ELKHART — The RV industry has a new event coming up — and this one’s happening right here in the industry’s very heart. The inaugural Power Breakfast on May 9 will include some of the biggest names in the industry.
It’s “a truly precedent-setting gathering” for the area and the industry, said Sherman Goldenberg, publisher of locally-based trade publication RV Business. The publication is coordinating with B.J. Thompson to bring the breakfast to the Northern Indiana Event Center at the RV/MH Hall of Fame.
Officials from towns around the area “are being personally invited to the event, as are representatives of relevant trade associations like Reston, Va.-based Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), Fairfax, Va.-based RV Dealers Association (RVDA) and the Recreation Vehicle Indiana Council (RVIC) in Indianapolis,” said Thompson.
Doug Gaeddert, this year’s RVIA chairman and general manager for RV giant Forest River, will share host duties with Gregg Fore, president of RV supplier Dicor Corp., his predecessor as chair of the RVIA.
Speakers include Elkhart Mayor Dick Moore;Tim Hyland, president of the RV group for GE Capital; and Dorinda Heiden-Guss of the Economic Development Corp. of Elkhart County. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-South Bend) may address the group remotely if his schedule allows.
There will be two keynote addresses, one by RVIA president Richard Coon and vice presidents James Ashurst and Mac Bryan, and the second by Jim Rogers, chairman and CEO of Kampgrounds of America.
KOA, Dicor, Forest River, the EDC and GE Capital are sponsoring the event, along with Spartan Motors, Thor Industries and Dometic Corp.
Goldenberg said it’s a chance for the mid- and upper-level managers in the RV industry to get industry-wide information usually only available at major trade shows, which are held out of state.
Goldenberg said the time is right for the event, which he hopes will become an annual occurrence. “What we in Elkhart County wind up with post recession is a recreation vehicle industry that’s smaller than it was in 2006, 2007 by a significant percentage, maybe a third fewer companies at all levels: dealer, supplier, manufacturer. Yet we have 85 percent of national shipments generated out of greater Elkhart County ... what amounts to, economically, a genuine phenomenon here. As the industry regrows, and it is regrowing, these companies in the Elkhart County zone are gaining strength and influence proportionally.
“It’s a phenomenal transformation and a generator. You watch these companies grow right now day to day,” he said.
“We thought it was just a thing to do to sit down together and appreciate what has occurred here and to recognize just how good we have it right now,” Goldenberg said. “We’re certainly on the mend. We hold this breakfast to sit down together in a business atmosphere, to generally share our thoughts on where the industry’s headed.
“We’re bringing to town the intelligence of national recreational vehicle industry leadership. They’ll share their outlook for the industry, where they think the challenges are, where they think the opportunities are,” Goldenberg said.
Response has been good so far, with many people reserving spots in the couple of weeks since the event was announced. “We’re quite pleased,” Goldenberg said.
Tickets are $25 or tables of eight for $175, though individual prices go up after April 25 to $30 per person. To register go to rvbusiness.com.