The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association commissioned an Economic Impact Study on the RV industry, released on June 7, 2016. The study found that the RV industry contributes about $49.7 billion in economic output or 0.28 percent of the Gross Domestic Product. Through its production and distribution linkages, the industry impacts firms in 426 of the 440 sectors of the United States economy.
Nationwide, the industry is responsible for 216,170 jobs, both directly and inderectly, creating an economic impact of $37.5 billion. The full study results, along with each individual state and congressional district's economic impact is available on the website by clicking here .
Wed Jun 29, 2016
True to its state nickname of the plant Bluegrass, the Kentucky RV industry has gone through seasons of intense growth and dangerous stagnation.
Over and over again, the industry has had to bounce back from depressions and recessions, closures and layoffs, and it also has enjoyed booms, industry explosions and heightened demand by customers.
For Skaggs RV Country in Elizabethtown, owner NeVelle Skaggs has experienced this cycle so many times that some of the latest obstacles and trends just seem to bounce off like rubber bullets.
Founded in 1983, Skaggs RV has run through the gamut of worry, joy, confusion and revenue boosts.
“We’ve been in business for quite a while and we’ve seen these things before,” Skaggs says.
The latest changes come on two polar opposite ends of the spectrum. First of all, Skaggs RV was an Evergreen dealer. When Evergreen RV closed its doors earlier this month, Skaggs began to worry about what would happen to the warranties provided by the former company based in Indiana.
“We’re going to take care of our customer, even if it is out of pocket,” he says. “If at the end of the year, there’s no recovery, we’ll have to just write it off as a loss.”
While the Evergreen closing came as a surprise to many, Skaggs says he and his company began to be suspicious that the company wasn’t doing well, with constant turnover and some product deliveries that were uncharacteristically unreliable.
The closing happened soon after and Skaggs may have to just eat the losses. However, it’s just another punch that the Kentucky business will need to roll with.
And it helps to have a good problem on the other end.
In addition to being the owner of Skaggs RV, Skaggs also is the Kentucky state delegate to the national Recreation Vehicle Dealer’s Association. He is aware of some of the trends going on throughout the state, the biggest one being that the supply simply cannot keep up with the increasing demand of the customers.
“In my area of Kentucky, we have quite a few auto plants and suppliers. All of them are working full shifts, plus some,” Skaggs says. “The buying public around here are all feeling confident and got a little extra money now that they didn’t have. Their jobs seem to be very secure and they’re now making purchases that they were holding up on.”
James Bradley with Summit RV in Ashland on the eastern side of the state also has experienced the same increased demand from customers as compared to last year. Bradley says after they were backlogged at the end of last year, they made preparations for this year and have been blessed with a good amount of inventory in storage.
"We’re having a really good year. I would say the thing we’re seeing right now than last year is the product is taking a little longer to get because from what I understand, industry-wide, it’s a better year. But we planned ahead pretty well, and brought in additional inventory with new travel trailers, because we came up a little short last year. So for us, it’s more of a good demand and it's definitely grown from last year."
The increased demand has caused a large backlog in most of the dealerships throughout the state, Skaggs RV included. He says his backlog is somewhere out at eight weeks, which while a good problem to have, is still a problem.
“People are wanting to go camping now,” Skaggs says. “Eight weeks is so far out. Before the recession, we were preparing for times like this. (The factories) built up the yard stock. Now, it’s all sold as it’s ordered and we’re not having that spring cushion that we used to have. If (they) could build that yard stock, it would help fill in these times.”
"Overall, it's all positive," Bradley adds.