Everything’s set for the first annual RVBusiness Top 50 Dealer Awards, now that an industry panel of experts working with RV Business magazine has completed work on its 2008 Top 50 selections.
Meeting last week at the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind., the panel selected 50 top-performing dealers from among those nominated earlier this year by U.S. recreational vehicle manufacturers. From this handpicked group, they also named a special slate of five “Blue Ribbon” retailers, as well as a first-ever Dave Altman Award winner, named for the popular, activist Southern California dealer who passed away earlier this year.
Those dealers, selected from a pool of nominated candidates applying for Top 50 status, will be recognized Sept. 24 at the inaugural Top 50 reception and dinner at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino during the annual RV Dealers International Convention/Expo in Las Vegas. Addressing the audience that night, in addition to remarks from Go RVing Committee on Excellence Co-Chairman Jim Sheldon, will be keynote speaker Bob Knight, one of the most salient personalities in modern sports.
The annual convention is sponsored by the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) of North America.
In addition to advertising use of the RVB Top 50 logo, named dealers receive press coverage in local and regional media plus advertising exposure in two consecutive issues of RVB’s sister consumer publications, Trailer Life, MotorHome, Highways and Camping Life. Names of the Top 50 dealers, who are not ranked in order, won’t be publicly released until the night of the reception and dinner.
“While we can’t tell you who they are yet, we can tell you that those dealerships carry most every mainstream RV brand in existence,” reports RVB Publisher Sherm Goldenberg, “and we expect that manufacturing execs from many of those companies, as well as their suppliers, will be in attendance on the 24th to see their dealers take a bow in front of their industry peers.”
RVB’s goal, according to Goldenberg, is to essentially help pick up from where the Go RVing Coalition’s Committee on Excellence left off last year by trying to showcase credible role models and establish best business practices benchmarks at the retail level in terms of F&I, technician training, aftermarket stores, civic involvement and – more than anything else – consumer care.
That coincides with efforts by RVDA’s Brand Committee meetings on tap for the Con/Expo to raise the bar on industry quality, based on the recommendations of the Committee on Excellence task forces.
All in all, Goldenberg said he’s pleased with the progress forged thus far in establishing the first Top 50 agenda, considering the headwinds the industry is facing in 2008. “Now, we realize that the science in defining the so-called Top 50 won’t be anywhere near perfect in our first year,” he added. “But we think the process in itself – and the act of showcasing professionalism among 50 exemplary dealerships nominated as being among the nation’s best by U.S. manufacturers – will be instructive and rewarding and essentially valid. Then, hopefully, we can go to the next level in 2009, perhaps in partnership with another organization, and build this into an annual affair and, at the same time, even more of an asset to the industry and an additional draw for RVDA’s annual convention.”
RVB’s “Leaderhip Alliance” sponsors for 2008 are “Platinum” co-sponsors ADP Lightspeed, Salt Lake City, Utah; Assurant Solutions, Atlanta, Ga.; Blue Ox, Pender, Neb.; Coach-Net, Lake Havasu, Ariz.; Cummins Onan, Minneapolis, Minn.; Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp., Gaffney, S.C., and KeyBank, Brooklyn, Ohio. “Gold” sponsors are Protective Asset Protection Division, Chesterfield, Mo., and RV Trader and RVTraderOnline.com, Norfolk, Va.