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RPTIA board member sets record straight

NEWNAN, Ga. — An editorial published in Wednesday’s RV Daily Report was not entirely accurate, said Dan Saltzgiver, a board member for the Recreation Park Trailer Industry Association.

In an editorial praising the merger between RPTIA and the RV Industry Association yesterday, RV Daily Report Editor Greg Gerber said that several people told him the vote approving the merger was flawed. Gerber noted that abstaining votes by RPTIA members were counted as being in favor of the merger.

That’s not entirely accurate, said Saltzgiver, who has served on the RPTIA board since 1997.

“I have been a driving force behind this merger and I can only see good things coming from it,” he told RV Daily Report. “The vote on this issue was not flawed as some have said.”

Saltzgiver said the decision to move forward with the merger was unanimous among RPTIA board members, which represents the entire association and has the authority to act in the best interests of the association.

A ballot was sent to members because RPTIA wanted its members to have a voice on whether merging the two associations was a good idea.

“Because of the membership status I was in, I was not allowed to vote on this issue, even though I was one of the most active members pushing for it all those years,” he said. “Suppliers to the park model industry were allow to vote as well as third party inspectors that were members of the association.”

Park model manufacturers were not the only people voting on the issue, as Gerber implied in his editorial. Suppliers and others had a voice as well.

“More park model manufacturers did vote in favor of the move than those who voted ‘no,'” said Saltzgiver.

Here is how the ballot read:

“At our January 9th board meeting in Tampa, Fla., the RPTIA Board unanimously voted to recommend to the general membership that RPTIA suspends its operations for a period of time not to exceed three years. The suspension will be contingent upon favorable negotiations and acceptance between RVIA’s Board and RPTIA’s Board that will allow the RPTIA members to join as voting members of the RVIA. The RPTIA Board is asking for your vote to approve this recommendation as a member of the general membership. A vote that is not received by Jan. 31, 2012 will be counted as a yes vote.”

Members were allowed to indicate whether they approved or did not approve of the measure.

“There were no abstentions, as that can only happen if someone is present at a meeting, and there was not a meeting,” said Saltzgiver. “The membership was told that if they did not vote, then their vote would be counted as a ‘yes’ vote.

“So there really wasn’t a need for members to respond if they wanted to vote support the measure,” he explained. “This is how voting is done if you own shares in a company and they are having a meeting to vote on an issue. You are sent a ballot and told that if you don’t respond, it will be counted as a yes vote.

“This is done all the time,” Saltzgiver noted. “Those who did not respond were called several times asking for them to respond and they choose not to. As a result, their silence is consent.”

Saltzgiver said it is “truly sad” that RV Daily Report was only given part of the information and not the whole story.

“Without all the information it is easy to draw the wrong conclusion,” he added. “But, in the end, we gave members a chance to vote and the majority of them supported the board’s decision either with a paper ballot or by their silent support.”

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About Greg Gerber

Greg Gerber is a freelance writer and podcaster who has been writing about the RV industry since 2000. He is the former editor of RV Daily Report.

One comment

  1. While Dan does clarifiy some of the issues raised by the RPTIA vote to join RVIA, there were still some questionable practices that governed the decisions that were made. In a follow-up discussion with John Soard (Fairmont Homes), Secretary of the Executive Committee we covered, and uncovered, information that shows how the vote was taken, the results, and the importance of one segment of the membership on the final tally. It should be noted that we have had other discussions with members that did not want to go “on the record” in voicing their concerns on the vote and move to RVIA.

    While the ballot did state that if a member did not vote, then they would be counted as a “yes” vote. This was clearly printed on the ballot and if somebody was interested enough in the voting, and really wanted to vote no, then they should have done so. On the other hand, mosty association abide by Robert’s Rules of Order and in these rules it does clearly state that failure to respond must be counted as a “no” vote. If the meeting had been conducted in this way, then RPTIA would not be joining RVIA. I support RPTIA on this one – people should be responsible enough to vote on critical issues. In this case some didn’t and they were subsequently counted as a “yes” vote, but they were informed of that action in wirting and prior to the vote.

