A 25-year RV industry veteran, prior to taking over as President Kirby served as the RVIA’s senior vice president of government relations and general counsel – a high-pressure post from which he led federal and state government relations, oversaw legal and industry standards, and contributed deeply to the organization’s international business teams. It’s experience that has positioned him well to guide RVIA – and by extension, the US RV industry – through the global upheaval of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The US industry hasn’t just survived the effects of the coronavirus, it has succeeded in capitalizing on a unique opportunity to capture new market share and attract massive numbers of first-time buyers. Aboutcamp BtoB recently spoke with Kirby about what has worked for the industry though this upheaval, and what the US market might look like in the months ahead.
RV wholesale shipments for 2020 are expected to execeed 400,000 units in the US. How much of that growth would be attributed to consumer response to the pandemic, as opposed to the arrival of a huge cohort of new buyers as millennials reach a point in life where they have more disposable income?
We’re expected to finish the year at around the low 420,000-range for wholesale shipments. And at the beginning of the year, I think on the high end, we were right around that number, as well. If you just looked at the numbers, it looks like a typical year. But what has happened in between is just remarkable in the way that the industry has overcome enormous challenges presented by the pandemic.
The number of first-time buyers has absolutely skyrocketed this year. I would say that we’re seeing anywhere from 55 percent to 70 percent of RV purchases being made by first-time buyers. It’s just a huge number.
Check out the complete Q&A with Craig Kirby from Aboutcamp BtoB here (page 36).