Darrell Friesen

Editor’s Note: The following column by Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) Chairman Darrell Friesen, appearing in the April issue of RV Executive Today, tout the importance of state dealer associations.

I recently got back from the California RV Dealers Association (CalRVDA) convention and was excited to see dealers attending for education and learning about local and state issues and to spend time with our sponsors and industry partners. Looking back on it made me think about state and local dealer associations.

RVDA does a lot for dealers on a national level, but there are things that it doesn’t do, for various reasons, on the state and local levels. It’s not a matter of either/or but of both working together to help and protect dealers at all levels. Our California state association helps in legislation, lobbying efforts and advocacy at the state capital, and promotion of the RV industry within the state. Some state associations also manage retail RV shows. These duties and oversights are complimentary and beneficial to all dealers.

The national RVDA does not, and cannot, get involved in state laws and legislation issues, although we are here to inform and advise. Each state has different laws and issues, and what’s important and relevant in one state may not be in another. So it’s difficult for a national association to take blanket positions on issues where there may not be a national dealer consensus. It’s up to dealers to protect themselves at the local level.

Examples include different opinions on whether to allow out-of-state dealers into RV shows and, if so, whether to open the show to all dealers or just dealers in contiguous states that have similar allowances. Likewise, dealers close to Indiana and dealers on the coasts have very different views on RV delivery freight charges.

Like most state departments, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has a national association (American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators) that shares ideas and programs, so what happens in California or New York can spread inland across the country. That’s one reason it’s so important for state associations to be aware and lobby what is going on to protect dealers.

Almost 25 years ago, some California dealer visionaries realized that dealers needed to band together to fight some of the harmful legislation that was being aimed at our voiceless industry in Sacramento. They got together and turned to RVDA for help. RVDA helped organize the state association, and to this day we have a very special (but independent) relationship. RVDA provides support for CalRVDA dues collection, dealer lists, and information on upcoming legislation that can affect California dealers.

I encourage all dealers who aren’t involved in their state associations or who don’t have one to get involved. The rewards far outweigh the excuses I’ve heard for not participating. You can control the amount of time you commit to spend and, in my experience, the payback will far exceed what you put in.