The process to naming a successor to Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) President Dave Humphreys is well under way with the RVIA board receiving a survey completed by board members and association officials describing the type of person who should succeed him.
Humphreys will retire on Jan. 30, 2006 – his 70th birthday.
Applications for Humphreys’ successor will be reviewed by committee chaired by Bruce Hertzke, chairman, president and CEO of Winnebago Industries Inc., Forest City, Iowa.
The committee expects to have a list of potential candidates by June and to conduct interviews through October. “The board would like to have the person to begin working on June 1, 2005, so that I can still be here to guide the transition through committee week, the budget processes and the Louisville and West Coast shows,” Humphreys said.
Humprheys, who marked his 25th year as RVIA president on Jan. 1, has advised the board to remain open minded in making the selection – a task that has prompted a great deal of consternation and speculation in industry circles because of the esteem in which Humphreys is held.
“In deciding what kind of person they need, I don’t think that they should look at the kind of job that I’ve done or not done or the issues we’ve faced in the past,” Humphreys said. “What they really need to do is look forward to the challenges of the next five to 10 years.”
When Humphreys, an attorney by profession, became president in the aftermath of the second Middle Eastern oil embargo, the RV industry was in the midst of losing 70% of its sales volume and 80% of the people who worked in the industry.
Additionally, Humphreys noted, the industry was under attack for producing gas-guzzling products. In addition, the average age of RVers was climbing and the availability of tow vehicles was in serious question, due primarily to fuel availability and cost issues.
“Fast forward to 2004 and the change in our image is amazing,” Humprheys said. “We are in, hot, hip – featured in movies and sitcoms. We are awash in tow vehicles, and the fastest growing group of consumers is between 35 and 55.
“I don’t think I or RVIA deserve all the credit, because its all part of a major effort by all segments of the industry.
“But the times are different now. They needed a fighter when they hired me. Now they might need someone with different skills.”
Humphreys’s opinion on where the RV industry should focus its attention during the next decade? “The No. 1 challenge is finding ways to appeal to minorities because in 10 years the make up of this country is going to be different than it is today,” he said.