January 2015
Volume 39 - Number 6



Industry News

Carefree RV

January 22, 2015 3074
RV/MH Heritage Foundation Retires Debt to Ingram Family

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ELKHART, Ind., - The RV/MH Heritage Foundation (Foundation) paid its debt to the Ingram Family Trust Fund this week and took a major step forward to meet its goal of being totally debt free in five years, according to Foundation Chairman and President Darryl Searer.

Thanks to the generosity of the Ingram Family, the $2,910,769 debt was paid off with $1,937,665, saving the Foundation $973,104 off the principle and represents a donation from the Ingrams. Previously, the Ingram family offered the Foundation a matching funds program to forgive an additional 50% match off on all principal payments.

In order to take advantage of this offer and pay off the Ingram family loan, the Foundation borrowed $1,921,000 from 1st Source Bank in Elkhart which allowed the Foundation to save an additional $363,000 in interest over the life of the previous loan.

Searer said, "This is a big milestone for the Foundation, and we owe a huge debt of gratitude to the Ingram family. Adding this latest donation to their previous gifts and other matching funds contributions, the Ingrams have donated over $3 million, making them the Foundation's largest benefactor by far.

"The Ingram family has gone above and beyond in its support for the Foundation, and we can never thank them enough for all they have contributed. This is a great day for the Foundation and the Ingram family."

The Foundation plans to pay off the bank loan through various fundraisers, such as the current Kevin Clayton Debt Elimination Challenge. This program challenges the manufactured housing industry to raise $1 million within five years. Since the program was launched five months ago, members of the manufactured housing industry have committed to nearly $500,000 in donations and pledges.

Searer said, "Paying off the Ingrams with a bank loan made good business sense. It not only saved the Foundation over $1.3 million in principal and interest, it allowed us to convert the loan to a regular mortgage with 1st Source Bank at a good interest rate with manageable payments. This makes life much simpler for the Foundation, and with the continued support from the manufactured housing and RV industries I'm confident we can meet our goal of being debt free in less than five years."

Source RV/MH Hall of Fame

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January 22, 2015 3073
Winnebago Launches Winnebago RV Insurance

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FOREST CITY, Iowa, -- Winnebago Industries, Inc. (NYSE: WGO), announced a new Winnebago RV Insurance offering.

In conjunction with Farm and City Insurance Services (FCIS), Winnebago RV Insurance offers a wide complement of coverage. From RV to personal insurance plans, Winnebago RV Insurance is designed to provide all of the coverages and services needed to feel at home while on the road.

"We've chosen FCIS due to the strength of our long-time relationship and their proven ability to provide RV owners with knowledgeable and impressive customer service," said Winnebago Marketing Director Chad Reece.

Winnebago RV Insurance obtains quotes from four national providers through FCIS. All RV brands are eligible for a no-obligation quote. Customers who also join or renew their WIT Club membership will receive a free extension of their membership term as an extra benefit.

"We are pleased to join forces with one of the best brand names in the RV industry," said FCIS President Courtney Wooge. "This new program is an exciting opportunity for FCIS and Winnebago to help thousands of RV owners nationwide."

If interested in completing the no-obligation insurance quote form, visit winnebagorvinsurance.com or call 1-800-642-4892.

Source Winnebago Industries, Inc.

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January 22, 2015 3070
Spartan Chassis Introduces PremierCare Maintenance Plan

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CHARLOTTE, Mich., -- Spartan Chassis, Inc. (Spartan), a subsidiary of Spartan Motors, Inc. (Nasdaq:SPAR), announced that it will introduce PremierCare - a free maintenance plan for your motorhome chassis - beginning in 2015. PremierCare will initially be available exclusively at Motor Home Specialists in Alvarado, Texas, prior to the program expansion at a later date.

PremierCare - the industry's first and only three year* or 50,000 mile complementary chassis maintenance plan - is available on all units sold at Motor Home Specialists equipped with a Spartan chassis. The plan applies to the Foretravel Realm on Spartan's K3GT chassis, the Entegra Cornerstone on Spartan's K3 chassis and the Entegra Anthem and Aspire, both of which are on Spartan's MMGT chassis.

