The Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) president and former chairman believe significant progress was made during the past year in selling the concept of franchise agreements solidifying the relationship between RV dealers and manufacturers.

RVDA President Mike Molino and Ernie Friesen, owner of All Seasons RV in Yuba City, Calif., expressed their views on Tuesday (Sept. 25), the final day of this year’s RVDA-sponsored Convention/Expo in Las Vegas.

Tuesday also was the last day of Friesen’s term as RVDA chairman. The RVDA chairman for the next 12 months will be Craig Jensen of Blaine Jensen & Sons in Kaysville, Utah.

“During my term, I tried to explain why dealers need to have the ability to develop capital for growth, just as manufacturers do,” Friesen told those gathered for the U.S. RVDA annual meeting luncheon on Tuesday. “I firmly believe that dealers and manufacturers need to work to stabilize our business relationships with each other so that the financial community has the confidence that we are all here for the long haul.

“In California and other states, dealers and manufacturers are making progress in developing real RV franchises where the responsibility of the manufacturer and the dealer carrying their product are clear,” Friesen continued. “In my view, it’s where we are headed in the RV business. It’s up to all of us to make it a positive for our industry and our customers. I look forward to participating in the discussion about the development of the franchising concept in the RV business and to do what I can to promote greater understanding of these issues.”

Molino, the RVDA president, agreed the industry is making progress on the issue of franchise agreements and in terms of industry culture.

“Dealer/manufacturer relations were beginning to smooth and we are willing to discuss the tough issues that require thoughtful attempts at understanding the total problem and all possible solutions,” he said.

“These are complicated, sensitive issues that comfort or threaten, depending on one’s point of view,” Molino continued. “I hope we can have an open, frank and unemotional dialog on issues that each of you considers important to the industry’s future.

“We are a changing industry,” Molino said. “Dealers truly care about their customers and understand that customer satisfaction requires a special partnership between dealers and manufacturers. We both share a responsibility for success.

“Dealers are taking more responsibility for their share of the consumer satisfaction process, while at the same time, they are holding manufacturers to a high standard for their consumer satisfaction responsibilities,” he said. “This is a healthy evolution from the former industry culture in which everyone seemed to hold the manufacturers totally responsible for all successes and failures.

“In that culture, most dealers seemed to expect their manufacturers to be the source of all the industry’s solutions especially in terms of financial investment,” Molino continued. “It was a culture in which many dealers saw their role as subordinate, rather than as equals. But subordination tends to breed discontent and complaining.

“Watching this industry move to a culture of partnership and shared responsibility should make us all more optimistic,” Molino added.