By Don Moore, F154921
After FMCA’s Executive Board and committee meetings ended in Cincinnati this past November, Darlene and I traveled home to Illinois for Thanksgiving with our family. On November 28 we traveled to Louisville, Kentucky, as did FMCA’s senior vice president, Connie Pool, F140306, and her husband, Corbett; national secretary Ginger Painter, F23514, and her husband, Charlie; and national treasurer Jim Kern, F63208, and his wife, Jo Ann. Two newly elected area vice presidents also attended: International Area vice president Jay Blumenthal, F230605, and his wife, Donna, and Northwest Area vice president Donzella Leahy, F234822, and her husband, Bill.
The purpose of this trip was to attend the 43rd Annual National RV Trade Show, hosted by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). It was held at the newly expanded Kentucky Exposition Center. This show was the largest ever, with more than 906,000 square feet of total exhibit space, a 9 percent increase over 2004’s show. The new South Wing C added 166,500 square feet of space. The show hosted 90 manufacturers and more than 300 supplier companies.
This trade show is not open to the public. Its primary purpose is similar to that of any trade show: to enable RV industry manufacturers and suppliers to come together and display and sell their wares to each other. Coach manufacturers bring their new motorhomes, sign up new dealers, and get sales commitments. Component makers set out their wares and look to meet potential buyers. Representatives from related service companies and associations interface with attendees. RV businesspeople can show their latest products and listen to some of the most successful people in the industry talk about new business strategies.
FMCA representatives have attended this show for many years. We do it to honor FMCA’s longstanding association with RVIA and with the people who make and sell RVs and RV products and services. We have a vested interest in the health and well-being of the RV industry, since we are a group of motorhome owners ourselves. So, we set up and staff a booth at the show to provide information about FMCA, to promote commercial and family membership, and to extend our outreach. Representatives from RV companies can stop by the booth to pick up a copy of Family Motor Coaching and learn about advertising in our publication and exhibiting at our conventions and rallies. The booth is manned by staff members and national officers.
One very popular item displayed at the show this year was a “toy hauler” “” an RV that can accommodate a four-wheeler, motorcycle, small car, or other toys in its rear “garage.” Once a destination is reached and the vehicle is removed, owners can use the rear space as an extra living or sleeping area. Motorhome manufacturers have continued to put large numbers of slideouts in their coaches, and to include gadgets and amenities to make you feel at home on the road.
The FMCA national officers also attended RVIA’s “Outlook 2006” breakfast meeting. We were told that despite the impact of higher fuel prices, 2005 overall was a strong year “” at that time projected to be the second best in 25 years in terms of retail sales. RVIA representatives believe the long-term sales outlook is very favorable, because the enormous baby boomer generation is entering its prime ownership years over the next decade.
The national “Go RVing” campaign will continue to promote RVing in 2006 by way of advertisements in print, on TV, and on the Internet; other promotional plans are in the works as well. The fourth phase of the campaign officially will be launched in February, including prime spots during Winter Olympics television coverage. The new campaign will ask folks, “What Will You Discover?” FMCA is a supporter of this program.
Also at this breakfast, David Humphreys, president of RVIA, reminded us that he would retire from that position effective January 30, 2006, after 36 years with the association. Richard Coon, his replacement, will assume the duties that day.
On Wednesday morning we attended a prayer breakfast. The guest speaker was Norm Miller, who started as a traveling salesman and now is the CEO of Interstate Batteries.
On Wednesday at noon the FMCA Commercial Council met for lunch and held a business meeting. Upcoming conventions were discussed and suggestions for improving conventions were aired. New officers were elected, with Mike Snell of Monaco Coach Corporation, C2111, returning as council president and Randall Henderson of Outdoor Resorts of America, C402, being elected as vice president.
On Wednesday evening FMCA hosted a reception for our commercial members, magazine advertisers, and convention exhibitors. The space drawings for Pomona were posted, so the exhibitors could see where their locations will be. This event was well attended and gave us the opportunity to visit and get better acquainted with our valued commercial members and advertisers. The RVIA show gives Executive Board members the opportunity to meet the movers and shakers in the RV industry “” people who represent motorhome manufacturers and dealers and RV product suppliers “” from all over North America. Overall, I believe the RVIA show was an excellent event and a good experience for all of us who attended, and especially educational for those who were attending the event for the first time.
After the show ended, I traveled to Charlotte/Concord, North Carolina, where I was joined by Jerry Yeatts, FMCA’s director of conventions/commercial services; Charlie Painter, F23514, chief of parking; Judy Czarsty, F79148, vice president of the Eastern Area, the host area for this convention; and staff members Mary Anne Crowley and Maureen Mullarkey, along with representatives from our show decorator, Hale Expo Services. We worked very hard for four days to plan for the 76th International Convention, to be held August 14, 15, 16, and 17, 2006, at the Lowes Motor Speedway.
Speaking of conventions, I hope you have had a great winter so far and are planning to travel to Pomona, California, next month for our 75th International Convention at Fairplex, March 20, 21, 22, and 23. It will be a fun event, and time well spent. Look in this issue of the magazine “” and in last month’s issue also “” for articles about Pomona and the many things to see and do while you spend your springtime in California. Register using the form in this magazine or online at FMCA.com. Register before February 27 and receive the early-bird rate “” a $20 savings over gate registration. Hope to see you there. Happy trails!