February '20

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30 • RV PRO • February 2020 rv-pro.com RV D E A L E R S R on Shepherd of Camp- erland of Oklahoma has become the RV Dealers Association's chairman of the board at an interesting time. The three segments of the industry – manufacturers, dealers and suppliers – have reached a sort of truce with the realization that each one needs to step up its game in terms of quality if the industry hopes to continue building on the success it has experienced since the end of the Great Recession. Not that the industry part- ners were at war, but each group tended to put its own interest first. The result was an increase in warranty repairs, difficulty by dealerships in receiving repair parts in a timely manner, and a critical shortage of qualified techni- cians to fix RVs. With a completed study by the RV Industry Association on Repair Event Cycle Time showing that each segment has culpability when it comes to lagging consumer satisfaction, cooperation has become the name of the game. At the same time, RVs shipments have slowed signifi- cantly over the past two years. Meanwhile, an upcoming presidential election creates some uncertainty to what has been a booming economy for the better part of a decade. So, as Shepherd takes the gavel, he recently spoke at length with RV PRO about his outlook, his priorities, and what he would like to see from the industry as a whole. His responses have been edited for clarity and space purposes. RV P R O : Ho w d i d y o u first get involved with the RVDA board? Shepherd: I was encour- aged by a bunch of my friends. A couple of my really good friends were on the board as at that time – I think they were called at-large delegates. That's been getting 15 to 20 years ago. And they said, 'You know, you need to do this someday.' My attitude then was, 'No way. You know I've got my hands full trying to run a dealership,' with the typical things that most everybody says. But they encouraged me. They said, 'It's really not that hard. It's great to see really what RVDA is and what it accomplishes for the dealers as opposed to what everybody thinks it does.' And they were right. The only way you learn that is to get involved at the director/ board level or now board of delegates, because the first step was they were forming a board of delegates while these guys were serving and we started having meetings at the (RVDA) Convention. We had one meeting where we went all went to Wash- ington, D.C. We were at a Marriott Hotel. It was eye- opening because I had always just looked at the board as, you know, that they all knew each other they were buddies – just total misconception – and really didn't know what the board did. As soon as you go to a meeting, you really find out Q&A with RVDA's Ron Shepherd The dealers association's new chairman shares his thoughts on the importance of improving repair times to improve the industry's positive reputation, as well as attracting a new generation of customers. By Travis O. Pryor

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