trva-convention-logoAbout 150 people are registered for the 36th annual Texas Recreational Vehicle Association (TRVA) Membership Convention, which starts Saturday and runs through Monday at the Hyatt Regency Townlake in Austin, Texas.

The convention theme is “Committed to Excellence,” which the 400-plus member trade group — encompassing RV dealers, manufacturers, suppliers, park owners and service firms — has been focusing on during the difficult economic downturn and looks to in the coming year.

“Texas faces the same issues every state faces,” Clark McEwen, TRVA executive director, told RVBUSINESS.com. “Our dealers are hurting, as they have seen diminished sales and for that reason, Texas is in no better shape than any other state in the country. But we will pull through this in better shape than we thought we would six months ago. There are tough days still ahead but the vast majority of our dealers will weather this storm.”

It was confirmed recently that late in 2008, Texas overtook perennial leader California as the No. 1 wholesale market for RVs in the U.S., with a 7.2% market share, edging out the Golden State which finished the year with a 6.1% share, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).

Coupled with this market recognition is what McEwen called the “fifth straight very successful legislative session” in the Texas Legislature earlier this year. TRVA, recognized as the most influential state RV trade association in the country, was successful on a number of key issues. Among them, TRVA was able to:

  • Increase state documentation fees from $50 to $100, the first such increase in 17 years.
  • Strengthen the state’s franchise laws.
  • Re-establish the Motor Vehicle Board, separate from the Texas Department of Transportation.

Convention organizers will see some new faces at this weekend’s convention. 

“We’re seeing more first-time attendees than I’ve seen in a long, long time,” said Mary Claire Campos, TRVA special events director. “People are interested in what’s going on in the industry. I’m also seen a lot of folks who haven’t come for several years coming back. We’re trying to keep everything positive and upbeat. Just by having new blood at the convention will rejuvenate a lot fo this.”

TRVA has brought together several prominent industry representatives to take part in a panel discussion on current trends in the industry. Panelist include Mark Beecher, national sales and marketing manager for the Consumer Finance Group at Bank of the West; Ed Wilkins, president and CEO of Diversified Insurance Management; Brian Schaeffer, executive director of the Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO); Don Clark, president of Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc.; and Clark Chandler, sales consultant for the Southern Region with NTP Distribution.

Bob Ash is the keynote speaker at the awards luncheon on Sunday.

Industry updates on the parks segment will be provided by McWilliams and Associates and TACO’s Brian Schaeffer.

The Lester Pomykal Memorial Poker Tournament and a golf tournament also are scheduled.

 The event concludes with the annual business meeting and election of officers Monday morning.