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Attendees Realistic But Optimistic at RVIA’s National RV Show

Primary Contact:
Kevin Broom
Director of Media Relatons
703-620-6003, ext. 304
kbroom@rvia.org
  Secondary Contact:
Courtney Robey
Public Relations Manager
703-620-6003, ext. 306
crobey@rvia.org

Despite declines in RV shipments and reduced sales forecasts due to the tightest credit conditions in several decades and the crisis in consumer confidence, exhibitors were optimistic about the industry’s future at Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s trade-only National RV Show, held in Louisville, KY December 2-4.

“We had unexpected business,” said Andy Wesdorp, national product manager of Carriage, Inc.  “Dealers showed up that we hadn’t prospected.  We’re optimistic about 2009.”

“We’re encouraged and pleased by the show,” said Sid Johnson, Director of Marketing at Jayco, Inc.  “The dealers we’ve talked with are approaching the economic downturn with the idea of being ready to take advantage of emerging opportunities.”

A total of 8,427 RV dealers, warehouse distributors, accessory store owners, campground operators and exhibitors attended this year’s event — down 38.5% from 2007.  Representatives from 1,387 dealerships attended — a decline of 20% from 2007.

Many manufacturers unveiled RVs that were smaller, lighter, more aerodynamic, more environmentally friendly, and more fuel-efficient than previous models.  Cutting edge 2009 models included the first-ever motorhome hybrids, the first fully-recyclable travel trailer, and units that incorporate “green” technologies such as fuel cells, solar panels, and hydronic heating systems.

“We were pleasantly surprised with the traffic in our display,” said Dicky Riegel, chief operating officer of Thor Industries, Inc.  “Dealers responded to our new product development and lightweight designs.”

 Show attendees were realistic about tough market conditions for 2009, but remained optimistic about the industry’s future.

“For many of us, today’s situation is nothing new,” said RVIA President Richard Coon, a 30-year veteran of the RV industry.  “We’re a resilient industry that has a history of coming back stronger than ever, even after worse downturns than this one — the oil embargoes and high interest rates in the 70s, for example.”

Next year’s show — the 47th Annual National RV Trade Show — will take place December 1-3 at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville.

RVIA (www.rvia.org) is the national association representing more than 500 manufacturers and component suppliers producing approximately 98 percent of all RVs made in the United States.

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