ELKHART — A record-breaking crowd of industry leaders, friends, colleagues and guests gathered at RV/MH Hall of Fame on Monday night to help celebrate the induction of the Class of 2019 into the RV/MH Hall of Fame.

This year’s class included RV inductees Randy Biles, Pikes Peak Traveland; Jeffrey P. Few, Automation & Manufacturing Systems; Bruce Hopkins, Recreation Vehicle Industry Association; Lance Wilson, Florida RV Trade Association; and Daryl Zook, KZ RV.

On the manufactured housing side, the inductees included Richard “Dick” Ernst, Financial Marketing Associates Inc.; John Carey, Modern Home Sales and Midwest Homes; Leo Poggione, Craftsman Homes; D. Raymond Broderick, Superior Homes; and Walter “Wally” Comer, Adventure Homes LLC.

Hall of Fame President Darryl Searer, in his annual “State of the Hall” address before the induction ceremonies, reflected on goals outlined by the organization. 

The first goal was that the Hall of Fame would be debt-free by the end of the year.

“We only missed that by two-and-a-half months,” he said. “On March 25, 2019, the hall was officially debt-free.”

The second goal was that the money would be donated to allow work to begin on the pavillion and rally site adjacent to the Hall of Fame. 

“Thanks to Peter Orthwein, Bob Martin and Thor Industries, that goal was exceeded beyond expectations,” Searer said. 

“The third goal was that we would have a commitment for the money to begin construction on the new 60,000-square-foot event center,” he said. “As of now that goal has not been reached; however, two out of three of our goals is not bad. If we work together that goal can also be achieved.”

The foundation is looking forward to having income far higher than the increased expenses, he said. 

“Our cash flow is excellent, and we are financially stable – all thanks to programs over the years such as the Ingram $100,000 match; ‘Burn the Bank Note’ and the Kevin Clayton Debt Reduction Program – and many other promotions that both the RV and MH industries supported,” he said.  “We were able to achieve what seemed impossible only a few years ago.”

Darryl Searer Spirit Award

Searer also presented the 2018 RV/MH Heritage Foundation’s Darryl Searer Spirit Award to Karen Redfern. The Spirit Award is an annual award to honor the person who has demonstrated his or her desire and dedication to further the legacy of the industry’s heritage.

“Karen has been instrumental in working with the very successful Go RVing coalition for over 22 years and helping to ensure the Hall of Fame remains a viable part of GO RVing,” Searer said.  “As an example, when the Hall’s worn out sign needed to be replaced Karen stepped up and approved Go RVing to replace it with a new digital sign equal to HD television – seen by over 20 million people per year on the interstate helping to keep the MH & RV shining star brighter than ever.”

This year, he said, Redfern was responsible for having Walt Disney promoters stop at the Hall of Fame the day before the “Toy Story 4” movie was released.

“We thought we would have 100 to 150 people show up,” Searer said. “We had well over a thousand.”

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