November 2014
Volume 39 - Number 4


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Industry News
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Carefree RV

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

by RVDA

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.

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

by RVDA

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.

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

by RVDA

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.

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November 14, 2014 3013

2015 Board of Directors Elected

John McCluskey of Florida Outdoors RV Elected RVDA Chairman of the Board

by RVDA

LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- John McCluskey of Florida Outdoors RV in Stuart, FL was elected Chairman of the Board of the RV Dealers Association during the RVDA Annual Meeting at the 2014 RV Dealers International Convention/Expo in Las Vegas.

In his remarks to the membership he said, “I have nothing but confidence in our future. When our industry gives consumers what they want when they want it, we serve to build the RV lifestyle, sell the total experience, and will out-perform our peers in other leisure industries.”

He also thanked Immediate Past Chairman Jeff Hirsch of Campers Inn for his two years of service making him the longest serving Chairman in RVDA history.

Also elected to officer positions at the meeting are: First Vice Chairman Brian Wilkins of Wilkins RV in Bath, NY; Second Vice Chair Darrell Friesen of All Seasons RV Center in Yuba City, CA; Treasurer Tim Wegge of Burlington RV Superstore in Sturtevant, WI; and Secretary Mike Regan of Crestview RV Center in Buda, TX. Jeff Hirsch of Campers Inn is the Immediate Past Chair.

Sherry Shields of Pan Pacific RV Center in French Camp, CA, and Glenn Thomas of Bill Thomas Camper Sales in Wentzville, OH, were elected to the Board of Directors at the same time. They join directors Ron Shepherd of Camperland of Oklahoma in Tulsa, OK, and Rod Ruppel of Webster City RV Inc. in Webster City, IA on the Board along with RVAC Chairman Tom Stinnett of Tom Stinnett Derby City RV Center, Clarksville, IN; RVRA Chairman Scott Krenek of Krenek RV Center, Coloma, MI; and Mike Molino RV Learning Center Chairman Jeff Pastore of Hartville RV Center, Hartville, OH. RVDA President Phil Ingrassia continues as a non-voting member of the board.

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November 14, 2014 3012
Chairman Jeff Hirsch Honors Two Dealers & Two Industry Leaders with Chairman’s Service Awards

by RVDA

LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- J2013-2014 RVDA Chairman of the Board Jeff Hirsch honored two dealers and two industry leaders with Chairman’s Service Awards on Nov. 13 during RVDA’s Annual Meeting at the 2014 RV Dealers International Convention/Expo in Las Vegas. The annual award allows the Chairman to personally recognize individuals who have made a significant contribution to RVDA and the industry.

Dealers receiving awards were Brian Wilkins of Wilkins RV in Bath, NY and Andy Heck of Alpin Haus in Amsterdam, NY. Industry recipients were Mel Adams of Airxcel and Bruce Hopkins of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).

In honoring Adams, Hirsch said, “Mel has had a major impact in all areas of industry technical education, certification, and training . . . Mel has shown incredible tenacity in trying to move this industry forward and help us all do a better job of servicing what we sell.”

Hirsch acknowledged incoming First Vice Chair Brian Wilkins’ many leadership roles within RVDA and the industry. “Brian is always there for RVDA,” he said, “and the best part is he will continue to be there for his fellow dealers as he continues his volunteer service on the board in the coming years.”

Past Chairman Andy Heck was recognized for his ongoing leadership through a long tenure as immediate past chairman and for his role in helping to guide the organization through difficult times for dealers. “Andy is a big supporter of the RV Learning Center, runs a great business, and still finds time to compete in Ironman competitions,” Hirsch said. “Andy, thanks for being RVDA’s Ironman over the years.”

Bruce Hopkins, RVIA’s Vice President for Standards, was singled out for his long time role in developing technician educational and training resources. “Bruce has worked with many dealers over the years to improve programs for technicians,” said Hirsch. Hopkins was not in attendance and will receive his award in Louisville next month.

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November 11, 2014 3010

With Acquisition Of 18 Vedder Communities In California

Carefree Communities Becomes the Nation's Fifth Largest Manufactured Home and RV Community Owner

by Carefree Communities


Click Illustration for Larger Image

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., -- Carefree Communities, Inc. has acquired Vedder Communities, a privately held, family-owned company that owns and operates eighteen manufactured home communities with 4,530 sites in California.

The Vedder acquisition positions Carefree as the fifth largest owner and operator of manufactured home and recreational vehicle communities, with 101 communities and more than 27,000 sites.

"The Vedder acquisition gives Carefree a very strong market presence in California, with communities stretching from San Juan Capistrano to Napa Valley. The Vedder Communities' management philosophy of going above and beyond to provide outstanding customer service, safety, and top-notch facilities to its residents fits very well with Carefree's core values," said Colleen Edwards, Carefree's President.

Carefree CEO David Napp added, "The Vedder portfolio is widely considered to be the best privately owned manufactured home community portfolio in California and one of the best in the country. This is an important strategic acquisition for Carefree, as we look to continue to grow our company in highly sought after retirement and vacation destinations in coastal markets."

Three of the Vedder communities have won National Manufactured Home Community of the Year awards from the Manufactured Housing Institute, including Alta Laguna in Rancho Cucamonga, California; Lemon Wood in Ventura, California; and Palos Verdes Shores in San Pedro, California. Twelve of the eighteen Vedder communities are 55+ adult manufactured home communities.

San Dimas, Calif.-based Bessire & Casenhiser will manage the Vedder portfolio on behalf of Carefree.

"We anticipate a smooth transition because Vedder and Carefree are equally committed to operational excellence," said Bill Schweinfurth, director of operations for Agoura Hills, Calif.-based Vedder Community Management, which manages the day-to-day operations of the Vedder properties.

