Frank Hugelmeyer, the former president and CEO of the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), has been named the next president of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) and will officially take the seat on Oct. 1 after Richard Coon retires. Coon served as RVIA president for the past 10 years.
After an extensive search over the past several months, the RVIA Presidential Search Committee recommended and the RVIA board approved the hiring of Hugelmeyer during the association’s Committee Week meetings, held May 31-June 4 in Washington, D.C.
Hugelmeyer, who beat out 50 other candidates for the position, will assume the position of president elect on July 13 to work with Coon during a period of transition until he officially takes over Oct. 1.
“I am enthusiastic to join, and work for, such a highly respected association as RVIA,” Hugelmeyer said. “It is a special opportunity to combine my professional expertise with the outdoor recreation lifestyle that I personally enjoy.
“RVIA is a strong organization with an important mission. From connecting more people to meaningful experiences through Go RVing to providing innovative solutions for increasingly mobile customers, RVIA members have a bright future. I look forward to working with the talented board and management team to help the association deliver outstanding value to the members.”
RVIA Chairman Derald Bontrager, who led the search committee, said he is excited to be working with Hugelmeyer.
“Frank’s proven track record of success in for-profit companies and most recently as president and CEO of the Outdoor Industry Association make him ideal for leading RVIA into the future,” he said.
Bontrager, president and CEO of Jayco Inc., added that Hugelmeyer is “passionate about and loves the outdoors and is a strong advocate for all outdoor recreation segments working together, along with our legislators, to protect and enhance the consumer experience.”
Other search committee members, at least initially, included Dicor Corp. President Gregg Fore and Doug Gaeddert, a general manager for Forest River Inc. – both past RVIA chairmen – along with Cummins Power Generation RV Business Director Gary Enyart, Newmar Corp. President Matt Miller, GE Capital Vice President Bob Parish, and Thetford Corp. President Kevin Phillips.
Background in the Outdoor Industry
Hugelmeyer since November 2014 has been president of Recreation Influence Strategies LLC, a Denver-based management consulting firm where he has been recognized internationally as a leading expert on outdoor recreation business and consumer trends. As such, he’s consulted regularly with companies that include The North Face, Patagonia, Timberland, L.L. Bean, REI and Amazon, along with numerous governmental agencies, non-profit groups and foundations.
From 2000-2014, Hugelmeyer was the president and CEO of OIA, the Boulder, Colo.-based trade association of the outdoor recreation industry. In this capacity, Hugelmeyer worked with the world’s premier outdoor brands and business executives in the areas of recreation economics, public lands policy and consumer trends.
In addition, he has served on a wide variety of boards and advisory groups including The Outdoor Foundation, The National Forum on Children and Nature, Sustainable Apparel Coalition, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Western Governors’ Association Recreation Task Force and President Obama’s Partnership for America’s Great Outdoors. Previous employment includes six years as vice president of sales and marketing for Lowe Alpine and two years as director of sales and marketing for Bodyguard Fitness.
Hugelmeyer served on the OIA board for one year, then became its president and CEO in 2000. His tenure was marked by significant growth for the organization prior to his resignation in October of 2014 which, by most media accounts, was unexpected. Hugelmeyer told Specialty News, a media outlet covering the outdoor and fitness industry, last September that his departure “was a mutual decision.”
During his time at the helm of OIA, Hugelmeyer took the fledgling organization from, by his account, six employees and $1,700 in savings in December of 1999 to an association representing the $646 billion outdoor recreation industry whose membership today stands at 1,300 and is the title partner for the largest and fastest growing outdoor products trade show in America. According to Hugelmeyer’s LinkedIn profile, under his watch OIA experienced a “decade-long run of 14% average annual growth that increased group budgets by 800%.”
Regarding Hugelmeyer’s time with the OIA, an industry veteran told RVBUSINESS.com, “While leading the Outdoor Industry Association, Frank Hugelmeyer demonstrated that he is very bright, has an intense strategic orientation, is well connected in the commercial and political outdoor worlds (primarily outdoor gear/products), has an understanding for tariffs management and speaks well in front of audiences.”
One of the ways Hugelmeyer achieved this growth, the Specialty News article stated, was to embark on an aggressive campaign to broaden its scope beyond the “hikers and campers” to a “greater array of outdoor enthusiasts.”
The article further stated Hugelmeyer, himself an avid outdoorsman, admitted his greatest accomplishments with OIA also brought bigger challenges. “It’s become tougher to pull together, and keep together, all the different stakeholders,” Hugelmeyer stated in the article. “You constantly have to find that 30,000-foot level decision that everyone can support.”