Despite lower numbers, Louisville show was solid for RV industry

Though attendance numbers were down at the RV Industry Association's annual show in Louisville last week, manufacturers reported strong orders out of the show.

Posted on Dec. 6, 2012 at 12:00 a.m.

GOSHEN — Though final attendance for the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association's 50th annual RV Trade Show was down last week, manufacturers and suppliers didn't complain.

Overall attendance, at 7,658 people, was down 6 percent from 2011, and total buyers were down 9 percent from last year's show, according to final numbers released Wednesday by the RVIA.

The three-day show took place last week in Louisville, Ky.

“Among exhibitors and attendees there was a real belief that the RV industry is strong and resilient and is well-positioned for future success,” said RVIA President Richard Coon in a written announcement released with the final numbers. “We still have some challenges in the market, but RV shipments are growing because people love RVs — what they represent and what RVs allow them to do.”

Last week's show included 68 manufacturers and 235 suppliers displaying their newest and most innovative products across more than 725,000 square feet of exhibit space.

While attendance was lower than in previous years, manufacturers reported steady traffic and sales.

“We had an outstanding show that exceeded our expectations,” said Matt Buckman of Navistar RV. “We had steady traffic in our booth, and our sales through the first two days exceeded our three-day sales from last year by 40 percent.”

For Shipshewana-based KZ Recreational Vehicles, “KZ had a good show,” said Andy Baer. “Dealer traffic was lighter, but the quality was excellent. They were engaged with the product and were here in Louisville to buy.” Baer noted at the show that KZ had seen strong growth across all its product lines.

Nate Goldenberg of Goshen-based Dutchmen Manufacturing said, “We weren't sure what to expect at Louisville because we had a big open house” in September. “But, we're 52 percent ahead of last year's Louisville show, and 2011 was a record year for us,” Goldenberg added.

Local suppliers expressed similar satisfaction during last week's show, saying despite lower numbers, they were having quality discussions with customers and potential customers.

During the show the RVIA projected this year to finish 10 percent higher than last year for the RV industry, and it projected another 4.5 percent growth next year, based on the research of the RVIA and Dr. Richard Curtin of the University of Michigan.

Next year's show will take place Dec. 3-5 in Louisville.

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