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Sheldon Touts Promising Future for RV Industry

In his remarks at RVIA’s Membership Meeting June 9, RVIA Chairman of the Board Jim Sheldon (pictured at right) reviewed the turbulent year the RV industry and the association have faced, and pointed to signs that the nation’s economy may be beginning to recover, saying, “Whereas last year, we were about to unknowingly walk off an economic cliff; this year, we are beginning the resolute climb back to recovery with a far more clear picture of what we are dealing with.”

“Like all of us, RVIA has had to make some very painful decisions – to slash budgets and to do more with less. But one thing that has not been downsized or compromised is RVIA’s strong and ongoing commitment to advancing and protecting the interests of the membership,” Sheldon said.

Sheldon pointed to a wide range of activities conducted by RVIA in the areas of government affairs, public relations, standards, industry education and shows to protect and advance the RV industry, even with a reduced budget.

He praised successful efforts to further the RV industry’s interests in Washington, and highlighted the association’s success in ensuring that RV consumer and wholesale floor plan loans were included in the government’s Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility, and in securing a tax provision for motorhomes in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Additionally, Sheldon pointed to the association’s most recent victory to help free up RV financing when the Small Business Administration expanded its loan programs to provide more sources of capital for the RV industry. “These were all hard-fought, significant victories for the RV industry, and we applaud the members, staff and all our industry partners who contributed to these achievements,” he said.

Sheldon also lauded the “one-two punch” of RVIA’s public relations and marketing efforts and the Go RVing Coalition’s national ad campaign to maintain positive awareness of RVing “at a critical time when consumers may be finally relaxing the grip on their wallets.” Sheldon said, “Despite all the dour economic news this year, the image of RVs has remained highly positive in the business and consumer media. Coverage depicts RVs and RV travel as popular, affordable and relevant in today’s economy, as well as becoming increasingly green.”

Sheldon reported that RVIA’s standards program continues to “operate on all cylinders.” Despite budget cuts and staff reductions, the association has maintained the same inspection schedule to audit manufacturer members’ compliance with the NFPA RV Standard, and is “working at every opportunity to harmonize this standards with the Canadian Standard Association regulations to provide uniformity for our members.” The standards department is also continuing to develop the RV Service Technician Database, which will “serve as a one-stop repository of RV service information, providing technicians with a single online resource for troubleshooting, repair documents, and service questions for all RV products currently being manufactured.”

Of course, Sheldon said, the California RV Show and the National RV Trade Show are the primary focus of the association in the coming months, as the shows “have the potential to be a powerful springboard for the RV industry.” Sheldon urged members to exhibit at the shows, saying, “having a strong presence at the shows makes a powerful statement to the financial community and the media about the industry’s overall viability.”

RVIA Treasurer Don Walter of Jayco discussed the financial condition of the association, reporting that the association concluded FY2008 with a net operating loss of $642,453, before unrealized investment losses. The annual Treasurer’s Report examines operational expenses, revenue streams, and membership equity for the past twelve months. Walter reported that FY2008 revenues were $14,072,195 with expenses of $14,714,648.

 

 

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