The RV Industry Association’s Distinguished Service to the RV Industry Award is presented to an individual within the RV industry who has set themselves apart by outstanding service. This year, the industry’s highest honor went to the association’s own Vice President of Standards Bruce Hopkins and was presented at the Second Annual RV Industry Awards Ceremony during RVX in Salt Lake City. This is the second time in 2019 to which Bruce was recognized for his service to the industry following an announcement in January for his induction into the RV Hall of Fame’s 2019 class.
“Bruce’s contributions to the RV industry and the RV Industry Association span an incredible 40 years and cannot be understated,” said RV Industry Association Chairman, Garry Enyart. “He has been a passionate and effective advocate representing the technical interests of the RV industry before national and international standards organizations as well as agencies at the state and federal government level. As vice president of standards, he is the godfather of the industry’s standards and inspection program, one of RVIA’s core functions that impacts virtually every manufacturer, supplier, dealer and RV consumer. Under his watch, RV Industry Association seals have been affixed to literally millions of RVs.”
Hopkins’ career within the RV Industry began on the dealer side in 1965 at the age of 15 where he remained throughout his college years. Upon graduation, he was hoping to find a sales job on the manufacturing side of the industry but learned of the newly created and emerging field within the industry – codes and standards. Unbeknownst to Hopkins at the time, he would go on to shape, unify and build an entire system of nationally recognized standards and codes that would be adopted by manufacturers across the country. Hopkins spent his tenure cultivating relationships with representatives at ANSI, NFPA and NHTSA to harmonize RV standards throughout the country and create a program that universally recognizes the same metrics and requirements to the defined RV building codes.
Hopkins, appearing to be overcome with emotion graciously accepted his distinguished service award in Salt Lake City stating, “It’s been a great ride and I’ve got a great team. I work with a lot of really great people in an absolutely terrific industry.”
Beyond creating uniform standards for the industry, he developed and implemented an inspection program and built a team of trained, knowledgeable inspectors who not only inspect member plants to recognized RV standards but provide education to members about how to enact the practices and build to specific codes. He quickly gained a reputation for creating a program of both safety and compliance with adopted RV standards while providing manufactures with the greatest degree of flexibility and design.
Hopkins identified creating and maintaining the Standards Handbook as a crowning achievement and one of the career accomplishments that he is most proud of. This handbook is the document that enabled manufactures to build one product for all markets in the U.S. Prior to that, there were 16 states that had regulatory programs, each one operating independently from the others. The introduction of the handbook promoted consistency leading to the elimination of state standards in favor of the association’s standards in all but three of the states.
“In recent years he has provided his considerable guidance and expertise in exploring international opportunities for the RV Industry and insuring that US manufacturers and suppliers are not locked out of world markets due to standards issues,” said Enyart. “Bruce has been passionate and an effective advocate representing the technical interests of the RV industry before national and international standards organizations as well as agencies at the state and federal government level.”
When asked about his lasting legacy and long-term impact, Hopkins stated: “I would like my legacy to be the fact that we have been able to maintain industry self-regulation. In the final analysis, the standards promote consistency and safety without a patchwork of government regulations that couldn’t provide the same technical knowledge that the industry provides. We certainly remain more flexible, as we can adapt quickly as the needs of the industry change. We allow the OEMs the greatest degree of flexibility, as long as safety is not jeopardized. I’m very proud of this.”
Here are some thoughts that others in the industry have on Hopkins’ distinguished career:
“As a champion for RV safety, education, and quality, Bruce Hopkin’s impact on our industry is so great that it will never be matched.” - Dave Mihalick, Thor Industries
“Bruce, to me, has always represented the intellectual side of this business, the thinking man’s approach to standards applications and some of the other more detailed aspects of the RV arena. And he’s always navigated within the industry in a low-key and orderly way that has tended to help keep the train on the tracks, when it comes to maintaining the association’s overall focus on matters that, by and large, are extremely important for everyone involved.” - Sherm Goldenberg, RVBusiness
“Having worked with Bruce for 34 years, I have witnessed firsthand the tremendous passion he has for his job and the dedication in serving the membership. Bruce built the standards department and program from the ground up and because of his vision, technical knowledge and drive, he created a standards safety program that is second to none and respected by all industry stakeholders.” - Kent Perkins, RV Industry Association
“I am always amazed with Bruce’s passion for this industry. No matter what area of the industry you look at, you can see a little, or a lot, of his touch ranging from government relations, NHTSA, codes and standards, technical education and working with members to make sure that we are all doing the right thing. Bruce’s mind set is never that something isn’t in his area. If he sees a need in the industry, such as safety, he tries to fill it and facilitates a dialogue between the association and members to make sure that there is a genuine interest in the association providing an educational piece to the industry. He does not ever turn away thinking that someone else will take care of it or “it’s not his job.” From my point of view, it’s not only what he has done for the association but what he does with us, the members, and making sure that we are all on the same page and that we are all moving forward. To me, that’s what a good leader does.” – Mike Becker, Forest River
“Bruce has been one of the greatest influencers in my career when I began working at RVIA when I was a mere 20 years old. Under Bruce’s guidance and friendship, I was given the freedom to spread my wings and flourish, helping to organize two departments into one cohesive team. Bruce’s tutelage has helped me grow as an employee and person and has taught me to navigate many situations, seize opportunities and to become the best I can be.” – Sharonne Lee, RV Technical Institute
“Bruce is an amazing and tireless supporter of both the RV and towable trailer industry. His passion for making the industry better is unmatched in both intensity and tangible contribution. Bruce largely works behind the scenes because he approaches his work with a servant attitude and is very effective without seeking his own recognition or glory. He has initiated several significant changes in the RV world, largely to help the industry to be more compliant, safer and producing higher quality products. I’m proud to know him and proud to assist him in his mission.” – Ted Schorn, Schorn Consulting
Thank you for your myriad contributions to the RV Industry, Bruce! And congratulations on your achievements.