January '18

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112 • RV PRO • January 2018 rv-pro.com B U S I N E S S S ome 10 years ago, attendees at the fall trade shows knew the country's economy wasn't sound. Perhaps fortunately, no one was sure just how bad things would become – or that the end of 2007 represented the start of the nation's worst economic slowdown since the Great Depression. What a difference a decade makes. Not only was 2016 strong, but 2017 has been stellar. And, while as one lender puts it, there are always some "nervous Nellies" looking for early-warning indi- cators of the next down-turn, those who provide the cash to dealers, both to finance their inventories and to help with consumer purchases, say the nervous few are gong to have to search long and hard because there's very little that doesn't indicate 2018 will be more of the same. Bill Thompson, executive director of sales - RV Eastern U.S.A., for Detroit- based Ally Financial, sees strength in both side of that company's portfolio. On the dealership side, he says there's plenty of capital available. "They have choices, and for the dealers who are investing in their businesses because they're done (not doing) well, their avail- ability of credit will continue to be strong," he says. "They've learned their lessons from the past and moved forward, and the money is there for them to be able to use." Michael Lax, senior vice president in charge of RV sales nationwide for San Francisco-based Bank of the West, says a lot of that competition stems from the fact that the RV market is so healthy. Coming out of the Recession, he says there's been a steady climb upward. "Financially, dealers are making more money; they're more profitable than they've been in a very long time," Lax says. "Lenders see that, and they're attracted to that. When commercial enti- ties improve their balance sheets, lenders find that attractive." And, he adds, there's also a lot of liquidity in the marketplace now, which is also attracting more lenders to RV lending. Favorable macro-economic trends and a growing number of Millennials interested in the RV lifestyle all bode well for the industry, lenders say. Lenders Optimistic on 2018 By K. Schipper PHOTOS BY BRADLEY WORRELL AND TRAVIS O. PRYOR The Northpoint Commercial Finance Canada team poses for a picture at the 2017 National RV Trade Show. Pictured here are (left to right): Bob Eddy, vice president, business development; Neil Panchal, director, business development; and Chris Cook, executive vice president and general manager. Northpoint officials say the company saw its client list grow and the amount of business done with existing clients grow in 2017.

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