RV Industry Reflects a Year After Shutdowns

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After RV production came to “screeching halt” last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, RVIA stated its member companies continue to find solutions in a climbing RV demand.

Since ramping back up after the 2020 closures, the RV industry posted record shipments in last year’s third and fourth quarters. The 64% increase in production between the second and third quarters was “impressive,” the association stated. That number jumped 72% in the fourth quarter.

“This shows just how quickly the RV industry was able to recover from the shutdowns and meet the increased demand from customers looking to RVs as a way to have the freedom to travel while also controlling their environment,” RVIA stated.

When production began again in May, RVIA noted the industry was challenged with meeting soaring demand for RVs while also navigating how to safely manufacture units and component parts during the pandemic. Challenges included keeping employees safe, restarting production and overcoming supply chain issues.

Supply issues were noted as not being limited to components and appliances, but reached the raw materials used to make these products.

“A year ago, when RV plants shut down for nearly two months, who would have thought we would be talking about record-breaking shipments less than a year later?” RVIA Chairman and Airxcel President and CEO Jeff Rutherford said. “The fact that 2021 is projected to be the best year ever for RV shipments speaks to the strengths of our industry, and the ability for RV companies to overcome the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the incredible appeal of the RV lifestyle.”

The RV industry is not unique in facing supply chain issues over the past year, RVIA stated. However, the RV industry “is unique in its ability to succeed in the face of these challenges,” the association stated.

“What our member companies have accomplished over the past year has been incredible,” RVIA President and CEO Craig Kirby said. “They have continued to find solutions to meet the growing demand for RVs. The proof is in the numbers. Month after month, our members have built a record number of RVs, proving their ability to address and mitigate the various supply chain issues they have faced.”

Thor Industries President and CEO Bob Martin said the past 13 months “tested and strengthened” the industry’s comeback.

“Together with our trusted industry partners, we continue to carefully navigate severe supply chain challenges amongst escalating consumer demand, while following protocols to ensure the safety of our team members,” Martin said. “We are very grateful to our supplier partners for their continued dedication and diligence in providing product to keep the Thor family of companies operating effectively.”

Heading into 2021, the RV industry is on pace to build the “most RVs ever.” According to the latest RV Roadsigns forecast, the RV industry is projected to build 533,000 units in 2021 – a 24% increase over 2020 and a 6% increase over the record-high 505,000 units built in 2017.

“Last year at this time, the RV industry was diligently working together to establish safety protocols and guidelines for when our employees returned to work,” Forest River General Manager Kevin McArt said. “Well, a lot has changed from a year ago. From not knowing what the future held, to supply trying to keep up with demand, I think our industry has performed extremely well. We have, and continue to, face many obstacles. But working together with our supplier base friends we will always find a solution.”

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