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Attendance was down during the RV industry’s national trade show in Louisville last week, but many of the exhibitors feel the industry has hit the trough of its cycle.

Consequently, many see improving market conditions in 2001, particularly during the second half.

Total attendance at the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) sponsored trade show was down 5.4% this year to 12,051 people, compared with 12,749 attendees for the 1999 show.

However, the number of RV dealers, aftermarket accessories store operators and wholesale distributors who attended the show was down 7.6%, according to the RVIA.

But many exhibitors were pleased with the amount of business they transacted and contacts they made during the show, which took place Nov. 28-30.

“The show as better than we expected,” said Randy Lemasters, sales manager for Nu-Wa Industries Inc., Chanute, Kan. “There is some confidence now that we turned the corner, particularly in the high-end.”

Elkhart, Ind.-based Coachmen Industries Inc. was “pleased with the upbeat mood of the dealers and with our orders,” said Jim Baxter, vice president.

Monaco Coach Corp., Coburg, Ore., wrote between 700 and 800 orders during the Louisville show “which is average, not spectacular,” said Mike Duncan, corporate marketing manager.

Monaco is looking for more dealers to carry its relatively new McKenzie brand of towables. But the company “didn’t pick up hardly any new dealers” because many dealers spent the last several months trying to reduce the size of their inventories, Duncan said.

Because adding a new brand requires carrying a bigger inventory, there were few dealers adding the McKenzie line at Louisville last week, he said.

Tom Walworth, general manager of Statistical Surveys Inc., the market research firm that gathers RV retail sales data nationwide, believes 2001 will be a mirror image of 2000. The year 2000 started strong and finished weak, but Walworth believes 2001 will start off weak and finish strong.