With a record-setting crowd in attendance at the 42nd Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., many manufacturers appear to have exceeded their preshow expectations.
“I had pretty modest expectations, given the market performance and the fact that Airstream had a banner show in 2003,” said Richard “Dickey” Riegel, president of Airstream Inc., Jackson Center, Ohio. “We not only blew through our results of last year, but we substantially increased our order position and new dealer interest. I was surprised.”
John Sammut, director of sales for Nappanee, Ind.-based Newmar Corp., reported the high-end manufacturer posted “an all-time high for the company.”
“Last year we wrote a little over 200 orders,” Sammut said. “At this year’s show we exceeded 550 orders.”
Newmar also displayed a concept London Aire diesel bus that proved to be the hit of the show.
“At 3 o’clock in the afternoon on the last day of the show there were still people waiting in line to look at the London Aire,” Sammut said.
A few manufacturers admitted to coming up short of last year’s sales performances, but none would do so on the record.
A record 14,450 people registered for the Nov. 29-Dec. 2 industry-only show at the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center (KFEC), where the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) booked an all-time high of 773,000 square feet of exhibit space for 98 RV, park-trailer and chassis manufacturers and 304 suppliers.
“Overall, manufacturers, suppliers and exhibitors were very upbeat and all had an excellent show,” said RVIA Chairman Bruce Hertzke, chairman and CEO of Winnebago Industries Inc., Forest City, Iowa.
Roger Martin, Winnebago vice president of sales and marketing, said the company received an “excellent response” from its dealers.
“We were extremely pleased with the traffic and dealer interest at the show,” Martin said.
Four Winds International Corp., Elkhart, Ind., added some new dealers, according to Dana Simon, vice president of sales and marketing. “We had a very good show, and we have a very optimistic outlook coming out of the show,” Simon said. “Our diesel products were very well received.”
Tiffin Motor Homes Inc., Red Bay, Ala., posted strong sales, according to Chairman Bob Tiffin. “Our dealers are all real optimistic about the market and about the units they can sell,” Tiffin said.
“We had an exceptionally good show,” said Rose Yoder, sales coordinator for KZ Inc., Shipshewana, Ind. “We got a lot of orders and picked up quite a few new dealers.”
Bill Harris, director of sales for Pilgrim International Inc., Middlebury, Ind., said the company went to the show with some specific goals.
“Quite frankly,” Harris said, “we really didn’t know what to expect because we had done a good job of stocking up our dealers. But after the dust settled, it looks like we about doubled what we were aiming for and doubled our numbers from last year. The traffic was unbelievable. We were buried for most of the show.”