Towable sales have been the RV industry’s shining star in 2006. So significant is this shift that the RV Business editorial staff has decided to recognize this year’s sweeping trend to tow-type units – calling it “The Year of the Towable” – as the 2006 RV Business Newsmaker of the Year.
RV Business will honor the industry’s top newsmaker during a special event at the National RVIA Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.
“Plenty of forethought went into our choice of ‘The Year of the Towable’ as the biggest news story of the year and our designation of that theme as the 2006 Newsmaker of the Year,” said Sherman Goldenberg, publisher of RV Business. “It was definitely No. 1.”
“The U.S. recreational vehicle industry could be experiencing a sea change as an upsurge in demand for towable recreational vehicles began in mid-2005,” said Goldenberg. “It grew to become a dominant industry trend in 2006 during a time when rising interest rates and fuel-price fluctuations chilled motorhome sales and Gulf Coast hurricane trade finally began to tail off.”
As a result of these and related factors, from all appearances, there’s a sense of austerity in the marketplace right now that has played into the shift from motorized to towable RV products.
So strong were trailer sales during 2006 that towables – travel trailers, fifth-wheels, hybrids and folding camping trailers – represented nearly nine out of every 10 units shipped through much of the year.
On the wholesale side of the coin, in fact, more RVs were shipped by manufacturers to dealers in the second quarter – a total of 114,200 units – than in any prior quarter during the past 25 years, exceeding the first quarter’s record by 3%, thanks in large part to towable RV demand.
That said, of course, there were several options that also jumped out as Newsmaker contenders:
(2) The industry’s assertive push for improved quality in both products and services, led by new RVIA President Richard Coon and the Go RVing Coalition’s Committee on Excellence, chaired by Alabama dealer Marty Shea and Monaco’s Jim Sheldon.
(3) The growing influence of Chicago area-based FreedomRoads LLC in the U.S. retail marketplace, headed by FreedomRoads President and CEO Marcus Lemonis.
(4) The Go RVing Coalition’s national marketing campaign – not just because it exists, but because it continues to exist with such strong, almost universal industry support, even in times of relatively soft sales.
(5) The RV/MH Heritage Foundation Inc.’s move to a new Hall of Fame facility this month on the Indiana Toll Road north of Elkhart, Ind., a testament to the fact that this non-profit outfit continues to gain traction.
Beyond that, a second tier of news stories emerges, including the ascension of Carl Pfalzgraf and Jim Shields to their respective positions as chairmen of RVIA and RVDA, the resignation of former Coachmen Industries Inc. Chairman Claire Skinner, the debut of Workhorse Custom Chassis Inc.’s rear gas/diesel UFO chassis, the 75th birthday of the Airstream brand name, Stag-Parkway Inc.’s equity sale and acquisition of DTI RV Parts and Appliances , Joe McAdam’s new Texas-based firm’s purchase of Thousand Trails, Monaco Coach Corp.’s introduction of a Dodge-branded line of trailers, and Weekend Warrior Trailers Inc.’s entry into the motorized RV arena.
An in-depth “2006 Newsmaker of the Year” article appears in the December issue of RV Business.