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 .

Exclusive: Mike Molino Wins Summers Award, Tim Wegge Now RVDA Chairman

Thu Nov 9, 2017
Author: Scott Hansen

151024867197613.jpgFormer RVDA President, RV/MH Hall of Fame Inductee and RV Learning Center Founder Mike Molino received the James B. Summers Award during the RVDA Annual Meeting Wednesday.

Receiving RVDA's highest honor, Molino said his supportive family and the people he has worked with in the industry, including the previous recipients of the Summers Award who stood behind him on the stage, are the reasons he has been able to be so successful.

"I feel like I am the luckiest guy in the world," Molino said. "I never worked a day in my life because I enjoyed every minute of it."

RVDA President Phil Ingrassia presented the award to Molino and said the award, given to someone who has provided service to the association, is well deserved.

"Our honoree is someone that many of you know very well and began his involvement with RVDA at a time when the association was just starting to grow in influence," Ingrassia said. "He brought a great deal to the table through his past experience where he ran complicated, multi-million-dollar operations. There is no doubt that today's recipient has had an enduring impact on this association. He has also been a mentor and friend to many in this room over the years, including me."

The RVDA also announced Tim Wegge as new chairman of the board for the next 12 months. Wegge is from Burlington RV Superstore in Sturtevant, Wisconsin.

Past Chairman Darrell Friesen passed the gavel to Wegge and finished his term by giving a brief update on some of the trends seen in the industry during the last year.

"For the past several years, we've been blessed with unprecedented growth in RV production and sales — the market has been red hot and is expected to continue that way for the near future," Friesen said. "We are approaching production and sales of half a million RVs this year and may hit it next year. That's the good news. The bad news is that record production and sales has brought along some problems in terms of product quality and insufficient labor to keep up with demand. All segments of the industry are feeling the effects. Consumers today are more demanding and expect both better-quality products and better after-sale service. As retailers and manufacturers alike, our common goal should be to keep the consumer, the end user, happy."

Wegge grew up around camping since he was five years old when his family got hooked on camping. In 1963, the Wegge family started renting pop-up campers as a side business. The company expanded to selling campers when the rental customers wanted to buy the units.

In 1969, the company signed its first manufacturer — Jayco — and the business took off from there. Burlington RV is still a Jayco dealer today.

Wegge worked at the dealership as a high schooler in various positions. After graduating college, he spent a few years away from the business, but returned when his parents started thinking about retirement. He has worked in every position at the dealership including his current one as owner and president.

"My dad would always say 'You can take the boy out of the RV business, but you can't take the RV business out of the boy.' So here I am," Wegge said. "As RVDA members, we are all committed to the long-term growth and sustainability of our industry. As the leading dealers in our markets, it's important to take a global view and work together to build our industry. I know it's not easy as we get caught up in the day-to-day rush of our businesses.

"Unfortunately, not all industry partners and competitors share the same vision for moving our industry forward. Some dealers are caught up in short-term thinking of just making the sale, rather than long-term thinking of creating customers for life. Whatever your business strategy, dealers should plan to service their customers' needs and not place that burden on fellow dealers hundreds of miles away. Customer satisfaction will lead to long-term sustainability for our industry."

The other RVDA Board leadership was announced as follows:

  • First Vice Chairman Mike Regan from Crestview RV Center in Buda, Texas

  • Second Vice Chairman Ron Shepherd from Camperland of Oklahoma in Tulsa

  • Treasurer Chris Andro from Hemlock Hill RV Sales in Southington, Connecticut

  • Secretary Roger Sellers from Tennessee RV Sales & Service in Knoxville

Two new members of the board of directors were announced as well: Nathan Hart from Walnut Ridge Family Trailer Sales in New Castle, Indiana; and Mike Pearo from Hilltop Trailer Sales in Fridley, Minnesota. They join the following current members:

  • RVAC Chairman Jeff Hirsch

  • RVRA Chairman Scott Krenek

  • RV Learning Center Chairman Jeff Pastore

  • Sherry Shields from Pan Pacific RV Center in French Camp, California

  • Rob Rothenhausler from Ocean Grove RV Supercenter in St. Augustine, Florida

Friesen also presented the three Chairman's Service Awards, which went to Garry Enyart of Cummins Onan for formulating a roadmap to reduce the repair event cycle time using the Six Sigma process; Tony Yerman, the RV Learning Center's service consultant, who has provided the technical information and communication for the very important process of RV service; and Irene Friesen, Darrell's mother, who has been supporting both Darrell in his role as chairman, as well as Darrell's father and Irene's husband Ernie, who served as chairman 17 years ago.

Ingrassia also spoke about a few industry current events that are impacting dealers and everyone in the industry. These include the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which would have limited dealer assistance financing options for customers.

"While the danger is not over, the CFPB has suffered several political and court-mandated setbacks and faces more under the current administration," Ingrassia says. "This will mean a new direction for the agency that repeatedly pushed policies that don't have anything to do with protecting consumers and could actually reduce their access to credit."

Ingrassia also spoke about public lands access and campground capacity.

"We believe that the administration understands we need to modernize campgrounds on public lands — and there are private companies ready to move forward to do just that," he said. "But federal policies need to be changed to allow longer term agreements with the private sector, so that there is an adequate return on investment."

Finally, he spoke about the work going on with FEMA to provide travel trailers in Texas and Florida because of the recent hurricanes. However, FEMA requirements for travel trailers are difficult for many units being produced today. Only about 30 percent of units on the ground meet their current criteria.

"With RVIA, we also met directly with FEMA in Washington, D.C. to let them know that," he said. "If the agency really needs travel trailers for disaster housing, working through dealers in the three biggest RV states is possible, but that the agency needs to modernize its requirements."

The RVDA Convention/Expo continues Thursday with seminars all day and the Expo open from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.