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 Nov 2, 2016
Bob Martin, President and CEO of Thor Industries, Inc., the Elkhart, Indiana-based company that builds motorized recreational vehicles and travel trailers under 17 brand names, spoke recently with Forbes magazine reporter Jason Fogelson about his career, Thor Industries and the future of the RV industry.
Jason Fogelson: Did you start camping before you started with Thor? Tell me a little about your history.
Bob Martin: I’ve been involved in it for many years. I’ve grown up to it through the industry but really, I didn’t get into it until my 20s but I’m very typical for many people that are in the lifestyle. I graduated from Purdue University in 1993 and I came back to the Elkhart area and started as a trainee in sales for Coachmen Industries. At Coachmen, they had travel trailers and motorhomes. They had a demo fleet of motorhomes. I camped with friends growing up, but we never owned one. Really going out for the first time by myself was at Coachmen in a small Class C, and then every year we would take a different model.
JF: What’s the best area in the country for motorhomes sales right now?
BM: Right now, Texas is definitely No. 1 and the one that was No. 1 for many years is California. It’s down quite a bit but it’s starting to come back pretty substantially. Texas, California and Florida are typically your big states for motorized RVs.
JF: If you had to look five years into the future,10 years into the future, what are you projecting for industry trends? Is it toward the smaller Class C or is it shifting back toward Class A with lower fuel prices? I know you have some models with solar power. Can you share any kind of overarching crystal ball visions?
BM: The 10-year perspective, that’s a stretch. For us, we’re watching trends right now to smaller units, be it smaller travel trailers or smaller Class Cs and As. For us, the Class A, like the Thor Gemini, is one of the fastest growing segments right now. On the travel trailer side, it’s the entry-level travel trailer. Part of it is weight and cost for the travel trailer. The motorhome, it's length, it's height, it's cost and it's also fuel efficiency.
That’s been a trend as of late. The larger motorhomes, $500,000 and up, that market is slower and we don’t have a lot of product in that area. We build some, but that market is off substantially from 10 years ago.
That could come back just as the economy changes and people get older, but right now and for the immediate future, it’s definitely been this trend to smaller units. For me it’s encouraging because people will start off with the smaller units and in three to five years, they may trade into the larger unit.