Industry recovering nicely but still has opportunities to grow

Shipments for 2013 are expected to reach levels not seen since 2006.

Posted on Dec. 3, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The RV industry has seen a great recovery, but there is room for improvement, according to the president of the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association.

Kicking off the 51st annual RVIA National RV Trade Show, Richard Coon touted the industry’s recovery and excellent 2013 at the opening breakfast program Tuesday, Dec. 3.

He noted the increase in shipments on towable RVs and motorhomes, leading to the highest shipments of both since 2006.

In 2006, before the recession that crippled the industry, shipments sat at 335,000 towables and 56,000 motorhomes for a total of over 390,000 shipments.

This year, estimates predict that the industry will break that 300,000 total for the first time since 2006.

By the end of this year, an estimated 278,000 towables and 38,000 motor homes are expected to be shipped. That would equal an approximate total of about 316,000, with anticipated 2014 shipments as high as 336,000.

In comparison, 2012 saw a total of 286,000 shipments.

“The point being is things are good,” Coon said before quickly adding that there is ample room to grow.

Many of the industry’s economic indicators are still on the upswing, Coon said.

Coon listed such indicators as consumer confidence, pickup truck sales, wealth effect and wages and employment as factors that continue to look up and should lead to continued success for the industry.

“Everything is pretty much heading in the right direction,” he said.

Another indication of the industry’s recovery and growth, Coon said, was the international expansion of the show.

Coon said 13 foreign exhibitors had registered for the show, with a total of 700 individuals from overseas in attendance.

Shipments are up in many of the overseas markets as well, including Australia, New Zealand and China.

Overall, overseas shipments are up in total despite Europe as a whole still lagging a bit behind where they were a few years ago.

“Three years ago, there were only four exhibitors outside of the United States and Canada that exhibited at this show,” Coon said.

“The show’s becoming more popular for foreign folks to be involved.”

Coon said there is plenty to be positive about as the industry looks to the future.

But he cautioned industry leaders to keep an eye on several factors as they make their plans for 2014.

The major issue Coon cited was the possibility of another government shutdown. Calling the issue “dysfunctional government,” Coon suggested that those in attendance stay on their elected officials to avoid another shutdown, which would hurt several of the factors necessary to the industry’s health.

There is also uncertainty with the regulations to be unveiled by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, which Coon said should be coming soon.

But the industry has steps it can take to combat some issues that may arise.

The RVIA is launching a new technical training program to help boost the workforce and keep up with product demand and technological advances.

Coon also urged manufacturers and suppliers to connect with international companies, as the expanding market outside the United States will be a boon to the market in the coming years.

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