When the final tally was in, a total of 2,426 family coaches registered for the Family Motor Coach Association’s 82nd (FMCA) Annual International Convention in Bowling Green, Ohio, where Fleetwood RV Inc. and Monaco RV LLC made their respective debuts after their predecessor companies succumbed to bankruptcy earlier this year.
”Fleetwood and Monaco both were there, but in reduced number,” said Jerry Yeatts, FMCA director of conventions and commercial services. ”We were happy to see them.”
And although FMCA was generally pleased with the venue at Bowling Green State University and Wood County Fairgrounds about 25 miles south of Toledo, this will be the Cincinnati, Ohio-based organization’s last convention in its home state unless laws are changed to allow retail sales at such events.
”We worked for two years to get the state of Ohio to change their laws regarding sales at events like ours,” Yeatts said. ”The unfortunate situation is that we were working with commitments and promises from legislators that never developed. If the laws change, we would consider going back to Bowling Green, but they are going to have to change first.”
Not only do RVers attending the event look forward to seeing the latest motorhomes, offering them for sale is an integral park of the event, Yeatts noted.
”Sales are extremely important for our commercial members, and it’s also vital to our families to be able to select new motorhomes at the conventions,” he said.
While 18 motorhome manufacturers and five Ohio dealers displayed coaches during the event, the inability to close sales apparently was partly responsible for fewer display coaches at the convention — 153 versus 491 at FMCA’s 2008 summer convention in St. Paul, Minn.
In a large display up front, Fleetwood unveiled its new Bounder Classic, a back-to-basics, gas-powered motorhome designed for value pricing and optimal functionality, according to Fleetwood President John Draheim.
More than 300 vendors selling products and services occupied 75,000 square feet of space in the Charles Perry Field House on the university campus.
Yeatts emphasized that even in the midst of a severe recession gatherings such as the FMCA convention in Bowling Green are important.
”We know there still is a traveling public and once you get involved in this lifestyle, it’s addictive,” Yeatts said. ”There’s still a need for an association like FMCA to promote the lifestyle and the comraderie that goes along with it.”