RVIA Economic Impact Study

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 .

RV/MH Hall of Fame Inducts Newest Members, Announces Expansion

Fri Aug 5, 2016

147041540071558.jpgELKHART, Indiana - The Class of 2016 was inducted into the RV/MH Hall of Fame on Aug. 1 in Elkhart, Indiana, in a gala ceremony before more than 300 family members, friends and colleagues from across the country.

The Class of 2016 RV industry inductees include Gary Bunzer, Bunzer Consulting, Inc.; Ernie F. Friesen, All Seasons RV/Redding RV; Jay C. Hesse (deceased), Blue Ox; Thomas R. "Tim" McGuire, The Coast Distribution System, Inc.; and William (Bill) Overhulser, Del Rey Industries. On the manufactured housing side, the inductees include Joseph H. Stegmayer, Cavco Industries, Inc.; Robert (Bob) Edward Richardson, Richardson Homes Corp; James (Jim) Miller, Nationwide Custom Homes; Ross Kinzler, Wisconsin Housing Alliance; and Roland Sahm (deceased), Elixir Industries.

Before the induction ceremonies, Hall President Darryl Searer gave his annual State of the Hall address, where he said the Hall is finally reaching its goal of being debt free.

"Over four years have passed since I volunteered to help the Hall of Fame out (with) its financial difficulties, and with a lot of support from hundreds of individuals and scores of companies, we see the light at the end of the tunnel and the Foundation is getting close to its original debt-free goal," Searer says. "The big picture is, we have doubled the average income for the last four years; we cut expenses by more than 10 percent per year; we paid off the "Boots" Ingram Family's loan in less than three years; we settled a dispute with the city of Elkhart in less than one year; we paid off David Woodworth on the antique RV collection in just over one year and we increased our credit worthiness allowing us to obtain a standard mortgage at a rate of 3.5 percent. All of these actions have reduced the Hall's debt to the level where we have over 90 percent equity. And now is the time to look towards the future."

Searer also released the Hall of Fame's vision of the future planned expansion of the facility at its current 40-acre location. Searer says the expansion would allow the organization to grow with the RV and Manufactured Housing industries as well as better let the Elkhart community service the event center needs.

"These plans will also insure a positive cash flow to make certain the Hall will be here forever," Searer says. "The goal would be to have the new expanded Hall of Fame, Event Center, rally site, offices and manufactured housing museum completed by 2020 or sooner based on how soon we can raise the funds so we are debt free when we occupy the new facility."

Darryl Searer presented the annual Hall of Fame Spirit Award to Barry Cole who owns MH Insurance Services, Hall of Fame member, and former chairman of the RV/MH Heritage Foundation. The Spirit Award is an annual award to honor the person who has demonstrated his or her desire and dedication to further the legacy of the great RV heritage.

Below is an expanded biography of each of the Hall of Fame inductees.

RV Inductees

Gary Bunzer, Bunzer Consulting, Inc.
RV Technical and Service Education

Drawing upon a 40-year career as an RV technician and training specialist, Gary Bunzer has established himself as an expert educator to both the RV owner as well as the RV service professional. In the RV industry, Bunzer's name is synonymous with RV technical education and training beginning nearly 40 years ago with his self-created consumer questions and answers column, "The RV Doctor," and its precursor, "Gary Sez." In 1976, he established Bunzer Consulting, Inc., providing dealers with on site classes and also as a featured speaker at industry-sponsored educational expos, trade shows and national and regional consumer RV shows. He also was the first RV educator to write, produce and direct specific RV service training videos and DVDs for the professional RV technician and the RV owner. In 2009, Bunzer was honored by RVIA with its National Education Service Award for contributions to RV technical education.

