RV-MH Hall of Fame announces 2019 inductees

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ELKHART — The board of directors of the RV/MH Heritage Foundation today announced the names of those people who will be inducted into the RV/MH Hall of Fame in August as the Class of 2019.

“Congratulations to the ten new honorees. All of them have had or are having outstanding careers and are richly deserving of this high honor,” said Foundation President Darryl Searer.

Searer also applauded the work of the nominating committee that had to narrow a list of over 60 highly deserving candidates down to the final 10 selected.

“I was especially impressed with the committee’s work, for the diversity of this year’s class, related to regions as well as the division of the nominee’s industry segments such as community developers’ suppliers, manufacturers, dealers and association executives,” he said.

The Class of 2019 will be officially welcomed into the RV/MH Hall of Fame at the annual induction ceremonies and dinner on Aug. 5 in Elkhart.

The information below was provided by the hall of fame and was compiled through various nomination forms submitted to the organization.

The Class of 2019 RV industry inductees include:

Randy Biles

Randy Biles, owner of Pikes Peak Traveland, an RV dealership in Colorado Springs, Colo., dedicated his profession life to his customers as well as the RV industry. His continuous involvement with and for the RV industry and many various industry associations earned Biles gratitude and respect from his industry peers.

Evidence of this respect earned him the RVDA James B. Summers Award in 2008 and RVDA Chairman’s Service Award in 2011.

Biles served on the RV Dealers Association (RVDA) board from 1995 to 2001. In his 34 years in the industry, Randy’s contribution to the RV industry over the many years has been beyond measure, and the industry is better for it, the nomination noted.

Jeff Few

When it comes to entrepreneurship and innovation, few have equaled Jeff Few because of the many ideas and concepts he brought forward that have benefited the recreation vehicle industry.

The owner of Automation & Manufacturing Systems in Indiana, he was first to develop the vacuum table for laminating RV walls, a process used by most RV manufacturers today.

He developed the first bolt-on hitch for towable RVs to eliminate untrained welders from hodge-podge installation of hitches exposing the industry to safety concerns. The system is used universally in the auto and RV industry today.

Few was a founding member and president of Trailer Hitch Manufacturer’s Association (THMA) in 1972. He used a comprehensive marketing campaign to successfully convince the senate that hitch manufacturers safely and diligently self-regulated themselves.

For more than 50 years Few has contributed to the industry’s greater good through his work with the trailer hitch association and RVIA van conversion committee.

Bruce Hopkins

Very few have had their work have such an overwhelming impact on the RV industry as Bruce Hopkins during his 50 years in the RV industry.

Hopkins’ work has impacted every RV manufacturer, OEM supplier, RV dealer and ultimately every RV consumer that enjoys the RV lifestyle. No other person has worked as much as Hopkins to ensure RVs are a safe product for the end user, are built to provide a positive consumer experience (cost-effectively) and can be repaired by a technician with the knowledge needed to get it done correctly, the release noted.

The entire industry would be in a dramatically different (not good) place without Hopkin’s contributions. Out of respect for his many years of work for fire safety in RVs, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) presented Hopkins with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Lance Wilson

If there is anyone who loves the RV Industry more than Lance Wilson, the executive director of the Florida RV Trade Association, he or she would be hard to find.

Wilson has devoted his life to the industry and the State of Florida specifically. His passion for the lifestyle and his commitment to doing everything in his power to better it, is unmatched, the release noted.

Currently, he leads a staff of six full-time employees and gets the work of 20 out of them, all the while creating a fun, comfortable, professional and enjoyable work environment.

One of Wilson’s major achievements is management of the annual FRVTA Super Show, one of the most successful retail/trade RV shows in the country. His accomplishments for the good of the RV consumer and industry are numerous and important, the nomination explained.

In 2012 Wilson was honored with RVIA’s Dave Humphreys RV Unity Award and, in 2005, he received RVDA’s Chairman’s Service Award.

Daryl Zook

Daryl Zook is a true pioneer in the RV industry who exemplifies its entrepreneurial spirit. He founded K-Z, a towable RV manufacturer in 1972, fulfilling his desire to start his own company building truck campers.

Over his decades of leadership, K-Z has continued to grow, moving beyond truck campers to produce a full line of travel trailers, fifth wheels and toy haulers that are still exciting dealers and customers today

In 2014, Zook sold K-Z to Thor Industries. Building a solid RV company over more than 40 years is a testament to the long-term vision of a man that has earned the respect and admiration of his peers throughout the industry, the release explained.

Zook is selfless when it comes to faith, charity, his employee’s, dealer’s and customer’s needs. Their good always comes before his own. He and his company have earned more DSI awards than any other towable manufacturer. His character is a testament to how everyone should aspire to conduct their lives, the nomination noted.

