The Florida Recreation Vehicle Trade Association (FRVTA) is taking an aggressive stand on new product release dates by more strictly enforcing a longstanding policy that will allow only 2004 models to be displayed at its Florida RV Supershow in January.
“That’s been our continuing policy,” said FRVTA Executive Director Lance Wilson, who acknowledged that some dealers were allowed to display 2004 models at the 2003 show.
The rule has been in place since the show’s origin to prevent older RVs from being displayed, not to govern the release dates of new units, Wilson said. “We didn’t anticipate this,” he added.
The industry’s ongoing model-year debate resurfaced following the 40th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville in December when Fleetwood Enterprises Inc., Coachmen Industries Inc., and Weekend Warrior Trailers Inc., among others, displayed 2004 models.
Recreation Vehicle Dealer Association (RVDA) President Mike Molino chastised Fleetwood in particular in a column in the January issue of the RVDA’s magazine RV Executive Today.
“Early introduction is bad, and any way we can limit it legally, we ought to limit it,” said Molino, who added that his opinion is based on national dealer surveys.
FRVTA’s decision to enforce the model-year clause in the contract dealers and manufacturers sign with the FRVTA for the Tampa show came during FRVTA’s board meeting in December. It became public after the FRVTA sent a letter proclaiming the association’s intention to Molino and Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) President David Humprheys.
“We took a strong position that the board disagreed with an early model-year introduction,” Wilson said.
In the letter, FRVTA, which represents manufacturers, dealers and suppliers and elements of the campground segment, didn’t cite specific manufacturers but stated, “The introduction of a new model year as early as Louisville (is) detrimental to the industry as a whole and has a tremendous negative impact on the dealer body.”
Wilson characterized the FRVTA as “restating” its rule rather than creating a new policy. And he said, the rule is subject to review.
“This is not over as far as our board is concerned,” Wilson said. “The rule is open to change or interpretation as our board continues to look at this issue. Looking into the future, we need to see if our position is one that might have some detrimental effect on our show or the manufacturing body.”