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RVIA Honors Industry Leaders for Their Outstanding Contributions at Annual Meeting

RVIA honored a host of industry leaders for their outstanding contributions to the association and the RV industry during the organization’s Annual Meeting, held March 4 – 8 at the Park Hyatt Aviara in Carlsbad, CA.

“RVIA’s Awards program recognizes individuals in a variety of areas who work selflessly and diligently for the betterment of the RV industry,” said RVIA Chairman of the Board Doug Gaeddert. “It is an honor to acknowledge those achievements.”

Distinguished Service to the RV Industry Award – Recognized as the industry’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award recognizes an individual within the RV industry who sets themselves apart through outstanding service. This year’s recipient was Mike Hutya, RVIA’s vice president of meetings and show, who is retiring in March after 38 years with the association.

Through a career that spanned nearly four decades, Hutya oversaw the National RV Trade Show and California RV Show, both vitally important showcases for the industry to many critical audiences, including manufacturers, suppliers, dealers, RV consumers, national media and industry analysts.

“Every event that Mike has been associated with has been produced with an extremely high level of professionalism that has enhanced the image of RVIA and the RV industry,” said RVIA Chairman Doug Gaeddert. “The long-term success of those two shows has helped contribute the awareness and growth of the RV industry.”

Special Award – Walt Bennett of Thor Industries was honored with the Special Award for his extraordinary contributions to the RV industry’s overall success. In concert with his outstanding career at Thor, Walt forged a tremendous legacy at RVIA serving as Chairman of the Board in 2001 and 2002, as an officer on the Executive Committee, as a member of the Board of Directors since 1994, and as a member of several associations committees.

“We are specifically recognizing Walt for his leadership of the Public & Legislative Affairs Committee,” said Gaeddert. “He has provided exemplary oversight of the association’s government affairs efforts, helping implement the Model RV Franchise Law and shepherding the association through a challenging time for manufacturer-dealer relations with both sides now having strong mutual respect and appreciation for the other.”

David J. Humphreys RV Industry Unity Award – Recognizing those individuals who continuously strive to encourage the multiple constituencies of the RV industry to work collectively for the growth and betterment of the industry, the award was presented to Jim Sheldon of Monaco RV.

In his work with RVIA as a Chairman, association officer and committee member, Jim has always been a pragmatic consensus builder, understanding that finding common ground and putting aside differences are critical to RV industry growth. His commitment to industry unity is also illustrated in his work as a founding member of the Go RVing Coalition and as chairman of the Committee on Excellence.

“Jim embodies the spirit of the David J. Humphreys RV Industry Unity Award,” said Gaeddert. “Throughout his illustrious career in the RV industry he has earned the well-deserved reputation for building excellent relationships throughout the RV industry.”

National Service Award – Mark Beecher of Bank of the West was presented with the National Service Award, which honors those outside the manufacturing segment of the industry for outstanding contributions.

Beecher joined RVIA’s Financial Services Committee in 1991 and continued his service on the group uninterrupted. Through his work on the committee and at Bank of the West, he has played an instrumental role in broadening and strengthening the ties between the RV industry and the financial services community.

“Mark has worked to help create and implement programs to educate the finance and insurance markets about the RV industry,” said Gaeddert. “He has a keen understanding that the RV market’s long-term health depends on having a variety of financial service companies involved on the industry.”

National Education Service Award – Recognizing those who are instrumental in the development of educational program in the RV industry, the National Education Service Award was presented to Jeff Rutherford of Airxcel, Inc.

Rutherford has been an influential member of several industry committees charged with overseeing training initiatives, serving as a member of the RV Service Training Council, chairman of the Industry Education Committee, and vice chairman of the RVDA/RVIA Certification Governing Board.

“In these roles, Jeff has proven time and time again to be a passionate advocate for industry education and certification and has led the effort in developing and delivering these important programs,” said Gaeddert.”

The following award winners were also announced at the Annual Meeting. The recipients will be presented with their awards at upcoming RVIA events later in the year:

Distinguished Achievement in RV Standards – Leslie Woodward, Fairview Fittings

National Scholastic Award – Eleonore Hamm, RVDA of Canada

Distinguished Achievement in RV Journalism – Chuck Woodbury, RVTravel.com

National Legislative Award – Ralph Simoni, California Advocates


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