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The Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA) reflected on a strong first quarter during its recent quarterly board meeting and implemented a plan to mend fences with the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) concerning participation in the National RV Trade Show in Louisville Nov. 30-Dec. 2.
The meeting, held at the Embassy Suites Hotel Phoenix-Scottsdale in Arizona, focused on shipment reports through March, showing a 21% increase over last year’s first-quarter totals and an industrywide order backlog that could result in record numbers for the year.
“The board was delighted with the excellent rate of growth the industry was experiencing compared with the first quarter for 2003,” said William Garpow, executive director of the Newan, Ga.-based trade association. “Shipments went from 1,761 in 2003 to 2,131 in 2004, representing a 21% increase for the January, February and March time period.
“Most manufacturers also reported backlogs of additional shipment orders that were extending out for a record number of months giving rise to the hope for a record year of shipments.”
Garpow cited several factors fueling the increase, including a heightened awareness among consumers and a more stable economic situation compared to 2003 when the war in Iraq tempered consumer spending. Garpow said the industry’s overall demographics had “edged down slightly,” broadening the consumer base to include younger buyers.
“We’re starting to see our core demographics move from the 62 to 65 age group down to the upper 50s and include people with families,” Garpow explained.
Park trailers are moveable resort homes generally used in recreational areas, offering temporary quarters for owners and featuring residential-style construction and amenities.
The primary agenda item at the meeting was discussion of the RVIA’s recent decision to exclude park trailers from the Louisville Show, beginning in 2005. The move was prompted by repeated problems over the past several years with manufacturers bringing units that could bearly fit through the doors to the Kentucky Fair & Exposition Center (KFEC).
“Some OEMs, unbeknownst to us, have brought units to the show that are just too big,” Garpow said. “RVIA has done a Herculean job of accepting and moving these units. They’ve really gone the extra mile, but it’s created a burden that they shouldn’t have to deal with.
“What we have offered is that we will implement a plan where RPTIA will go to each manufacturer to check and make sure their units meet the size requirements. Basically, we will be the enforcers. If they show up in Louisville and don’t meet requirements, then they will be turned away.”
Part of RVIA’s decision included the possibility of using a different venue in Louisville for park trailers. Garpow said that might not work because “we would actually be in competition” with RV manufacturers for a dealer audience to see their products.
“There are several RV manufacturers that produce park trailers, like Damon, Skyline and Forest River,” Garpow said. “There are also about 626 dealerships that handle our product, so I think it’s best for the industry to include us in the show.
“We feel if we hold up our end of the bargain, this problem will go away.” Garpow said the board had submitted correspondence with RVIA that was to be reviewed during RVIA’s Committee Week in Washington, D.C., June 7-10.
“I have heard that it has been very well received,” he added. “We want to continue being an exhibitor at the KFEC.”