LAS VEGAS – Against the backdrop of the announcement that Donald Trump had defeated Hillary Clinton in the presidential election, it was impossible to ignore the buzz of energy that took over the RV Dealers Association Convention/Expo on Wednesday.
Whether it was during the Annual Meeting in the Platinum Ballroom or the Expo that followed, dealers and suppliers were frantically conducting business, making contacts and planning for the upcoming business season.
The RVDA, likewise, put in place its new set of officers for 2017. Darrel Friesen of All Seasons RV in Yuba City, Calif., became the new chairman of the board. Other officers are: Tim Wegge of Burlington RV Superstore in Sturtevant, Wis., first vice chairman; Mike Regan of Crestview RV Center in Buda, Texas, second vice chairman; Ron Shepherd of Camperland of Oklahoma in Tulsa, treasurer; Glenn Thomas of of Bill Thomas Camper Sales in Wentzville, Mo., secretary.
Two members were named to the Board of Directors. Rob Rothenhausler of Ocean Grove RV Sales in St. Augustine, Fla., and Sherry Shields of Pan Pacific RV Center in French Camp, Calif., were named to the board.
Outgoing Chairman Brian Wilkins honored four with Chairman’s Service Awards. Those honored were Jeff Hirsch of Campers Inn, Regan, Mike Neal of Brown & Brown, and Tom Walworth of Statistical Surveys.
But Hirsch wasn’t finished being honored.
He also was named recipient of the annual James B. Summers Award, given to honor individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the Association and its members.
An emotional Hirsch, who recently moved his dealership headquarters to Jacksonville, Fla., recalled how he went beyond just working in dealership management to get involved in RVDA.
“My first RVDA duty was when Jim Summers called me into service in the late ’70s during the second oil crisis,” he said. “Those were bad times. Jim asked me to come to Washington and lobby. I was 23 years old. I said, ‘Yes’ and looked up the definition of lobby.”
Hirsch said that when he began talking to government officials and those in Sen. Ted Kennedy’s office, he was told that he needed to find a new line of work because the RV industry was doomed.
“I kept that to myself because I simply couldn’t crush my parents’ dream… I was more determined than ever,” he said. “I also decided that if RVDA ever called, I would answer.”
Hirsch has served as chairman of the board and continues to serve as a past chairman.