CalRVDA Conference Covers State’s Changing Demographics

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Last week the California RV Dealers Association hosted the first of what the Association plans to be annual conferences, hosting the state’s member dealers and opening a discussion about industry issues.

Doug Gaeddert, left, Bob Martin, center, and Derald Bontrager participate in a panel discussion last week at the CalRVDA conference in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

The conference, which took place Feb. 19, featured a round-table panel with Jayco CEO Derald Bontrager, Forest River CEO Doug Gaeddert and Thor CEO Bill Martin, and moderated by CalRVDA President Ernie Friesen of All Seasons RV (Yuba City, Calif.).

“It went very well. We talked about industry issues, and what we could do and what could make this a better experience for the consumer,” Friesen said of the roundtable, adding that one way for dealers to accomplish this was by taking advantage of education opportunities.

CalRVDA Executive Director Terrence McHale opened the event at the Agua Caliente Resort, speaking to the dealers about the changing demographic of RV buyers in California, where the Hispanic population last year surpassed the Caucasian as the majority, according to the Pew Research Center.

McHale encouraged dealers to incorporate multi-language advertising and sales personnel, not only targeting Spanish population, but also Asian, he said.

“The over-riding message from them, and probably not surprisingly, is that it always goes back to customer service,” McHale said of the manufacturers panel discussion.

In the afternoon, Phil Ingrassia gave a “State of the Industry” speech to the crowd of about 15 dealer members, followed by a presentation by Lenny Sims of NADA, who spoke about the used RV market.

David Ruben, of law firm Ruben & Sjolander, briefed dealers on buy-backs and “Lemon” laws in the state.

The day closed with a “Dealers Only” session, where Friesen said the Association listens to the concerns of members throughout the year.

Friesen said that next year’s conference will be around the same time of year, but no official date had been set.


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