MARVAC's Bill Sheffer

MARVAC’s Bill Sheffer

The 25th Annual Fall Detroit Camper & RV Show, Oct. 1-5 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, Mich., had another successful run. Organizers reported attendance figures totaled 12,000 people, up from last year’s record numbers.

“We were extremely pleased with the turnout,” said Bill Sheffer, director of the Michigan Association of Recreation Vehicles and Campgrounds (MARVAC) which annually sponsors the show. “There was an increase in attendance and the majority of dealers I talked to who were moving their units out Sunday night all seemed to be pleased with the number of sales and leads. All in all, it went well.”

More importantly, crowds were in a buying mood as many dealers told RVBUSINESS.com they enjoyed strong sales at the show.

General Manager Norm Wells of National RV Detroit in Belleville, Mich., reported sales were better than last year and exceeded expectations with people buying RVs across all segments and price points. “The show had both quality and quantity — quality buyers and many of them,” he said, adding they had 40 units on display.

For the year, Wells said National RV Detroit is enjoying strong sales across the board, and he was particularly encouraged by the upswing in motorized units. “We’re up. It’s been fantastic,” he said.

Larry Andree, president of A&S RV Center in Auburn Hills, Mich., talks with attendees of the 25th Annual Fall Detroit Camper & RV Show

Larry Andree, president of A&S RV Center in Auburn Hills, Mich., talks with attendees of the 25th Annual Fall Detroit Camper & RV Show

Sales Manager Matt Veurink for Veurinks RV Center in Grand Rapids, Mich., also reported an uptick in motorhome buyers. “It was a good show with good traffic. We were happy with the results – can’t complain,” Veurink said, adding that for the year travel trailers have been very strong. “We have also seen a good push on motorhome traffic the past few months.”

Larry Andree, president of A&S RV Center in Auburn Hills, Mich., brought 28 units, including six motorhomes and a truck camper with the rest split evenly between trailers and fifth-wheels. Andree said the show may have been a “touch behind” last year’s results, but quickly added that 2013 was the dealership’s best showing ever.

“The crowd was good as far as their intentions on buying, but they were fighting that urgency. They wanted to buy now, but they wouldn’t use it until spring. So they weren’t ready to pull the trigger just yet. We have that issue every year at this show,” Andree said.

Andree said this year was shaping up to be the best year ever for the 54-year-old RV dealership. In fact, they were one unit short in September of reaching that milestone. Andree said the record sales are a combination of financing being more readily available and consumers having a positive attitude. “And gas prices are a nonfactor now,” he added. “No one is even bringing them up anymore.”

Bob Green, national sales manager for General RV, said their dealership, which brought about 80 units, had at least a 20% increase in sales compared to last year. “The RV show went very, very well, and all segments performed equally well,” he said, adding this will be the second consecutive year General RV will see segment increases across the board. “There has been a lot of new people entering the RV lifestyle, which bodes well for the future.” 

Matt Veurink, sales manager Veurinks RV Center in Grand Rapids, Mich., shows a motorhome to attendees

Matt Veurink, sales manager Veurinks RV Center in Grand Rapids, Mich., shows a motorhome to attendees

General RV Marketing Director Dennis Anderson agreed, saying there were “many people looking at new motorhomes and families looking at trailers for vacations this fall and next summer.” He added, “I think it is safe to say RV vacations are more popular than ever and the folks that attended the show found out how affordable RVs truly are.”

Robb Kortmann, sales manager of American RV, also in Grand Rapids, said the show “was great for the time of year.”

“We sold some RVs and there was also great interest for the spring of next year,” Kortmann said. “Customers’ attitudes were positive about wanting to upgrade their current RV.”

American RV had 16 units at the show, ranging from entry-level travel trailers to a Monaco Dynasty motorhome. Kortmann said each price point drew attention and they had the most success with couple’s models along with bunkhouse floorplans.

“We spoke to a lot of people who did not have a tow vehicle and were out looking to see what kind of RV they like so they can match up the right vehicle,” Kortmann said. “Overall, we have been having a great year and are anticipating a great 2015.”

This year’s RV show had expanded to take up the entire 214,000 square feet of showroom floor. In recent years, the Fall Detroit Camper & RV Show had occupied roughly two-thirds of the show floor, with the remaining space occupied by a Home & Garden Show running concurrent with the RV show.

MARVAC is a nonprofit, state trade association that represents all segments of the recreation vehicle and private campground industries in Michigan.