Letter From the President: The RV Industry Will Bounce Back

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Good Afternoon Members,

Like so many industries and businesses across America and the world, the past six weeks have been a difficult time for RV businesses. While our daily lives and routines have been upended, I am confident as we look to the future. Next week, many RV businesses are returning to work. In talking with dealers across the country, many are reporting that sales are starting to improve. Additionally, more campgrounds are beginning to open as well – a great sign for consumers eager to get back outdoors. Now we still have work to do, and we aren’t going to return to normal overnight or uniformly across the country. But, as an industry, we are well-positioned to move forward as we emerge from this health crisis, because while we have faced vast uncertainty and the unknown, there is a foundational truth that provides reassurance.

Resiliency has always been a hallmark of the RV industry. Over the course of the last 40 years, the RV market has been marked by peaks and valleys with a trendline that persistently ascends. Following the gas and credit crunch of the late 1970s, the RV market totaled 107,200 units in 1980. Over the next 4 years it doubled in size to 215,700 units. The RV market rallied in the 8 years after the Persian Gulf War from a low of 163,300 units shipped in 1991 to reach 321,200 units, a 97% rise. On September 11, 2001, terrorists attacked the United States. At year end, shipments fell to 256,800. That was followed by a five-year growth period that saw shipment totals reach 390,500 units, an increase of 52%. Finally, following the Great Recession, RV shipments bottomed out at 165,700 units in 2009 and rose steadily over the next 8 years to an all-time industry high of 504,600 units in 2017.

Together, we have weathered the normal ebbs and flows of the business cycle as well as cataclysmic economic and societal incidents.

Why? Because the exceptional benefits RVs provide are woven into the fabric of America.

Americans love the freedom of the outdoors and the enrichment that comes with living an active outdoor lifestyle. Our vehicles allow people to be in control of their travel experiences, going where they want, when they want. RVs allow us to spend time outdoors pursuing our favorite activities, creating cherished memories, and most importantly, to deeply connect with family and friends. I see great promise for the RV industry because we have emerged stronger from tough times before. I have no doubt that the magic of RV travel will once again bring people together.

I wish you, your families, your businesses and employees good health.


(Editor’s note: Along with his message, Kirby sent along this list of helpful links, accessible to RVIA members.)

States Develop Plans To Reopen (CLICK HERE)

As the RV industry begins making plans for reopening, your business may have questions on which states have started making plans for allowing business to reopen. Many states have established task forces, some of which have asked for private sector participation. We have created a chart showing which states have begun to develop plans and provided a current summary of those plans.

Virtual Panel Recording: Safety Considerations For Reopening Plants (CLICK HERE)

This past Wednesday, the RV Industry Association’s Workplace Safety Task Force hosted a virtual panel to discuss considerations their companies are taking to limit risk and keep their employees safe as they look to reopen plants. The panel was moderated by Workplace Safety Task Force Chairman Rick Puckett of Winnebago Industries who was joined by fellow task force members Dave Youmans of Forest River, Ann Spratt of Grand Design RV and Erick Click of Lippert Components. As recent discussions have turned to how the RV industry can reopen production, this team of safety experts compiled a list of considerations for companies heading back to work to be mindful of during these unprecedented time.

Experts Suggest ‘Find The Place Everyone Isn’t Going To’ When Planning Your Summer Vacation (CLICK HERE)

Families across the country may be grappling with the question, “is it safe to go on a vacation this summer?” as the season nears. One thing that everyone seems to agree on is minimal-contact options like road trips and camping are ideal for people who want to keep their risk factors low. As USA Today writes, “RVs are perfect for campground stays.”

Online Classes Now A Viable Option To Train RV Technicians In A Safe, Socially Distanced Environment (CLICK HERE)

The RV Technical Institute has done an amazing job of pivoting to provide essential technician training in a new online format. Their first Level One training course was met with such impressive reviews from attendees that they have already launched a second class starting May 18.

Better Days Are Ahead (CLICK HERE)

As the country navigates through the COVID-19 health crisis, it seems as if the whole world has stepped up to help others. From healthcare workers and first responders selflessly putting themselves on the frontlines, to grocers, delivery and mail workers, and many others who continue to serve their communities. Industries, large and small, have switched gears to manufacture or donate needed medical supplies and the RV industry is doing our part. Check out this video to see how we are all supporting the effort.

How Can Your Business Help During the Crisis?

FEMA has established a website with information on how to help during this ongoing crisis. Examples include:

To sell medical supplies or equipment to the federal government, please email specifics to [email protected].

If you have medical supplies or equipment to donate, please provide FEMA with details on what you are offering.

If you are a private company that wants to produce a product related to the COVID response – email [email protected].

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