OEMs, Dealers Upbeat During, After Tampa RV SuperShow – RVBusiness – Breaking RV Industry News
TAMPA, Fla. – Amid what most would deem a soft market in the RV industry, many OEMs and dealers at the Florida RV SuperShow at the Florida State Fairgrounds here were pleasantly surprised by a base of consumers who were willing to spend.
Even intermittent rain and cool temperatures on Thursday and Friday didn’t seem to dampen the spirits of show-goers, with prospects for an even better weekend as clear skies were the forecast.
“It’s been really good,” said Coley Brady, co-founder of Elkhart, Ind.-based Alliance RV, who was helping man his company’s display at the show Friday afternon. “The first two days of the show in the books has been really solid. Great traffic. There are buyers out there and they’ve been gravitating toward the Alliance brand.”
For Alliance, Tampa was the first show to feature the firm’s new Delta travel trailer and it helped attract a wide range of buyers, Brady said.
“We’re seeing buyers across the board, demographic wise,” he said. “Younger buyers, older buyers. This weekend I think we’ll see even more younger buyers coming out, but it’s been pretty diverse on the buyer mix for us.”
At the Thor Motor Coach display, George Grimm, southeast regional manager, was upbeat.
“Right now, from 2022 to 2023, I didn’t expect that we were going to have this much traffic through the first two days. We’re rocking it. We’re about equal to where we were last year,” he said.
“Last year was a down year compared to the 155 that we sold in 2022 when we set an all-time record,” Grimm added. “So we were down 18% last year and in this kind of a market situation that we’re in right now, if we can be where we were last year, to me that’s a win. And we’re not done. We’ve got two days to go. Thor Motor Coach will rock this show. General RV will rock this show.”
Grimm said a new version of TMC’s Vegas – the 26.1 – one of the smallest Class A units on the market, was selling well, with a few deals written. The new Vegas, introduced at Tampa, comes with a partial paint scheme, queen bed, walk-around, added exterior storage, theater seats and blacked-out wheels.
Scott Parkhurst, vice president of sales for Nappanee, Ind.-based Gulf Stream Coach, Inc., also reported good traffic and pointed to an upgraded Kingsport, an entry-level unit selling for $15,995 that was attracting attention at the show.
“It’s the 177BH. It’s extremely popular,” he said. Formerly a stick-and-tin, the new-for-2024 Kingsport is now available with Azdel construction. “With the size of the bed in the front, the amount of storage we have in the bunkhouse. And we have a sister to it, the 178 without a bunkhouse. So with that type of price, people get a lot of unit for the price.”
At the Newmar display, Casey Tubman, company president, also reported a good turnout.
“The weather keeps going up and down, but the turnout’s been good,” he said. “People are coming through the door. I saw the parking lot was full when I went out yesterday. People are looking, but people are buying as well. We’re definitely getting some good traffic and we’re moving some heavy iron with people, so it’s been a good show so far.”
Other OEMs and dealers had similar reports for RVBusiness:
• Don Clark, president of Grand Design RV: Tampa was encouraging. Even in unusually cold, damp weather, customers came out to show interest in new models and features. Hopefully this is a positive start to the 2024 show season.
• Jon Ferrando, co-founder, president and CEO of Blue Compass RV: The show was outstanding. I project the attendance at about 75,000, which is single digits off of the 79,800 from last year. So, very strong attendance historically – and for all five days of the show.
We had a great show in terms of sales, and the difference was that the displays looked great. We had premium products on display from Airstream to Foretravel, the Geneva Class C from Thor Motor Coach, Jayco, Alliance, Rockwood, and so on with all our premium brands.
And then our teams were absolutely exceptional. High energy, bell to bell, just performed at an elite level for the week and we had near-record sales – just off the all-time record in Covid.
As you know, the Tampa show is a bellwether and certainly this week with strong attendance and the sales performance that we were able to generate, I would take that as a positive sign for 2024.
• Brinkley RV, a year-old, Goshen, Ind.-based towable RV builder, was giving the Tampa Show rave raves. “So, for us – still the up-and-comer with a relatively small six-unit display in the show – traffic bell-to-bell was really, really strong,” said co-owner Nate Goldenberg, whose company debuted its first Model Z Air travel trailer in Tampa. “Not only did we have phenomenal show numbers – traffic and sales – but this week there’s a ton of orders coming in from Brinkley dealers across the country.
Goldenberg said Brinkley staffers were impressed with the geographic draw of the dealers visiting their Tampa display with more “fly-in” customers from distant locales like Alaska, Washington State, California, Texas and all over the East Coast. “And it led to one of the best Tampa’s I’ve ever been a part of,” he added.
• Ryan Juday, president of KZ RV and Venture RV: We were quite pleased with the results. Just on the whole, I thought the Tampa fairgrounds had done a remarkable job of improving some infrastructure and some of the other things that they did to the complex. I thought they did a good job giving it a little bit of a facelift. So, hats off to them.
Heading into the show, I think we were all just a little bit concerned as far as what the market was going to bear. And then you start looking at the weather reports – with rain and some cold –and you think, ‘Oh boy, it might be a little tough.’ And you add to that some of the market conditions going on.
But, I thought the show was certainly a success overall. I thought the traffic was phenomenal given the circumstances that we’re navigating through.
We like our results coming out of this year, which were very similar to last year – and I’ll call that a success for what we’re navigating through and where interest rates are at this year versus prior year.
So, all in all, for KZ Venture, a successful show and, more importantly, some of the results from around the country, too, not just in Tampa. We were pretty decent over the weekend, so we like what we’re seeing. We certainly want more, but we’re pleased with the results that we’re starting off the year with.
• Ben Hirsch, chief operating officer at Campers Inn RV: We come from over an hour outside of Tampa, so we really only bring a few products into the show each year. But, this year we actually outsold last year, so we’re pretty happy with how the Tampa show went for us.
I felt like attendance was strong. It wouldn’t surprise me if attendance was pretty much right on last year after the numbers come out.
Personally, I was there a few of the days and the weather was finicky this year with the cold and rain and whatnot. So, we felt the customers were coming in waves depending on the weather. On Thursday it was pretty much dead in the morning, but then it was packed in the afternoon. So, because of how the weather played out, it wouldn’t surprise me if it was down a few percent. But when the weather was decent – kind of like what we had last year – it was pretty strong.
• Duane Yoder, CEO of ATC: We had a solid show. We did slightly better than we did last year. We planted a lot of seeds with the efforts we put forth. And I think our approach to the market is resonating and with our durability, the products that we’re producing. So, we’re excited about the results and I think that 2024 looks promising.
• Scott Hubble, president of nüCamp RV: We started out cold and damp and windy, and then we got a little sun through the week. But overall, I’d tell you that the show this year performed about the same as we saw last year. We went in with maybe some optimistic expectations. We were well poised to have a great show and it fell a little bit shorter than what we wanted. I think there was just maybe weather and football and the perfect storm against us.
We really thought we were going to have a stronger show. We had assembled probably the strongest show team we’d ever put together, and things just didn’t necessarily come together for us. There are a few things pending that would obviously make the show stronger than it was last year. However, right now you’re talking to me on Monday morning, I’m going to tell you it would be right around the same as it was last year for us – which, when you think about it, we’re not really supposed to be recovering as an industry for maybe four to six more months. So maybe that falls in line and that’s what it was supposed to be.