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    July 2004 Volume 29 - Number 12    

RV Industry News     


Association News

“Being An RVer Helps Me Do My Job Better,” Supreme Court Justice Tells RV Industry

The Honorable Clarence Thomas Receives RVIA’s Spirit of America Award 

RVIA Board Chairman, Claire Skinner, chairman, CEO and president of Coachmen Industries, Inc. with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas spoke of his passion for recreation vehicle (RV) travel and how it helps him achieve balance in his life at Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) Committee Week 2004 on June 7 in Washington, D.C.

Speaking before 200 RV industry executives, Justice Thomas explained how he began RVing and why he and his family enjoy it. “The RV world gives me a chance to balance things out. It allows me a sense of freedom,” he stated. Justice Thomas and his wife are raising their twelve-year-old grandnephew and are showing him the country in their 40-foot Type A motorhome during frequent RV road trips.

In addition to fun and relaxation, Justice Thomas related how RVing gives him a better perspective on the United States. “Being an RVer helps me do my job better… The world I live in is very cloistered. The bulk of my adult life has been spent in Washington, D.C. RVing allows me to get out and see the real America. In RV campgrounds, you wave at everybody and they wave back . . . We’re all here for the same reason.”

Justice Thomas explained that RVing gives him a break from the demands of the Supreme Court and allows him to reconnect with his family. “In my life I’ve always been so ‘go-go-go,’” he said. “RVing allows me to relax. I really enjoy the ability to be in the mountains one day and the beach the next day.”

As for his travel routine, Justice Thomas admitted he takes a very laid back approach while RVing. “Oversleeping is a problem,” he humorously remarked. He usually sleeps in the RV until 9 a.m. when on vacation. This is a major departure from his usual routine of waking up at 4:30 a.m. during work days. He uses an RV campground directory to plan his stops along the road each day and pulls in to an RV park by 5 p.m.

Justice Thomas made his remarks at a luncheon where he received RVIA’s 2004 Spirit of America Award. The award was presented by RVIA Board Chairman Claire Skinner, chairman, CEO and president of Coachmen Industries, Inc., to recognize Justice Thomas as an exemplary representative of the traditional American values inherent to RV travel and camping. Justice Thomas tries to take RV trips at least once a month, “even if they are only for a day or two,” and has driven across a large portion of the United States. He traces his passion for RVing back to childhood dreams in Savannah, Ga. “We’d see people and their RVs lined up on the road going to the Florida coast. I always wished I could join them.” An avid reader of RV enthusiast magazines, Justice Thomas also participates in RV clubs.

In his four years as an RVer, Justice Thomas has come to believe that “the best people in the country can be found in RV campgrounds.” He cited the friendly nature of fellow RVers and their willingness to lend a hand to help. RVing will be his lifelong passion, he predicted. “RVing has been an important part of my life. I don’t play golf, I don’t play tennis…but RVing has provided me with an outlet to this country that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. This has become my avocation. It has been wonderful!”

Skinner acknowledged what an honor it was for a Supreme Court Justice to address the association. “Justice Thomas shares an avid enthusiasm for the RV lifestyle,” she said. “After hearing about Justice Thomas’ enjoyment of celebrating the open road in an RV, we invited him to share his experiences. We are delighted that he took time from his busy schedule to do so.”

RVIA is the national association representing more than 500 manufacturers and component suppliers producing approximately 98 percent of all RVs made in the United States.

RV Learning Center Celebrates Grand Opening

The RV Learning Center celebrated its grand opening following the RVDA Education Foundation’s June 6 board meeting. Dealers, manufacturers, suppliers, and others from across the industry came together to see the new facility.

RVDA Chairman of the Board Marty Shea of Madison RV Center, RVDA Education Foundation Chairman Rick Horsey of Parkview RV Center, and RVDA President Mike Molino

The RV Learning Center’s resource center contains information and research on RV retailing.

The RV Learning Center’s physical facility, housed at RVDA Headquarters in Fairfax, VA, contains a resource center to contain the volumes of information and research collected over the years, as well as the new resources that the Foundation will be developing.

The in-house production studio gives staff the ability to capture audio and video presentations and then re-package the information in a number of formats, VHS tapes, DVDs, CDs, and streaming video. Finally, the conference room gives RVDA the room to hold (and record) live trainings, meetings, and presentations. More information on the RV Learning Center is available at

Tony Alessandra to Keynote RV Dealers Convention/Expo

Will Focus On Proven Strategies to Build
Customer Loyalty

Noted author and business consultant Tony Alessandra will open the 2004 RV Dealers International Convention/Expo on Sept. 21 with a special keynote presentation titled "Customer Loyalty: How to Get and Keep Customers for Life." This year's Convention/Expo, featuring the RV Learning Center, runs Sept. 21 – Sept. 24 at the Rio All-Suite Casino Resort in Las Vegas.

