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 Oct 26, 2016
When George Keller launched his idea of a distributor trade show in 1958, the idea was to make sure he could talk to all the customers and potential dealers of the products he was selling.
He certainly was an innovator when it came to finding new ways to promote the business and increase customer service. But with all his forward thinking and creative mind, did he think that the show he began nearly 60 years ago would include 250 dealerships and almost 200 vendor booths in a 40,000 square-foot convention space?
More than that, the idea that Keller started in the late ‘50s became today one of the most important events in the RV industry. Now, nearly every major distributor will put on a trade show during the year, increasing sales, promoting the business and interacting with customers.
“He was the entrepreneur of the distributor shows in our industry,” says Lori Morrow, Keller’s daughter and the company’s director of marketing on a video on the company’s website.
On Tuesday, Nov. 1, the Keller Marine & RV Distributor Show will kick off its 58th annual show at the Lancaster County Convention Center in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
During what has become a record-setting year in the RV industry all around, Keller Marine & RV is expecting the surge of interest to continue through next week and the company projects a record number of attendance at the show.
“We’re expecting to have around 250 dealerships, which would set a record,” Morrow says. “Our business continues to grow and we’ve increased this past year in our business due to customers liking the individual service we offer and taking care of them.”
That was the original mantra of the company in 1958 when George Keller originally started the marine business and wanted a way to interact with all his customers.
“In the first year, he was the sales manager, the president and every person in the company,” Morrow says. “He needed to go and talk to a lot of people, but it was difficult. He needed people to help with the show.”
In 1978, the company, involved with Starcraft at the time, found a way into the RV industry, which now makes up the largest part of its business.
Keller’s son Mike Keller now serves as the company’s president and says his father got the idea of a trade show from an appliance business and it has worked wonders with Keller and with other RV distributors.
“He pulled together the first show with him and his one employee at the time, Phyllis Jones,” Keller says. “I think, as a distributor, you have to recognize your role. You’re not just a purveyor of product, but a purveyor of information. As this industry evolves, education has become more and more important with the show. If you can educate the dealer on the product, you sell it the rest of the year and not just at the show.”
George Keller’s one employee, Jones, still works at Keller Marine and RV and will be attending her 58th consecutive show next week. To see a video about Keller Marine & RV’s history, click on the link below, which will take you to the RV News Video Library.
Each show is different and offers something new and unique that wasn’t offered the previous year. Otherwise, Mike Keller says, it’s hard for dealers to get excited about seeing the same products, same training and not learn anything new.
This year, a few more training seminars and opportunities will be presented, increasing the company’s role as purveyor of information. Some of these seminars include Marshall Excelsior and Cequent Performance Products, who will be speaking about the tough subject of gas and propane and spotlighting new products, respectively.
“We’re excited about the show this year,” Morrow says. “There’s great opportunities for re-certification. We were approached several years ago about getting re-certification hours in and it has been very successful.
While each year is different, it’s also important to learn what works, what doesn’t and what can be different about future shows. Keller says the process of understanding the show starts before the current show ends, so they can be on top of what is best to offer the customers and dealers.
“I think you always re-invest in your business. It’s a live and learn business. If you’re good at what you do and you’re a student of the game, you learn from your mistakes and victories,” Keller says. “What I’ve learned is to be open and willing to learn and say you’re wrong. You can’t be prideful and keep doing something that doesn’t work. Shows evolve. You should always learn something from the prior show. We already have things we’re thinking about for next year that I can’t talk about yet. You can’t get into that rut of doing things the same way, just because you’ve always done it.”
In 58 years, the shows have evolved. Back in the late ‘50s, early ‘60s, dealers would show up being the only manufacturer of one specific product, making it easy to sell. But now, Keller says there are hundreds of vendors, suppliers and manufacturers that sell the same types of products and it has become a competition of who can make the best one. This competition has been good for the industry and good for the trade shows.
The 2016 Keller Marine & RV Show kicks off Tuesday, Nov. 1, from 1-9 p.m. The show continues through Wednesday, Nov. 2 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Additional Information: http://www.rvnews.com/pages/video_library