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

For more information, please visit www.carefreecommunities.com.

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November 09, 2014 3008
Winnebago Towables Donates $53,000 to American Cancer Society for Breast Cancer Awareness

by Winnebago Industries, Inc.

FOREST CITY, Iowa, -- Winnebago Towables recently presented the American Cancer Society with a significant donation of $53,000 to support national breast cancer research. In July, Winnebago Towables began production of limited edition pink breast cancer awareness Minnie travel trailers in order to deliver to their dealers in time for the National Breast Cancer Awareness month kick off, October 1st. For every pink Minnie a dealer purchased, a $1,000 donation was contributed, which resulted in the total donation of $53,000 to the American Cancer Society.

"This program has generated one of the largest donations to Making Strides against Breast Cancer from a RV manufacturer, as well as providing a unique awareness opportunity," said Cinda White, American Cancer Society representative.

"We are extremely grateful for the dealers' participation in this campaign," said Winnebago Towables President Johnny Hernandez. "The overwhelmingly positive response we received from our dealers and the general public was extremely gratifying for us to provide support to the American Cancer Society, allowing them to move closer to finding a cure for this devastating disease."

Participating dealers and their support included:

  • McClain's RV Superstores - $16,000
  • Jack Sisemore Traveland, LP - $4,000
  • La Mesa RV Center - $4,000
  • Motor Sportsland, Inc. - $3,000
  • Chilhowee Trailer Sales, Inc. - $2,000
  • Bill Plemmons RV World - $2,000
  • Fretz Enterprises Inc. - $2,000
  • Demontrond RV - $2,000
  • Day Brothers RV Sales - $1,000
  • Dennis Dillon RV, LLC - $1,000
  • Ron Potts RV, LLC - $1,000
  • Holiday Kamper Company of Columbia LLC - $1,000
  • See Grins RV - $1,000
  • Freedom, RV - $1,000
  • Seguin RV - $1,000
  • Western Auto Experts, Inc. - $1,000
  • Cullum & Maxey Camping Center - $1,000
  • Open Roads Complete RV Service & Sales - $1,000
  • Camper Country - $1,000
  • Madison RV Center, Inc. - $1,000
  • Avalon RV Center - $1,000
  • Harvey's RV - $1,000
  • Hufnagel Majors, Inc. - $1,000
  • Wheelen RV Center, Inc. - $1,000
  • Travelcamp, LLC - $1,000

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November 06, 2014 3006
La Mesa RV to Participate in San Diego's 13th Annual AJ’s Kids Crane

by La Mesa RV Center

SAN DIEGO, Calif.,- La Mesa RV Center,is proud to be a part of the “13th Annual AJ’s Kids Crane”, a fund raiser benefiting children who are hospitalized during the holidays. Festivities begin Friday, November 7 in the IKEA parking lot at 2149 Fenton Parkway in the Mission Valley are of San Diego. AJ from “The AJ Show” on Energy 103.7 FM will spend a total of 8 days hoisted high above the parking lot in a crane while working to raise toys and funds to benefit children at Rady’s Children’s Hospital. La Mesa RV Center is a co-sponsor of the event by helping the station reach their goal of 100,000 toys being collected.

While the event kicks off on November 7, the party is just getting started! The list of attractions include a mini comic con, Food Truck Nite, and photobooths just to name a few. San Diegans are encouraged to donate monetarily or bring new unwrapped toys in exchange for various prizes and giveaways including Legoland California child tickets, Disney on Ice tickets. For a complete schedule be sure to check out the complete schedule of events. For more information Click Here

La Mesa RV is actively involved in charitable events in all of the cities where it operates. The company is known for being one of the top RV dealers of Winnebago, Tiffin, Fleetwood and Heartland, as well as the premier dealer in the country of late model, low mileage, high quality pre-owned motorhomes. The company strives to offer customers an “Everyday Low Price,” giving them no need to wait for a sale on the perfect RV for their lifestyle.

Current RV owners and those that would like to explore the RV lifestyle are invited to stop by any one of our 11 locations and tour the new and pre-owned RVs that are on display. La Mesa RV’s knowledgeable and helpful sales staff will help identify the RV that is the perfect fit for the consumer’s lifestyle.

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November 05, 2014 3001
Forest River And Thor Announce New Community Foundation To Benefit Employees And Families

by hor and Forest River

ELKHART, Ind., -- Forest River Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway Company, and Thor Industries, Inc. (NYSE: THO) announced the establishment of a Community Foundation to be funded jointly and to benefit employees and their families during times of need.

The Forest River/Thor Community Foundation will be jointly funded by the two companies and will provide grants of up to $20,000 per qualifying employees or families to help cover unforeseen, emergency financial need due to a family crisis, acute illness, natural disaster, fire or other hardship. Eligible employees who would like more information about the program may contact their human resources representative or view materials on the Thor Industries, Inc. or Forest River Inc. websites.

"We have a lot of dedicated, hardworking employees that we depend upon daily in our operations, and this is a way for them to receive that bit of help, when they have an unexpected need," according to Forest River President and CEO Peter Liegl . "Both of our Companies would not be able to achieve the accomplishments we have without these employees and their families, so we want to help them where we can and when we can."

"As leaders in the industry and in our community, Thor and Forest River value our employees, and we understand that emergency situations can cause financial hardships within families. The Community Foundation is an opportunity for us to give back to the people who make our companies strong by helping them when unforeseen circumstances create unanticipated expenses that can be crippling to a family," commented Bob Martin , Thor President and CEO. "We recognize that our employees are the key to our success, which is why we hope to make this new Community Foundation an important benefit to them and another step in achieving our goal of making Thor a place where talented people want to work."

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

by U.S. Forest Service

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.

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