Alessandra is an expert who helps businesses build customer relationships and bottom-line results. His best-selling business books in include “Charisma” and “The Platinum Rule,” both published by Warner Books. “In today’s ultra-competitive marketplace, if you’re doing what everybody else is, you’ll never get to where you want to be,” Alessandra said. “It is incumbent for businesses to set themselves apart from the rest of the competition. It’s a paradigm shift -- moving away from transactional customer satisfaction -- and towards permanent customer loyalty.”

The RV Dealers International Convention/Expo featuring the RV Learning Center is the premier educational event of the year for RV retailers and includes workshops for dealers and their management, sales, F&I, AfterMarket, service, and rental employees. The RV industry's top manufacturers, suppliers, finance firms, and other service providers will also have exhibits in the Expo.

The 9th Annual RVDA Education Foundation Classic Golf Tournament will be on Sept. 20th. Convention updates for dealers and exhibitors are posted on RVDA's Web site,

Dealers registering for the convention before July 31 save $300 off the first registration and $350 off additional registrations. For registration or exhibitor information, visit, send an e-mail to or call (703) 591-7130.

Attention RV Trade Associations 
If your trade association has information you wish to share with the rest of the RV industry 
e-mail it to:


Second RV Auction Held by PRVCA

The Pennsylvania Recreation Vehicle and Camping Association (PRVCA) sponsored its second RV auction March 30, 2004 at Transport Auctions in Manheim, PA. The auction was held in an effort to aid dealers in moving current inventory and obtaining additional units for resale. About 20 dealers from Pennsylvania, Delaware, Ohio and New Jersey were at the auction. Thirty-two units went on the auction block and eleven were sold. A wide range of RV units were up for bid including motorized RV’s, tow behinds, and truck campers.

Due to the growth of the RV market there has been a shortage of used RV’s. Transport Auctions owner, Stan Zeamer says that the RV demand is high right now and there are just not enough of them to meet the need. PRVCA Board Chairman, Dan Saltzgiver of Reichart’s Camping Center says that “We don’t have enough used RV products. This auction is a nice way for dealers to exchange products and allow them to be in better control of their inventory.”

Brad Rhone of Rhone’s Travel Trailers, Inc., a Williamsport, PA based company, says that the auction is something that the industry needs. “With the strength of the market we need auctions.” Dan Ertel, also from Rhone’s says “There hasn’t been an auction in PA before and this gives us the chance to buy.”

The first PRVCA sponsored dealer only auction was held in November of 2003 where twenty out of seventy-six units were sold. At the first auction Rhone and Ertel did not take any units to sell but bought four RV units that they have since resold. This time around, they brought one RV unit to the auction to sell and bought another three units.

To prepare for the auction Rhone and Ertel did Internet research on the Transport Auctions Web site and arrived a couple of hours early to inspect all the products. “The quality of the product at the auction is excellent,” comments Rhone.

Both gentlemen agreed on the ease of auction procedure. “The auction is quick paced, but not fast paced. This helps the RV dealers who are not experienced at auction. The auction also allows dealers to go up and look at the products while the bidding is taking place. That way they have time to think and make a good decision,” comments Ertel. For dealers who can not attend the auction in person, bids can be made over the phone and via the Internet. Both men are very impressed by the auction, but are looking forward to having more dealers and buyers in the future.

Although the auction is in its infancy, dealers, PRVCA and Transport Auctions are looking for steady expansion. Transport Auctions is working with RVDA (Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association), car dealerships and other states to build and promote this auction. Their goal is to grow it long term by reputation. Stan Zeamer says that “The cooperation we receive from dealers is great, we just need more participation. Our goal is to get 50 units up on the block. All auctions around the country start this way. We know that we need to stay the course and be persistent in getting the message out. We aren’t surprised. We anticipate a long, slow growth.”

The next RV auction will be held on October 19, 2004 at Transport Auctions. PRVCA’s Executive Vice President Becky Lenington sees this as the opportune time for dealerships in the northeast to slim down their used inventory for the winter and for southern dealers to pick up the product they need as the snowbirds arrive. PRVCA plans to get this message out with the help of the Florida RV Trade Association and RVDA. For more information on PRVCA and Transport Auctions please visit the web at and


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