By Connie Pool, F140306, National President
I have been asked some questions recently about the FMCA Commercial Council and the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) and have noted that some confusion seems to exist. So, I thought I would dedicate this month’s article to discussing FMCA’s commercial members and our relationship with RVIA.
Twice a year, in the January and June issues of Family Motor Coaching magazine, and online at FMCA.com in an interactive form, we provide a Business Directory, which lists FMCA’s commercial members by category. Commercial members are designated by a “C” at the beginning of their membership number, whereas family members are designated by the familiar “F.” No motorhome ownership requirement is involved with commercial membership, and any company that has an interest in the motorhome industry is eligible to join. Any individual commercial member who does own a qualifying motorhome may also apply for a family membership. Commercial members, however, are non-voting members of the association.
FMCA has a Commercial Council, an advisory group whose members discuss matters of mutual interest and concern to the motorhome industry and FMCA. They communicate information about current developments within the motorhome industry; provide suggestions related to industry matters; and sponsor activities and events at FMCA international conventions. Commercial member companies elect representatives from each of the eight different categories of commercial membership, and those individuals serve two-year terms on the FMCA Commercial Council. Council members usually are executives or management-level personnel who represent the motorhome chassis builders, motorhome manufacturers, bus shell converters, component manufacturers, motorhome dealers, suppliers, campground operators, and service providers. FMCA currently has almost 2,000 commercial member companies.
Commercial Council members elect two fellow members to serve a two-year term as president and vice president. The current council president is Mike Snell, vice president of sales and marketing, Monaco Coach Corporation, C2111, and the vice president is Snow Chamberlain, event coordinator, Lazy Days RV Supercenter, C1702, located in Seffner, Florida. FMCA representatives at Commercial Council meetings include Jerry Yeatts, director of conventions and commercial services, and members of his staff; Don Eversmann, FMCA executive director; and various members of the Executive Board on different occasions.
The Commercial Council holds a meeting at each of FMCA’s international conventions and at the annual National RV Trade Show, hosted by RVIA in Louisville, Kentucky, the week after Thanksgiving. During the past few years, the council has established subcommittees to suggest improvements to FMCA-related international conventions and area rallies. These special subgroups have explored ways to promote FMCA, as well as to create an attractive and safe environment in the display areas at the conventions.
Our commercial members are very important to FMCA, as they provide support to our FMCA international conventions and area and chapter rallies. They purchase exhibit space, program ads, and sponsorships. Some commercial member companies provide the products we need to enjoy the RV lifestyle, including our motorhomes and the various components involved, and others offer services to FMCA families, such as repair facilities, camping supplies and accessories, and campgrounds.
The status of the RV industry is very important in that FMCA’s success is related to the success of the RV industry. The Commercial Council provides FMCA a direct link to the RV industry; however, to stay current with all aspects of the industry, FMCA, as a respected leader of RV associations, is also an active participant with RVIA.
RVIA is the national trade association that represents more than 550 manufacturers and component suppliers producing approximately 98 percent of all RVs manufactured in the United States. RVIA promotes the entire industry (manufacturers, dealers, finance firms, and suppliers). FMCA is considered an associate member and is consulted regarding motorhome consumer-related issues. As an example, when motorhome owners were concerned about laws related to the over-length issue in California, RVIA spearheaded the movement to change the law and solicited FMCA’s assistance by having some of our family members from California participate in the process.
FMCA participates in RVIA’s National RV Trade Show each year. Involvement in the show is very important to FMCA, as the event provides us a major link to the industry. FMCA staff members from the Communications and Convention departments are able to connect with other industry decision-makers at this show and solidify contracts for magazine and Web site advertising, convention sponsorships, program advertising, and exhibit space sales. The networking opportunities are invaluable to FMCA and also provide an opportunity for FMCA to recruit potential new commercial members; to gather information about the latest innovations in RVs and plan stories for the magazine; and to explore new seminar topics for our events.
FMCA’s involvement throughout the year with RVIA includes FMCA’s executive director serving on the Go RVing Committee on Excellence and the director of the Conventions and Commercial Services Department serving on the RVIA Public Relations Committee. FMCA supports “Go RVing,” which is a coalition formed by RVIA, the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), and leading state RV and campground associations. “Go RVing” promotes the industry as a whole and ultimately leads to more prospective members for FMCA. Because of FMCA’s support of the Go RVing campaign, when individuals who own motorhomes respond to the Go RVing program advertisements, the contact information is made available to FMCA, and we have used it to actively recruit those individuals to join FMCA.
In addition to the multimillion-dollar “Go RVing” television, print, and online ad campaigns, RVIA has an active public relations effort that generates publicity for the industry throughout the year. This campaign benefits FMCA by showing the enjoyment made possible by the RV lifestyle, which encourages more people to buy motorhomes.
Support for RVIA also is important because of the construction and safety standards program it promotes among its manufacturing members who produce motorhomes. Most, if not all, recently manufactured motorhomes on the road today have the RVIA certification sticker attached, which signifies that the motorhome was manufactured in accordance with set industry standards.
As noted, the commercial side of the RV industry is very important to FMCA, and our international conventions provide an excellent opportunity for our family members and our commercial members to come together for their mutual benefit. Results of past convention surveys show that one of the most popular reasons family members attend international conventions is to visit the vendors and the motorhome displays.
The next opportunity for our FMCA family members to interact with and support our commercial members is during the Southeast Area Rally in Brooksville, Florida, February 4-8, 2009. That rally will then be followed by the “Great Georgia Getaway,” FMCA’s 81st International Convention, at the Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter in Perry, Georgia, March 16-19, 2009. Both events will provide four great days to shop. FMCA’s international convention will be one huge sales event “” including fabulous new motorhomes featuring the latest technical and fuel economy features, as well as all the very important products that help you to enjoy this wonderful lifestyle. Of course, the Perry convention will include all the other activities our members have come to expect, such as technical and educational seminars, crafts, entertainment, a chapter fair, tours, and “” perhaps most important of all “” the chance to see old friends and make new ones. You can register for the “Great Georgia Getaway” using the registration form found on page 64 of this issue; online at FMCA.com; or by calling the FMCA national office at (513) 474-3622 or (800) 543-3622.
May all your travels be safe and worry-free.