PremierCare is a worry-free guarantee for the first three years* of ownership. Owners can enjoy free scheduled maintenance, roadside assistance and 550+ North American service centers.

Spartan's PremierCare plan and the extensive services that protect your chassis can be performed with just three visits to a Spartan-authorized service center.

Spartan's PremierCare introduction is a component of the company's D.R.I.V.E. initiative, as it is about building excited customers and brand loyalists.

D.R.I.V.E. is Spartan's operating strategy based on five tenets:

  • Diversified Growth
  • Redefining Technology and Innovation
  • Integrated Operational Excellence
  • Vibrant Culture
  • Excited Consumers/Brand Loyalists

* K3GT chassis includes three years (36 months) of free maintenance. K3 chassis includes two years (24 months) of free maintenance, not three years (36 months). MMGT chassis includes one year (12 months) of free maintenance, not three years (36 months).

Source Spartan Motors, Inc

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January 06, 2015 3061
Thor Announces Acquisition Of Towable Manufacturer Cruiser RV And DRV

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ELKHART, Ind., -- Thor Industries, Inc. (NYSE: THO) announced the acquisition of towable recreational vehicle manufacturer Cruiser RV (CRV) and luxury fifth wheel recreational vehicle manufacturer DRV by its Heartland Recreational Vehicles, LLC subsidiary, in a series of integrated transactions which included the purchase of equity interests, as well as the purchase of certain real estate used in the ongoing operations of the business. The total purchase price, paid in cash, is approximately $47.4 million, subject to post-closing adjustments.

"We are pleased to welcome CRV and DRV to the Thor family. Cruiser RV has a long history of building light-weight travel trailers that appeal to a broad base of RV consumers, while DRV brings a strong presence in the high-end fifth wheel market," said Bob Martin, Thor President and Chief Executive Officer. "We see a number of opportunities to leverage Thor's strength in purchasing and distribution to the CRV and DRV businesses, while utilizing their existing market strengths to enhance our overall position in lightweight travel trailers, which has been one of the fastest-growing segments of the RV market, as well as luxury fifth wheels, where we previously had a more limited presence."

Founded in 2002, Howe, Indiana-based Cruiser RV and DRV, will maintain their current production facilities, work force and management team after the acquisition. The combined companies generated sales of approximately $135 million in calendar year 2014. The newly acquired operations will become a part of Thor's Heartland subsidiary with a management structure reporting to Heartland President, Chris Hermon.

"We are excited by the opportunities we see as we welcome Cruiser RV and DRV to Heartland. With a successful history, solid production infrastructure, talented workforce and strong dealer base, there will be a number of broad-based benefits to this acquisition," said Chris Hermon, President of Heartland Recreational Vehicles. "With their production base in Howe and LaGrange, about 35 miles from Elkhart, CRV and DRV have a more stable workforce that is less affected by the recent tight labor conditions we've seen in Elkhart. In addition, as we look to grow our combined business over the long-term, we will have ample space to expand operations in Howe as demand increases, a luxury unavailable to Heartland at its existing production complex."

"At CRV and DRV, we are excited about teaming up with such strong financial partners as Thor and Heartland. They share our vision for continuing to provide our dealers and consumers with great products and reliable service. This transition offers us great potential to grow our businesses," said David Fought, CEO of CRV and DRV.

Jeff Fought, President of CRV added, "Thor has a strong history of successful acquisitions in our industry. Partnering with Heartland gives us the opportunity to continue our record of outstanding performance while maintaining the culture and leadership that has driven our success."

Source Thor Industries, Inc.

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December 23, 2014 3058
Indiana Governor Pence Recognizes Grand Design RV as Growing Indiana Manufacturing Powerhouse

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MIDDLEBURY, Ind. -- Grand Design RV announces public commendation by Indiana State Governor Mike Pence.

