Last spring, transportation companies and RV manufacturers gathered at the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind., to try to come up with a solution for the driver shortage. At the time, it was estimated there was a shortage of about 2,000 drivers and that there were 25,000 to 30,000 recreational vehicles on lots in northern Indiana awaiting delivery.
According to the South Bend Tribune, an hour’s worth of discussion was followed by later meetings, and the industry came up with a solution to make the job more appealing.
Today, there really isn’t a shortage of drivers, said Doug Gaeddert, a general manager at Forest River Inc., who called for the meeting about a year ago while serving as board chairman of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).
In fact, deliveries are running fairly smoothly despite the fact that 2014 closed with 356,735 shipments, a gain of 11.1% over the previous year. It also marked the fifth straight year of increased shipments. And January shipments in 2015 were up nearly 12% from a year ago, at 28,494 shipments, the highest number in nine years.
Transportation companies have been able to recruit enough drivers for several reasons, he said. “The three biggest keys were the driver pay increases, elimination of previously required trailer washes and (the addition of) 72-hour dealer check-in allowances.”
He credited Forest River CEO Pete Liegl with getting these changes. “Liegl’s aggressive moves to address the problem late last summer were instrumental in the year-over-year improvements in the industry,” Gaeddert said.
Doug DeMeyer, president and owner of MDZ Trucking in Shipshewana, agreed there’s no driver shortage now. But he also pointed out that not every manufacturer has the table set as nicely for drivers as Forest River, which has streamlined the delivery process.
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