The RV industry is robust and poised for a bright future, according to several industry stakeholders in Elkhart County and beyond.
Pam Argostino is the general manager/president of Camp-Land RV, a large family-owned RV dealership serving the Northwest Indiana-Chicago area for 50 years. Her dealership has experienced an uptick in sales with the improved economy, Northwest Indiana Business Quarterly reports.
From 2010-14, the dealership was inching its way back, with sales increasing each year. In 2015, the dealership surpassed pre-recession numbers, with sales up almost 15 percent over the previous year.
Argostino says the dealership is poised for more growth this year. “We are budgeting for another 15 percent increase in number of sales over last year,” she says. “So far this year, we are very close to hitting those numbers and expect that we will.”
Mark Dobson, CEO of the Elkhart County Economic Development Corp. notes that although significant, the footprint of the RV industry is difficult to quantify because it’s so far-reaching.
“The overall impact of the resurgence of the RV industry is hard to measure, but vitally important to the region,” he says. “This region is known for building things. Elkhart County is the RV capital of the world. Eighty percent of the units produced in the U.S. are produced by Elkhart County manufacturers.”
This work extends beyond skilled labor. There is a need for the best and brightest in white collar jobs, too. In Dobson’s words, “Not only are the units built here, this is where research and development takes place. The innovations seen in the industry are developed here.”
Dobson says that, although there are many factors at play, innovation has been key in the industry’s resurgence.
The companies impacted by the 2008 downturn took “extraordinary steps to reinvent themselves,” he says. For example, they implemented traditional best practices to improve bottom lines. They relied on their entrepreneurial spirit to press forward, despite hurdles.
Dobson points out that any company is only as good as its people and Elkhart County has traditionally been blessed with a vibrant workforce. Another variable is the consolidation of supply chain companies.
“The supply chain is stronger and more diversified in Elkhart County than prior to the recession,” Dobson says. “The aging baby boomer population is helping. More and more baby boomers are retiring and are looking to have an RV as part of their lifestyle. And companies are making units more affordable than ever.”