The Class of 2019 manufactured housing inductees include:

Richard “Dick” Ernst

Dick Ernst is one of the most professional, knowledgeable, and articulate individuals in the manufactured housing industry. He is always available to impart his knowledge of home financing to Manufactured Housing Institute.

He never says “no” when asked to assist MHI at an event, whether it be as a moderator of a panel or a presenter at an educational workshop. Ernst’s vast knowledge of manufactured housing finance has impacted the availability of capital so that more Americans can afford to own their own home, the release explained.

His company, Finmark, created a unique conduit funding program for the Independent Bankers of America. This program brought 400 community banks into the manufactured housing industry that would not have otherwise provided lending support.

His contributions to the manufactured housing industry may be hard to measure; however, the industry would look very different today if it had not had the benefit of his hard work and knowledge, the nomination noted.

John Carey

John Carey has given an abundance of his time and energies to manufactured housing industry. He has served on the legislative committee and political action committee for countless years.

He was instrumental in developing and implementing Kansas legislation, rules, and regulations for the betterment of the industry.

Carey served on the KMHA board dating back to 1989 as a director and two terms as president. He has received the Distinguished KMHA Member of the Year award in 1997, 2004, and again in 2015. No one else has received the award more than once.

He is one of the most respected, accomplished and honorable individuals in the manufactured housing business. He is also a very devoted family man. Because of John Carey, the industry and the association are a stronger today, the release noted.

Leo Poggione

Leo Poggione has respectfully accomplished every prominent aspect of the manufactured housing retailer profile. Since the inception of Craftsman Homes, he has continuously performed successfully as a top retailer in the western states by means of proficient intrepid donkeywork while attaining customer’s highest ratings.

He is a born logical leader and has an incredible reputation of immense integrity and honesty, the release noted, adding that when asked to volunteer for the board of directors of the RV/MH Hall of Fame during a difficult period for the hall, Poggione said he would do whatever is necessary to make the organization succeed.

Poggione has also volunteered, promoted and supported the MH industry through many industry associations serving in the highest capacities of positions. He pushes the envelope of the traditional retail sales center business model and defines what manufactured home retail sales can look like in the twenty-first century, the release noted.

While he operates traditional retail sales centers, he has also worked as a developer utilizing resources not typically tapped by retailers in the industry.

D. Raymond Broderick

Ray Broderick is passionate about promoting and advancing the manufactured housing industry. He is an honest and forthright businessman who is well respected by his industry peers and regulators, the release explained.

He has been and continues to be very generous of his time and resources, and even more so if the result will benefit the industry.

Broderick has been active in the industry since 1962 working with his father and brother. Since 1979, he and his wife, Darla, have owned and operated Superior Homes, a manufactured and modular housing retail sales center located in Lancaster, Pa.

Additionally, Broderick has owned and operated several land lease communities in the Lancaster County area and a manufactured housing parts store. He has been an active member of the Pennsylvania Manufactured Housing Association since 1979 and has served on its board in various capacities from 1991 to present.

Broderick is very much involved in his local community helping those less fortunate or who have been displaced due to fire with temporary or long-term housing needs.

Walter “Wally” Comer

Walter “Wally” Comer continues to support the manufactured housing industry in so many ways on the national and local level. He supports the growth of young talent coming into the industry, both at Adventure Homes and throughout the industry.

Wally is known and respected throughout the industry as noted with his strong personal relationships with customers, suppliers, and even competitors. While many companies support associations financially, Comer is willing to invest with perhaps a more important asset — his time.

Comer  also participates in several national Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) discussions on ongoing industry issues such as HUD reform, financing reform and meetings with MHI, members of Congress and the Senate in Washington.

Hey participates in panel discussions at MHI events around the country discussing the current problems and possible solutions to those problems.

In 2016 Adventure Homes was named MHI Manufacturer of the Year for two plants or less. Adventure Homes also won that same award in 2017 and 2018.

Also, in 2018 Adventure Homes won the MHI Single Wide Design of the Year Award and the MHI Large Manufactured Homes Design of the Year Award.

An enthusiastic and tenacious leader, Comer  surrounds himself with good people, and he always recognizes their contributions to his success, the release noted.

The fact that he has built a very successful company in just nine years is one thing, but what makes Comer  remarkable, he did so while helping his community, his employees, his industry and home buyers, it added.

SOURCE: RV/MH Hall of Fame press release


Greg Gerber

Greg Gerber

A journalist who has covered the recreation vehicle industry since January 2000, Greg Gerber founded RV Daily Report on April Fool's Day in 2009. He also serves as the editor of the publication and website. As an Eagle Scout, he has enjoyed camping for decades and has visited every state except Hawaii. A DODO -- Dad of Daughters Only -- to three young women, he has two grandchildren as well. He currently splits his time between Wisconsin, Texas and Arizona. Greg can be reached at editor@rvdailyreport.com.

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