December '19

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rv-pro.com December 2019 • RV PRO • 69 a tremendous success and has helped increase the size of the RV market. As far as RVTI, everybody wants to get to the same place. They want to have trained technicians with the skills to repair units correctly the first time. But there are different ways of achieving that. Our dealer partners have worked with us and RVTI to develop this whole program to take us to the next level. Again, it's the industry working together to reach new heights. RV PRO: If there is to be an RVIA trade show, you mentioned previously that it might be a while before that happens. What are some things that might need to happen before RVIA launches another trade show? Kirby: If there was an opportunity, working with our industry partners and the members, (where we saw) the timing was right – and in a direction that they wanted to go – then we would pursue it. I just don't see that in the immediate future. It doesn't mean that it won't happen. It could happen later. RV PRO: Is RVIA currently taking input from industry sources like man- ufacturers, suppliers and dealers on what they might like to see in an updated trade show? Kirby: Those discussions are always ongoing. But first, there's got to be a desire to have that type of trade show. That's why we're working to keep in close contact with our members, (asking) where they want the organization to focus. Right now, the focus is on our signa- ture programs. RV PRO: What would you say are the biggest challenges and opportuni- ties for RVIA moving forward? Kirby: I want RVIA to be utilized more by the membership. I think that that we've done a good job there. But I think there's room for improvement and educating the members about the resources that we have available for them to help them in their everyday business. Everything is data-driven these days, and rightfully so. And we're working internally here to be more of a data resource to the members. I think that we're underutilized, and we need to continue to improve so that the members are aware of all the resources that we have. We're working with our member companies, (and are trying to) go deeper within the com- pany so that they're aware of all the RVIA activities. They're going to be the future leaders. The deeper relationships that we can incorporate between our rising leaders within our members and within RVIA, the better off the industry is in the long term. That's an area I think we can really benefit the industry at large. We're also going to be working on providing the data that members are seeking, like consumer demographics. We've put a lot of focus on shipment data. I just think that we can be a little broader and a little deeper in the whole data area: The reasons why we're pro- jecting 'X' number of shipments and the data behind it. I think that information is benefi- cial to the manufacturers as they develop their budgets and figure out their year ahead. So, we have a survey out to our board right now on the type of data that they would like to see. RV PRO: The predicted number of RV wholesale shipments for 2019 is currently expected to be down about 20 percent from 2018 shipments. As the leader of RVIA, how are you feeling about the current state of the RV industry? Kirby: I feel like the industry is very strong and I have nothing but positive thoughts about it. We'll probably finish this year maybe in the top six of all time. And if you look at the 10-year industry average, we're well above that. There was an inventory issue that kind of caused things to slow down. But from what I understand from my discussions and my listening tour, that's been addressed. I think we're on solid footing. Kirby (on right) is pictured with other industry executives and dignitaries at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the RV Technical Institute during Elkhart Open House Week. Other officials shown with Kirby include (left to right): RVDA President Phil Ingrassia, U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, RVTI Executive Director Curt Hemmeler and Newmar President Matt Miller. Kirby says the launch of the RVTI represents a major step forward in the industry's efforts to secure and retain RV techs and to reduce the Repair Event Cycle Time.

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