A sluggish economy created a difficult challenge for all participants in the RV industry in 2001. And even as the nation mourned in the wake of the September terrorist attacks and people turned to RVs and other forms of ground travel, the challenge remained as the year ended.

With that thought in mind, RV Business magazine selected as its 2001 Newsmakers eight individuals who appeared to have played through these obstacles to an extent and contributed to the industry’s strength.

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The Newsmakers feature will appear in the January 2002 edition of RV Business, which subscribers will receive around Jan. 1.

The selection of the Newsmakers was not based on an individual’s popularity or mere visibility at industry events, but on the impact they had on the recreational vehicle sector in 2001.

For that reason, two Newsmakers 2000, Keystone RV Co. President and CEO Cole Davis and Thor Industries Inc. Chairman, President and CEO Wade F.B. Thompson, returned as Newsmakers in 2001. The reason they repeated is obvious: The acquisition of Keystone by Thor propelled Thor into the market-share leadership position in the towable RV category.

The other Newsmakers 2001, listed in alphabetical order,
include the following:

• Mel Adams, CEO of Airxcel Inc.

• Denny Bailey, vice president of sales and marketing, Trail-Lite Division of R-Vision Inc.

• Bruce Hertzke, chairman, president and CEO of Winnebago Industries Inc.

• Andrew Taitz, chairman and CEO of Workhorse Custom Chassis LLC.

• Kay Toolson, chairman and CEO of Monaco Coach Corp.

• Chuck Wilkinson, executive vice president-operations, Fleetwood Enterprises Inc.

Three other Newsmakers 2001, Adams, Taitz and Toolson, were RVB Newsmakers in 1999.

Adams made the list again in 2001 for leading an industrywide effort to improve service technician training and recruitment, while Taitz led Workhorse to dramatic market-share gains in the gasoline-engine motorhome segment.

Meanwhile, Toolson was named a Newsmaker again in 2001 for orchestrating the acquisition of SMC Corp., which vaulted Monaco into the leadership position among Class A motorhome producers.