    I don’t think any of the eight companies that did not take any interest in voting would now take the time and initiate legal action and citing Robert’s Rules of Order as their defense to have the ballot decision overturned. They simply are not engaged in the process.

    Interestingly there are members of RPTIA that were allowed to vote yet they don’t manufacture park models that qualify for the seal. This is crazy. They apparently joined the association so they could build overized FEMA units when the government specifications mandated that bidders on the FEMA contracts had to be members of RPTIA. In hindsight, the association should never have allowed these companies to join the association if they were not going to build units to which a seal could be affixed.

    This now brings up the questions as to whether or not RVIA is going to allow these same companies to now join RVIA and continue building unit without seals.

    More importantly, and something that has not been printed yet, was our discussion around who did vote yes, and why. Of the companies that did vote for this action, and who fully supported it, 91.1% of them were companies that do manufacture park models and do it in accordance with ANSI 119.5 and quaify to have a seal on their units. To me, this is the most important part of this discussion.

    The paperwork may have been sloppy and there may have been some companies that never should have been in RPTIA to begin with, but the majority of the people who pay the bills and who make the products the right way, all voted to suspend RPTIA and move back under the RVIA roof in Reston.

    That doesn’t mean that everything will be perfect, and it probably won’t be. However that is the responsibility of the Board of Directors of both associations to craft the documents that protect the interests of both parties.

    There is also a risk for RVIA in taking RPTIA and park models back under their banner. One of the reasons the two associations split years ago was government and state intervention on construction standards of park models that RVIA wanted no part of because they felt the ANSI construction standards that park model manufacturers were fighting for could bring added governmental intervention on how traditional RVs are constructed. What will RVIA do now and how will they protect their members should the government want to get involved in how all RVs are manufactured.

    RVIA might also consider what their members can actually call a “park model.” The 8.6″ wide trailers are counted on the RVIA sales statistics and are not built to ANSI 119.5, which is why they are no longer counted on RPTIA shipment reports. With the increased attention to destination camping and larger park/lodge model trailers, there could be additional confusion here that could draw attention to how all RVs are built and why only one segment of RVIA is building to ANSI 119.5. One would assume that these discussiions took place at the RVIA Board of Directors meeting when this motion was approved to accept RPTIA back into RVIA.

    It has also been reported that when Richard Coon was informed of the RPTIA vote, he supposedly (nobody will go on the record here) told Dick Grymonprez not to disclose the vote count and the “yes” factor and “don’t let the press know.”

    Perhaps if both RVIA and RPTIA thought this through a little better they could have issued a real informative press release that explained the votes, decisions, and background information in a way that everyone could understand and not try to do everything behind closed doors. Once again, if this is how RVIA is handling the media and public relations, pehaps they should reconsider their decision to take it back in house last year because they are doing a miserable job of representing our industry in the public eye

    John expaianed that RPTIA is not going away as an association, they are simply suspending operations, keeping their money in the bank and keeping a Board of Directors active – although all those details are not worked out yet by legal counsel. They will closely monitor the RVIA relationship over the next two years and if it does not go the way RPTIA expects it to go, or if RVIA goes off and does something unexpected, then RPTIA could decide to once again leave RVIA.

    If I were a member of RPTIA, I would fight hard to have Bill Garpow engaaged throughout this process (my opinion here) to answer the questions that the staff at RVIA might not be familiar with, especially on construction standards and various state regulations. Bill has served the association well and to lose his industry experience, knowledge and contacts could be a recipe for disaster and both associations should do everything they can to make this work.

    The park model manufacturers want this to happen, and voted 91.9% in favor of making it happen, so now RVIA should do it right and retain Bill Garpow in a consulting capacity for the two-year honeymoon to see if this is actually going to work. This could be done without adding any additional financial burden on RVIA because Bill could be paid from the financial reserves that RPTIA has in the bank right now. One would also hope that RPTIA would use some of this money to provide a respectable severance package to any employee at RPTIA that will lose their job or independent contract after many years of faithful service.

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