Kelly: FRVTA’s Convention Couldn’t Have Gone Any Better

Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA) Executive Director Dave Kelly never paused when asked this morning (Sept. 12) about how well things went with his organization’s annual state convention held this past weekend at the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. That’s because things, in his view, couldn’t have gone better at the RV Fiesta-themed event.

“Everything went really great,” Kelly told RVBusiness. “Everyone really enjoyed the fiesta theme. I think the majority of people dressed up for our costume party on Friday night. The individual workshop sessions were very well done. We tried to mix them up a little bit, add some new topics and change some things around. And the hotel, the Sawgrass Marriott, did a great job with the food and staff.”

And despite the nation’s current economic headwinds, Kelly said he was especially impressed by the content and positive atmosphere projected by speakers like RV Dealers Association (RVDA) President Phil Ingrassia and RV Industry Association (RVIA) Vice President of Government Affairs Jay Landers.

“I think Phil and Jay’s messages were cautiously optimistic,” added Kelly. “We all see where next year’s numbers are going to be down as far as shipments and projections. But I think the attitude is still great. I think our guys (member dealers) are still doing well, keeping an eye on inventory levels and such. I think that was one of the main issues that came up. But I think the overall attitude was still very positive.

“You know, it’s always nice to have the view from the national standpoint and while Phil’s always been a great supporter of ours, what was really neat was Jay presented an economic report and then even boiled it down to the Florida part of it – and then even went a bit further and focused on the Tampa area and how much impact there is from each of these areas. Everyone thought that was really important.”

Among the others stepping up to the podium and overseeing workshops during the convention along with 2022 FRVTA President Brian Copley of Copley’s RV, were RV Technical Institute (RVTI) Executive Director Curt Hemmeler, keynote speaker and best-selling author Robert Stevenson, certified mediator and trainer Harold Oehler, and Kampgrounds of America Inc. Franchise Development Manager Nichole Poisson.

“After our general session Friday morning, we also had a political roundtable including several state-level politicians who came over and kind of gave a state-of-the-state rundown if you will, along with our legal counsel and lobbyist which was very well received – hearing right from these politicians that the (Florida) RV industry is not in the crosshairs and we don’t need to be worried about anything in the coming session about taxes and those kinds of things that would affect the dealers,” added Kelly.

While attendance of 220 was up somewhat from 2021’s total of 190, Kelly said he was especially encouraged by the number of new faces in the crowd at Friday morning’s general session.

“I asked how many first-time attendees and how many new members were there and we had quite a few that raised their hands,” said Kelly, a 35-year FRVTA veteran who succeeded Lance Wilson as executive director in 2020. “That was really encouraging to see that the next generation, the next line of members and people coming and getting involved. One of the themes I promoted throughout the convention was urging people to get involved on the regional level, run for an office and consider running for our board of directors because the next wave of our leadership has to come from the younger generation. We’ve had quite a few guys that have either termed out or have retired recently. So, we need to find that next wave of involvement from our members.”

 2023 FRVTA Board Members

  • Chair Brian Copley, Copley’s RV Center
  • President Ken Loyd of Keystone Heights RV Resort
  • Vice President Nelda Iacono of Greentree Business Consulting
  • Treasurer Sean Thompson of RV Master
  • Secretary Brett Howard of North Trail RV Center.