October 2014
Volume 39 - Number 3



Industry News

Carefree RV

October 31, 2014 3000
US Forest Service Waives Fees in Honor of Veteran's Day

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WASHINGTON, -– The U.S. Forest Service will waive fees at most of its day-use recreation sites from Nov. 8 - 11, 2014, in honor of Veteran's Day.

The fee waiver is the last of four offered this year. The program is in cooperation with other federal land management agencies under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act. Fees will be waived generally for day-use areas, such as picnic grounds, developed trailheads and destination visitor centers. Sites operated by private concessionaires may be included in the waiver if the permit holder wishes to participate. Contact your local national forest or grassland to learn if your destination requires a fee and if that fee is waived.

"We honor our veterans each Nov. 11 and every other day of the year," said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. "We hope that this time will serve as a way for our veterans and other visitors to find our national forests and grasslands as a year-round respite, a place where they can take time out for themselves."

No fees are charged at any time on 98 percent of national forests and grasslands, and approximately two-thirds of developed recreation sites in national forests and grasslands can be used for free. Check with your local forest or grassland or on Recreation.gov to see if your destination charges a fee. Go online to find a national forest or grassland near you.

The 2015 scheduled fee-free days observed by the Forest Service are:

  • Jan. 19: the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which honors the legacy of the civil rights leader and encourages Americans to participate in the MLK Day of Service
  • Feb. 16: Presidents Day, honoring our nation's Presidents with particular attention towards commemorating President Washington and President Lincoln.
  • June 13: National Get Outdoors Day, a day when federal agencies, nonprofit organizations and the recreation industry encourages healthy, outdoor activities.
  • Sept. 26: National Public Lands Day, the nation's largest, single-day volunteer effort in support of public lands
  • Nov. 11: Veteran's Day, commemorates the end of World War I and pays tribute to all military heroes past and present.

Get Outdoors Days helps to raise awareness that nature encourages healthy, active outdoor fun. In addition to waving fees, various Forest Service units participate in a variety of public events on agency lands and in nearby cities and towns. Public Lands Day is the nation's largest, single-day volunteer effort in support of public lands. Agency units plan their own events, which range from educational programs to trash pick-up to building trails.

Encouraging use of public lands supports the goals of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative, which encourages all Americans to connect with the outdoors, and First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move Outside imitative that encourages children to get out and get active to be healthy.

Source U.S. Forest Service

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October 30, 2014 2997
Go RVing Showcases RV Travel at Country Living Fairs

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Go RVing will have an interactive exhibit featuring a Forest River Flagstaff travel trailer and a Shasta Airflyte travel trailer at the Country Living Fair taking place in Atlanta’s Stone Mountain Park from Oct. 24 - 26.

This will be the third Country Living Fair where Go RVing has had a display that offers attendees the unique opportunity to learn more about RVing by touring an RV or attending a Go RVing-sponsored seminar presented by Sisters on the Fly. The previous events in Columbus, OH and in Rhinebeck, NY earlier this year proved to be very successful. In total, about 5,000 fair attendees are expected to have toured the RVs by the close of the Atlanta event.

Displaying RVs at consumer events was a key element of the Go RVing program this year. In addition to the Country Living Fair, Go RVing also hosted successful events with prominent media partners, including LiveNation, and Sports Illustrated, Outside and Garden & Gunmagazines.

“These on-site experiential displays have really been a great addition to the Go RVing outreach effort,” said RVIA Vice President of Communications and Marketing James Ashurst. “They bring the RV to life and allow us to reach our target audiences in a special, memorable way. Families are able to see and experience first-hand how an RV can provide a fun, flexible and affordable way for them to spend time together.”

Source GoRVing

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October 30, 2014 2996
California RV Show Marked by Larger Crowds, Strong Sales

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Strong attendance and robust sales activity highlighted the 62nd California RV Show, held Oct. 10-19 at the Fairplex in Pomona, CA.

