March '17

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B U S I N E S S Refresh A more in-depth look at recent breaking news 92 • RV PRO • March 2017 rv-pro.com I n his Outlook 2017 remarks at the start of the 2016 National RV Trade Show, RV Industry Association President Frank Hugelmeyer noted that shipment numbers have risen 161 percent since their 2009 Great Recession low. As production climbs, so too does demand for parts, causing a strain on the supply chain. Amidst historic growth, groups from all parts of the industry have rallied to address the issue, both at the supply level and beyond. Supply Chain Strain Last fall, outgoing RV Dealers Association Chairman Brian Wilkins urged the industry to invest in supply chain reform during an address at the RVDA Convention/Expo in Las Vegas. Incoming Chairman Ernie Friesen agreed with Wilkins, and at the National RV Trade Show a month later, a joint group led by officials from both the dealers and industry associations, announced an initiative to tackle the issue. "Simply because we have record sales in the industry means we're going to have a wave of record service and we're going to need to all be working very closely together to make sure we achieve that," Hugelmeyer told RV PRO in an exclusive interview in January. Hugelmeyer expects the associations to announce a joint charter in the coming weeks specifically to address the issue of new and war- ranty parts for current and future year models. "The parts availability issue is very complex. There are a lot of layers to it, and really focusing in on a couple of pieces that we feel we can impact, is going to be, from our perspective, the real priority," Hugelmeyer says. The RVIA and RVDA won't stop there, either. Hugelmeyer says that RVIA also is putting a greater focus on the Technicians in Training, or TnT, program, aiming to expand the number of certified technicians in the RV industry by 20 percent in 2017. Through the first month of the year, RVIA was one-third of the way to that goal, according to Hugelmeyer. He notes the number of training sessions also has expanded, from around 75 in 2016, to about 120 for the 2017 training calendar. Industry Lands Outdoor REC Act A tight race between contrasting presidential candidates left some uncertainty about the future political landscape for much of 2016. With the outcome in question late in the year, a group of a dozen outdoor recreation associations, including RVDA and RVIA, formalized a list of common goals to capitalize on a pending transition. Among the group's top objectives was to con- vince policymakers to weigh the entire outdoor recreation economy as a whole, rather than in its disparate parts, when making decisions. Passage of the REC Act in November, which directs the U.S. Department of Commerce to measure the entire outdoor recreation economy's contribution to the U.S. GDP, gave the group just that. "That (the Outdoor REC Act) is an early indicator of the power of this group collectively," RVIA's Hugelmeyer says. Regardless of political preference, many in the industry would agree that having former Indiana Gov. Mike Pence in the White House, serving as vice president is a plus for the RV industry. And while the RV industry's relationship with Pence is a plus, Hugelmeyer notes that the connections of the larger Roundtable group are much deeper. "There are organizations within the Round- table that are able to reach out to (Speaker of the House) Paul Ryan and get a meeting right away. There are groups that can reach out to (Senate Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell and get a meeting right away," he says. Using its collective resources, the group will advance an agenda beneficial to the larger out- door recreation economy, such as modernizing campgrounds, improving and expanding access to public lands. "(The Roundtable influence) puts us in a position to set a very positive, pro-growth busi- ness agenda around recreation, and the advantage of that is that we continue to see the RV market expand," Hugelmeyer says. By Jesse Sidlauskas Refresh combines the best of RV PRO's breaking news daily website reporting with additional information, context and insights available in a magazine format.

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