Attendees at this morning’s RVIA meeting on RV transport

Attendees at this morning’s RVIA meeting on RV transport

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) unveiled its newest efforts today (April 15) in trying to address the transportation backlogs that are troubling the RV industry as it continues to grow.

Roughly 30 representatives of 16 RV transport companies gathered with RVIA representatives at the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind., to hear about RVIA’s new partnership with The Employment Network to try to attract more drivers to the industry, as well as the industry association’s efforts to relax some federal transport guidelines.

It was an unprecedented gathering for a fragmented sector of the industry as only five transport companies are part of RVIA.

“A big portion of the transporting industry’s is here – high-quality transporters,” said RVIA Chairman Doug Gaeddert, looking around the room. In his role as a general manager at Forest River Inc., Gaeddert works with many of the transport companies and knows the difficulties facing the industry.

Dave Miller, head of Elkhart-based CWRV Transport and formerly of Horizon Transport, said CWRV needs drivers like the rest of the industry. “We’re like everyone else. We’re about half the size we need to be.”

Diane Farrell, vice president of government affairs for RVIA, noted, “We have an issue that is disrupting the flow of business in our industry and we need to get something done about it. We have a big problem. We have a shortage of drivers, it’s delaying delivery and it’s costing all of us a lot of money — manufacturers, transporters and dealers.”

She added, “How big is the problem? According to some of our members, right now it’s taking them five to six weeks to get their RVs delivered to the dealers, and they’re saying that they have about 25,000 to 30,000 units this month sitting on lots, built and waiting to be delivered to dealers. Members are telling us they think there’s a driver shortage of at least 2,000 drivers.”

Farrell told RVBUSINESS.com that she asked around, checking with other trade associations, and learned about The Employment Network through automotive trade groups.

Farrell reported that through its findtherightjob.com site, The Employment Network will work with RV transport companies to find out exactly what they need. The Employment Network will find applicants, screen them, and then pass the screened, qualified applicants on to the transport companies. The transport companies will pay on a per-qualified-applicant basis, but can set whatever limits they desire to limit costs.

“We think of this as a true partnership. Let us know what you’re looking us for and let us know what’s historically working for you,” said Kristy Fallon, COO of The Employment Network.

The company can get a listing online in under an hour, she said, and the listings can be as targeted as the company wants. For instance, if companies are looking for drivers in the Phoenix area, they won’t see applicants from New Brunswick.

The RVIA will promote the findtherightjob.com channel “every chance we get,” Gaeddert said.

In addition to the new tool to find qualified drivers, RVIA’s Jay Landers, senior director of government affairs, said RVIA is working with federal regulators and Congress to lighten weight standards for transporting RVs. Instead of basing the threshold for requiring a commercial driver’s license (CDL) on gross vehicle weight, for transport the threshold would be based on the actual weight of the empty units.

“Drivers would still need a CDL to transport anything heavier than 26,000 pounds, but the weight would be figured by the actual weight of the vehicle,” Landers said “That change is in process and could take effect in about six months, he said.