Total attendance at the 10-day retail event was 33,269 attendees, a 15% jump over the 28,894 attendees last year.

“The show got off to a strong start during our opening weekend with more than 18,000 attendees on hand, and we just saw a steady rise in our gate throughout the rest of the show, said Tom Gaither, RVIA’s western show director. “What is even more encouraging than the attendance figures was the high level of business activity and the strong interest among consumers about RV travel and camping.”

“We had our best California RV Show ever. It was obvious that people are upbeat, excited and ready to RV again. There weren’t the worries we’ve seen that last several years about the economy and the affordability concerns of buying an RV. People were coming to the show ready to buy,” said Nick Morgan, vice president of RV Spa in Upland, CA and RV Ready in Temecula, CA. “We had a wide range of customers from across the board from young families to retirees. And, they were buying all product types with our high-line fifth wheels drawing a little stronger interest.”

“In speaking with manufacturer and dealers, everyone was very happy with the sales activity and the positive attitudes of consumers,” said Bob Parish, RVIA’s first vice chairman and GE Capital’s vice president of manufacturer relations. “Sales were running stronger than last year, which was very good, and there was activity at all price points. By any measure, it was a great show.”

The California RV Show is the largest event of its kind on the West Coast with exhibit space totaling 800,000 square feet and 1,200 RVs on display.

RVIA will debut a Spring California RV Show next spring, taking place from April 15 -19 at the Fairplex. The 63rd California RV Show is set for Oct. 9 – 18, also at the Fairplex.

Source RVIA

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October 26, 2014 2990
Tim McGuire Inducted into Shawano Community High School Athletic Hall of Fame

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(From left) Carol Duquaine Schils, Tim McGuire and Ron Bowan display their Shawano Community High School athletic hall of fame plaques after a enshrinement ceremony Saturday. Bowan accepted the award on behalf of his late father, George. (The Shawano Leader Photo by Jason Arndt)

SHAWANO, Wis., --Thomas R. "Tim" McGuire, CEO, The Coast Distribution System, Inc., was honored earlier this month in his home town by being inducted into the Shawano Community High School Athletic Hall of Fame, according to an article in The Shawano (Wisconsin) Leader.

Shawano Community High School added three members to its athletic hall of fame as part of its homecoming festivities Saturday.

The inductees were George Bowan, Class of 1938; Tim McGuire, Class of 1961, and Carol (Duquain) Schils, Class of 1973.

McGuire earned eight varsity letters while participating in football, basketball and track and field from 1957-61.

McGuire was a senior on the 1961 Shawano boys basketball team that went to state. He averaged 20 points per game in the tournament, though Shawano lost to No. 1 Waukesha, 88-86, in a game that would a state scoring record that lasted for 50 years.

In track, McGuire went to the state finals in the 880-yard relay and held the school’s 220-yard dash record.

McGuire was the football team’s captain his senior year.

The inductees were treated to breakfast Saturday and featured in the homecoming parade. A dedication ceremony was held in the SCHS commons, and they were recognized before the Hawks’ homecoming football game against Luxemburg-Casco.

Source The Shawano (Wisconsin) Leader

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October 25, 2014 2985
Positive Outlook for Outdoor Recreation in 2015

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KOA Reports a Very Strong 2014 Summer Season

WASHINGTON, D.C. -– Outdoor recreation leaders report good sales and activities for 2014 and expectations of still stronger activity in 2015, according to a new report from the American Recreation Coalition, Outdoor Recreation Outlook 2015. Americans spend more than $650 billion annually on equipment ranging from skis and tents to RVs and boats and on services ranging from fishing licenses to whitewater outings, supporting millions of jobs in manufacturing, sales and service. Though the 2008 recession hurt, especially in sales of new equipment, 2014 brought strong recovery. And technology in the outdoors is blossoming, bringing lighter and stronger skis and bikes and new electronic devices, like hand-held GPS units and digital cameras, adding to outdoor fun.

