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 11, 2017
Author: Scott Hansen
The RV lifestyle has attracted and captured the attention of hundreds of thousands of people across the country, opening up adventurous opportunities to see the country, camp in remote places and spend time with friends and family.
People with physical limitations and handicaps, however, had a tough time experiencing that lifestyle, because motorhomes and towable trailers didn’t manufacture handicap access lifts or features inside the units that make it easy for someone with physical limitations.
Six years ago, Newmar Corporation saw this hole in the marketplace and decided to alter a floorplan in its Canyon Star line to make it wheelchair and handicap accessible. That floorplan, the 3911, was given a power lift to raise a wheelchair into the unit, as well as many features inside that were shuffled around to be more handicap accessible.
For example, the shower was altered to be a large roll-in shower that is much larger than those on a traditional type A coach. Other changes included removing cabinets and storage spaces under the vanity area to allow a wheelchair to roll up right underneath; the wardrobe area being opened up to allow someone to roll their wheelchair right up to the bed; and appliances and controls such as the microwave, light fixtures and other electrical switches being lowered to allow a person in a wheelchair to operate them.
Newmar Vice President of Sales John Sammut says the response from dealers has shown that there is a market for handicap accessible coaches.
“On average over the last six years, we’ve been selling anywhere between 25-35 of these each year,” Sammut says. “That tells us it’s a worthwhile project and it helps out a lot of people, providing access to a lifestyle that they might not otherwise be able to enjoy. We wanted to give them the freedom and mobility that this can offer.”
After three years of the Canyon Star 3911 being the only model to offer a handicap accessible feature, Newmar added two more floorplans – the Ventana 4311 and the Dutch Star 4311, both 43-foot luxury diesel coaches, whose features were entirely updated to include the aforementioned handicap accessible features. All three floorplans are designed specifically and dedicated for wheelchair accessibility, Sammut says.
In the last couple of years, Newmar has added additional handicap accessible features to the coaches, based on dealer and customer feedback, Newmar Marketing Director Shannon Stover says.
“We listen to a lot of customer feedback and we’ve tweaked it here and there in the last couple of years,” Stover says. “It was already a solid floorplan to begin with, but we upgraded the lift so that a person can use it without having an operator below to lift them down. Before, you had to have the operator, but the new one, the person can press the button on their own and get out and back in themselves if they need to.”
Up until recently, when Winnebago Industries also released a handicap accessible unit, Newmar Corp. was the only RV manufacturer building handicap accessible units. Sammut says that is mainly because of the customization and ability to be more flexible with its lines than other manufacturers.
The Winnebago public relations department did not respond to requests for comments before press time.
“We are customized enough in our designs and our processes, that we can justify creating a model within our brand lineup that may only generate 30 units,” Sammut says. “But that, to us, is very meaningful, especially with who this is designed and intended for. Not only the volume that we do, but the accessibility to a lifestyle.”
In a time where the interest in the RV lifestyle is higher than ever, people facing physical limitations and handicaps were bound to want to experience the lifestyle with their family and friends as well. Newmar Corp. has been dedicated to providing that side of the business.