Ernie Friesen, All Seasons RV/Redding RV
RV Dealer

In 1985, Ernie Friesen ended a 20-year career with Nabisco and purchased All Seasons RV Center in Yuba City, California. Ten years later, he acquired Redding RV Center in Redding, California - both successful businesses today. From the beginning, Friesen went far beyond being a great, customer-focused dealer and business owner. He volunteered countless hours in his local communities as well as with the national RVDA and California RVDA. His volunteer leadership helped improve industry education and training, including serving as president of the Sacramento Dealers Association, RVDA board of directors, chairman of RVAM and RVDA chairman of the board. On the state level, Friesen was co-founder of the California RVDA and also served as its president from 1994 to 1996. In 1996, the Yuba City Chamber of Commerce named him Small Businessman of the Year. Then in 2007, RVDA named him the recipient of its James B. Summers Award, the association's top service award.

Jay C. Hesse (deceased), Blue Ox
Aftermarket Manufacturer

In 1985, Jay Hesse became president of Automatic Equipment Mfg. Co., an 85-year-old business founded by his grandfather that manufactured products and equipment for the agricultural market. The 1980s were a tough time for the company, mostly because it was a tough time for farmers and the ag industry. Hesse was looking to diversify and looked at the RV industry. Automatic acquired Hewitt Tubular Products in 1990, and the RV side of Automatic's business started to take-off. The line included Blue Ox tow bar assemblies and tow bar accessories, Blue Ox fifth-wheel tailgates for full-size pickups and Rock Stopper tandem wheel trailer chocks. Hesse not only proved himself as a businessman, but also, as a dynamic leader, innovator and a generous contributor to industry organizations and causes, both in time and dollars. He joined and served several industry associations including the Warehouse Distributors Association (WDA). For his outstanding leadership, Hesse was presented with the RV Aftermarket Association's (RVAA) "Jim Barker Person of the Year Award" in 1998. He served as a board member and vice president of RV/MH Hall of Fame board of directors from 2011-2014, and was actively involved in the Go-RVing Coalition.

Thomas R. "Tim" McGuire, The Coast Distribution System, Inc.
Warehouse Distributor

At the age of 21, Thomas R. "Tim" McGuire purchased Coast Fabrication, a small metal fabrication job shop in San Jose, California, in 1964. In 1968, he started manufacturing RV and MH accessory products and put sales teams on the road serving dealers on the west coast. Then he added other manufacturer's products and that was the birth of The Coast Distribution System, Inc. He had one warehouse in San Jose, but he wanted to serve dealers in other parts of the country. That wasn't too successful until he had the opportunity to purchase Coachmen RV's Coach-Lite distribution company. Later, he acquired many other regional distributors until he built a national network with 19 warehouses across the country and Canada, becoming the first national RV distribution company. McGuire served as chairman of the board until 2014, when he sold his stock in the company and retired.

William (Bill) Overhulser, Del Rey Industries

In 1952, William (Bill) Overhulser started as a line employee at Richardson Homes, but he had a vision to have his own company. In 1957 he founded Lil' Sport Coach in Elkhart Indiana, and built travel trailers in the family garage. Overhulser later renamed his company to Del Rey Industries. Overhulser's innovative contributions to the RV industry are legendary. He designed and produced iconic models of truck campers which set the pace for the burgeoning industry. By 1968, Del Rey was the largest producer of truck campers in the nation. His invention of the camper jack developed through Bock Industries changed the way truck campers were handled then and to this day. Overhulser never sought a patent or received a royalty even though these jacks have been sold by the thousands since the early 1960's. He also was one of the founding board members of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). After he sold his company to Gladding Industries in 1969, Overhulser took an early retirement at 42 years old and entered into self-supported-missionary service as a bush pilot in Guatemala where he flew relief supplies and personnel for the government and other organizations after the earthquake in February 1976.

Manufactured Housing Inductees

Ross Kinzler, Wisconsin Housing Alliance
Association Executive

Ross Kinzler, recently retired executive director of the Wisconsin Manufactured Housing Association (WMHA), has served the interests and helped guide the Wisconsin manufactured housing industry for more than 25 years, both as an association executive as well as lobbyist. During his tenure, he doubled the association's membership, created a team approach to member services and managed association resources by cutting expenses yet maintaining services in a challenging financial environment for housing. His accomplishments were recognized on a variety of venues including being named MHI Executive Director of the year in 1992 and 2003; inducted into the Wisconsin MH Hall of Fame, served on RV/MH Hall of Fame as a board member and secretary and served on multiple MHI committees such as Government Relations and many other task forces. For his consistent quality work, he received Wisconsin's Elmer Frey award.

