Brad Albrechtson, chairman of National RV Holdings Inc., told investors last week (March 18) that he doesn’t expect rising gas prices to directly affect the sale of the company’s mid- and high-line Class A motorhomes. “Fuel prices don’t directly impact RV sales,” Albrechtson told analysts during equity research and investment banking firm B. Riley & Co.’s annual investor conference March 16-18 in Las Vegas. “The impact that rising fuel prices can have is that they tend to hold down consumer confidence. People are going to buy these items (Class A motorhomes) when they feel pretty good about their future.’’
Perris, Calif.-based National RV Holdings is the parent company to mid-line manufacturer National RV Inc., also Perris, and Country Coach Inc., Junction City, Ore., a builder of high-end diesel pusher coaches. Overall, National Holdings was the sixth largest manufacturer of motorhomes in 2004, according to Statistical Surveys Inc., Grand Rapids, Mich. Albrechtson, in tracing the RV industry’s general growth for 10 years, pointed out that motorhome sales increased from $2 billion in 1993 to $6 billion in 2003, although unit sales did not grow at the same pace.
“Baby Boomers have a little more wealth than their parents,” said Albrechtson, whose firm recently posted its first profitable years since 2000. “We are finding they buy higher-priced motorhomes with more amenities.’’
Albrechtson said National RV is convinced of the long-term viability of the RV market regardless of the current softness in the motorhome sales and the prediction by University of Michigan economist Richard Curtin that motorized sales will decline 2.5% in 2005 compared to last year.
“We think that over the next five to 10 years there is going to be an upward trend, but in any single year you can find some challenges within the industry,” he said. “In terms of the industry, there is a very strong demographic.”