June '17

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44 • RV PRO • June 2017 rv-pro.com D E A L E R S I n October 2012, the New England RV Dealers Associa- tion (NERVDA) began a rebirth of sorts. Due to ques- tionable dealings by the executive director at the time, the Association was facing a bleak future with "no money, no members and no show", as current Executive Director Bob Zagami puts it. Enter Jeff Hirsch, CEO of Campers Inn, who called upon Zagami to resurrect the Association. Today, NERVDA has 35 dealer members and a dozen associate members. NERVDA in January completed its fifth Boston RV & Camping Expo with record-breaking attendance of 17,500 RV enthusiasts over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend. Recently, RV PRO caught up with a very busy Zagami for his perspective on NERVDA and the industry as a whole. His responses have been edited for content, clarity and space. RV PRO: How did you get your start in the RV industry? Zagami: As with many people in our industry, I was drawn into it through a passion for RVs and the RV lifestyle. I've been an active RVer since 1978, when we purchased our first RV, a Rockwood Class C motorhome, from Joe and Ray Walsh, who owned Campers Showcase in New Hampshire back then. My second choice was another Class C from the original Campers Inn in Acton, Mass., and Jeff Hirsch's parents, Art and Fran, but we couldn't afford that one. That was where I first met Jeff, almost 40 years ago. And at that time I had no idea, and certainly no plans, to be part of this industry. I didn't get hooked on the RV industry until 1996 – and it was quite by accident. As an RV owner for almost 20 years, I enjoyed learning everything about the industry from a business perspective. I'm one of those people that goes deep when I get engaged in something I love, and I had fallen in love with RVs and the enjoyment it was bringing to our family. Around 1995-1996, Dan Holt and Don Magary, publishers of RV News, an independent trade journal, launched RV America Online, probably the first dedicated RV-related website on the fledgling world wide web. … I am in the RV business today because of Don Magary. He reached out to me after seeing how active I had been on his site and in many of the forums he was providing on many RV topics. He wanted to know who I worked for and what my role was in the business – only to find out I wasn't in the business at all. I was just an enthusiastic guy who loved his RV and who actually studied the industry as a hobby! Don asked me to write a story for his magazine, but I thought that was presumptuous to be telling people in the RV industry what they should be doing – especially when I had never done it myself. So, we compromised and I wrote an article on how manufacturers, suppliers and dealers could use document-imaging systems to improve their business pro- Q&A with NERVDA's Bob Zagami The executive director of the New England RV Dealers Association shares details on his role as an association leader and what he sees as the challenges and opportunities for the industry moving forward. By Terri Blazell-Wayson PHOTOS COURTESY OF BOB ZAGAMI

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