Opinion

Here’s a great way to introduce creativity into RV design

(March 25, 2013) — I received a press release today about a design competition in the automotive industry that I thought would be an excellent way to bring innovation into the RV industry. I, for one, think this type of design innovation would help improve the draw to the National RV Trade Show in Louisville each year.

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Band together to rescue our national parks

(March 14, 2013) — We are stewards of the land, and as such are responsible for protecting and ensuring our national & state parks are left the way we found them for future generations. I find it despicable that every time state and federal governments attempt to work through self-inflicted deficits and poor planning our state parks and national parks are the first to suffer from our government’s inadequacies.

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Are manufacturers handcuffing dealership F&I departments?

(March 13, 2013) — I heard some scuttlebutt last week about some behind-the-scenes maneuvering for manufacturers to include specific brands of emergency roadside service with every new RV they sell. Some dealers are objecting to the practice all together, but are their concerns justified?

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Do we want Washington dictating model year changes?

(March 6, 2013) — An RV dealer contacted me this week to say he was sitting on a pair of two-year-old 2012 RVs. How an RV can be two years old nine weeks into a new year is a mystery to me.  “As a dealer, it is very hard to plan for my selling season when an RV manufacturer surprises me by delivering a 2014 model in February of 2013,” he said. “As dealers, how are we to plan for this early surprise?” Good question. The answer, you can’t plan. It’s meant to be a surprise.

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Has S.D. legislature had enough with pork barrel spending?

A campground owner in South Dakota sent me some information about a bill working its way through his state legislature. The $4 million spending measure to make improvements at three taxpayer funded state parks was reduced to just $3 by the assembly and sent to the senate for further consideration. Could it be that at least one state is starting to realize that wasteful spending must stop? 

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Sequestration – No! Let’s free federal recreation providers

(Feb. 26, 2013) — It is time to tell Washington that games need to stop.  Americans overwhelmingly agree that federal deficits need to be cut, and that federal spending reductions need to be a big part of this effort. Adding up the results of these ten steps generates a new income stream that dwarfs the projected $115 million sequestration cut – nearly half a billion dollars in increased revenues.  Time to take some actions!

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Consolidation, adjusted numbers and a pearl of wisdom

(Feb. 26, 2013) — As we kick off 2013, our industry is enjoying rising shipments and incredible reports from RV dealerships and shows throughout North America regarding attendance, sales numbers, and strong interest in RV ownership. That’s great news. But, I believe this news is even more encouraging when you consider the degree of consolidation that our industry has experienced since 2008; how close we really are as an industry to “storm adjusted” shipment highs for the last ten years; and what this might mean to us all. 

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Weirdness is afoot

(Feb. 22, 2013) — When it snows in Scottsdale, Ariz., you know weirdness is afoot. Some freaky weather dropped a dusting of snow on the yards of snowbirds seeking to avoid the effects of living in the land of frozen tundra.

But, there has been so much weirdness this week, I had to check to see if there was actually a full moon. There isn’t, and it’s not expected until Monday. So, I don’t know what could be going on. Here’s a sampling of the weirdness I read about this week.

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What’s the ultimate cost of RV ownership?

(Feb. 19, 2013) — The total cost for all items comes to $269,990 ($55,000 + $25,264 + $23,258 + $22,000 + $5,868 + $138,600). Dividing that by $40,000 miles, he figures the cost per mile to operate his motorhome is about $6.75 per mile. That seems high, but I can’t argue with his logic. 

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Will climate change hurt the outdoor recreation industry?

(Feb. 12, 2013) — The impact of climate change is dramatic when you consider what it does to businesses that primarily take place in the great outdoors. In the past few years we have experienced droughts, vicious tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, or on the other hand a spring-like late February or March.

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Why isn’t the RV industry much, much bigger?

If we are to believe the Outdoor Industry Association, half of all Americans spend time outdoors every year, and the outdoor industry itself accounts for $646 billion in annual spending. What is puzzling to me is that the RV industry — which supports every single outdoor recreation activity — comprises a paltry 5.8 percent of the industry’s revenue.

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Coming soon to your company — employee civil war

(Jan. 31, 2013) — Among its many provisions — which none of the thousands of existing laws governing small business have regulated — is a clause that requires employers to disclose the salaries of employees to other workers by having to justify why two people doing similar work are paid differently. All it takes is one person thinking he or she has been discriminated against to require an employer to disclose salary information on all employees doing similar work.

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What’s the attraction to Quartzsite?

(Jan. 30, 2013) — Early last week, I was chastised by a reader for not covering the largest gathering of RV owners in America, which takes place each January at Quartzsite, Ariz. So, last Friday, I trekked out to the fabled city to see what all the fuss was about. I left there scratching my head and wondering what’s the attraction to Quartzsite?

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Political correctness run amok

(Jan. 23, 2013) — There is huge fallout over a decision by a show promoter to not only ban the presence of certain rifles at an upcoming outdoor show, but also prohibit companies from displaying pictures of people using guns. That is idiocy at its finest, especially considering that the show is the fabled Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show, scheduled to take place Feb. 2 to 10 in Harrisburg, Pa. Show organizers must have failed to recognize that hunters, skeet shooters, target shooters and folks who already own guns are likely to attend the event.

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RVIA scores home run with World RV Conference

(Jan. 21, 2013) — I have been to lots of conferences in my career in the RV industry, but this one stands out among the others. The staff at RVIA deserve big kudos for their effort in pulling the entire world industry together to discuss common problems and to embrace the plethora of opportunity that exist for manufacturers, suppliers, dealers and campgrounds. 

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Study shows Millennials think they are really special

(Jan. 7, 2013) — Psychologist Jean Twenge and her colleagues discovered a 30 percent increase in narcissism among students since 1979. According to the Daily Mail, narcissism is defined as excessive self-love or vanity; self-admiration, or being self-centered. Twenge said that’s a trait that is often negative and destructive, and blames its boom on several trends like including parenting styles, celebrity culture, social media, and easy credit for allowing people to seem more successful than they really are.

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Did the industry steal orders from 2013?

(Jan. 1, 2013) — A few weeks ago, Barron’s reported that investment researcher Mark Roberts, with Off Wall Street Consulting Group, expressed concern over the high number of shipments to RV dealers that weren’t offset by corresponding sales to RV buyers. Yesterday, we published the November shipment statistics from manufacturers to RV dealers. According to the RV Industry Association, travel trailer shipments were up 21.4 percent over November 2011’s figures and motorhomes were up an amazing 66.9 percent. 

I’d like to be an optimist and say that all those RVs are immediately being sold to consumers. But, we also reported yesterday that consumer confidence took a seven point hit in December. Click here to read that story. That would suggest that many consumers are delaying major purchases.

Is the Barron’s article cause for exuberance or concern?
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