Executive Director’s Commentary
By Don Eversmann, F240000
Recently I was asked by an RV trade magazine to contribute my thoughts regarding FMCA’s involvement in RV rallies and their benefit or detriment to the RV industry. Obviously, since FMCA itself promotes motorhome conventions and rallies, my comments were labeled as being “pro,” or in favor of such events. I felt that the article was important enough to share with the FMCA membership, since at times you might be approached by others regarding how FMCA conducts itself when promoting such events. I realize that everyone is entitled to their opinion regarding the benefits of these events to the FMCA membership and the RV industry. However, I should note that FMCA always attempts to comply with existing regulations and conveys that information and expectation to the exhibitors that participate in FMCA events.
My comments were limited to 800 words by the publication that requested my input, so many items that I probably would have added to clarify and reinforce FMCA’s position when addressing issues surrounding this subject may have been condensed. However, I think that you as an FMCA member can be proud of where FMCA has come from and what it has contributed and continues to contribute to the excitement and promotion of the motorhome lifestyle.
Family Motor Coach Association was founded in 1963 by a group of families who owned motorhomes and believed it would be beneficial to form a social club devoted to sharing information about these vehicles and also promoting friendships and fun activities. FMCA’s first national rally took place in July 1964. FMCA now hosts two international and several regional events each year for its members as a benefit of membership in the association. FMCA is a member-driven organization and has both family and commercial members.
For 42 years FMCA has acted as a promoter in sponsoring international conventions where motorhome enthusiasts can gather and share their excitement about the RV industry. One of the primary goals from the beginning was education and information exchange. Thus, the seminar program is a vital component of an FMCA convention. Motorhome owners also come to socialize with like-minded individuals and enjoy topflight entertainment. These gatherings provide a venue for annual meetings where members conduct association business. And, the tradition of having exhibits of new motorhomes, components, supplies, and services “” while it represents only one facet of the event “” began at that first convention in 1964 and continues to play a vital role in helping members to keep abreast of industry trends. The opportunity to talk with suppliers of products and components and to better understand how to get the most use and enjoyment from their investment has drawn many across North America to attend FMCA events over the years.
The popularity and scope of these events has grown to a point that few facilities physically can accommodate them today. FMCA searches for suitable locations across the United States and researches state laws that impact the successful planning and quality of the events. FMCA would be able to hold conventions in many more states were it not for issues related to displaying and selling motorhomes. Specific automobile and/or recreation vehicle exhibit and sale laws control this aspect. In cases where out-of-state motorhome dealers and manufacturers are prohibited from even displaying their vehicles, that state is not considered for FMCA events. If the state permits displays but no sales by out-of-state dealers and manufacturers, FMCA usually will go ahead and schedule the event. While it is desirable for dealers to be able to sell, it is critical to at least provide family and commercial members an opportunity to interact at FMCA events.
FMCA works with states and municipalities where the association holds events in an effort to abide by their laws and regulations. FMCA informs exhibitors up-front of laws, regulations, and licensing applicable to each event. While we do not police the transactions of exhibitors, we certainly anticipate that they will abide by laws established within a state or suffer the legal consequences.
We are sometimes asked about the need for participation by out-of-state dealers and manufacturers. Motorhome manufacturers have become an important part of an FMCA convention; their participation makes it possible for FMCA families to view a wide variety of models within a specific brand in order to evaluate what is available and to make informed visual comparisons. Manufacturer involvement also results in a situation that buyers of other types of products would envy “” it brings consumers into direct contact with individuals responsible for making decisions about the design and manufacture of the vehicles. If participation were restricted to in-state dealers and manufacturers, the number of brands and models represented would be limited, and it also is likely that in-state dealers would have a difficult time supplying adequate sales personnel from their own showrooms to support the number of attendees at an FMCA event.
We believe that the majority of those interested in purchasing motorhomes at FMCA events are from outside the local area, and thus their purchases should not soften the local motorhome market. The event is open to local residents as a courtesy, and with the thought that FMCA bringing a plethora of motorhomes to a community might spark the interest of residents and stimulate their desire to consider the RV lifestyle even after FMCA leaves the area. In addition, encountering a dealer at an RV show is only one factor that plays into the consumer’s buying decision. FMCA members base many of their purchases on long-established relationships with a particular dealer or manufacturer. We are, however, aware of concerns expressed by local dealers and have been working with the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) in seeking win-win solutions.
We believe that FMCA conventions and regional rallies are good for the RV industry. They not only provide a benefit to FMCA’s membership, but they also serve as an outreach for the entire industry. FMCA has experienced many years of cooperation and respect within the RV industry, and we certainly wish to continue to contribute to its excitement, enjoyment, and growth.