Editor’s Note: The following column, authored by Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) Chairman Bob Parish, appears in the Winter issue of RVIA Today.
When Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora wrote “The More Things Change the More They Stay the Same,” they were describing life in the music industry in 2010.
I also happen to think there are a lot of parallels in their lyrics to how the RV industry has grown since our first comeback year, which was also in 2010. The RV industry has been on a steady growth trajectory since 2010, with 2017 as our best year ever in terms of shipments, and the eighth consecutive year of shipment growth.
I think it is a testament to our industry that many of our leading players were with us in the depths of 2008 and 2009, and that they – and you – had the willingness, the fortitude and the trust in our business and the RV lifestyle it provides to our customers to continue to make high-quality products that were embraced as the economy improved.
Indeed, things do change and somehow stay the same. For instance, campgrounds are getting better, but they still need modernization. The RV industry is growing, but the traditional demographic groups of RV owners are not, so we must widen our appeal to new audiences, as we have done repeatedly over the decades. And, in an age of teleconferences and virtual reality, people still find value in coming together for industry trade shows and we are going to reinvent ours to be better than ever by early 2019.
The U.S. Department of the Interior is still a cabinet-level agency, but what has changed is the recognition – from Secretary Ryan Zinke and his key deputies – that the outdoor recreation industry is worthy of seats at the table when park policies are discussed. The secretary has created the Recreation Advisory Board to occupy those seats and, in turn, the industry has created the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) to provide policy input not only to the administration, but also in the halls of Congress.
Speaking of the halls of Congress, I want to ask you to consider joining me, other board members of the RVIA and your many industry colleagues for this year’s Advocacy Day, a key component of Committee Week in Washington, D.C., to be held June 5–6. When members of the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives and their staffs hear directly from us, they are hearing the industry story in the most effective way possible.