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Claire Skinner, Former Coachmen CEO & RVIA Chair, Dies

The following is a report from RVBusiness.

Former Coachmen Industries CEO Claire Skinner, who also served as chair of the RV Industry Association (RVIA), passed away early Saturday morning (March 23) after a 6-year battle with cancer at her Middlebury, Indiana, summer residence, according to her husband, James P. Skinner, who spoke with RVBusiness.

Born Aug. 25, 1954, in Dallas, Texas, Claire Skinner was the daughter of Tom Corson, who in 1964 co-founded Coachmen Industries with his brothers, Keith and Claude, and wife, Dottie. Middlebury-based Coachmen, one of the largest and most respected RV and modular housing manufacturers in the country, was acquired in 2008 by Forest River, a Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary that continues to manufacture and promote the Coachmen brand as a division of that publicly held company.

Skinner served in a variety of roles during her 23-year career at Coachmen, including as chairman and CEO from 1997-2006 as well as vice chairman (1995), director (1993), executive vice president (1990), president (1987-1997), vice president and general manager (1985-1987) and vice president of advertising and public relations (1983-1985).

She earlier worked as a civil litigation attorney for McKenna, Stores, Rowe, White & Farrug in Chicago, Illinois. She graduated from Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism/marketing and from the University of Notre Dame Law School in South Bend, Indiana.

In addition to serving in 2003-2004 as chairman of RVIA’s board of directors, Skinner’s other RVIA roles included the Public and Legislative Affairs Committee, Manufacturer/Dealer Relations Committee, Go RVing Committee, Public Relations Committee and Marketing Information Committee. She also held a seat on the board of directors for the Florida Recreation Vehicle Trade Association (FRVTA).

In addition to having served as RVIA Chair from 2003-2004, Skinner served on the association’s Executive Committee from 1997-2006. In recognition of her dedication to the industry, Skinner was honored with the association’s Distinguished Service to the RV Industry Award in 2005 and the National Legislative Award in 1997.

“Claire Skinner’s contributions and commitment to the RV industry were truly remarkable,” said RVIA President and CEO Craig Kirby. “Her vision and leadership spanned decades, from her years on the board to her time as the first woman chair of the RV Industry Association. Claire’s strategic thinking was instrumental in securing the very first RV-specific franchise law and the first lemon law specifically for motorhomes. These legislative achievements continue to have a significant positive impact on our industry today. Her dedication extended far beyond these accomplishments, with her involvement in numerous committees like Public & Legislative Affairs and Market Information. Claire’s tireless efforts and groundbreaking leadership truly paved the way for future generations of women and all leaders in the RV industry.”

A “private celebration with a close circle of friends” was planned for Tuesday morning (March 26), Jim Skinner, himself a retired Coachmen executive, told RVBusiness. The preferred charity for anyone interested in donating as a gesture in Skinner’s name is the Interlochen Center for the Arts in Interlochen, Michigan.

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