Despite an epic winter that hampered business nationwide, the U.S. RV arena has exhibited an incredible resilience – a fact that was underscored by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) recently reporting the best February for wholesale shipments in eight years.
Unemployment in the RV-building hub around Elkhart, Ind., likewise, has settled in at 6.2%, the lowest rate since May of 2008 and a far cry from the 20%-plus levels that brought President Obama and the national press to town during the recession.
National economic analysts, at the same time, foresee the U.S. economy – based on strong recent growth – poised for its best performance in three years.
All these positive signals will likely serve as the backdrop for the 2nd Annual RV Industry Power Breakfast slated for May 8 at the Northern Indiana Event Center and RV/MH Hall of Fame. Registration for the event goes live today on the RVBUSINESS.com website and through banners on RVB’s daily news feed. In-person signups are offered at the Hall of Fame and at RVB’s (2901 E. Bristol Street) Elkhart office.
“You know, you can hardly look forward without keeping a keen eye on the recent past and realizing just how fortunate we’ve been here lately with the rising level of consumer confidence that we’re seeing across the board,” observed RVIA Chairman Doug Gaeddert, a general manager for Elkhart-based Forest River Inc., who will also present remarks at the breakfast. “Even months of inclement weather — and the resulting obstacles we’ve all faced in getting our products to market – failed to slow the pace we’ve regained over the past three years.”
Bottom line, adds Gregg Fore, president of Elkhart-based Dicor Corp. and the immediate past chairman of RVIA, the resurgent state of the market is a reaffirmation of America’s ongoing love affair with the great outdoors.
“Keeping in mind that we never know what’s around the next corner, economically speaking,” says Fore, who will again emcee the breakfast, “the fact of the matter is that the activity level at this winter’s retail shows and the general buzz right now among dealers, manufacturers and suppliers can only lead to one conclusion: That the desire on the part of millions of people to camp and recreate in the outdoors has bridged the global downturn. And that, my friends, is darn good news.”
This year’s Power Breakfast, featuring a 7 a.m. buffet and 7:15 a.m. program, is facilitated by Elkhart-based RVBusiness magazine and BJ Thompson Associates, and sponsored by Dicor, Dometic Corp., Forest River Inc., GE Capital, Jayco Inc., Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), Spartan Motors Inc. and Thor Industries Inc.
On stage for this year’s program will be representatives of RVIA, the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) and KOA, as well as the Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce and, schedule permitting, teleconference remarks from first-term U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind).
Anchoring the program’s first half will be an updated look at the industry’s Go RVing marketing campaign led by James Ashurst, vice president of communications and marketing for RVIA, with backup from RVDA President Phil Ingrassia and Go RVing Coalition co-chairmen Bob Wheeler, president of Airstream Inc., and Tom Stinnett, principal of Tom Stinnett Derby City RV Center.
A high-profile panel discussion after the break will feature Forest River’s Gaeddert, Thor President & CEO Bob Martin, Jayco Inc. President & COO Derald Bontrager, Lippert Components Inc. CEO Jason Lippert, Patrick Industries Inc. President & CEO Todd Cleveland and Airxcel Inc. President & CEO Mel Adams.