Bill Koster (left) and Phil Ingrassia

Leaders: Changes Needed to Keep Industry Thriving

LAS VEGAS – As dealers gathered Wednesday to change their leadership at the RV Dealers Association Convention/Expo at Paris Las Vegas, it quickly became evident that as successful as the industry has become over the past five years, it is vital to make some pretty big changes if that momentum is to continue.

Both outgoing Chairman Tim Wegge of Burlington RV Superstore in Sturtevant, Wis., and new Chairman Mike Regan of Crestview RV Center in Buda, Texas, issued spirited challenges to their fellow dealers during the RVDA Annual Meeting to not just sit back and complain, but to work with all levels of the industry – dealers, suppliers and manufacturers – to eliminate the bottlenecks that have led to the creation of the phrase Repair Event Cycle Time (RECT).

Everybody has heard the reasons for the growing time consumers have had to wait to get their vehicles back when they bring them in for repairs: We don’t have enough technicians. We can’t get the parts. If it’s on warranty, we can’t get the paperwork turned around. And so on.

But both Wegge and Regan insist the time to act to fix the problem is almost past, and it must be dealt with across the board now while the industry enjoys a solid reputation and a growing following among a younger generation of consumers.

“When our dealers have parts in stock, the average repair time is four days,” Wegge said. “But when we have to order parts, the average jumps to 21 days. That turnaround time is no longer acceptable – not to dealers and certainly not to our customers. Using RECT processes, we can improve our parts logistics systems to help find bottlenecks in that system to get parts quicker and repairs done faster.”

Wegge said the need for RECT permeates the entire industry with each segment playing an integral role in fixing the problem.

Wegge was critical of manufacturers’ efforts to improve the supply chain so that repair parts get the same priority as parts destined for vehicles on the manufacturing lines.

“We need to remain diligent in making sure each manufacturer is making the necessary improvements in identifying and delivering parts timely to their dealers,” he said. 

Wegge commended the RV Industry Association for its creation of the RV Tech Institute to help dealers get more qualified technicians employed, which also would help repair times.

Regan also took up the issue as he became chairman of the board for the next year.

He said that from the perspective of the industry’s new consumers, none of the reasons for slow repairs matter – no matter how legitimate they might be.

“They don’t want to wait – not even for a cup of coffee sometimes,” he said. “That’s why it’s important for RVDA and our industry partners to continue to focus on the perfect Repair Event Cycle Time.”

He said any time dealers and manufacturers get together, there is a tendency to point fingers.

He urged both dealers and manufacturers to come together to achieve processes that will serve the consumers better.

“They are more demanding, and the truth is, they deserve better,” he said. 

He encouraged dealers to look at their practices to ensure they are stocking the right parts, hiring the right technicians and training fixed-ops people, service management, parts support and warranty administration staff members properly.

“We’ve got to take care of our customers,” he said. “We’re selling them the first time, but what about the second and third times?”

Things Just Got Harder

RVDA President Phil Ingrassia updated dealers on progress being made at the governmental level on issues near and dear to their hearts.

While praising Congress for taking up issues such as correcting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s oversight of dealer lending practices, he also acknowledged that much work remains to be done regarding upgrading and modernizing the nation’s roads and national parks.

He also told dealers the Association will continue to work to fix last year’s tax relief bill, which limited the deductibility of trailer interest.

But, in light of Democrats gaining control of the House with Republicans holding the Senate and White House, nothing is going to be easy in the next two years.

“A new layer of divided government at the federal level and further complicates the legislative process,” he said. “Only the most bipartisan initiatives will have any chance of success.”

Association Honors

Bill Koster, vice president of specialty products at Protective Asset Protection, received the James B. Summers Award – RVDA’s highest honor – for his 25+ years of involvement in the RV retail industry.

The James B. Summers award was created in 1986 to honor the Association’s second chief staff officer. The RVDA Board of Directors chooses this honoree by a secret ballot from nominations made by members. 

An emotional Koster said he was humbled by the award while thanking the Association.

“You shouldn't receive an award for something you love to do,” he said.

Wegge also gave out several Chairman’s Service Awards.

Those honored were Sean Raynor of Integrated Dealer Systems, Mike Regan of Crestview RV, Randy Biles of Pikes Peak Traveland and Darrel Friesen of All Seasons RV.

Scholarship Winner

Later in the day at the Young RV Executives reception, General Manager Chase Youngblood of Youngblood’s RV Centers in Tennessee and Missouri was named the 2019-2020 recipient of the Duane Spader Leadership Development Scholarship.  

The scholarship, valued at nearly $15,000, will allow her to attend an 18-month Spader Leadership Development Program. The program is just one element of the strategic alliance between Spader and the Mike Molino RV Learning Center.

The scholarship is named after its founder and former RVDA chairman, Duane Spader. The joint arrangement promotes leadership development programs for RVDA members and provides one annual scholarship. The scholarship is part of a broader program of RVDA educational opportunities directed at Young RV Executives.

Women’s Alliance

Wednesday also marked the formation of the RV Women’s Alliance group.

At an afternoon session, 11 women from a wide spectrum of industry businesses gathered to establish the group, come up with a name and establish goals.

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