A core strength of outdoor recreation in America is the lure of America’s public lands and waters covering nearly one in three acres of the nation’s surface. Best known is America’s National Park System with 401 units, ranging from world-renowned destinations to small historic sites. Many park sites suffered from recent events including hurricanes and fires and from the turmoil of government budgets in 2013, together causing a significant drop in visitation. Visitation is now up by more than 2% from 2013 levels, up some five million visits for the year to date, and the National Park Service is preparing to launch a major promotion effort – Find Your Park – in 2015 in conjunction with its 100th anniversary.

Collectively, America’s State Parks have a $20 billion impact on state and local economies. A number of state park systems also report increased visitation, perhaps as American families look for value in their leisure spending. At the same time, state parks in some areas of the country continue to be squeezed by budget concerns. Innovative solutions are being pursued.

Winter sports are showing strong signs of growth. The International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association (ISMA) is very optimistic about the 2014-15 season. Snowmobile sales in the U.S. and Canada for 2014 increased 11% compared to 2013, and initial 2015 model snowmobile sales are up more than 10%. The number of miles ridden increased 20% over last year.

The ski industry is growing as well. The ski retail market finished the 2013-14 season with $3.6 billion in sales, up 4% in units sold and 7% in dollars compared to 2012-13. Season pass sales are up in all regions except California which, given the snowfall patterns of the last three years, is understandable. Just as important as the sales data, the 2015 forecast of a cold and snowy winter paints a positive picture for winter activity.

Camping at both public and private sites is also rising. Peak season business for 2014 was up substantially from 2013 levels according to Kampgrounds of America (KOA), the largest network of private campgrounds in America. Camper nights across the country were up 3.7%, contributing to strong overall revenue growth of 8.6%.

State campgrounds experienced heavy demand in 2014 as well. Camping was also aided by media attention to five Capital Campouts – governors hosting youth and urban families for widely reported overnight stays at sites in state capitals which highlighted nearby fun opportunities. For 2015, Capital Campouts and other promotional efforts by governors will reach an estimated 30 states.

Overnight stays in national park campgrounds, though, continue to decline. In some cases campgrounds are full during peak seasons – but sites are occupied by smaller numbers of people. In other cases, a lack of promotion and needed upgrading is deterring campers.

According to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), the RV market strengthened during the first half of 2014, with wholesale shipments during the first six months of the year increasing 9.8% over the same time period last year. Towable RV shipments, representing 87.8% of all RVs manufactured, led the way with an increase of 8.6% during the first six months of 2014 compared to the same time period in 2013.

Recreational use of on- and off-highway motorcycles, ATVs, and ROVs is also growing. The industry contributes nearly $109 billion in direct spending to the U.S. economy annually and over 1.5 million jobs. Nearly 30 million Americans ride motorcycles on and off-roads, and ATV ridership is some 35 million annually.

2015 will be an exciting year for recreational boating, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA). The industry continues to see healthy growth with retail expenditures increasing 3.2% in 2013 to $36.9 billion. Spending is expected to grow 8% in 2014. If it does, 2014 will represent a new all-time high.

NMMA notes that Americans are taking to the water in record numbers and predicts continued steady growth of 5-7% in new powerboat sales through 2014.

Recreational boating participation in 2013 was 88 million people, or 37% of the population. This is also nearly an all-time high.

Marinas continue to trend towards becoming destination and resort locations, instead of just places to keep a boat. This trend is causing the marina industry to begin to view itself as a player in the tourism industry, and there are early signs of interest for the industry to work with tourism agencies to further promote that concept.

The lure of recreational fishing remains strong. According to the 2014 Special Report on Fishing released by the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) and the Outdoor Foundation, the sport continues to grow with 8.6 million newcomers to fishing in the last two years alone. Women, children and Hispanics all show increases in participation. Almost 42% of first-time fishing participants are female.

The industry and its governmental partners are also looking to do a better job of retaining anglers, an area that continues to be challenging. Efforts to increase voluntary fishing license compliance, as well as reaching a diverse new audience, are underway.

