November '18

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58 • RV PRO • November 2018 rv-pro.com O P E N H O U S E C O V E R A G E historically been focused on RV manufacturers showcasing their newest models for dealers. At the BAL/ Norco facility across the street from Forest River's large exhibit at its Dynamax plant on County Road 6, the company pitched several tents and hosted about 16 fellow suppliers including ADCO Products, Demco, Equal-i-zer Hitch (Progress Mfg.), Fleming Sales / Outdoors Unlimited, Icon Technologies, MaxxAir, MORryde, Thetford and Norcold, Reese, Samlex, Suburban, Tekonsha, Torklift and Winegard. This was BAL/ Norco's fourth year to sponsor the event, which it calls the Supplier Showcase. John Hawkins with BAL said he was pleased with attendance at his company's event, held from Sept. 24 through Sept. 26. "Traffic has been great," he said Wednesday, Sept. 26. At the other end of Elkhart, near the Thor Industries' exhibit at the RV/MH Hall of Fame, West Coast marketing firm CIRV Inc. hosted a multitude of suppliers under a giant white tent on a 2- to 3-acre plot of land on Executive Parkway. The event – which was new this year – billed itself as the RV Suppliers & Vendors Exhibition. It ran from Sept. 24 through the morning of Sept. 27. As of the afternoon of Sept. 26, CIRV's Randall Jeremiah estimated that upward of 700 people – representing a mix of dealers, distributors and RV manufacturers – visited exhibitors under the big tent. Traffic ebbed and flowed during the event, with some of the best attendance happening Sept. 25, according to Jeremiah. Exhibitors were mixed in their reactions to the RV Suppliers & Vendors Exhibition. A few, speaking confidentially, expressed disappointment, saying the event fell short of their expectations. However, other exhibitors were a bit more upbeat in their assess- ment, saying the event offered opportunities to connect with dealers and network with fellow exhibitors. Park Model Debuts Outdoor Entertainment Center Walt Dutton, plant manager at Forest River's Quailridge plant in Elkhart, designed a unique aspect on the company's 44-2BFL floorplan, which was unveiled at Expo. Built for the Canadian market, the 520-square-foot park model features an outside entertainment center with Corian countertop, 55-inch TV with sound bar, LED lighting and optional kitchen. The center is fully insulated and features a rollup door that locks into place for safe travel. The entertainment center is accessible via a deck (not included). "Dealers are loving it," General Manager Gary Duncan says. "To my knowledge, no one else has done it." The unit will retail around $70,000 in Canada. (About 45 percent of the company's sales are in Canada, Duncan notes.) Still, he's not stopping there with this unique design. "We want to bring it to the U.S. We're not planning on 'downsizing' the entertainment center to fit in a U.S. floor- plan. We're just going to have to find the right U.S. floorplan(s) that we can make it work in," he said. PE, VC Still Love RV Let's face it: RV manufacturers and suppliers may not be considered particularly sexy investments when compared to the latest technology upstarts, but the RV industry still appears to have the interest of private equity firms, venture capitalists and Wall Street financial analysts based upon the number of representatives from those types of companies in attendance at this year's Open House event. Firm numbers weren't available as to the number of represen- tatives of financial firms in attendance, but RV PRO happened to spot badges for roughly a dozen such companies during the course of the week. The takeaway: Even if RV industry has cooled off a bit from last year, it still seems to have the attention of the financial/ investing community for now. La. Dealer Wins Corvette from Thor Attending Thor Industries' 10th annual Open House Week proved particularly rewarding for one Louisiana dealer, who won a 2019 black Chevy Corvette in a drawing hosted by the RV manufacturer Sept. 26. Chad Kling of The RV Shop in Baton Rouge, La., was presented with the keys to the Corvette by Thor CEO Bob Samlex rep Jonathan Krawchuk (above left) talks with a potential customer at the BAL/ Norco Supplier Showcase event. A second supplier showcase event, the RV Suppliers & Vendors Exhibition (above right), took place under a big tent pitched near the RV/MH Hall of Fame.

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