Gasoline cost $2 or more a gallon in some parts of the country and war against Iraq appeared inevitable, but despite it all, dealers had an upbeat attitude during the Coast Distribution System Inc. show in Las Vegas Feb. 11-12, according to Dave Berger, Coast’s executive vice president.
“If you get caught up in the doom and gloom, your business will not be successful,” Berger said. “If you are not ready (with an adequate amount of inventory) in March, you won’t be ready in July.”
Around 850 RV and boat dealerships were represented at Coast’s show at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino. After a strong recovery year in 2002, the RV dealers attending the Coast show were “cautiously optimistic” about 2003, Berger said.
“I’ve been in this industry 30 years and last year was the first when we out-performed the economy,” Berger said. “No one (among the RV dealers attending the Coast show) said their sales were off when compared with 2001.”
Coast is a distributor of around 25,000 different replacement parts, supplies and accessories to more than 15,000 customers, mostly RV and boat dealers, in the United States and Canada. Coast’s sales during its show in February “were better than the past year,” Berger said.
A significant portion of the components distributed by Coast are purchased by consumers at the time that they buy RVs or boats from dealers. Consequently, the volume of new-unit sales is an important factor in determining Coast’s sales, he said.
Different RV product types sometimes require different supplies and accessories, but Berger said the strength of Coast’s sales during its show was across the board.
Although wholesale shipments of all types of RVs grew by 21% in 2002, outpacing the 10% growth in motorhome retail sales and 9.5% growth in towable RV retail sales last year, Berger does not believe dealer inventories have become excessively large.
Dealer inventories were too small during 2002 so some inventory replenishment is needed, he said.