August '18

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18 • RV PRO • August 2018 rv-pro.com Celebrating LE A DING WOMEN in the RV Industr y Sheril Vergara, Partner, RH Power & Associates Sheril Vergara, partner in RH Power & Associates, sold her first couch in her family's furniture store when she was only 5 years old. Iconic Indiana RV dealer Tom Raper, a regular in the store, told Vergara she would work for his dealership one day. "My father reminds me about that all the time," says Vergara. "I went to college for a degree in marketing and was headed in a different direction. It's comical how I came right back." Long before Vergara married her husband, Roger, and became part of RH Power & Associates, Raper lured her away from her RV-industry focused marketing agency Creative Results with a simple promise – that he would teach her every facet of how to run a dealership. Vergara decided to take the leap, joining Raper's dealership management team. "The education I received during the time I was on that general management team was invaluable," says Vergara. "I feel like today I could walk into any dealership and make it successful in every facet." Vergara still considers Raper to be her most influential mentor and her time on the general management team to be one of the most important accomplishments in her career, especially as a woman in the RV industry. "At that time, you could count on one hand how many women were on a dealership GM team who were not related to the owner," Vergara says. "That, to me, was an accomplish- ment, though I do think the industry is starting to become more inclusive of women." While the RV industry is male-dominated, Vergara says she's never paid attention to the gender of her peers. Rather, she enjoys that the industry is family oriented, with dealerships being passed through multiple generations. "Other industries can be very aggressive and cutthroat," Vergara says. "That's something the RV industry doesn't have." As a partner at RH Power & Asso- ciates, Vergara continues to apply the lessons she learned from Raper, as well as from her many years in advertising. "Having the RV industry in my blood has motivated me to want to add additional services that RH Power didn't offer, that most adver- tising agencies usually don't offer," she says. "We've been able to branch into different areas – producing RV shows and offering Internet sales training workshops. We've also been hired from various clients to come in and work on RV shows as a closing man- ager, which is another specialty we've offered in addition to closing management services." Closing management services involves taking RV sales teams out of dealership mode and putting them into show mode, helping them to, in 60 seconds, assess whether they have a buyer, Vergara says. "Being at a dealership and having ups and downs during the day is a different environment," Vergara says. "At a show, you can have more than 6,000 people coming to your booth – or more – over three days. It's important to maximize every opportunity while you're there." Empowering RV dealers and sales teams remains a passion of Vergara's, who says she loves to sell. She was especially excited, upon attending RVIA's 2018 Leadership Conference earlier in the year, to hear about the industry's projected delivery counts of more than 520,000 new units this year. "This is the highest number ever in the industry and cer- tainly demonstrates the level of rapid growth and success that the RV industry is experiencing of late," she says. "RV dealers should drive as much traffic into their stores in 2018 as they can to maximize this opportunity." Some other opportunities Vergara has been able to take advantage of in her role have included legislative advocacy as executive director of the Oklahoma RV Dealers Association (ORVDA). "We produce the annual convention, and we're engaged in legislative monitoring throughout the year," says Vergara. "We've been able to be very effective on the legislative side." For instance, when the state moved to include RVs in the vehicle lemon law, Vergara spearheaded a letter-writing campaign opposing the bill. On another occasion, ORVDA was able to help rectify a service problem at the root of a potential new bill. Looking toward the future, Vergara says she is excited about what the industry will accomplish in 2018. "It's proof that you just can't plan your life too carefully," she says.

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