Opinion

What to banks know that we don’t know?

(Oct. 21, 2013) — So, what do banks know that we don’t know? The RV industry has routinely lead the nation into recession, and during the last recession, banks got caught up big time in defaults and dealer repossessions. I’m not saying there are any storm clouds on the horizon, but it may be prudent to keep an eye on what the big banks are doing to small business customers and, especially, the RV industry.

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A holiday of uncertainty

(Oct. 18, 2013) — There is a lot to be worried about this holiday season, but it’s not all doom and gloom for the RV industry. Many Americans are looking at Christmas and opting not to play the shopping game where they battle endless rude crowds to buy trinkets nobody really needs. Rather, they are investing money in experiences and memory-making opportunities for their families. 

Marketing RVing as a way for families to bond together and enjoy new experiences 12 weekends a year for what they would spend on the latest toys and electronic gadgets may be a home run for dealers and campgrounds.

Selling the sizzle will be as simple as promoting RVing as a way to respite, relax and escape the mind-numbing problems of the world.

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Membership in state association is not an “expense”

(Oct. 17, 2013) — Our association, like many other state associations, was able to assist this park only because we have made years of investment in Sacramento. It takes time to develop working relationships with these groups. It takes constant monitoring of local and state regulations to watch for changes and tweaks that can impact a member’s bottom line. It takes lobbyists sorting through piles of proposed legislation. It requires us to build coalitions to fight for common causes.

An individual RV park or campground could never afford to have a staff person available all year long simply to manage to manage industry relationships, answer regulatory questions, recommend resources and follow trends and develop responsive best practices. 

But, collectively, through membership in state associations, any campground can have immediate access to this valuable resource.  

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Federal shakedown succeeds in opening national parks

I read the news on Friday that several states had agreed to forward money to the federal government to keep the national parks in their states open for seven to 10 days. Then, I saw the amount of money states were required to pay and it became clear the kindergarteners that have been in charge of national parks since the “shutdown” have been replaced by mafia thugs.

The State of Arizona is going to pay $651,000 to keep Grand Canyon open for seven days. That’s $93,000 per day — or $33,945,000 per year — to keep a visitor’s center, gift shop, a few shuttle buses and a bunch of unpaved hiking trails open. That’s staggering!

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Hamm: Canadian RV industry strong, healthy

(Oct. 11, 2013) — This past year, the RVDA of Canada engaged Harris Decima to conduct a groundbreaking study, showcasing the economic impact of the Canadian RV industry.  I was really surprised when I read that the total economic activity associated with the Canadian recreation vehicle industry reached $14.5 billion. That is an incredible figure folks.

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Is any employer saving money on health insurance?

(Oct. 11, 2013) — The Affordable Health Care Act has been open and registering dozens of people around the country for almost two weeks. But, I’d like to know if RV-related businesses are seeing any cost savings in their health care premiums this year.

I have been hearing horror stories from business owners and consumers alike about how health insurance premiums have skyrocketed this summer. I am hoping that one of my readers will have a success story and being willing to share it with the rest of the industry.

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Dealer agreements, CFPB top RVDA agenda

(Oct. 9, 2013) — A major project RVDA tackled this year was the first revision to the association’s model dealer agreement in 10 years. This agreement is designed to be used as a tool for dealers and manufacturers as they negotiate their business relationship. Another major issue that is the board’s top advocacy priority is trying to make sense of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB).

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National Park Service exposed as childish, petty

(Oct. 6, 2013) — I encourage Governor Brewer to exercise some control of her own. Since possession is nine-tenths of the law and the Grand Canyon lies in Arizona, the state is technically in possession. The land is already paid for, and it belongs to the American people and the residents of the state of Arizona.

Brewer should send the Arizona National Guard to the Grand Canyon to remove the barriers to access and allow people to access the park free of charge. If she was smart, she would use state employees to collect the entrance fees the federal government apparently doesn’t want or need. She might even send the state police to arrest any power-hungry National Park Service rangers who tried to reclaim possession of an the abandoned property.

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Long-term consequences of shutdown may be helpful

(Oct. 2, 2013) — October came into Washington with a roar, and the political fighting is likely to continue throughout the month. 

Recreation has a stake in this fight, both because of potential consequences for the U.S. economy and because a great deal of recreation in America takes place on federally-managed lands.

The short-term pain is high, but the longer-term consequences may actually be helpful.

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Lazydays has a giant target on its back

(Sept. 30, 2013) — News today that Lazydays Founder Don Wallace was assuming a leadership position at Camping World promises to shake things up in the industry and, especially, the Tampa market.

As a multimillionaire with one of the largest homes in Hillsborough County, Fla., it is unlikely that Wallace needs to go back to work for extra walking around money.

