Heartland owners gather for opening day dinner at rally

Heartland Recreational Vehicles welcomed around 280 RVers towing 133 rigs June 14-17 at the Cam-Plex in picturesque Gillette, Wyo., marking the seventh running of the Annual North American Heartland Owners Rally.

According to a press release, the national rally, hosted by the Elkhart, Ind.-based builder, has evolved into a major event for owners as attendees in Gillette represented 34 states and three Canadian provinces. Jim Beletti, director of owners interests for Heartland, reported that a majority of the club members arrived a week early for an informal pre-rally, held at the Box Elder Campground situated on the Cam-Plex grounds.

“Attendees had a great time catching up with friends and making new ones, along with enjoying potlucks, open houses and visiting local restaurants,” Beletti said. “Our goal is to offer something for everybody.”

Founded in March 2008 under the direction of Beletti, the Heartland Owners Club has continued to refine and expand its rally program. The Gillette gathering offered a full range of activities, including nine lifestyle and 13 technical seminars. In addition, local dealer Stalkups RV Superstore provided owners with a first-hand tour of the company’s latest travel trailer and fifth-wheel models.

During the official opening of the rally on Thursday, Heartland Vice President of Sales Coley Brady visited the Cam-Plex, spending the day with club members and delivering an address that evening. “Heartland RV takes great pride in hosting this special event as the rally is a wonderful experience for participants,” Brady said.

Chris Hermon, who recently succeeded Brian Brady as Heartland president, said that the interaction with Heartland’s customer base is not only key to building relationships, but also provides valuable feedback on product.

“Customers drive our decisions every day as we develop and enhance our product lines,” Hermon said. “These kinds of events give us the opportunity to learn more about our products by hearing directly from the people that use them. It’s just one more factor that separates Heartland from the competition.”

During the event, attendees toured some of the landmarks in Gillette, including a trip to the Alpha Butte Mine and the Rock Pile Museum, while also providing a boost to the local business community.

“When the club holds rallies in communities around North America, we have an economic impact on these communities with campground fees paid, diesel fuel bought, and money spent at restaurants and local businesses,” Beletti said.

He also stressed that one of the staples during each rally sponsored by the Heartland Owners Club is to include a “charitable component.”

“This year in Gillette, we selected ‘Blessings in a Backpack’ for our ‘Heartland Gives Back’ initiative,” Beletti said. “I set a goal of $2,000 – enough to fund 25 backpacks of food to feed 25 children for an entire weekend during the school year. I am pleased to report that on the final day of the rally, we presented 94 giving envelopes containing a total of $4,224 – enough to fully fund 53 backpacks.”