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RVIA President Frank Hugelmeyer addresses Committee Week attendees

With meetings by the Market Information, Public Relations, Park Model RV, Suppliers, and Lawyers committees, as well as the Go RVing Coalition and the Repair Event Cycle Time (RECT) task force, the 2018 Committee Week and Advocacy Day event got underway Monday (June 4) at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Hosted by the RV Industry Association (RVIA), the five-day gathering also included a welcome by RVIA Chairman Bob Parish of Wells Fargo CDF and a presentation by RVIA President Frank Hugelmeyer. Besides highlighting the organization’s rebranding that includes a new moniker, new logo and revamped web platform, Hugelmeyer also touched on the RV industry’s lofty status as the largest driver (RVs) of the largest segment (motorized) within the outdoor recreation industry – an industry, he noted, that represents 2% of the national GDP, 4.3 million jobs and a five-year GDP growth of 4.4%.

“If we aren’t speaking out, who is? It’s going to be much smaller and less powerful, less influential segments and it’s why RV, as a sector and an industry collectively, needs a major seat at the table – and we have one, thanks to our involvement with the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR),” Hugelmeyer told the audience of industry executives. “This is something Phil (Ingrassia, president of the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association) and I spent a lot of time talking about: Our industry really deserves a major seat at the table and helping drive the agenda. But, more importantly, we need to help set policy proactively so that we’re continuing to see market development and growth.”

Hugelmeyer pointed to a couple of victories in terms of the ORR affecting policy change with federal government agencies, beginning with getting outdoor recreation measured for the first time ever as an economic contributor to the GDP. The results showed outdoor recreation as the 15th largest industry, supplanting utilities. The second victory was successfully convincing the feds to provide a separate and dedicated budget for fighting wildfires. Previously, funds needed to fight wildfires were siphoned from outdoor recreation, which when coupled with historic decline in that segment’s funding has meant public campground closures and maintenance backlogs.

“Now, I can’t say that we’ve fixed everything,” Hugelmeyer cautioned. “These are just little snippets of success that have occurred over the course of the past year. We have a long way to go because that funding decline that I showed you earlier, it isn’t going to go away. That’s only going to get more intense. So our voice, collectively both as the RV industry but also as the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, over the course of the next several years is going to be incredibly important for us to maintain because we’re going to continue to see waves and waves of people trying to redirect those dollars toward their most important initiatives and not toward ours.”

Committee Week was to continue today with meetings by the Standards Steering, RVIA Aftermarket, Public & Legislative Affairs, Trade Show & Events, Financial Services and Membership committees. Following an afternoon of Advocacy Day training, the day is to conclude with “A Capitol Evening Reception & Dinner,” held at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and featuring a political debate between former Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean and former Republican Congressman Bill McCollum.

The event continues with Advocacy Day on Wednesday, and concludes with an RVIA board meeting on Thursday.