By Ronnie Garrett
HERSHEY, Penn. — America’s Largest RV Show opened big despite the constant drizzle coming down on the first public day of the event at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Heather Leach, executive vice president of the Pennsylvania Recreational Vehicle and Camping Association (PRVCA), said she’s not surprised that the show opened well despite the rain. “RVers are not afraid of a little rain,” she laughed.
She added, “It amazes me every time how rainy weather doesn’t keep people from coming.”
Though it’s too early to tell what the actual numbers will be, Leach noted they expect around 9,000 people on the first day and high attendance the remainder of the show as the weather is expected to improve starting tomorrow.
This year there are 45 manufacturers and 157 booth vendors showing their innovations. ”The crowds have been great so far, and exhibitors are very pleased,” Leach added.
Shawn James, general manager of DRV, agreed. He said that though the rain got things off to a slow start, traffic has been good. Rain, he says, generally brings out the serious buyers.
“Traffic and interest are our main concerns and both have been good,” he says.
A change for DRV this year is that instead of waiting for the Elkhart Open House to introduce new products, DRV has done so in Hershey. The product line received updates to wood colors, back splashes, layouts and more, and that’s being introduced this week.
“We debuted the model stuff here because this is our customer; this is our base,” James said.
Winnebago Industries also made a big announcement in Hershey as it reported its intention to better leverage its brand recognition by putting all towable lines under the Minnie line.
Mark Gerber, Winnebago director of sales and marketing for Winnebago towables, said that in the past the OEMs all distinguished their brands separately, which was confusing for the customer and didn’t fully take advantage of the Winnebago name. But putting all towables under the Minnie Line will “give us continuity in the brands,” he says.
With the official launch of this change, set for the Elkhart Open House, Winnebago will offer five trailers under the same brand name. These trailers will share similar features including wood and fabric options. The trailers will range in size from teardrop to fifth wheel.
In other news, NeXus RV, a full-line motorhome manufacturer founded in 2010 by Claude Donati and Dave Middleton, is attending its first show as a manufacturer that is getting out of the retail business by partnering with dealerships as of Sept. 1.
“In 2010, we were looking for a way to continue to do what we love to do, which is build motorhomes. The recession made selling through the dealers impossible, so we sold units direct to retail customers,” stated Claude Donati, co-founder of NeXus RV. “We believe the time is right to give dealerships an alternative product which has been proven in the market.”
He added that though they loved working directly with retail customers, he believes the retail experience they have will offer dealers a new experience. The company will only be signing on 25 dealers this year, with a goal of 100 eventually, so they will be guaranteed a large territory. Donati said. “We look forward to offering the dealers a great product — built better and with more features — and providing them with large territories.
In addition, MORyde’s The StepAbove Entry Step, which recently won the RVAA Best Product of the Year award, is featured as original equipment on many motorhomes and fifth wheels at the show. The self-storing steps feature an innovative design that provides an RVer exceptional stability when entering or exiting their unit. Stability is provided through adjustable legs that go to the ground and can be easily adjusted for uneven terrain.
Jack Enfield, sales and marketing manager of MORryde, said they are really pleased that The StepAbove is being offered as original equipment.
“It has been very exciting to hear RVers talk about the dramatic improvement they have seen with the StepAbove. They commented their previous steps were spongy and sometimes had that diving board sensation. With the StepAbove, they have a solid foundation,” said Enfield.
America’s Largest RV Show runs through Sept. 17. Leach added to mark your calendars for next year. The dates are Sept. 12-16, 2018, in Hershey, Pennsylvania.