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Global RV Leaders Gather at 2nd World RV Conference

The 2nd World RV Conference drew 216 RV industry leaders from 16 countries to the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel in Tampa, FL from Jan. 17 – 20 to examine the growing international RV market.

The event, sponsored by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), brought together executives representing RV manufacturing and supplier companies, RV dealerships, campgrounds, and trade associations to share market information and statistics; discuss standards and technical issues, and to explore how industry members can work together in an increasingly connected world RV market. Nearly half of attendees hailed from outside the United States.

“The interest in RVing is flourishing throughout the world with emerging markets in China, Japan, Russia, Brazil and South America joining established markets in the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia” said RVIA Chairman Doug Gaeddert of Forest River, Inc. “The strong attendance at the conference, particularly by those coming from outside the U.S., is a clear indication of the increasing global footprint of the RV industry.”

The Plenary Sessions, held the mornings of Jan. 18 and Jan. 19, were the centerpiece of the 2nd World RV Conference. The six presentations provided key market statistics and trends; reviewed popular RV products; and examined the future prospects and challenges for each world market. Those providing reports were:

• “North America” presented by Richard Coon, president of Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).

• “Europe” presented by Stephane Cordeille, chief executive officer of Thetford Corp.

• “China” presented by Ye Shengji, deputy secretary general of the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM)

• “Japan” presented by Keiki INOMATA, a director with the Japan RV Association (JRVA) and executive managing director of Neat RV Co.

• “Australia” presented by Stuart Lamont, chief executive officer of the Caravan, RV and Accommodation Industry of Australia (CRVA)

• “South Africa” presented by Keith Laing, managing director of Jurgens Ci and a member of the Leisure Industry Manufacturers Association (LIMA);

“The world is getting smaller, and it’s important that we understand not only what is going on in our own market but also what’s happening in other markets,” said Lamont. “What happens in Europe or the United States may happen in Australia, and vice versa. That is why it is critical for us to communicate and share information.”

Cordeille added that while RV markets have inherent differences based on their location, there are fundamental basics contributing to RVing’s global appeal. “RVing gives people freedom and gets them back into nature,” he said. ““Our business…our way of vacationing and traveling is a great way of linking family generations together. That is the true value of our product,”

The 2nd World RV Conference also featured a series of concurrent workshops on Jan. 18 that focused on various industry-related topics. The sessions included:

• The “World Product Standards Workshop” moderated by RVIA Vice President of Standards and Education Bruce Hopkins with a panel composed of Ron Chapman, chief executive officer of Caravanning Queensland in Australia; Jost Kruger, technical director of the Caravaning Industrie Verband (CIVD) in Frankfurt, Germany; Keith Lang, managing director of Jurgens Ci and representative of South Africa’s Leisure Industry Manufacturers Association (LIMA); and Kent Perkins, senior director of standards at RVIA.

• The “Advertising and Promotion Workshop” presented by James Ashurst, RVIA’s vice president of public relations and advertising.

• The “World Campground Standards” session moderated by Kathy Palmieri, owner/operator of the Yogi Bear Jellystone Park in Estes, CO with a panel of campground experts that included Ian Beadel, an owner/operator of an award-winning campground in Australia; Nick Lomas, director general of The Caravan Club in England; and Jeff Sims, director of state relations and program advocacy at the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds.
• The “RV/Caravan Rental Business Workshop” presented by Joe Laing, director of market and business development for El Monte RV.

• The “RV/Caravan CEO-Chairman Panel Discussion” featuring a rotating panel of association leaders from across the world, including Richard Coon, RVIA president; Tim DeWitt, executive director of the Michigan Manufactured Housing, RV and Campground Association; Klaus Foertsch, managing director, Caravan GmbH in Germany; Eleonore Hamm, president of RVDA of Canada; Jeff Hirsch, chairman of RVDA; Phil Ingrassia, president of RVDA; John Lally, director general of the National Caravan Council in England; and Stuart Lamont, chief executive officer of the Caravan, RV & Accommodation Industry of Australia (CRVA). The panel was moderated by Matt Wald, park trailer executive director for RVIA.

• The “Newest Emerging RV/Caravan Markets Workshop” was moderated by Craig Kirby, vice president of international business and general counsel at RVIA, and featured panelists Marcius Pinto Matheus, co-owner of Motor Trailer do Brazil, and Gregory Tempkin, president of Russian Standard.

Marco Annunziata, chief economist and executive director of Global Market Insight at General Electric, Co., was the keynote speaker at the luncheon on Jan. 18. In his remarks via a video conference link, he provided attendees with his view of economic conditions. “I believe the economy will struggle in the early part of 2013 before gaining momentum in the second half of the year with that growth continuing through 2014,” Annunziata said. “I believe we will see an economic growth rate of 2 – 2.5% in the United States and in larger emerging markets while Europe will continue to experience volatility with minimal growth over the next several years.”

The 2nd World RV Conference provided attendees ample opportunity to network and socialize at numerous festive social events, including special lunch and dinner events, and outings to FRVTA’s Florida RV SuperShow and the Lazydays RV Super Center.

The 2nd World RV Conference was made possible through the generous support of the event sponsors: Carefree of Colorado; the Canadian Recreational Vehicle Association; Cummins/Onan; Dometic Group; the Florida RV Trade Association; Freightliner Custom Chassis; GE Capital; Lazydays; Thetford Corp.; RVDA of Canada; and Thor Industries.

It was announced that Australia will host the 3rd World RV Conference in 2015. The first World RV Conference was held in Dusseldorf, Germany in 2008.

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