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James Ashurst, RVIA’s senior VP of communications and marketing
James Ashurst, RVIA’s senior VP of communications and marketing

Suppliers Gather for Aftermarket Conference


DENVER, Colo. — Bio-Kleen, Samlex, Furrion, and dozens of other suppliers gathered at the Embassy Suites in the heart of downtown Denver yesterday for the first day of meetings for the RV Aftermarket Executive Conference

It’s a part of the industry that RVIA wants to continue to highlight. The association reported that the RV aftermarket has a total economic output of $784 million annually and created 3,187 jobs.

“I think the aftermarket is such an interesting part of the industry on the whole,” said James Ashurst, RVIA’s senior VP of communications and marketing. “That was one of the reasons why we were so excited about bringing them into the fold because they’re so close to the end consumer.”

During the RV Aftermarket Committee meeting on Monday, members discussed reinstating some elements from past conferences in preparation for the 2020 conference set for San Diego, Calif. It was decided that a task force would be formed to make improvements year over year.

Following the first appointment sessions on Tuesday, major heads of the aftermarket world — suppliers and distributors alike — gathered for a luncheon where RVIA outlined some of its most recent developments. Aside from expanding member engagement and strengthening efforts toward resolving regulatory and legislative issues, Ashurst mentioned how the value, timing, and location of a national trade show was still being analyzed.

“Launching a new unified trade show,” started Ashurst, “That’s one where we are, as an industry, going to continue to work together and to try to come up with what the clear path forward is. Because, obviously, it’s one that we’ve been working on for several years now and we still have work to do.”

Key highlights also included RVIA.org’s relaunch in June 2018, and how it has led to the creation of 2,600 MY RVIA accounts.

When it came to RV shipments as a health indicator of the industry, Ashurst addressed many of the unspoken concerns about recent numbers.

“Dealer inventory is now balancing out a little bit and production capacity is improving,” said Ashurst. “If you look at this on a more of a historical perspective — if you go back 20 years to 1999 — the 20-year RV shipping averages a little over 330,000 units annually. So even if we were to hit the most conservative numbers that we’re looking at in-house right now, we’re still in a rarefied air over our 20-year average.”

Afterward, Ashurst turned the mic over to Curt Hemmeler, executive director of the RV Technical Institute, to discuss RVIA’s mission to reduce repair event cycle times. Following an overview of how the RVTI’s curriculum would work for Level 1 and Level 2 technicians, Hemmeler talked about repair time averages. In a discussion that followed, RVIA Chairman Garry Enyart mentioned how repairs for RVs with parts in place average four days. When parts are not in stock, the average increasing up to 21 days.

“Training all the techs isn’t going to move that number as much as having the parts available,” Hemmeler told RV PRO. “Now, where the certified tech comes into play is that they can move that needle even further … is in the ability to diagnose correctly to start with.”

More information will be revealed on RVTI as the grand opening of the facility nears on Sept. 23 during Open House.

Today, attendees will see the results of RVIA’s second annual RV Aftermarket Research 2.0 that elucidates on the RV consumer’s experience of buying parts and accessories.

“The research is going to show there is still such an opportunity for the aftermarket to step in,” said Ashurst. “And to help improve the customer experience — really cater to the unique experiences that the end-user wants, as well as to build brand loyalty for (a company’s) parts for life.”

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