In an interview, Don Clark, President/CEO and Co-Owner of Grand Design RV said, "It was a great honor for our company to be recognized at Governor Pence State House address last Thursday. In his speech, Governor Mike Pence recognized Grand Design RV as one of 16 major up-and-coming Indiana businesses. We are extremely fortunate to be the fastest growing RV manufacturer in our industry's recent history. We attribute much of this accelerated growth to our customer-focused approach to business.

"We are very fortunate to be a Middlebury Indiana based company and are blessed to have employees that have a work ethic second to none. Our people genuinely care about the quality of the products they build. Because of our people, products and our unique business model, we have been able to attract the 'who's who' of RV dealers in the industry. But our real success is measured by how quickly our brands have been embraced by the retail consumer. Grand Design products are among the fastest turning and most sought after brands in our industry.

"To keep up with our accelerated growth, we have recently acquired 48.8 acres next to our current 67-acre complex. This will enable us to make future moves to support our dealer's increasing demand for Grand Design RV products."

Clark, along with three other Indiana based company CEOs, was invited to stand with Governor Pence on during a press conference where the governor recognized Indiana manufacturers who will create 2,100 new jobs for Hoosiers. The conference was held at the Indiana State House, Indianapolis, IN.

Source Grand Design RV

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December 18, 2014 3046
Jayco's Longest-Serving Employee Retires After 46 Years

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(L to R): Derald Bontrager, Jayco president and CEO; Wayne Miller; Wilbur Bontrager, Jayco chairman of the board

MIDDLEBURY, Ind. –- Jayco's longest-serving employee, WWayne Miller, will retire at the end of this week. Miller began his career with Jayco in November 1968 when Jayco was manufacturing recreation vehicles out of the family farm on County Road 35, in Middlebury, IN.

Miller has held various positions in different areas of the company including production, head of engineering, and finishing his career in the purchasing department.

"Wayne has been the face of Jayco to suppliers and dealers for many years" said Wilbur Bontrager, Jayco chairman of the board. "He was a valuable and productive employee and he will be greatly missed. We appreciate his 46 years of loyalty and contribution to the success of the company."

Miller's last day with Jayco will be Friday, December 19. Miller is married to Violet, and together they have four children and eight grandchildren.

Source Jayco

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December 13, 2014 3040
ARVC Presents Top Campground Industry Awards

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LAS VEGAS, Nev., -- The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) recognized the achievements of top private park owners and operators, state associations and industry volunteers last week during its annual Outdoor Hospitality Conference and Expo in Las Vegas, Nev.

Park of the Year awards were given to RV parks and campgrounds that deliver an extraordinary guest experience as a result of all-around excellence in operations, professionalism, marketing, customer service, and industry involvement. Winners included:

  • Small Park of the Year: Big Creek RV Park in Annapolis, Mo.
  • Medium Park of the Year: Jellystone Park at Kozy Rest in Harrisville, Penn.
  • Large Park of the Year: Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve and Campground in Santee, Calif.
  • Mega Park of the Year: Sun-N-Fun RV Resort, Sarasota, Fla. which also received ARVC's new education award, which recognizes superior quality staff.

Parks that continue to show leadership, innovation and commitment to running a green park received ARVC's Plan-It-Green award. The winners included:

  • Big Creek RV Park in Annapolis, Mo., which received the award in the small/medium size park category.
  • Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve & Campground, Santee, Calif., which received the award in the large/mega park category.

Awards were presented to state campground associations that produced the best statewide campground directories. The winners created directories that were well organized, visually appealing to consumers, and easy to access and use. State directory award recipients included:

  • Small State Association category: Maryland Association of Campgrounds
  • Medium State Association category: Virginia Campground Association
  • Large State Association category: California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds.

The State Executive award was presented to an outstanding executive of an affiliated state association who demonstrated exceptional leadership and strong ability to be a spokesperson for the outdoor hospitality industry. This year's winner:

State Executive Director of the Year: Jo Ann Mickelson of the Arizona Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds.

