The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) first-ever fall annual meeting – and the second slated for this year – will take place Sept. 14-17 in Lake Geneva, Wis.
RVIA thus will conclude the reorganization of the organization’s meeting and convention schedule in the hope that more members will participate.
The gathering at the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa marks a permanent shift from a spring annual meeting – a time when many manufacturers are preparing for their next model year – to a fall schedule.
The fact that the general meeting is located in the heart of America also is significant. “We are hoping that we will double attendance,” said RVIA President David Humphreys. “We hope that members can involve more of their upper level people and participate more fully.”
The first 2003 Annual Meeting in March in Hawaii drew about 120 people.
The timing shift also will make the annual meeting closer to the end of RVIA’s fiscal year – the new FY starts Oct. 1 – so that a more complete financial report can be presented to members.
The shift in location and timing of the annual meeting coincides with the cancellation of a board meeting traditionally held during the National RV Trade in Louisville, reducing the number of meetings each year to three.
A Sept. 15 board meeting will be preceded by an executive committee session next Tuesday (Aug. 12), at which the recommended 2004 budget was to be set. The budget this year was $11.5 million.
Pending the outcome of today’s (Aug. 6) meeting of RVIA’s Van Conversion Committee, the RVIA board’s most significant decision in Wisconsin may be to decide whether conversion van companies will remain members of the association.
“The board has not said they will make a decision one way or the other,” Humphreys said. “But it would not surprise me that they will.”
The question of whether RVIA should continue to represent about 40 van conversion companies arose during RVIA strategic planning sessions earlier this year.
“We’ve talked to management companies and law firms that might take care of van converters,” reported RVIA Vice President Bruce Hopkins. “They will put together a program. How that will come out, I don’t know.’”
The board also may clarify conflicting directions it gave to staff during RVIA Committee Week in June with respect to Louisville remaining the site of the National Trade Show.
In June, the board voted to extend a contract to use the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center (KFEC) through 2006 with two additional two-year options, which hadn’t been signed as of early August. At the same time it directed staff to explore other show sites. RVIA’s current contract expires this year.
Humphreys said that even though the KFEC will be permanently enlarged by 165,000 square feet by 2007, members continue to complain about space restrictions that won’t ease until then — and perhaps not after.
“There has been a continued series of heated discussions, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the board looked at alternatives,” Humprheys said.
According to Mike Hutya, RVIA vice president of meetings and shows, ever-increasing demand for show space will continue to pinch the KFEC.
“Even with the additional space that’s coming on line in 2005, that might not be sufficient for our use,” Hutya said. “It’s prudent to know what the options are. A company that wanted to use 10,000 square fee of space five years ago now wants 40,000 or 50,000.”
During the General Meeting Sept. 16, RVIA Chairman Claire Skinner, chairman, president and CEO of Coachmen Industries Inc., Elkhart, Ind., along with Humphreys and RVIA staff, will review and report on RV industry issues.
The RV Manufacturer/Supplier Forum Sept. 15 will feature seminars that will include an open question-and-answer session with RVIA staff; “Marketing to Today’s and Tomorrow’s Consumers” by Bob Wendover of the Center for Generational Studies; and a panel discussion, “Managing in Uncertain Times,” featuring retired industry executives including Al Yoder, former president of Jayco Inc., Middlebury, Ind., and Tom Corson, former chairman and CEO of Coachmen Industries.