Close to 300 members attended the Sept. 4-7 34th Annual FRVTA State Convention. As reported in FRVTA’s October newsletter, the gathering was once again held at the Marriott Harbor Beach Resort & Spa in Fort Lauderdale.
“As Florida and the national RV Industry continue to expand and prosper, we want to make sure our members are outfitted with the best tools and insights to be successful,” explained FRVTA Executive Director Lance Wilson. “It’s the primary reason we stage this convention every year.”
Employing a pirate theme this year, attendees received an overview of national RV trends and important business data as well as a special appearance by Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera. The agenda also offered a comprehensive lineup of seminars, including sessions on new retail market data, enhanced methods of time management and online marketing strategies.
Wilson officially opened the convention on Friday by welcoming all attendees, followed by an address from FRVTA President Sam Abdo who pointed out the importance of the various educational seminars designed to enhance the smooth operation of the many businesses represented.
Other speakers included:
• Motivational speaker Scott Burrows, a gifted all-around athlete who suffered a life-changing auto accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down. His emotional message emphasized that people should focus on the positives of each experience rather than on the obvious negatives. He told the audience to make a constructive response and go with change to turn vision into reality.
• Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVDA) President Phil Ingrassia offered an overview of the RV industry from the dealer’s perspective. Saying dealer sentiment is up now and is expected to be so for the next five years, Ingrassia reported that inventory levels are stable and wholesale credit availability is good. Presently, the top issue for RVDA is maintaining the status quo for dealer-assisted financing that is under threat from the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which believes loan discrimination is pervasive.
• Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) President Richard Coon reported on the significant growth in the industry while noting that the increase in shipments had created an extreme backlog of units from reaching dealers – particularly since 71% of the units shipped are now being built in Indiana’s Elkhart County. He said a plan to alleviate the shortage of plant workers and transport drivers is being prepared to hopefully solve this for next year. He also detailed the new “Technicians in Training” program, designed to beef up technician training and certification, along with the national Go RVing marketing campaign.
• FRVTA General Counsel Marc Dunbar was very positive for Florida’s RV industry with a rollback in some taxes on licensing. He also said the PAC Fund has been heavily used during this current election cycle and stressed that the Republican majority in the legislature will continue to place emphasis on the success of small businesses.
The focal point of the convention – education and training – opened Saturday and included breakout sessions led by Rob Cochran from Camping Connection Inc.; Allen Monello from the Automotive Industry Center for Excellence (AICE); Scott Stropkai from Statistical Surveys Inc.; Sharon Curington from Sheridan Technical College; Kim Curry also from Sheridan Technical College and Melanie Fraser from McFatter Technical College; and Sheril Vergara from RH Powers & Associates.