Goshen News, Goshen, IN

May 8, 2014

RV trade group reviewing future national show

By ROGER SCHNEIDER roger.schneider@goshennews.com
Goshen News

---- — ELKHART — The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association is conducting a routine review of its Louisville, Ky. trade show, including a possible relocation.

According to Richard Coon, RVIA president, the organization that represents manufacturers of recreational vehicles, has two years remaining on its contract with the Kentucky Exposition Center. The trade show is held in December each year.

“Don’t misunderstand that,” Coon said while attending the open house Thursday for the RVIA’s new Elkhart office. “We constantly look at locations for the Louisville show. If you remember right, we moved it one time to Atlanta. But we are always kind of looking.

“When you think about it, with the concentration of the industry here in Indiana, wouldn’t it be nice if the association’s main show was in Indianapolis. It is that kind of thought process. So we have been looking at Indianapolis. To tell you the truth, I have gone over and looked at Cleveland’s facility.”

But the national trade show coming in December will have more square footage of display space than last year’s show, and Coon said he is not sure Indianapolis facilities can handle such a large show.

The RVIA is also considering how to update and refresh the long-running show to keep enthusiasm high.

“We are trying to figure out something different and moving it would be something different,” Coon said. “That doesn’t mean we are going to. It has got to be the right fit to do that.”

The RVIA recently hired Scott Graham to oversee the industry’s shows, including Louisville. Graham will work out of the new office along C.R. 17.

“The first year will mostly be listening and observing the show,” Graham said of his new duties.

The only immediate tasks he envisions for the Louisville show is considering online registrations and maybe moving the registration pickup area to generate more dealer traffic through the west wing of the massive Kentucky Expo Center.

Coon said Graham is being based in Elkhart County so he can quickly interact with RV manufacturers, something not easily done from the organization’s headquarters in Reston, Va.

Graham will share the office with Sharonne Lee, who is heading up a restructured training program for RV service technicians.

“What we want to do is deliver that training closer to dealers,” Coon said. “So we are pioneering three areas, Texas, the Northwest and Minnesota.”

He said RVIA is hiring trainers that will work with service managers at dealerships and technicians at dealerships and find out what kind of training they are interested in and then work with them to get that training to them.

Lee said RVIA has had a training program for a long time and that program provided training four times a year at locations around the country. But, she said, some dealers were reluctant to have their service people away for so long.

“They have said they want training, hands-on, not sales, at the dealership,” she said. “So that is what this new pilot program has been bringing.”

The organization also provides online training.

The pilot program has no cost for participants and Lee said the RVIA will study what the cost should be as the program moves forward.