ELKHART — Darryl Searer stood before more than 400 RV industry insiders Thursday morning, May 9, to thank them for their support of the RV/MH Hall of Fame.
Then he torched a bank note that 16 months ago hung over the hall’s head to the tune of $848,000.
The ceremonial burning of the note, inside the hall’s Northern Indiana Events Center, was due to the generosity of many people in the broad recreational vehicle and manufactured housing industries. “Thanks to the support of many of you in this room, and many more individuals and companies in both the RV and MH industry across the USA and Canada, (we) have met the challenge goal set by the Ingram family. The goal was simple: If we could get the bank balance down to $50,000 by April 30, they would pay the last $50,000. That meant we had to pay off $150,000 in the last six months. We met that goal on April 30, less than two hours to go in the day,” said Searer, head of the RV/MH Heritage Foundation, which runs the hall on Elkhart’s east side.
He dipped the note in fire and dropped it in a trash can. “The hall is not, I repeat, is not debt free. We have two more loans to go, one of $600,000 to pay off the Woodworth collection, and the second is $2 million to the Ingram family. The Ingram family has been very gracious and supportive to the hall of fame in honor of the late Boots Ingram,” he said.
After the note, Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) joined the gathering by teleconference. He congratulated the hall, and joked, “I’d like to tell the Ingram family that on behalf of the United States government, I’d like to get together with them and we have a note we’d like to work with them on.”
On a serious note, though, he said, “Congratulations on burning the note. That is just awesome. I knew the challenges you had with that, and to see the RV hall of fame doing so well now is really a great thing.”
The hall has come back from the brink of closure to cut its debt roughly in half, Searer said.