February '20

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rv-pro.com February 2020 • RV PRO • 31 what the board does, and ... if all of us as dealers would dig in a little bit, it's pretty easy to find out what RVDA does for you because there's a w h o l e l o t o f re s o u r c e s available to dealers. We just don't look; we're busy run- ning our businesses. So , I 'd a l w a y s b e e n a member of RVDA. I believe that's the smart thing to do if you're going to be in a busi- ness – you should be in the association's membership. I was the first delegate for the state of Oklahoma. And it just has kind of grown from there. RV PRO: Just because you mentioned people have mis- conceptions, what are some of the things that you learned that RVDA does that you didn't realize or, vice versa, that they don't do that you thought maybe they did? Shepherd: I really had no idea what RVDA did. Igno- rance is bliss type thing, right? And so I was a member, but I thought I was just a member of an association that represented the dealers and was just there for the dealers if you needed them if there was some kind of national issue or something that we could all rally together and contact our senators and congressmen. You know, we could do that kind of thing. But as long as there wasn't anything, you're just member of an association, kind of like a local association. We had been a member of our local dealer association for a long time and we really didn't do anything. We had a show once a year, twice a year rather, in those days. So, I just kind of looked at RVDA is probably the same kind of thing. What I found is that's not it at all. They have a really strong influence in Wash- ington, D.C., from a legisla- tive standpoint – not neces- sarily lobbyists, per se – but very in tune with what's going on in D.C. and working very hard at trying to improve the parks and recreation and everything that has to do with the camping industry. It has that and had tons of training materials available for me to use for my staff at all different levels, so there was the education part. At that point in time … the convention started transforming from more of a get-together-have-a-good-time to truly having education. And that started – and I'm guessing – but I think that started in the early 2000s, mid-2000s that we started cranking the heat up and kind of re-inventing the Convention. And it has it has definitely grown. I was convention chair for three years and we just kind of kept growing it and growing it. Chris Andro took over for me and he took it to a whole new level because he saw things that he thought were missing and he worked with the RVDA staff and they moved to make that happen. The convention being a huge part of what RVDA does and really transforming into the education event of the year for dealers – all of these things opened my eyes that RVDA is more than just get together and have a good time. RV PRO: A few years ago, some might have thought RVIA had a stronger industry trade event than RVDA. Yet now, RVDA seems to be in the stronger position. How do you think that came about? Shepherd: I think that consolidation has caused part of that. I don't know that they (RVIA) are not the force that they were. I think that RVIA is going through a transfor- mation as well, and not nec- essarily a bad one. I just think ... when you have consolidation you change the dynamics of what's going on – and you have three major players today. There's more than three obviously, but you have three major players in that world. And with the cre- ation of Open House – once Forest River and THOR decided that they were going guns a-blazin' and full bore ahead to make sure that that thing worked and was it was their event – Louisville, as we know it, I think started dying and we needed some- thing different. Louisville had gotten stale and had needed to be reinvented or something needed to happen. ... And (RVIA's) event, with RVX, had some great ideas there, and an opportunity for some things to really grow. But the timing was not good for dealers. ... When you put the dates in March, there's too many dealers that have (con- sumer) shows. At that point, we had already had a show and we're still gaining momentum for the season. RV PRO: What are some of your priorities as chairman this year? Shepherd: Well, definitely move the needle a little fur- ther on the Repair Event Cycle Time. I was shocked with the people that I know extremely well that don't come to the convention that often. But there were quite a few of them there because I was going in as chairman and they were being supportive and they talked to me that week and they go, 'What is this big deal with this? What is it?' I was shocked at how many people really don't know what it is and why it came about. We all credit Brian Wilkins when he was chairman of coming up with an appeal to the manufacturers to help get parts in a more timely manner so that we can repair customers' units and get them on the road quicker to improve the customer's expe- rience. And out of that was birthed RECT. It is nothing more than a way to measure how good or how bad we are – and what we all realize right now is we're not very good. PHOTOS COURTESY OF RVDA

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