The newly formed, 3,000-member Fleetwood Motorhome Association (FMA) wraps up its first rally today (June 30) at the CAM-Plex in Gillette, Wyo., with the hope that it won’t also be its last.
Some 405 coaches were registered for the rally June 27-30 with attendance of about 900, including about 50 children who were there with their parents or grandparents.
The rally took on a special significance in that on Wednesday, a bankruptcy court in Riverside, Calif., approved the sale of Fleetwood Enterprises Inc.’s RV division for $53 million to New York investment firm American Industrial Partners (AIP). The sale is expected to close July 10.
Unsurprisingly, Fleetwood’s bankruptcy was a primary subject of discussion among those attending the rally.
“There was a lot of concern about what was going to happen with Fleetwood because there have been so many rumors,” said FMA President Sam Whitaker of Athens, Ala. “Fleetwood came and talked to us at length about what is going on and the sale of the Fleetwood motorhome division. It put a lot of people at ease.”
Still, there was no commitment from Fleetwood executive John Draheim, who spoke to the group on behalf of the newly formed post-bankruptcy Fleetwood, as to whether the new firm would directly support the owners association. Fleetwood in the past had worked strictly with independent owners’ clubs.
“They made no commitment as to what the new (Fleetwood) owners would do about supporting an organization like this,” Whitaker said. “We possibly could do it without them, but it would be a lot easier if they helped. We are going to try our best to keep it going.”
A Fleetwood spoksman had no comment.
The association’s first rally was designed to accommodate children with games, clowns and amusements. “We picked the days after school was out so that if people wanted to come with their children or grandchildren, it would be an opportune time for them,” Whitaker said.
Fleetwood Enterprises supported the FMA Gillette rally with a subsidy that allowed owners to register their coaches for $149 — about half of what it would have cost to put on the rally, according to Whitaker.
“Fleetwood helped us form the organization and promote the rally,” said Whitaker, who with a group of other Fleetwood owners began to put the association together in November 2007. “The rally went really well. People are enjoying themselves.”
About a dozen 2009 and 2010 motorhomes were on display at the rally directly from Fleetwood and from Pikes Peak Traveland Inc. in Colorado Springs, Colo.
And a similar number of vendors also displayed their products and promoted their services during a related expo, including Blue Ox, Silver Leaf Electronics and refurbisher Classic Coach Works.