ELKHART — The boom in the recreational vehicle industry isn’t only helping the many manufacturers and suppliers in and around Elkhart County, it’s helping Tiara RV on Elkhart’s north side.
“May and June are both really strong months. These last couple of weeks are the strongest we’ve seen since the FEMA stuff” in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, said Todd Cornell, the dealership’s owner.
The recession slammed the RV industry, with people putting off discretionary purchases and lenders tightening up their purse strings.
Now that money’s becoming more readily available, Cornell and his staff are seeing more middle-class folks getting back into the RV market.
With 20-year financing available at 4.5 percent interest, “We’re starting to see more blue-collar workers get back in,” he said Wednesday evening, June 12, as he took a break from grilling for a DRV owner’s group.
Tiara likes to invite groups to eat at the dealership when they visit the area, and this group is staying at the Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds. The tricky thing is, though, that Tiara’s staff has been so busy, they had a harder time than normal putting Wednesday’s event together.
Deb Schmucker, high-end sales manager for Tiara, said not only is the DRV Suite Owner’s Club rally huge, with nearly 140 rigs, it also has a lot of newly purchased models. “I saw several pulling in still with their temporary tags on,” she said. “I was really impressed with the amount of new owners.”
In addition to his units at the business site tucked off Cassopolis Street just north of the Indiana Toll Road, Cornell has some DRV display models out at the fairgrounds for the group to check out. Things are moving so fast, those models went straight there from the factory and haven’t been to the dealership yet.
Cornell said that while they don’t serve a large market with millions of people, their unique position at the heart of the RV industry positions them well. Their parts business is as big as their RV sales, and they ship RVs around the world.
“There’s a big change in demand and there’s a big change in the price of units,” with more and more features becoming common and driving up prices, Cornell said.
The rising demand despite rising prices has Cornell wondering about the future. “It’s kind of weird. You don’t know where it’s going to go,” he said.