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 .
Fri Jul 8, 2016
The Michigan Association of Recreational Vehicles And Campgrounds will turn 75 years old in September, marking its territory as one of the oldest state associations in the industry.
As such, the officials who work for MARVAC have seen it all – the peaks and valleys of the industry, the automobile collapse in a state known for its auto industry, the RV recession and the subsequent rebound.
And within the last week, MARVAC said goodbye to its longtime executive director. Tim DeWitt retired from his seat after 39 years at the association, more than half of its longstanding history.
The responsibility now falls on Bill Sheffer, who has been part of the state association for 21 years himself, having served as director before being named to the executive director’s chair.
Michigan’s focus on the automobile industry and its proximity to northern Indiana, where the RV capital of the world is located, has helped the state to become one of the largest players in the industry, proving a total economic output of $695.9 million in 2015, according to the economic impact study commissioned by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association last month.
“If you have access to numbers or statistical surveys, you’ll see that Michigan traditionally runs third or fourth in the country in the sale of RVs,” Sheffer says. “Usually behind Texas, Florida and California. For a cold weather state, that’s pretty good. A consumer can only use it six months per year. A lot of people here have discretionary dollars who have the means to buy an RV, to travel within or out of the state. It’s been a very good industry.”
With the base of the state economy residing in the automotive industry, Sheffer says that has allowed many people to receive the discretionary dollars to spend on an RV lifestyle and head south for the winter, while enjoying the pleasant summers in the traditionally colder state.
“Many of those people who have been in the automotive industry, even though they fell on hard times, they have a substantial retirement program which allows them to have discretionary dollars to spend,” Sheffer says. “There are many people out there who have had the RV lifestyle on their bucket list. That’s a way for those who have always dreamt of having warm winters and great Michigan summers.”
Recently, business has been on a good tear in the state, returning to the pre-2007 numbers that Michigan RV businesses have enjoyed year-to-year.
In particular, Sheffer says the businesses in the northern part of the state, further away from both the major cities of Detroit, Lansing and Grand Rapids, and from the Indiana border, have been growing substantially which says a lot about the industry.
“That’s a good sign and builds the dealers who are members of our association,” he says. “We’ve seen double digit increases for sales of units across the state.”
Last week, the Camping World location in Roscommon, about 144 miles north of Lansing, reported RV sales had increased by 22 percent year over year.
The report says that more than half of those customers are retirees in the state, while people buying an RV has increased by 15 percent from last year.
“We’re selling them their condo on wheels, so to speak,” Camping World Michigan General Manager Mike Burnside says. “To be involved with that is really good. It’s just a fun business to be in. The selling part’s fun because we’re helping people realize their dreams.”
Sheffer says the same thing has happened in Traverse City, located on the very northwest side of the glove-shaped mainland, with at least one other RV business there seeing a profit gain of 17 percent from last year.
Even though MARVAC has gone through a large change in its history, waving goodbye to DeWitt and giving the responsibility to Sheffer, the direction of the association and its advocacy for Michigan state dealers and businesses hasn’t changed.
“Seventy-five years is a big accomplishment,” Sheffer says. “The changes we’ve gone through in the last year or so, it doesn’t change what we believe in and what our mission is. That is to promote our businesses.”