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Forbes Publisher Addresses RVIA Membership

Category: Recovery
Source: RVIA
Publish Date: Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Summary: Rich Karlgaard predicts the qualities of RV manufacturers that will thrive in the new economy.

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The economy is recovering, but the recovery is exceedingly uneven, Forbes publisher Rich Karlgaard told the RV industry at RVIA's Annual Membership Meeting in South Bend, earlier this month.

According to Karlgaard, the recession originally looked like a standard "deleveraging" recession that should have been no worse than the one in 1990. It grew into what economists have dubbed "The Great Recession" because government regulators made a series of mistakes that began when Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson let Bear-Stearns fail.

Karlgaard said that the current recovery would look like the late '70s recovery, which he described as "One of these two steps forward, one step back kind of recoveries."

Turbulent economic times are often when new businesses take off, Karlgaard said. He told members that "RVing is cool" and said that he thinks successful RV companies of the future will have four key characteristics.

  1. "They'll be really good at design." Because of the data explosion, RVs and their systems will need to be simple, functional, and intuitively modular, Karlgaard said.
  2. Speed. Successful RV companies will be those that deliver product upgrades and design innovations faster than competitors. "It will be a way of getting margin," Karlgaard said.
  3. Supply chain - RV companies must become effective supply chain managers, especially in an increasingly complex global economy, Karlgaard said. He said the industry has a great opportunity with Baby Boomers, many of whom have "woefully underfunded their retirement." RVs offer a cost-effective way for retiring Boomers to enjoy their retirement on a budget.
  4. Purpose. Successful companies will have goals that are greater than the bottom line.

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