RVs Move America Week attendees had a lot to celebrate last week in Washington, D.C. RV industry leaders congregated in the nation’s capital to learn the latest industry news, examine the status of the RV Industry Association’s strategic business initiatives, and meet with lawmakers across Capitol Hill. It was a week of activity that included: the announcement of the new economic impact study; a reception with special guest and House RV Caucus co-founder, Dennis A. Ross; two RV Caucus events and Capitol Hill meetings; a presentation from CNN commentator and author Michael Smerconish; as well as a day and a half of industry committee and coalition meetings.
The week began with the roll out of the 2019 RVs Move America Economic Impact Study during the annual membership meeting. The study reveals that the RV industry had an overall economic impact on the US economy of $114 billion, supporting nearly 600,000 jobs, contributing more than $32 billion in wages, and paying over $12 billion in federal, state, and local taxes. The announcement was made by Garry Enyart, chairman, RV Industry Association, and director, mobile generator sales & coach care at Onan/Cummins. The study includes all companies involved in the manufacture, sale, rental, repair, storage, and service of recreation vehicles, as well as the aftermarket industry and the financing and insurance of RV purchases and the economic impact of recreation vehicle travel.
Two RV Caucus events highlighted the study on Capitol Hill on Wednesday including an RV Caucus breakfast that morning unveiled RVs Move America to members of Congress and their staffs. Among the speakers were several champions of the RV industry including US Rep. Jackie Walorski from Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District, US Rep. Robert Aderholt, who represents Alabama’s 4th Congressional District, Indiana members of the US House Greg Pence of Indiana’s 6th district, Larry Buchson of Indiana’s 8th district and Rep. Dina Titus of Nevada’s 1st Congressional District. Rep. Walorski was presented with the association’s legislative award for her work championing the RV industry over the past several years and her introduction of important legislation over the past several months. Walorski stated “It’s an honor to represent the RV Capital of the World. As you continue to move, rise and gain market share, please know that I have your back in Washington, DC.”
Capping off a successful day on Capitol Hill was an RV Caucus Reception that evening. US Senators Mike Braun and Todd Young of Indiana, along with Joni Ernst of Iowa, all spoke at the reception and each of them cited numbers from the RVs Move America Economic Impact Study, just as several US House members had done at the House RV Caucus Breakfast that morning.
Enyart also used the results of the economic impact study to publish an op-ed in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, highlighting the need to modernize the nation’s campgrounds and include recreation titles with any infrastructure packages that move through congress. The op-ed was also used to launch the industry’s messaging during the 176 advocacy meetings that took place on Tuesday and Wednesday with federal policymakers on issues critical to the outdoor recreation economy and the growth of the RV industry.
Advocates requested that lawmakers support a floor plan tax bill technical correction, support and co-sponsor the Restore our Parks Act and Restore our Parks and Public Lands Act, the inclusion of a recreation title in any larger infrastructure package and requested that congressional leaders to join the RV Caucus. Some members also took the opportunity to share the impact of the trade tariffs on their businesses over the past several months and the potential impact of any new tariffs.
Dennis A. Ross welcomed the RV industry on Monday night and spoke to the power of our unified voice, the challenges on the horizon for the industry, the success that we have built together and the power of the association’s new Political Action Committee and our growing influence in the political space.
During lunch on Tuesday, attendees gathered to hear the political perspective of CNN commentator and author Michael Smerconish, who sounded an alarm bell about US politics, telling his audience that the “loudest voices at either extreme of America are driving us in the ditch.” Smerconish began his career as an aide to President George H.W. Bush before becoming a radio talk show host and columnist in his hometown of Philadelphia. He entertained the crowd with stories from his career that focused on the things than unite rather than divide Americans. Smerconish did not ignore today’s politics during his remarks but made a larger point about how much most Americans really have in common, despite what they may see in the media or in the behavior of their federal officeholders.
Lastly, the industry celebrated the achievements of some of its own on Tuesday night during the Chairman’s Reception at the Newseum, hosted by Garry Enyart. Enyart recounted former chairman Bob Parish’s contributions to the industry throughout his career calling the two years he served as chairman “tremendously prosperous and a groundbreaking period for our industry and our association.” Enyart also presented two awards during the reception, the National Education Service Award to Lance Wilson of the Florida RV Dealers Association and the Distinguished Achievement in RV Standards Award to Matt Miller of Newmar Corporation.
"RVs Move America Week is a signature event for the RV industry and has grown to become a vital part of achieving our strategic objectives on Capitol Hill," said RV Industry Association Interim President Craig Kirby. "We use this week to amplify our voice in Washington, D.C. and examine the results and success staff and members have had in delivering on the association's mission to promote and protect the RV industry. We rely on the experience and participation from our members to prioritize the strategic direction of the industry as we continue to grow as an industry."
Thursday morning wrapped up the week with a Board of Directors meeting. The Board started with an executive session before their open session.
During the Board meeting:
- Outgoing President Frank Hugelmeyer discussed the status of the association’s three-year strategic plan; Interim President Craig Kirby presented his 100-day transition plan to the RV Industry Association board during an executive session Thursday morning.
- Upon the recommendation of the membership committee, the board voted on the new membership category and definition for an aftermarket membership along with the new dues structure for aftermarket members to take place during the next membership renewal cycle.
- Following a unanimous vote by the board of directors, it was announced that the RV Aftermarket Association permanently consolidated into the RV Industry Association as RV Aftermarket Supplier members.
- The board voted to modify the bylaws as they relate to the process of selecting appointed board members. At its June 2018 meeting, the Board of Directors approved a Governance Committee recommendation to amend the Bylaws. The new subsection gave the Board the option to appoint up to two Appointed Directors each year, with the terms expiring at the end of the fiscal year. This appointment power has not yet been used by the Board. This enables to Board to add particular skills or persons that may be beneficial to the overall governance of the association on a short-term basis. Persons eligible for such an appointment were limited to those employed by RV Industry Association member companies in the voting member categories. In the last few months, it was determined that while the original purpose of the amendment was sound, a greater degree of flexibility for the Board could be achieved by expanding the pool of eligible appointees to include any person whose skills may be needed. The adjusting amendment passed last week removes the restriction that appointees can only be drawn from voting member companies. An additional modification to these provisions was also made to clarify that the Board can exercise this appointment power at any time during the course of the year (although the term will still expire at the conclusion of the fiscal year).
We thank everyone who attended this year’s RVs Move America Week and look forward to another impactful event next year in Washington, D.C.