Doug Gaeddert

Editor’s Note: The following is a letter from Doug Gaeddert, recently elected Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) chairman for fiscal 2013, that appears in the latest issue of RVIA Today. Gaeddert, general manager of Forest River Inc., offers his thoughts on taking over for Gregg Fore and some of the issues the organization will be facing in the coming year.

As I begin my term as RVIA chairman, I would like to thank the RVIA Board of Directors for their vote of confidence in electing me. I am looking forward to leading this selfless group of individuals who dedicate their talents and time for the greater good of the RV industry.

In my decade of service on the board, I’ve participated in many board meetings, and I remain impressed by the fact that although many “competitors” sit around the same table, it’s rare that a “partisan” attitude is displayed. Washington could learn a lot from most of these folks! Even though differing positions are often staked out originally, facts are dug up, arguments are made, and compromises are reached. The results prove to be good decisions the majority of the time. For those decisions that don’t produce the desired results, it’s also a Board that’s humble, nimble and confident enough to change course as opposed to running aground or into an iceberg!

I’m also eager to work with our outstanding RVIA staff, which I liken to a formidable football team. They are led by RVIA President Richard Coon, who has become an “elite quarterback.” The way he confidently and competently stepped in to lead the association following the retirement of Dave Humphreys reminds me of Aaron Rodgers taking over for Brett Favre…it’s too early to use the Andrew Luck-Payton Manning analogy!

And just like Aaron Rodgers, Richard is surrounded by great players in the “skill positions.” This includes the seasoned group of wily veterans with years of experience — Vice President of Administration Mac Bryan, Vice President of Meetings and Shows Mike Hutya, Vice President of Standards and Education Bruce Hopkins, Vice President of Government Affairs Dianne Farrell and Vice President of International Business and General Counsel Craig Kirby. James Ashurst, vice president of public relations and advertising, is the closest thing to a rookie, but he is proving to be an RGIII or Andrew Luck type of draft pick.

Without question, one topic that will continue to draw the attention and discussion of the entire RV Industry is the “Fall Schedule” as it has come to be known. This is the series of shows, meetings and events beginning with America’s Largest RV Show, hosted by PRVCA in Hershey, Pa., in September, and culminating with RVIA’s National RV Trade Show in Louisville at the end of November.

In between are various other events including RV Open House Week in the greater Elkhart area; RVDA’s Convention and Expo in Las Vegas; RVIA’s California RV Show in Pomona; Route 66’s annual meeting; and, various 20 Group meetings, and supplier shows, etc…

The question is which ones does a person attend and where do they invest their energy, time and money with so many options available? To me the answer is potentially different for each individual or individual company. There is no set answer for the entire industry as the needs, wants and opinions are too diverse to list. The ultimate answer is where you feel you get the best return for yourself and/or your company. The beautiful part about playing a role in a free market economy is that it’s ultimately decided by the votes you cast with your time, energy and money in that free market.

I like to apply the phrase “you can’t make somebody love you”! My wife Lisa and I have used it with our kids as they’ve grown up and I’ve also used it with countless sales people over the years. It holds true pertaining to the “Fall Schedule” conversation as well. People will love you, or your “event,” or your product because they truly want to, not because you told them that they have to.

The “Fall Schedule” debate won’t be answered by a small amount of experts, it will be answered by the free market and industry members voting with their time and money to attend those “events” that they love attending because they’re so valuable and rewarding that you never want to miss them!

In closing, I’d like to thank Gregg Fore for his tremendous work as RVIA Chairman for the past two years. He did an exemplary job in guiding the association as we looked to rebound from the market downturn. In applying another football analogy, I hope it works out as well as it has for the Steelers with Mike Tomlin (me) taking over for Bill Cowher (Gregg)!