Designed to honor the best and most innovative new products marketed by RV industry component suppliers for the 2019 model year, organizers of the RVBusiness RISE (Recognizing Innovation & Supplier Excellence) Awards program has assembled a select panel of judges who represent some of the industry’s most respected technical experts.
Managed by RVBusiness Editor Bruce Hampson and Managing Editor Rick Kessler, the judges will determine one winner and four runners-up in two categories – aftermarket and OEM – from supplier-submitted entries based on innovation, functionality, customer acceptance, competitive impact, performance measures and other criteria.
While judges in the OEM category will remain anonymous, as they are high-ranking managers from a cross-section of manufacturers, the panelists in the aftermarket category are familiar names to the RV industry. They are as follows:
Terry Cooper – An RVDA/RVIA Master Certified RV Technician and professional Instructor/Trainer, Cooper is the managing director of the National RV Training Academy, president of the National RV Inspectors Association, and president of the Mobile RV Academy. Also known as the “Texas RV Professor,” previously Cooper was the director of service operations for Explore USA and an online RV technician instructor for Northampton Community College. In addition, Cooper and his wife, Evada, are the owners of the RV Daily Report.
Bill Gehr – After owning and operating Bill’s RV Service in Ventura, Calif., for 34 years, Gehr and his wife, Jenn, are now living the dream of the fulltime RV lifestyle. Gehr is a Master RV Technician and has starred in the DVD series “The ABC’s of RV’s” and “RV Today on RFDTV.” In addition, Gehr is a contributor to and technical adviser for Trailer Life and Motor Home magazines. He has been sharing his knowledge with fellow RVers each month in his “Ask RV Bill” Q&A column for Thousand Trails’ Trailblazer Magazine for seven years. Prior to operating Bill’s RV Service, Gehr was a service manager and part-time salesman for an Airstream dealership.
Bob Livingston – A 45-year veteran of RV publications and 2014 inductee into the RV/MH Hall of Fame, Livingston is now consulting in the industry after retiring as senior vice president and group publisher of Trailer Life and MotorHome magazines. A prolific author of RV technical articles and books, including the “Trailer Life RV Repair & Maintenance Manual,” Livingston also created and produced the popular RV cable television show “RVToday” and played a major role in the creation of the Great American RV Rally. He has served on the National Fire Protection Association technical committee on RVs and the RVIA Standards Committee.
Mark Polk – Since founding RV Education 101 in 1999, Polk has produced more than 400 educational online videos and DVDs, and written 15 E-books, three paperback books and more than 1,500 articles to help RV consumers learn how to use, maintain and repair their RVs. A U.S. Army veteran who worked as a vehicle maintenance technician, Polk also worked for many years at a local RV dealership as a service technician and, following his military service, as the sales and F&I manager. He and his wife and business partner, Dawn, live in North Carolina.
Jeff Johnston – In 2016, Johnston was honored with the RVIA Award for Distinguished Achievement in RV Journalism for his 30-year career as technical editor and contributing journalist at Trailer Life and MotorHome, and most recently as a producer and contributor for “Rollin’ on TV,” where he is frequently seen reviewing RVs, parts and accessories on the nationally televised program.
The online entry form for the RISE Awards program is available at www.rvbusiness.com/rise-awards. There is no entry fee. While the entry deadline is Dec. 14, supplier companies are urged to not delay – entries require a significant amount of compelling information (see entry form for details).
Eligible products must have been brought to market between Jan. 1 and Dec. 14, 2018. Older products with a significant demonstrable innovation implemented during this time frame are also eligible. Supplier companies are limited to a total of three entries, although individual products can be entered in both categories.
RISE Award winners will be announced during the 2019 RV Industry Awards ceremony at RVX: The RV Experience, hosted by the RV Industry Association (RVIA) on March 14 in Salt Lake City, Utah.