Last week’s RVAA Executive Conference saw record attendance with 255 attendees, up from 232 last year and 208 in 2011.
Former RVAA President Aaron Engberg said the closest attendance had been to the record number was in 2003, when 252 people attended. This year saw 14 new members at the conference from Aug. 12 – 16 in Boston.
“I think the aftermarket is continuing to get stronger and stronger,” Engberg said. He attributed increased attendance to the aftermarket’s success.
“The Association is also adding many new benefits. Things like the Supplier of the Year Award and dealer training webinars. Where else can you meet with 20 to 25 customers in two days and have actual business meetings?”
The Conference marked the end of Engberg’s presidential term. Jim Stark of Dealer Resources Group took over as RVAA president.
But before his term ended, Engberg named RV PRO Publisher Dana Nelsen as the recipient of the annual President’s Choice Award.
President’s Choice Award
Engberg said Nelsen stood out as the obvious choice because of the work he’d done over the past year.
“He’s been active for two years now and his attendance has been great. He’s personally responsible for bringing in multiple new members on his own. He’s served on two different committees. Looking at the overall picture, he just gave the most effort and was by far someone that stood out,” Engberg said.
Susan Carpenter of JR Products and RVAA Board and Membership Committee member said the Jim Barker Award video Nelsen put together really set him apart.
“Dana has always been the speaker for the Association and he’s selfless in that aspect,” Carpenter said. “Dana is one of those people who his customers are his friends. He has that personality about him. When you know Dana, you know Dana. He really treats everyone with respect and dignity.”
Nelsen said he was in a little bit of shock when he won the award.
“I don’t help the Association to win awards. The Association is a group of pretty fantastic people, and for me, helping those people is why I do it,” Nelsen said. “Working on the Board of Directors and several committees gave me a first hand perspective of how a number of people really go over and above in helping the Association. In light of these other people’s contributions, it’s very humbling to be chosen for this award.”
Distributor of the Year Award Other Industry Winners
Northern Wholesale was named Distributor of the Year. Carpenter said suppliers rated distributor companies based on communication, customer service, return on investment, shows and their work with customers.
“They just beat out everyone else,” she said. “Although it’s a regional company, it’s just a really good company to work with.”
Distributors rated suppliers based on the same criteria and Camco came out on top, receiving the Supplier of the Year Award.
“Receiving this award based on ratings by your peers isn’t something that happens everyday,” Carpenter said.
Product of the Year Winners
Product of the Year Winners included:
• First place — BAL, a division of Norco Industries, with its Fastjack King Pin Stabilizer.
• Second Place — Atwood Mobile with its OnDemand Water Heater.
• Third place — Phoenix Faucets with its Air Fusion Hand Shower.
Product of the Year Winners
A panel of select dealer and distributor judges vote on the Product of the Year. Products must have been introduced to the market no earlier than May 1, 2012.
Atwood’s Director of Aftermarket Sales Trey Miller said, “Since the day the On- Demand Water Heater was introduced we knew we had something special and this award helps to reinforce that fact. What makes this even more rewarding is the point that it was voted on by a cross section of dealers and distributors who have seen new products come and go over the years and this shows to us that this is an innovative appliance with longevity.”
Raymond Arth, president of Phoenix faucets, said he’s excited to see how the new Air Fusion Hand Shower does in the market. He said he expects it will do well and plans to have it available for purchase by Oct. 1.
The new product uses less water while maintaining a more robust stream using an old principle of introducing air into the water flow while conserving the water that goes through the fixture, Arth said.
John Hawkins, aftermarket sales manager for BAL, said the Fastjack King Pin Stabilizer has exceeded the company’s expectations.
“It’s been a little bittersweet,” Hawkins said. “In May, we had trouble getting it produced and out the door because what we had forecasted, the industry surpassed.”
He said winning the award was a pleasant surprise.
“This means a lot that the people you do business with on a day-to-day occurrence are voting you to the top. You don’t have a good feel until you get something like this. There were some great products this year. Looking on the website and in the pamphlet, I thought we’d be up there in running, but it was a pleasant surprise winning the top spot.”
There were 33 entries for the product of the year this time around.
“We’ve already talked about it internally,” Hawkins said. “How do we defend the title for 2014?”