Lambada Room

Wednesday, Oct. 7:

  • Jayco: 9 to 10:15 a.m., Tango Room
  • Winnebago/Itasca: 9 to 10:15 a.m., Conga Room
  • Dutchmen: 10:30 to 11:45 a.m., Tango Room
  • Starcraft: 10:30 to 11:45 a.m. Conga Room
  • KZ RV: 2:30 to 3:45 p.m., Tango Room
  • Monaco/Holiday Rambler/R Vision: 2:30 to 3:45 p.m., Conga Room
  • Keystone: 4 to 5:15 p.m., Tango Room
  • Fleetwood Motorized: 4 to 5:15 p.m., Conga Room

An array of seminars have also be scheduled for the 2009 RV Dealers International Convention/Expo in addition to open and proprietary workshops interspersed throughout the event. Among them is a workshop focused on helping dealers learn the ins and outs of the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Dealer Floor Plan Pilot program and a two-part “Compliance Super Session” intended to provide up-to-date information on safety and compliance issues faced by dealerships.

Mike Huckabee

Mike Huckabee

On the evening of Oct. 7, morever, the Rio will be the site of the 2nd Annual RV Business Top 50 Dealer Awards cocktail party and dinner, honoring the best RV dealerships across North America. Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas and an apparent front runner for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, will serve as the event’s keynote speaker. Huckabee, 53, a star in conservative circles and host of the No. 1-rated weekend program on the Fox News Channel, served as Arkansas’ chief administrator from 1996 to 2007 and earned a number of accolades during that time, including being named as one of Governing Magazine’s “Public Officials of the Year” for 2005. Time Magazine also honored him as one of the five best governors in America. In 2008, he ran for president and, while unsuccessful, established a national following in the process for his soft delivery, muscial bent and populist style.

The winning Top 50 dealerships, previously announced in RV Business magazine and on RVBUSINESS.COM, were selected based upon the dealers’ overall focus on professionalism, association activities, civic involvement, best practices and consumer care. During the awards presentation, 10 of those 50 will be further recognized as Blue Ribbon retailers — and one of those 10 will be chosen as the 2009 Dave Altman Award honoree for lifetime achievement in RV retailing and exceptional corporate citizenship.