Judges in the aftermarket category for the inaugural RVBusiness RISE (Recognizing Innovation & Supplier Excellence) Awards program said the criteria guiding their decisions are simple: does the product “enhance the RV experience.”

“I’m excited about the RISE awards because they provide a platform for shining a spotlight on some supplier products that deserve to be seen more broadly among the RV end-user community and the manufacturers,” said Jeff Johnston from Rollin’ on TV. “Being part of the RISE award winners means a supplier has done a great job with its product and that manufacturer has earned a place of honor among its peers. It’s fun to be part of the selection process for the next great batch of supplier hardware.”

Designed to honor the best and most innovative new products marketed by RV industry component suppliers for the 2019 model year, the RVBusiness RISE Awards program will recognize one winner and four runners-up in two categories – Aftermarket and OEM – from supplier-submitted entries based on innovation, functionality, customer acceptance, competitive impact, performance measures and other criteria.

Managed by RVBusiness Editor Bruce Hampson and Managing Editor Rick Kessler, the panel of judges represents some of the industry’s most respected technical experts. While judges in the OEM category will remain anonymous, as they are high-ranking managers from a cross-section of manufacturers, the panelists in the aftermarket category are familiar names to the RV industry, including Johnston and Mark Polk of RV Education 101.

Mark Polk

“I will focus on aftermarket products that truly represent innovative thinking and products that demonstrate the supplier went above and beyond in manufacturing an excellent product for RV owners to use and enjoy as they travel and camp in their RVs,” Polk said. “ As an RV owner, you always look for aftermarket products that make using, maintaining and enjoying all of your RV experiences that much better. When one of those products comes along you look forward to using it and telling others about it, too.”

Picking up on those sentiments was Johnston, who was recognized in 2016 with the RVIA Award for Distinguished Achievement in RV Journalism for his 30-year career as technical editor and contributing journalist at enthusiast magazines.

“RVs are big, flashy and exciting, but it’s the little things that can make them all the more special. Those little things, such as the accessories and aftermarket items we add to enhance our RV experience, often fly under the radar but are vital parts of enjoying RVs,” Johnston said.

“I have fairly simple ideas about what makes a proper RV accessory that stands out from the rest,” he continued. “First and above all else, it must be functional in a practical way that solves an RV-use problem of some type or, in doing so, it improves on an existing device that may have been part of the RV industry for a long time. The accessory must also be well built to ensure a long service life and, if it’s also an attractive visual design, that’s a plus if visibility is a factor.”

Jeff Johnston

Johnston noted that in his eyes it would be beneficial if the accessory is a product that in addition to working on today’s RVs could also be retrofitted to older units, or would still be useful on tomorrow’s RVs. Finally, he added, it must also be cost-effective relative to its use and competitive position in the industry, with its price accurately balanced against its functional value.

Other aftermarket category judges include: Terry Cooper, an RVDA/RVIA Master Certified RV technician and managing director of the National RV Training Academy; Bill Gehr, a longtime RV service center owner/operator and a contributor to and technical advisor for Trailer Life and MotorHome magazines; and RV/MH Hall of Fame inductee Bob Livingston,a 45-year veteran of RV publications who is now consulting in the industry after retiring as senior vice president and group publisher of Trailer Life and MotorHome magazines.

The online entry form for the RISE Awards program is available at www.rvbusiness.com/rise-awards. There is no entry fee. While the entry deadline is Dec. 14, supplier companies are urged to not delay – entries require a significant amount of compelling information (see entry form for details).

Eligible products must have been brought to market between Jan. 1 and Dec. 14, 2018. Older products with a significant demonstrable innovation implemented during this time frame are also eligible. Supplier companies are limited to a total of three entries, although individual products can be entered in both categories.

RISE Award winners will be announced during the 2019 RV Industry Awards ceremony at RVX: The RV Experience, hosted by the RV Industry Association (RVIA) on March 14 in Salt Lake City, Utah.