2023 RVDA Convention/Expo Offered ‘Great Camaraderie’ – RVBusiness – Breaking RV Industry News
LAS VEGAS, Nevada – The final full day of the 2023 RV Dealers Association Convention/Expo on Thursday (Nov. 9) at Paris Las Vegas wrapped up with an unusually positive dealer base able to set aside a tough economy for a while and just enjoy networking and spending time with people who have been friends for years.
Not that the dealers in attendance aren’t generally positive, but they could be forgiven for being a little bit down this year.
After all, sales are down, business is down. Even attendance for the show was down slightly – although that was coming off a 2022 show that set a record for attendance.
But after talking to dealers and vendors on the Expo floor Thursday afternoon, visitors couldn’t help but leave with spirits uplifted.
“Dealers were very engaged, probably moreso than I have seen in the past 10 years,” said Bob Parrish of Wells Fargo. “There have been larger crowds that have felt more empty than this show. Traffic has been outstanding and people are out here looking for the ‘secret sauce’ to turn things around.”
Mark Boessler, senior vice president of Lippert Components Inc.’s RV, marine and consumer outdoor aftermarket business, came away pleased with his time spent at the RVDA Convention/Expo, a show he sees serving a rather specific role in terms of dealer communications relative to September’s Elkhart RV Open House.
“The 2023 RV Dealers Association (RVDA) Las Vegas show proved to be a valuable and well-attended event,” he told RVBusiness. “It was evident that the dealers who participated were eager to explore new opportunities and strategies to navigate the challenges facing the retail sales in RV industry this year. Notably, there were insightful discussions with dealers about the innovative solutions introduced by Lippert over the past 18 months.
“During the show, ample time was dedicated to productive interactions, allowing Lippert’s Aftermarket group to engage meaningfully with both individual dealers and large dealer groups. This dialogue emphasized the increased collaboration between dealers and major industry players, focusing on enhancing customer support for service, spare parts, and the introduction of innovative and on the core successful products the are currently retailing,” he added.
Florida RV Trade Association Executive Director Dave Kelly also found people in an upbeat mood as they visited his booth just inside the doors at the Expo.
“We’ve been really happy with the people we’ve seen and talked with,” he said. “Of course, we wish more of our Florida people could have been here, but that’s a long way to go, plus we have two shows coming up. Some of the breakout sessions were incredible.”
He specifically touted the “How To Use Artificial Intelligence (AI) To Explode Your Content Creation” workshop by Ron Wheeler as “groundbreaking.”
MORryde’s Bendan Aukerman said traffic at the company’s booth was excellent and, although no official business takes place at the booth, he had a number of productive conversations.
“There were a number of them that I have no doubt will lead to some deals,” he said.
Shelby Smith of Wheeler Advertising was in the mood for looking ahead as the Expo neared the end.
“This event was all about the upcoming year,” she said. “People were interested in creative problem-solving and finding out how to get where we want to be.”
Dealer Matt Ferkey of Greeneway RV Sales & Service in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., said he was particularly impressed with a workshop titled “How to Turn Your Advisors Into Sales Experts, Drive Revenue and Increase Customer Satisfaction,” by Leonard Buchholz.
During the workshop, Buchholz spoke about having a standardized process for checking in service customers.
“We need to have a set process instead of each tech doing their own method,” Ferkey said. “We should make it more like McDonald’s, where the burgers are the same all over the country.”
“There was a great camaraderie,” said Jesse Stopnitzky of Performance Brokerage. “The dealer body really came together to support each other. That’s why we support RVDA and the entire dealer body and industry.”
Thursday morning, Ryan Horsey of Parkview RV Center in Smyrna, Del., the newly elected chairman of the RVDA, talked with RVBusiness about his family legacy and some of the things he enjoys on the side.
Horsey’s father, Rick, was chairman of the board in 1997-’98 and Ryan is now the third generation of ownership — with positive signs that a fourth generation could be in the wings.
Both of his sons and his daughter work part-time at the dealership and he said they have expressed an interest in the future at the dealership.
Horsey said he takes doing business and creating a positive reputation very seriously, right down to arriving for meetings on time.
“A long time ago, I can remember Dad’s best lesson: If you can’t come to work on time, don’t come at all,” he said.
But that doesn’t mean the new chairman is all work and no play.
He said he is an RVing enthusiast who enjoys fishing, hunting and hiking, is an accomplished SCUBA diver and is a martial-arts enthusiast who holds a third-degree black belt in karate and a blue belt in Gracie jiu-jitsu.
“My biggest passion, though, is just seeing other people harness something outdoors that they never knew was possible,” he said. “Horseback riding, shooting, golfing, you name it.”
The 2024 RV Dealers Convention/Expo is scheduled for Nov. 11-15, 2024, at Paris Las Vegas.