Wade Elliott of Utility Supply Group in Kingston, Wash. received the Stan Martin Memorial Award, because of his constant efforts to help private park operators through his volunteerism on various campground industry boards and committees. The Stan Martin Memorial Award is ARVC's' highest honor, recognizing industry leaders whose tireless commitment to the RV park and campground sector of the outdoor hospitality industry is evident in their involvement, leadership, creativity and dedication.

Lucas Hartford of Evergreen USA and Terry Munoz of Thousand Trails Lake Conroe RV Resort in Lake Conroe, Texas both received the Chairman's Award, which recognizes those who go beyond the call of duty to further the outdoor hospitality industry.

Leisure Systems Inc. COO Rob Schutter received the Pioneer Award, which recognizes early industry leaders and visionaries whose groundbreaking efforts have contributed over the years to the growth and success of the RV and campground sector of the outdoor hospitality industry and have been involved in the industry for at least 25 years.

The Supplier of the Year award was given to Southeast Publications, a Plantation, Fla.-based company that provides guest guides, commercial printing and website development and marketing services to the campground industry. This award is presented to an industry supplier that exemplifies excellence in product solutions, innovation, customer service and support.

The ARVC Foundation also presented its Above and Beyond Award to Saundra Bryn of Desert's Edge RV Park in Phoenix, Ariz. for her countless hours of volunteer work during ARVC's annual conferences in support of ARVC Foundation events and the education program, as well as her significant contribution to the development of curriculum and requirements in support of the Outdoor Hospitality Education Program.

Source ARVC

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November 21, 2014 3025
RVDA Honors Towable and Motorized RV Brands with Quality Circle Awards for Dealer Satisfaction

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FAIRFAX, Vir. -- RVDA will honor RV brands built by 15 manufacturers with its Quality Circle Award in Louisville, KY, on December 1, just prior to the opening of the National RV Trade Show. These brands/manufacturers received at least 15 dealer responses and scored 80 percent or above in overall dealer satisfaction in the association’s 21st Annual Dealer Satisfaction Index (DSI) survey.

“The DSI Quality Circle Award recognizes RV brands that dealers tell us are doing a superior job with their overall approach to building products and supporting dealers. Their focus on quality allows us to provide our customers with a great overall RV experience,” said RVDA Chairman of the Board John McCluskey of Stuart, FL-based Florida Outdoors RV Center.

The towable RV manufacturers/brands receiving awards are (in alphabetical order by manufacturer):

  • Airstream
  • Forest River (Rockwood Travel Trailers & Fifth Wheels/Rockwood Roo Expandables)
  • Grand Design (Momentum, Reflection, Solitude)
  • Gulf Stream (Innsbruck/Amerilite/Conquest/Kingsport)
  • Heartland (Big Country/Elk Ridge, Big Horn/Silverado, Cyclone/Road Warrior/Torque, North Trail/Wilderness, Prowler/Resort, Sundance/Gateway, Trail Runner/Fairfield)
  • Jayco (Camping Trailers, Eagle, Jay Feather, Jay Flight, White Hawk)
  • Keystone (Bullet/Premier, Cougar/X-lite, Hideout/Energy/Retreat, Montana/Big Sky/High Country/Mountaineer, Outback/Terrain, Passport/Elite, Raptor/Carbon, Springdale/Summerland/Residence, Sprinter)
  • KZ (Sportsmen/Sportsmen Classic, Spree/Spree Escape/Spree Connect)
  • Open Range and Prime Time (Avenger, Crusader/Sanibel, LaCrosse/Tracer, Spartan).

The motorized RV brands/manufacturers receiving awards are (in alphabetical order):

  • Airstream
  • Jayco/Entegra Coach
  • Leisure Travel Vans/Triple E RV
  • Pleasure-Way
  • Roadtrek
  • Tiffin Motor Homes
  • Winnebago/Itasca/Winnebago Touring Coach

In addition, two manufacturers will be recognized with a DSI Honorable Mention Award, with scores of 80 percent or above in overall dealer satisfaction from 10 to 14 responding dealers. They are (in alphabetical order):

  • Lance Camper Manufacturing Corp.
  • Newmar Corp.