So, why would Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis want to bring on a high-profile name to oversee such miniscule market?

I suspect there is some bad blood concerning Lazydays — and the current leadership of one of the largest RV retail centers in the nation now have blaze orange targets on their backs.

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Fuel for thought for prospective full-timers

Recently, we had an RVer preparing to go full-time in 2015 ask for some advice over at RV Road Trippers, our official Facebook page. The question prompted an incredible number of suggestions, ideas and recommendations from veteran full-timers on how to best prepare for – and enjoy – the experience. While it wasn’t easy, we selected our top 10 suggestions for full-timing below. Which ones do you agree with? Which ones would you add to the list?

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Success of Elkhart Open House Week is no fluke

(Sept. 23, 2013) — My top ten takeaways from the Elkhart Open House are drawn from conversations with industry leaders, dealers, suppliers and even the other media representatives covering this event.  The topics are not intended to be critical in nature, although some will probably view them in that context. Instead, I think they provide some insight into where our industry is today, and the opportunities that lie ahead now that the Elkhart Open House Week activities have positioned themselves as the premier dealer buying event in the RV industry today.

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Doug Gaeddert: Don’t settle for a field goal

(Sept. 13, 2013) — It’s hard to believe, but we’re almost into the fourth and final quarter of 2013. Unlike the NFL, we have no half-time, or preseason warm up games in the RV industry. It’s just go, execute your game plan for four straight quarters, and then head right back out on the field to do it again!

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Companies ignore customer concerns at their own peril

I have received several complaints from consumers over the past few months about the quality of products in the RV industry. That is nothing new; it has happened for years. 

What is new is that the complaints involve once iconic companies known for exceptional product quality and customer service. 

The response to the complaints has been to ignore them. In the history of public relations, keeping quiet has NEVER helped a story go away. 

Even worse, is it a good idea to assail the messenger rather than refute the evidence?

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Will government regulate diversity of RV parks?

A news story circulating today reports that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will begin tracking the diversity of every single neighborhood in America in order to push policies to remedy “the problem” of segregation. 

While “helping children” is initial justification offered for launching such a huge social engineering experience, make no doubt about it, the federal government is tired of seeing white majority neighborhoods.

If this initiative is allowed to be implemented, rest assured its reach and impact will eventually affect RV parks, especially those which cater to a majority of white seasoned citizens.

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CarCash locations

Wow! Did CampingCashCarWorld grow quickly!

I find it truly amazing just how quickly CarCash grew from a single location in New York City to a nationwide franchise with six dozen locations in less than seven days.

It was just one week ago today that America even learned about CarCash thanks to the debut episode of CNBC’s The Profit, featuring Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis as the business guru called in to save failing businesses.

Sure enough, I looked up the CarCash locations from a map on the company’s website and it is eerily similar to the locations of Camping World dealerships around the nation.

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Can Obamacare negatively impact the RV industry?

A report released today notes that American businesses created 953,000 new jobs in 2013. But, 77 percent of them are part-time jobs. It is in that story that the unintended consequences of Obamacare will truly impact the RV industry.

If the new “full-time” positions will soon mean 30 hours per week, and most two-earner families will need a third job to cover the cut in pay from the 40-hour week, where will they find the time to RV? 

If one person has to work 60 hours per week, that will likely include weekend work at a second job. Which families will invest in an RV, if one member must work every weekend?

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The Profit needs a reality check

“My name is Marcus Lemonis. During the past 10 years, I bought hundreds of failing businesses and made millions doing it.”

Those were the words uttered by “The Profit” during the first few seconds of his new reality show, which debuted last night on CNBC. I just about gagged.

“Bought failing businesses.” Give me a break. Apparently, the reality show is in need of a reality check.

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Montana FW billboard

Should dealers be able to use deceptive advertising?

An RV dealer sent me a picture over the weekend of another Camping World billboard next to his dealership. The billboard advertises a Montana brand fifth wheel, which Camping World is not authorized to carry in the community in which the billboard stands. However, the dealership 200 feet away from the billboard is the authorized Montana fifth wheel dealer in that market. Is that deceptive?

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California officials extort money from RV rental dealers

(July 26, 2013) — An RV dealer in California sent me a message earlier this week telling me that he’s being extorted by state officials simply because he sets up rental RVs in state parks. In order to set up a rented RV for a customer at a California state park, dealers must pay $2,000 annually for a concession license or 10 percent of the total rental fee for every motorhome delivered and removed from any state park.

Why? Because the “commercial enterprise” is engaged in “sales activities that utilize park property or facilities to complete the terms of sale or provide a service as a result of the sale or that effect park operations, facility use or visitor safety.” No, the officials aren’t kidding.

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