Recreational activities continue to be a mainstay of the American lifestyle, and there is widespread optimism regarding 2015.

Read ARC’s full report

Source American Recreation Coalition

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October 21, 2014 2981
Camping World and RV Sales of Broward Returns to Court

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., -- Florida RV Dealer Gigi Stetler and her company, RV Sales of Broward, have filed a third amended complaint in their 2010 lawsuit against a major Equestrian show, alleging an attempt to put her company out of business in conjunction with Camping World, and also alleges intentional interference with adventitious business relationships, civil theft, conversion, tortious interference and many other claims.

Stetler alleges Camping World and their celebrity CEO, Marcus Lemonis, the star of CNBC's primetime show THE PROFIT, who she had earlier rebuffed when he tried to buy her business in 2008, conspired with Bellissimo Entities to force RV Sales of Broward out of business, when Stetler politely but firmly rejected all of Marcus Lemonis's offers to buy her business.

A hearing takes place on October 27th to compel Bellissimo and his entities to turn over long-awaited evidence in this civil case. Already more than 500 documents have been discovered so far but Stetler's lawyers, Ticktin Law Group, want the court to compel Bellissimo's entities to release their records.

Stetler alleges that she attempted to negotiate terms for her 2010 contract which had been in place since 2000, Bellissimo entities tricked Stetler and RV Sales of Broward into turning over all of her confidential clients list, trade secrets and business model. Stetler alleges they requested this information as the condition for a new agreement with her, while Bellissimo and Marcus Lemonis had a deal already in place that was contingent upon Bellissimo forwarding Stetler's confidential client list over to Camping World, to facilitate the malicious destruction of RV Sales of Broward's business.

Stetler also alleges that in furtherance of the plan for Camping World to steal the customers of RV Sales of Broward, Mr. Bellissimo and Mr. Lemonis improperly and wrongfully had Gigi Stetler barred from the competition at the equestrian event. They believed that her presence at the event, even just as a competitor, would cause competition between RV Sales of Broward, and Camping World.

Stetler's suit alleges that this scheme by Bellisimo and Lemonis was not only an attempt to obtain the business and customers that RV Sales of Broward had established over the years, but was, according to the complaint, also a malicious reaction by Lemonis, Camping World's CEO, who could not tolerate the fact that Gigi Stetler stood up to him, by refusing to sell RV Sales of Broward to Camping World in 2008.

Source RV Sales of Broward

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October 17, 2014 2975
Thor Motor Coach Participates in Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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Thor Motor Coach raised more than $10,000 in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month last week with all proceeds going to United Cancer Services of Elkhart County. Andy Hygema, TMC Employee, Plant 350 (left). Gina Lowe, owner (middle) of Gigi's Salon and Ashley Armstrong (right).

ELKHART, Ind. - In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Thor Motor Coach (TMC) raised more than $10,000 for United Cancer Services of Elkhart County. TMC partnered with Gina Lowe, owner of Gigi's Salon, and provided pink hair extensions to more than 500 employees at its motorhome manufacturing facilities.

"One of our employees approached us about participating and came up with the idea for the pink hair extensions," said Laurie Hover, Director of Human Resources at Thor Motor Coach. "Our management team quickly got onboard and decided to donate on behalf of our employees. Cancer seems to touch everyone's life in some way. By this simple act, we brought awareness to the cause and financial assistance to Elkhart County cancer patients."

For more information on United Cancer Services of Elkhart County, visit www.elkhartcancer.org.

Source Thor Industries, Inc.

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October 09, 2014 2966
EverGreen RV Confirms Acquisition of Skyline RV Division

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MIDDLEBURY, Ind. -- EverGreen Recreational Vehicles, LLC, announced the purchase of Skyline Recreational Vehicles Division is complete. EverGreen Recreational Vehicles, LLC acquired all of the assets of Skyline's Recreational Vehicle Division.