When rating their brands/manufacturers, RVDA asks dealers to express, confidentially, their level of satisfaction on eight core issues:

  • Sales support
  • Sales territory
  • Vehicle design
  • Vehicle reliability/quality
  • Competitive price/value
  • Parts support
  • Dealership warranty support
  • Overall dealer communications

Four hundred and twenty-three (423) dealers from the U.S. and Canada responded to the DSI this year and provided 2,386 brand ratings, an average of 5.6 per dealer.

RVDA is the national association representing RV retailers. The association’s members include RV dealers, RV rental operators, and RV AfterMarket sales and service locations. RVDA of Canada is a national, volunteer federation of provincial and regional RVDA associations which exists to protect and promote the interests and welfare of RV Dealers across Canada in order to enable the industry to maximize its potential.

Source RVDA

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November 18, 2014 3018
Total Registrants Up 22 Percent Over Last Year for RV Dealers International Convention/Expo

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RVDA Chairman of the Board John McCluskey of Florida Outdoors RV (left) accepts the gavel from outgoing Chairman Jeff Hirsch of Campers Inn. (Photo Credit: Shawn Spence)

Registration for the 2014 RV Dealers International Convention/Expo, Nov. 10-14, was up 22 percent over last year and the event attracted more than120 exhibitors to the expo and 60 presenters for 50 education and training sessions. The theme of the convention was “Passport to Excellence: Education and Training.”

During the RVDA Annual Meeting on Thursday, Nov. 13, John McCluskey of Florida Outdoors RV in Stuart, FL was elected to succeed RVDA’s longest serving chairman, Jeff Hirsch of Campers Inn, following a 25 month tenure. McCluskey also chaired the 2014 Convention/Expo Planning Committee that developed the theme, picked the topics, and chose the presenters for dealers’ top education and networking event of the year.

The week kicked off with Vendor Training +Plus and the RVDA Board of Delegates Meeting on Monday and the launch of the Society of Certified RV Professionals. At Tuesday’s Opening General Session, Doug Lipp, a former top trainer for Disney, delivered a keynote address about the importance of customer service, learning from mistakes, and embracing change rather than complaining about it.

On Wednesday evening, following a day of track workshops, dealers celebrated RV Business magazine’s Top 50 Dealer Award winners at a reception.

The convention concluded on Friday, Nov. 14 with two sessions open to all track participants aimed at educating a cross-section of fixed operation leaders in important aspects of regulatory compliance.

The convention dates for 2015 are Nov. 2-6, also at Bally’s Las Vegas.

Source RVDA

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November 14, 2014 3014
Debbie Brunoforte Receives RVDA’s Highest Honor, James B. Summers Award

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Debbie Brunoforte

LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- The RVDA Board of Directors honored Debbie Brunoforte of Little Dealer, Little Prices of Mesa, AZ with the organization’s highest honor, the James B. Summers Award on Nov. 13 at the organization’s annual meeting in Las Vegas. She was recognized for her long-term service to RVDA, including a term as Chairman of the Board, active service with the Go RVing coalition, and her instrumental role in forming the Arizona RV Dealers Association.

Bestowing the award, RVDA President Phil Ingrassia called Brunoforte “One of the hardest working and most tenacious people I’ve ever worked with.” He also noted that she is “extremely active in her state association and a popular spokesperson for our industry . . . both locally and nationally.”

Brunoforte received the award surrounded by past JBS recipients gathered on the stage.

A second generation RV dealer, Brunoforte was named one of RV Business Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the RV industry and is a recipient of the RVDA Chairman’s Service Award. She was inducted into the RV/MH Hall of Fame in 2014.

The JBS honoree is chosen by the RVDA Board each year by secret written ballot from nominations made by association members. The award, created in 1986, is named for RVDA’s first Chief Executive Officer in recognition of service to RVDA.

Source RVDA

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