LAS VEGAS — RV Dealers Association President Phil Ingrassia offered an update on key issues facing dealers and the industry in a presentation yesterday before attendees at the RVDA convention and expo.
“Those of you who were with us yesterday afternoon heard keynote speaker Ryan Estis urge us all to ’embrace change,'” he told members. “We certainly are in for some changes ahead in light of last night’s election.”
In his victory remarks last night, President-elect Donald Trump singled out investment in the nation’s infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, as one of his top priorities, he explained.
“Vice President-elect Mike Pence is from Indiana and knows our industry better than anyone who has ever been on a presidential ticket. Some in this room know Governor Pence personally,” said Ingrassia. “So no matter who you voted for, there are opportunities ahead.”
He noted that RVDA is working with leading outdoor recreation associations including the RV Industry Association, National Marine Manufacturers Associations, Marine Retailers Association of the Americas, powersports associations as well as the American Recreation Coalition.
The goal is to let the incoming Trump administration and Congress know that outdoor recreation is a major contributor to economic growth in the United States and the overall health of its citizens, Ingrassia explained.
“Outdoor recreation needs to be positioned like tech or aerospace or autos as a major economic driver in the U.S. and we are ready with policy recommendations to advance this agenda,” he added. “After a contentious election, outdoor recreation is in a great position to be a unifying force in our country.”
For the past three years, a major RVDA priority has been protecting the ability of dealers to provide financing for customers far removed from overreach by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
“The Republican Party platform calls for elimination of the agency, as has president-elect Trump,” said Ingrassia. “The CFPB is also threatened by a lawsuit that may end up before the Supreme Court that argues the agency’s structure is unconstitutional.
“A federal appeals court has already agreed with this position and gave the president power to fire the CFPB director for any reason. So stay tuned on this one — the CFPB is in real trouble,” he added. “So not only is this is an historic election year with real consequences, it’s also a year that is projected to best the RV industry has seen since 1977.
“It’s also been a year of major corporate acquisitions, continued consolidation, and the first RV retailer IPO in more than 20 years,” he explained. “There is a lot of attention on our industry, with many outsiders asking the question how long can this run of success continue?”
Ingrassia noted that, for years, the baby boom generation has been driving the RV market, but there’s a new generation of millennials that is priming the pump for continued growth. He said a new Go RVing survey to be released in a few weeks will show that the average RV buyer is getting younger.
A KOA study of campers earlier this year showed that millennials make up the largest percentage of new campers, and have aspirations to own an RV, if they don’t have one already.
“We are also entering an era where more people own tow vehicles than ever before,” he explained. “The U.S. passenger vehicle market is now tilted toward pickups, SUVs, and crossovers. Automakers are on a pace to sell more than 10 million light trucks for the first time ever in 2016.
“These factors are creating a surge in towable demand with manufacturers making new strides in contemporary design and high-tech features,” he added. “That creating a wow factor that used to be reserved for only higher end vehicles.”
Ingrassia said RV dealers are investing in facilities, people, and management systems to serve the industry’s customer base.
“I’ve had the privilege of visiting several dealership grand opening celebrations this year and I’m blown away with the sales and service experience so many of our dealers are providing customers every day,” he explained. “So there are lots of thing that should continue the industry on the pathway toward growth.”The challenge will be to sustain the momentum through improving the industry’s supply chain process.”
At the RVDA Board of Delegates meeting this week, Ingrassia said the board and staff heard loud and clear that parts and warranty support will continue to be a priority for RVDA leadership.
“We’ve made a commitment to keeping you informed about these and other issues that impact your ability to do business,” he added. “Through special email regulatory alerts, RVDA NewsBrief, RV Executive Today magazine and electronic newsletters, and our new mobile app, we are striving to keep RVDA members in the loop.”
Ingrassia invited dealers who have suggestions on how the association can do a better job in serving RV dealers to let him know. He can be reached at email@example.com.