James (Jim) Miller, Nationwide Custom Homes
MH Industry OEM & Supplier

Jim Miller has always been an advocate for the MH industry and has served the industry for more than 40 years. After graduation from the University of Georgia, Miller began his career in the housing industry and has served in various sales, marketing and management leadership positions. He began his career as vice president of Sales and Marketing for Redman Homes in Texas. After a successful career with Redman, he became president and CEO for Brigadier Homes in Georgia, before joining Coachmen Industries in Elkhart, Indiana as president of Coachmen's Housing Group. Miller also served as executive vice president for Style Crest Industries located in Ohio prior to joining R-Anell Homes in North Carolina, as a consultant. More recently, he became a consultant for Nationwide Custom Homes. Miller was a huge supporter of MHI and was constantly stepping up to the plate as a sponsor for many different fundraising efforts at MHI and other related industry associations such as the RV/MH Hall of Fame.

Robert (Bob) Edward Richardson, Richardson Homes Corp
MH Manufacturer, OEM, Supplier, Dealer

Robert (Bob) Edward Richardson was co-founder of what later became Richardson Homes Corporation in 1945. In 1959, he purchased 100 percent interest in the company and built one of the world's largest mobile home manufacturing facilities in 1965. He instituted numerous innovations in the manufacturing process to increase efficiency and reduce costs, which were subsequently adopted throughout the industry. Richardson's real passion was research and development, constantly striving to be the industry leader in innovation and design. His forward thinking and commitment to act helped advance the industry during the formative years of the mobile home industry. In 1969, he sold RHC to Maceo Corporation and in 1971, he retired from RHC as its chairman, president and chief executive officer. Also in 1969, he led a group of investors to develop Timberbrook Mobile Home Community, a 288-unit upscale community. It was the first of its kind in the region. He was the past director of the Mobile Home Manufacturers Association and served on the executive committee. He also played an integral leadership role in securing Indiana legislation to allow the transportation of 14-foot-wide homes.

Roland Sahm (deceased), Elixir Industries
RV/MH Supplier

In 1948, Roland Sahm, along with his wife and two friends, founded Elixir Industries, Inc. Over the course of his career, Sahm through his company touched tens of thousands of people, making their working lives and their lifestyles better. With employment and the innovations from Elixir, there are very few manufactured homes or recreational vehicles today that don't benefit from products produced by Elixir Industries.

Joseph H. Stegmayer, Cavco Industries, Inc.
MH Manufacturer

Joe Stegmayer, chairman of the board, president and CEO of Cavco Industries, Inc., began his career in 1973 with Worthington Industries supplying LP gas cylinders to the RV industry. Since joining Cavco in 2000, Stegmayer led the Cavco team to grow from $95 million in annual sales to $600 million annually and expanded the firm from three factories in two states to 19 factories in 11 states. Also during his tenure as chairman, he grew the company's park model business to become the number one builder of park models nationwide. Prior to joining Cavco, Stegmayer held numerous high level executive positions with Champion Homes and Clayton Homes, Inc. Stegmayer's dedication and leadership has earned him the respect of his peers, as evidenced by the numerous awards he has received including the Jack E. Wells Memorial Award for outstanding service and dedication to the manufactured housing industry from the California Manufactured Housing Institute, the Chairman's Award, from the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) for service to the industry and to MHI, and the Arizona Housing Association President's Award. He also found time to volunteer for charitable work including Knights of Columbus charities for the mentally challenged, economically disadvantaged and girl and boy scouts, past president and lifetime board member of The Columbus Zoological Association, and past chairman of the National Football Hall of Fame. He also serves as vice chairman of the RV/MH Heritage Foundation.