> SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE! 

rvda-logo Thanks to a global recession, more than 160 RV stores — either main or satellite operations — have  closed their doors in the last year, according to the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA).

 “Not all of those (dealerships) have completely closed their stores, but there’s been a lot of contractions,” Phil Ingrassia, RVDA vice president for communications told state campground association leaders during the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds’ (ARVC) 2009 National Issues Conference last week (April 28-29) in Washington, D.C.

Ingrassia, in turn, said that in response to the challenging RV market, RVDA has changed its strategic plan to focus on two things: “The first goal is to increase the availability of affordable and competitive wholesale and retail financing by 50% by the end of the year,” Ingrassia said. “The other goal, frankly, is keeping RVDA solvent and financially strong. This is going to be a big challenge for us.”

Ingrassia reported that RVDA, in part, is focusing on getting local and regional credit unions involved in financing RV purchases.

“(Credit Unions) have had a lot of our programs in place for a long time,” he said. “They’ve just been under utilized.”

He said that the association also is lobbying to have the Small Business Administration (SBA) change its rules — more than it did last week in expanding the definition of a small business to include more firms — to allow loan guarantees for wholesale floorplan loans.

`(The SBA) is barred from that,” Ingrassia said. “We want that program changed so that a dealer can have new units on his lots and he can use the SBA-guarantee program for that.”

The SBA last week modified its most-used loan program so that 70,000 additional small businesses, including RV manufacturers and dealerships along with campground grounds and resorts, can qualify for loan guarantees.

Wholesale financing was not included in the rules changes, but is a future “possibility,” according to an SBA spokesman.