Chairman of the Board of EverGreen Recreational Vehicles Kelly L. Rose said, "We are very optimistic about the purchase of the RV Division from Skyline. The EverGreen management team, led by our CEO Michael H. Schoeffler, our President and COO Mark A. Boessler, and our General Manager, Don Emahiser, are extremely excited about this purchase and are in the process of assimilating Skyline employees and dealers into the EverGreen family of companies.

"Retaining the talented employees of Skyline RV, as well as solidifying and building strong new relationships with the extensive dealer body of Skyline, is job one for our team.

"All brand names have been retained along with all intellectual property and this will be key to our success as we move forward to blend the two companies with our continuous improvement processes and innovation."

Source EverGreen Recreational Vehicles, LLC

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October 07, 2014 2964
Winnebago Industries Named to Barron's 400 Index

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FOREST CITY, Iowa, -- Winnebago Industries, Inc. (NYSE:WGO), has been named to the Barron's 400 Index in its bi-annual rebalance in September.

"We are honored to be recognized by Barron's for the 400 Index," said Winnebago Chairman, CEO and President Randy Potts. "Winnebago Industries' management team has been doing a great job of consistently growing and improving our business on multiple fronts and we are pleased to be recognized for those efforts."

According to Barron's, this is the 8th time Winnebago Industries has been selected to the index since its inception in 1997. A letter from Barron's stated, "Given that only about 6% of all North American publicly listed companies are selected to the Barron's 400 on the basis of their fundamental soundness, it underscores the overall strength of your company's financial results and its bright prospects as an investment for public shareholders."

The Barron's 400 Index, jointly developed by Barron's and MarketGrader (www.marketgrader.com), is comprised of companies that score highest when evaluated against fundamentals-based criteria as measured by MarketGrader's overall grade across growth, value, profitability and cash flow. For more information about the index and its methodology please refer to www.barrons400.com.

Source Winnebago Industries, Inc.

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October 04, 2014 2963
Derald Bontrager Elected RVIA Chairman, New Executive Committee Named

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Derald Bontrager, president and CEO of Jayco, Inc., was elected RVIA Chairman of the Board for fiscal year 2015 during the association’s Board of Directors meeting on Sept. 24, 2014 at The St. Regis Aspen Resort in Aspen, CO.

“The Board has elected one of the most well-liked and respected leaders in the RV industry to be the association’s next chairman,” said RVIA President Richard Coon. “Derald is a veteran of the RV industry and has been a very engaged member in the association for many years. In that time, his insight and business expertise at Board and committee meetings have been invaluable to the association. I am looking forward to working with him in the coming year.”

Bontrager has served on the RVIA Board and on the Executive Committee since 2009, holding the positions of First Vice Chairman, Second Vice Chairman, Secretary, and Treasurer. He has also served as chairman of the Audit Committee and as a member of the Go RVing Coalition, Public & Legislative Affairs Committee, Public Relations Committee, RV Service Training Council, and Strategic Planning Committee.

The RVIA Board of Directors also named other association officers to join Chairman Bontrager on the Executive Committee, including RVIA President Richard Coon; Secretary Kevin Phillips, president of Thetford Corp.; Treasurer Matt Miller, president of Newmar Corp.; Chairman Ex Officio Doug Gaeddert, general manager of Forest River, Inc.; Second Vice Chairman Garry Enyart, director, RV business for Cummins Power Generation; and First Vice Chairman Bob Parish, vice president, manufacturer relations for GE Capital. All officers begin their one-year terms on Oct. 1.

In other actions at their meeting, the RVIA Board of Directors:

  • Approved Roadtrek’s request to have Paul Cassidy replace Jim Hammill as their representative on the Board of Directors.
  • Approved extending the “Technician in Training” (TNT) pilot program and beginning work toward full implementation of the effort throughout the United States by the end of calendar year 2017.
  • Selected Arizona as the site for the 2016 Annual Meeting with the event date and location to be determined.

Source RVIA

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